A Boden Shopping Party, and a look at the Boden Spring 2013 Collection

Boden's Spring 2013 catalogue has been on my desk for a few weeks now, but nothing has especially leapt out at me from its pages crying 'buy me'. All the same, when a friend told me that her neighbour would be holding a Boden Shopping Party, well I had to go along and have a look!

Boden Shopping Party poster: www.boden.co.uk

I turned up with no idea what to expect, and - not knowing the hostess personally - a little nervous about knocking on the door of a private house (despite the fact that I could see the racks of Boden clothes through the window).

I needn't have worried - the party holder was charming, and while she went off to make me a cup of coffee I got stuck in looking through the five large racks of Boden clothing, plus shoes and accessories. It was mostly womenswear, with just a dozen or so items of menswear and a single rack of Mini Boden and Johnnie B.

A Boden Shopping Party feels a bit like a boutique, but it actually works like a showroom: you can't buy the clothes on the spot, but instead get to look through a good selection of styles and colourways from the current collection - and try them on if the samples are in your size (a bedroom had been designated the changing room for the event). You then order any items you like the look of via the party host. There's a discount on everything (15% on my order, but higher if you're a new customer, or if you bring a new customer with you), free delivery & returns, and - if you arrive early enough - a free gift. You can read a detailed account about how it all works on the Boden blog.

There was an impressive amount of stock to look through, but inevitably there were styles that I would have liked to have had a look at that were not there, and others that I would have liked to have tried on that were not in my size.

It was interesting how some items I had quite liked the look of in the catalogue simply didn't do it for me when I saw them in person, and vice versa - some things I completely overlooked in the catalogue really caught my eye when I saw them on the rail. Top of this list was the Modern Pencil Skirt which I'd hardly noticed in the catalogue, but which jumped out at me from the rail in the 'ivory cow parsley' colourway.

Not something everyone will like, I imagine, however it's a fresh pattern and colours, a nice heavy textured cotton, and fully lined too.

Boden Modern Pencil Skirt, ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
Boden Modern Pencil Skirt, ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
The Modern Pencil Skirt - the catalogue photo (with those shoes? Hmmmm...) and the actual skirt.

Ivory cow parsely' colourway, close up: www.boden.co.uk

The other item that really caught my eye - although sadly not for me, as they're from the Mini Boden range - was these fabulous Mini Boden Glitter Ballet Flats. I would be so tempted by these if they came in my size! (They do go up to size 37 though, so if you have fairly small feet, you may be in luck...).
Mini Boden Glitter Ballet Flats, ss2013: www.boden.co.uk

As for disappointments, well the Modern Woven Top had caught my eye in the catalogue with its on trend stripes and fresh colours. With 'Woven' in the name, I was picturing a fairly substantial fabric, but in reality it's a silky little slip of a top, and - dare I say - very overpriced at 49! Still, I shall keep an eye out for it in the sales.

Another was the Cashmere Textured Jumper, which - although well out of my price range at 135 - was something that I was prepared to fall in love with, especially in 'vintage yellow'. But the knit is disappointingly thin and insubstantial, so another miss.

Boden Modern Woven Top ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
Boden Cashmere Textured Jumper ss2013: www.boden.co.uk

So what did I order? Well, I have to admit that I let myself be swayed by the atmosphere of the shopping party, and instead of just sticking with the pencil skirt I also ordered the Elgin Jacket (in navy), the Chepstow Blazer (in greengage - this was not on display, but in a fit of hopefulness I chose it as an alternative to navy), and the stripy Essential Tee in both long sleeve and short sleeve styles (in 'pewter/marshmallow' - again based on the catalogue picture).
Boden Elgin Jacket ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
Boden Chepstow Blazer ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
Boden Essential Short Sleeve Tee ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
Boden Essential Long Sleeve Tee ss2013: www.boden.co.uk
Clockwise from top left: Elgin Jacket, Chepstow Blazer, Essential Short Sleeve Tee, Essential Long Sleeve Tee

My parcel arrived a couple of days later - no faulting Boden's customer service! The skirt is just as nice as I expected, although a touch tight (which probably says more about my hips that Boden's sizing, but anyway I'll be exchanging it for a size up).

The other items turned out to be mistakes, which I guess I kind of knew when I ordered them. The Elgin Jacket has a nice heavy feel to it, and I do like the flat notched collar. But it's somehow a bit shapeless and ordinary on, and while the hook & eye fastening gives a clean line, it's also fiddly...

The Chepstow Blazer is too short in the waist and too wide at the shoulders for me, and the colour (although actually quite nice) to my eye doesn't suit the raw-edge, slightly 'deconstructed' look of the jacket. As for the raw edges, my husband asked why it had been sewn together inside out!

Finally, the two pewter/marshmallow stripe tees didn't make the cut either - the pinky marshmallow colour is just too close to my skin tone to look quite right. Don't let this put you off though, because they're well made, nice fabric and (especially with the discount) a good price for the quality.

All in all, I'm a bit sad that the party host won't be making much in the way of commission on my purchases after making so much effort with the party generally. But for me, 1 out of 5 isn't a bad final score!

NB: Full dates & locations for Boden's 2014 Town Hall Clearance Sales are here.

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