Shopping: MM LaFleur Bento Box Review 2.0

Nearly a year ago, I ordered my first Bento Box from MM LaFleur, a company that specializes in clothing and personal styling for “professional women.” The Bento box concept is similar to how other personal styling services work. You fill out a survey, they send you clothes that might fit you based on your answers. In my review of my first Bento Box, I noted that I kept one item, the Graham kimono. I had a similar experience this time around, and ended up keeping one of the items in my box.

The Bento Box Request

When you Re-bento, you can make specific requests to your stylist. I’ve been wanting to try the Foster pants, but given my track record with pants, was nervous about purchasing them and having to return them. I figured getting a pair in my Bento would be the ideal option. If they worked, great, if not, no worries, back they’d go. I left a note with my order requesting the pants.

MM LaFleur’s newest collection has a number of dresses in an amazing deep, forest green color. Since green is my favorite color, I asked my stylist to include a few of their new dresses in that color.

The Bento Box Arrives

My box arrived a day before my requested date (10/5, it got here on the 4th). When I opened it up it contained:

mm lafleur bento box review - foster pant in black

Bento Box: Foster Pant

So let’s start my Bento Box review with the Foster pant. The description on the website said that the pants ran small, so I asked for a size 8. My first reaction when pulling them out of the box was, well, I’m not going to fit into those.

I did, but just barely. I had to suck in to pull the waist closed and I’m standing with my legs slightly apart in the photo, because I couldn’t really bring them together due to the tightness of the pants. Not a good look and definitely not how I would want to go about my day.

The fabric of the Foster pant was also a bit of a surprise. I was expecting a soft and stretchy ponte, since they are described as feeling like yoga pants, but these were a woven cotton-blend fabric. They were stiffer than expected, which didn’t go well with the overall tightness.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t keep them.

bento box review mm lafleur davis top

Bento Box: Davis Top

I was pleasantly surprised to get the Davis top in my Bento. I’d seen in on the website and thought it looked interesting, but wouldn’t have ordered it for myself, especially in the yellow-orange watercolor print.

The top fits close up in the bust, but then loosens up over your waist and hips. It’s lined, so it’s a really sturdy feeling shirt.  I like the overlap on the front, but ended up returning it for two reasons. One I’m not super into the yellow-orange pattern. Two, it was $210, which I think it just a bit too much for a top, although it is made in NYC.

Bento box review Aditi 2.0 dress

Bento Box: Aditi 2.0 Dress

Let’s move on to the dresses. I love the shape and color of the Aditi 2.0 dress. But this style doesn’t work on me. This is a size 6, and there are a lot of bumps and rolls in the dress because of its close fit. Some of those bumps are me, some are the dress.

Maybe it’d be worth trying in an 8, but this was just way too tight for me to wear.

Bento box mm lafleur lydia dress

Bento Box: Lydia Dress

I debated for a couple of days over whether to keep the Lydia or not. Arguments in favor of the dress: great color, interesting twisty part at the shoulder, soft, comfortable fabric. Arguments against the dress: weird fit, dry clean only.

I ended up sending it back, because it was loose at the waist and very tight at the hips (this was a size 8). Also, I dunno, I just don’t want another dry clean only dress.

bento box mm lafleur woolf jardigan

Bento Box: Woolf Jardigan

Last, but not least, the one piece I did keep. The Woolf Jardigan (that’s jacket + cardigan) is a slightly longer version of the St. Ambroeus jardigan (which I also own). It was love at first wear. From the minute I pulled on the Woolf, I knew I was going to keep it, even though I really, really don’t need another jacket.

The Woolf works well as both a blazer and a comfy cardigan. I always feel a bit dowdy in cardigans, but not in the Woolf. It also has split seams on the side, which give it a more flattering shape and look. It looks OK worn with pants, but I find it’s most flattering worn over a dress.

So there you have it. My second Bento Box. All in all, I find getting a Bento a fun experience and will probably do it again. I think specifically asking for items or giving your stylist a clue about what you like and don’t like, helps make the Bento experience more useful, rather than hoping and praying your stylist gets it right.

Shopping: Boden, Everlane and MM LaFleur Reviews

Ah, the beauty of backorder. You order something one day, pay for it, and months later, it’s like Christmas when suddenly a bunch of packages show up at your front door. And so, I have Boden, Everlane and MM LaFleur reviews for you today. A couple of them are odds and ends from orders placed a while ago, another was a bit of an impulse buy of more recent vintage. Here we go:

Everlane pima tee black

Everlane Pima Stretch Mid-Sleeve Tee

I have a few boatneck, 3/4 sleeve vintage cotton t-shirts from J.Crew that I love. The only problem? They are from J.Crew, which means the seams fell out and they developed holes sooner, rather than later.

So when Everlane introduced a mid-sleeve tee in Pima cotton, I jumped at the chance to order it. Except, I guess I jumped too slowly, as the T-shirt was on backorder from early March until mid-May. They don’t really tell you that when ordering, which is kind of annoying. I was originally under the impression that the shirt would ship at the end of March, but no. I ended up writing to them, after waiting two months, and it just so happened that my order shipped within a few hours of my writing to them. Coincidence? Probably, right? They gave me free shipping on my next order as an apology, so I’m fine with it.

Anyway, this shirt was worth the wait. It’s a soft, stretchy cotton that doesn’t feel as though it’s about to fall about or develop a hole. The fit is good – I’m in a small and my only gripe is that the sleeves were a touch snug.  I don’t have particularly large arms, either.

I’ve machine washed and line dried it once so far and it seems to have handled that pretty well.

boden ballet wrap dress

Boden Tie Waist Ballet Dress

The tie waist ballet dress from Boden was my slightly impulsive buy. It’s available in three colors – green, blue, and a black “brushstrokes” pattern. Since I’ve got enough blue and green dresses, I went for the black.

The beauty of this dress is that it’s a jersey viscose with just the right amount of drape. The skirt isn’t too full as to add weight and the fabric isn’t so flimsy as to cling or make me feel self-conscious. I’m wondering how the fabric will hold up to washing and wearing, but only time will tell. I’ve had good luck with ponte fabric (which can pill quickly) from Boden in the past, so we shall see.

The fun feature of the dress is the ties at the waist. Two long sashes are attached to the waist on either side. You can wrap the ties around your waist in the front and tie in the back, wrap around the back and tie in the front, or just tie in the back. I also experimented with tying over my shoulders and my neck, but that just looked weird.

A note on sizing, though. Usually, I look like a little girl playing dress up in some of Boden’s tops and dresses, ie, there’s lots of room up there. Not so with the tie waist dress. It wasn’t too tight, but it was actually fitted/snug in the bodice. So, if you’re usually between sizes in Boden’s tops or dresses, I’d recommend going up a size.

mm lafleur reviews emily dress

MM LaFleur Emily Dress

One of my new favorite brands, MM LaFleur, brought their pop up shop to Philly in April. I booked an appointment with a stylist and spent about an hour trying on their dresses, skirts, and pants at a swanky hotel on Rittenhouse Square. It was really fun to see their collection up close and to try on styles I wouldn’t usually pick for myself.

Although I did get to take home one dress, the Annie in Aubergine, that day (I got the last one!), I had to wait for the Emily dress in Deep Indigo to ship. It took about a month, but I was anticipating that.

The Emily is made of a smooth, somewhat stretchy, woven polyester. It’s not lined, which makes it light enough to wear on very warm days. It also washes well and didn’t need an iron after being hung up to dry.

I like that it’s a simple dress that has interesting touches, such as the 3/4 sleeves and the square neckline. It has pockets, which is always a nice touch. So far, I’ve worn it on its own and with a scarf around my waist as a belt.

mm lafleur reviews emily dress

 

All in all, I’m very happy with the two dress and t-shirt, proof that the best things are worth waiting (and waiting) for.

Shopping: MM LaFleur Toi Dress Review

Sometimes, you see a dress and you just know it’s the perfect thing for you. That’s how it was for me with the Toi Dress in Sage from MM LaFleur. The company released their Unsuitable Collection, I saw the dress, and fell instantly in love. I used some of my tax return (first one in five years!) to buy it and the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan in deep indigo.

I’m super happy with both; let’s take a look at why.

Toi Dress in Sage

toi dress

Let’s start with fit. As a mostly flat-chested, sort-a pear, I sometimes have difficulty getting dresses to fit right. If they fit in the bust, they tend to be too snug in the hips. If they fit in the hips, they tend to be too large in the chest area and I look like someone playing dress-up. In a 6, the Toi dress is pretty much perfect. It fits well in the bodice and since it’s a full, flared skirt, there’s no problem in the hip area.

It also manages to get the balance right in terms of the flare. I have a few fit-and-flare dresses and they either too voluminous in the skirt, adding weight or too loose in the bodice and too full in the skirt, also adding weight. Or, the waist on the dresses is slightly off, so I don’t look quite right. Not so with the Toi.

toi dress back and side

The seaming and construction of the dress is also phenomenal. The waist seam dips down slightly in the back, creating a flattering shape. There’s a rolled hem, and the darts are in the right spot (at least on me). The fabric is a lightweight wool and the whole thing was made in NYC. I can’t get a good photo of the seams and lining inside, but they are sturdy.

mmlafleur_toi_dress_closeup

 

Sant Ambroeus Jardigan

I’ve mentioned before that I’m kind of over cardigans. They serve a purpose, in that they keep me warm, but they tend to look a bit dowdy. I think it’s because I don’t have many that are cropped, so when I wear them with a dress they look frumpy. Although I like blazers, I often feel that they are too stiff or that they just don’t work with the shape of what I’m wearing.

Enter the Jardigan. This is it in deep indigo and this is what the color looks like if you take a photo with the flash.

mm lafleur toi dress and jardigan

It’s a heavy, structured knit jacket+cardigan made out of rayon. I’d say it almost feels scuba-y, but not so plastic-like and it is still a knit.

As a neat trick, the jardigan comes with easy-to-remove shoulder pads (I’m wearing it with the shoulder pads in the photo). Inside, there’s a flap with a small opening that snaps into the shoulder. You can undo the snap and take out the pads if you want.

I’m in a medium here, and the fit is decent. It sits close to the body, but isn’t too snug in the shoulders or arms.

All in all, I’m very happy with both purchases and hope to get a lot of wear out of them in the years to come.

 

 

Winter Capsule Wardrobe: Month 2 Check-In

winter_capsule_collage

Winter, at least according to my capsule wardrobe calender, is almost over, although the blizzard we got here in Philly this weekend might seem to suggest otherwise. Since my winter season runs from December through February, I’ve just over a month to go before thinking about and switching over to spring. Perfect timing for a quick round up of some of my favorite outfits from this season.

Christmas Eve Capsule Outfit
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve Outfit

I know it’s traditional to break out either the red or green or the sparkles on Christmas Eve, but I went in a different direction and channeled my inner 1970s librarian, with the Miyani dress from Theory in navy worn over a tie front William Morris print blouse from Marc by Marc Jacobs.  At first, I worried that the outfit was a little too much — did I look like I was trying to dress like a character from Mad Men? But, then, I was like, whatever. My family has seen me in weirder. Also, I really, really like this look. So, thumbs up and all that.

winter_capsule_outfit_105
Phoning it in with this outfit

Casual Outfit

When it gets really cold, my brain so of locks up when it comes to figuring out what to wear. My default is jeans (which aren’t necessarily warmer than tights, but feel easier when it’s super cold) and a shirt. Here it’s a silk, zebra print blouse from J.Crew and Madewell’s Flea Market Flares. It’s not exactly the best or most inventive look and I will admit that I very much phoned this one in. Not every capsule outfit is a winner.

winter_capsule_outfit_109
Weekend lunch

Weekend Lunch

OK, this outfit is made up of three of my favorite pieces, so really, what can be wrong about it? Nothing. I’m wearing a printed button up from J.Crew Factory which somehow fits perfectly, even though cotton button shirts never fit me, my favorite skirt, a navy pleated number from J.Crew, and a sparkly necklace from J.Crew. The tights are from Boden and they fit well, but aren’t super exciting and the boots are from Garnet Hill. They fit well and are very comfortable.

winter_capsule_outfit_107
Work outfit 1

Work Outfit 1

I work from home, which often leads people to ask if I work in my PJs or in “casual clothes.” I usually smile politely and say no, but that question irks me, since the above is a typical example of what I wear on a work day. It’s a J.Crew Pencil Skirt in  dark green tweed wool (first tried on here) and silk V-neck blouse navy, some tights, and a necklace from the no-longer-with-us Piperlime. I don’t really get the idea that because no one sees you at work, you should just phone it in when it comes to your clothes. So I actually wear clothes when working. Plus, I’m weirdo who likes the business look (here’s a story: when I was a kid and thought about what I’d wear as an adult, I pictured myself in a fuchsia pencil skirt suit.)

winter_capsule_outfit_108
Work Outfit 2

Work Outfit 2

Here’s another work day outfit. You’ve seen these pieces before – it’s the Marc by Marc Jacobs Strawberry Thief blouse (which seems to be sold out, but here’s a similar option, minus the tie) and my favorite pleated skirt.

Work Outfit 3
Work Outfit 3

Work Outfit 3

Last capsule outfit for you and it’s another work one. I’m wearing the Theory Miyani dress again and the Graham Cardigan from my MM LaFleur Bento Box. The necklace is actually a tiny pocket knife from Erica Weiner Jewelry. I love the Graham because it’s pretty flexible – you can tie it in front, as I’ve done here, or leave it open for a looser look.

Shopping: MM LaFleur Bento Box

I don’t usually sign up for things or buy things impulsively – I’m more the type to hem and haw over something, to do a lot of research, to make sure I really need or what something.

But, a few weeks ago, I saw an ad on my Facebook feed (of all places) for a company called MM LaFleur. The ad featured a woman in a dark green skirt and top and I think mentioned something called a “Bento Box.” I clicked (I never click on Facebook ads).

And I really liked what I saw – stylish work clothing, some of which is made in the US. Although you can shop from the company’s website, the main attraction is the Bento Box. Like other online styling services, you tell MM LaFleur a few things about yourself (like height, bust size, what you do, what famous woman you most admire, and what outfit photos you like), and they send you a box full of clothes that they’ve picked out for you.

Unlike other styling services, MM LaFleur’s clothes are designed for work. As in, they look sharp and professional, not casual. I’d say the style leans more towards creative professional than corporate – there’s no basic suiting here. I loved some of the pieces, so without a second thought, I ordered a box.

It showed up about a week later, full of three dresses, a belt, and “kimono,” which is just a long cardigan you can tie multiple ways.  Here’s what I thought of each piece:

MM LaFleur Rachel Dress, blue
MM LaFleur Rachel Dress, blue

First up in the MM LaFleur Bento Box: The Rachel Dress

The Rachel dress is probably not a style I would have chosen for myself. It looks OK on, but because of my body type is just a bit too tight for me to feel comfortable, both in terms of how the dress feels and the way it looks.

It’s a stretchy viscose jersey and was well constructed though, so if you’re in the market for a sheath dress, I’d recommend it (it also comes in black).

mmlafleur_rachel_dress_blue_belt

My Bento included a thin, leather belt, which I didn’t keep, either, but did wear with some of the dresses to jazz  them up a bit. The weird white square in the picture above is the tag on the belt, and not part of the actual styling. I’m not a belt person, but I think it did add a nice touch to the overall look.

MM LaFleur Bento Box - Iris Dress
MM LaFleur Iris Dress

Next: The Iris

The second dress was the Iris. It’s a charcoal grey, thick jersey (is it a ponte? I don’t know) that has angular sleeves and a figure flattering fit. The online description notes that it runs a bit small. I found mine to be a bit tight in the hips but loose up top. I ended up not keeping it.

mmlafleur_iris_dress_cinder_closeup

Here’s a close up of the bodice of the dress. It has an interesting stitching detail, which combined with the shape of the sleeves, makes it more than just a basic dress.

MM LaFleur Annie Dress
MM LaFleur Annie Dress

Third Dress: The Annie

The Annie was the dress I went back and forth about the most. It’s made out of a woven, heavy polyester and has a slight A-line. I found it more flattering on me and more comfortable than the other two dresses. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years, it’s that I just don’t really wear black dresses. It’s like I just don’t seem to see them in the closet or something and I skip right over them. Maybe I’ll try the Annie in a different hue at some other time, but for now, I returned her.

mmlafleur_graham_kimono_green_open

Last Piece: The Graham Kimono

Last, but very much not least is the Graham Kimono. This is the piece I kept, because I loved it so much. It’s a long, flowing cardigan made out of a lightweight viscose jersey. This one is dark, my favorite color, but it comes in grey, too. It was the versatility of the piece that really won me over.

mmlafleur_graham_kimono_green

There I am with it knotted in front.

mmlafleur_graham_kimono_green_backtieThere I am with it twisted around itself.

mmlafleur_graham_kimono_green_backtie2And, there I am with it tied in the back and twisted up, so that it looks like a shrug.

Bento Box Details

One of the things about the Bento Box that I particularly like is that, although you do give your credit card details upfront, you don’t get charged until after you’ve returned (or kept) your items. Once the box gets to your door, you  have four days to try everything on and make your decision. Shipping by UPS is free, both ways.  I think the first  box is free, but there’s a $25 styling fee charged for subsequent boxes. If you end up keeping anything from your boxes, the fee is deducted from the costs of the clothing.

The stylists at MM LaFleur are pretty communicative and friendly. Once they got my returned items back, the stylist wrote to me to ask if I’d like the next size up for the two dresses that were just a bit too tight. I declined, but I appreciate her reaching out.

I’m definitely a fan of MM LaFleur now. Even if I don’t do a Bento in the future, I do plan on shopping there and keeping up with what they produce. The clothes are well-made, some of them are made in NYC, and I like that they’re more unique than your basic workwear.