In the fickle world of fashion there is a strict code of conduct when it comes to acceptable brands. It used to be ok to like Primark, when it was an undiscovered, fashion insiders secret. 'Yes it was only £2 from Primarche, Primada, Primarni', etc etc, but now admitting you bought something from The Devil wears Primark, is like saying you eat at KFC every day. OMG NO!
It was once aspirational to say you shopped in Topshop, but in an ironic way, as it was cheap and horrible but you could often pick up a fashionable bargain. Then it started getting better and better and initially only a few people noticed. Then the fashion press discovered it and now it's an essential part of everyones wardrobe, therefore no longer super elite. However, if you are over 40, shopping at TS clearly proves you are fashion savvy enough to know how to 'work a look', therefore 'in the know'.
I know its complicated, but stick with me, please!!
Other high street brands such as M&S and New Look (it's the new Topshop, didn't you know?) are also completely acceptable, if not positively elitist, if one manages to source the fashion forward item of the season.
'Yes the top's from Marni, the trousers Mui Mui and OMG, the Hush Puppy style wedge shoe boots are from New Look, can you believe it'?
That may seem like a perfectly innocent sentence to the mere ordinary mortal. But any self respecting fashionista could be sent into an instant fashion panic, if they not only didn't know about the 'must have', Hush Puppy style wedge shoe boots, but are actually too late to buy them. This could mean a frantic online quest to track them down at any cost, and possibly a trip to the Doncaster branch (OMG where?), as they have one pair left (in the wrong size, but who cares!).
Anyway you get the picture, there are some brands that it's ok to admit to and some you can only wear in the privacy of your own home. I am not advocating this as a way of life and am ashamed to admit that I'm weak enough to be part of this shallow fashion snobbery. But hey, I've worked in fashion for the last 25 years, I know its wrong, but a girl's gotta fit in!!
So back to Boden, sadly for Boden (sorry Johnnie) it is not a label that 'those in the know' care to admit to wearing. It is a hugely successful brand and if the number of whole families wearing it over Easter weekend in Boden on Sea (Southwold) is anything to go by, good old Johnnie is probably very, very rich.
There is something about those cheery, well made clothes, that shouts out, 'we are a nice middle class family, who live in London or the Home Counties, holiday in Cornwall and France and have three children called Ollie, Tilly and Ella'. Of course, Ollie and Tilly are planning booze/drug fuelled frenzy in Paidstow this summer and will soon reject Boden in favour of Hollister, Jack Wills and Abercrombie, but I digress.
I may work in fashion and love Cos, Marni and Dries Van Noten (if only I could afford them) but I am middle class, have a second home in Suffolk (read caravan, but don't tell anyone) and have two children with annoyingly middle class names. I love beach huts, afternoon tea, retro interiors, holidays in Europe and growing things in pots, in short, I aspire to the Boden lifestyle, so I am going to come right out and say it, 'I like Boden'.
I like the quality of the fabrics and the way the clothes are cut to fit real women, of my age. I like the attention to detail and that the styling takes into account tummies, arms and other parts of our bodies we may not want to draw attention to. Ok, it may not be the most fashion forward range, but it's easy to wear, in nice colours and not too expensive. What's not to like?
The secret to not looking like you are a 'Boden women', is to avoid whole Boden outfits, with accessories. I know that's what they want you to do, but like any brand, wearing head to toe, is not a good look. I particularly like cotton skirts (great fit and nice prints) and easy to wear cardigans. They look great mixed with some of my other favourite brands, COS, Whistles, Muji, Toast and Topshop (see I do know!).
Here are a few of my favourites from this seasons Boden. Let us know what you think, are you a Boden lover too?
BTW, this summer, I'll be the one in the Beach Hut, wearing COS, Marni and Boden!!