Boden dresses: my turn and K/R

While away I availed myself of the sale and made my first-ever Boden order. Boden comes from the UK to Canada. There was free shipping and no hidden costs, but of course the CAD prices are higher than the US prices. And I will have to pay for returns, though if I want to exchange, they will send the new item free again.  

Overall, I'm impressed with the quality of these dresses. They are old-fashioned in all the best and (depending on one's style descriptors) some of the worst senses of that word. They are ladylike, with whimsical patterns and retro cuts that remind me of dresses my mother sewed and wore in the 60s and 70s. They are also beautifully and thoughtfully constructed of lovely fabrics. Some are cotton and lined in cotton -- imagine that! 

I found them more or less TTS. For reference I am 5.4" (standing tall!). I usually wear a 0 or 2 or XS in BR, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, etc. S in Zara. And a 2 to 4 in higher end or designer stuff. At the moment I'm about 10 pounds up from my preferred weight so depending on cut and brand, I sometimes go with the larger size mentioned here; at my lower weight, I'd go with the lower. My bone structure is slightly more substantial than Angie's, but still on the small/ narrow side, and I'm a small busted hourglass/rectangle. 

I ordered 3 dresses in UK 8 (US 4). Two in L length, and one in regular. And one dress in UK 6 P. Partly I went with what was available and partly I based my choices on descriptions in the reviews and the cut of the specific item relative to my body type. 

First, Phoebe in cotton jersey. (#1) I got this is UK 8 regular. The fit is perfect.  It's a very casual yet presentable throw on and go dress, which is an extremely useful item for my lifestyle. Mr. Suz loved it right away, so it's a keeper. It comes to just past the top of my knee in the regular length. 

Next, the linen notch neck dress. (#2-5) I adore the 100% soft linen fabric, the cut, and the style of this. It has a size zip for easy on/off. I ordered long partly because it's what they had in my size and partly to see if I would like the extra length. This is a K/R, however, because although the fit is great, I'm not sure about the colour, which reads coral. Not my best. And the pattern feels a bit girlish to me. I would absolutely love this dress in a different colourway/ pattern, but wonder about it in this not-quite red. Thoughts? Keep and leave as is? Return? Keep and hem? 

Then we have Penny in 8 long. (#6-8) Penny is the longer sleeved version of Phoebe -- it's just cotton knit. But I thought it would be a great transitional fall dress for me in Vancouver. Easy to dress down or up. In this case I definitely like the extra length. In cooler weather I would wear with hose/ tights. K/R?

Finally, Jade. (#9-13) Jade I ordered in UK 6 P. The fit in the bodice/ bust/ waist is perfect. The length is to mid-knee rather than below knee, but still a decent length. The clear colours are fresh and pretty -- this is a beautifully made dress, as Christina pointed out! I found a way to do the sash so that it doesn't feel so "girly." But I still think the pattern may be too girly for a woman with hair as grey as mine. Perhaps I should exchange it for the plain navy, as a more sophisticated option? I do like the style, even though in itself it's more girly than my usual. I haven't had a true sundress in years and there's something lovely about that. 

FWIW, Mr. Suz thought this one was a definite keeper. He didn't much like Penny (but I do) and he quite liked the linen and thinks it works. 

Note also another new purchase, the Wittner Dafina white sandals. Super comfy soft leather and a good heel height for me. Sorry, no Find yet.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Cardiff girl replied 2 years ago

    I am in total agreement with Mr.Suz.l hope he won’t let that go to his head!

  • replied 2 years ago

    I think they’re all great!
    I do prefer the straighter cuts (but Mr Suz is not wrong that the last one looks great). Honestly, I think you should keep the ones that Mr Suz likes.

    For the coral one: maybe it is cooler than you think because of the bit of pink interspersed in the pattern?

  • Christina F. replied 2 years ago

    They all look great to me, but return the coral one if you don’t think you will wear it.

    The Jade dress does look great on you! I understand the hesitation about the girlishness, which I shared. Sometimes it’s good to stretch the comfort zone, though!

  • Like the Season replied 2 years ago

    They all look great. Sorry, Mr. Suz, but my fave is Penny. Really flattering.

  • UmmLila replied 2 years ago

    My favorites are the phoebe and the penny. I might have liked that linen dress better if you got the regular length. I agree the jade is a little out of your usual, but it's so pretty and summery!

  • Jane replied 2 years ago

    I like your description of Boden. Interesting to see how you assess it. I agree entirely and I think that Boden have cornered the market in terms of consistency in style season after seasons whilst reflecting trends. 

    I do like the last one a lot, but I think I prefer the straighter versions. That said, Mr Suz has the best eye! May be a denim jacket might add a bit of something (maturity?) to the 'youth' freshness of the floral print.

  • unfrumped replied 2 years ago

    Yay Phoebe and Penny!

    I’d probably skip the coral dress to stay with your color palette. I understand being a sucker for great fabrics, though.
    Not sure about sun dress. That would be whether you want to go in that direction.

    Also, you’ve learned you can wear Boden dresses. Sure you’ll have to order and risk returns if they tweak the styles and sizing. That is just part of wardrobe budget. But it means another dress source for next season or next year, so you don’t have to settle for what they have now.

  • lisa p replied 2 years ago

    They all look good on you to my eye . The Penny and Phoebe are slam dunks, and the other two might look more "you" and less prim without the white sandals. It's a bit too-perfect of a look, if you know what I mean.  

  • kellygirl replied 2 years ago

    Adore Penny and Phoebe on you especially. I think the floral dress is gorgeous and looks quite elegant and playful on you. I'm surprised by how much I like that on everyone else! So pretty. The linen dress is nice but it looks like it's loose in the back--like you can't fill it out properly. That's usually my problem with these kind of dresses so I'm extra sensitive to that, I suppose. 

  • replied 2 years ago

    Those are great dresses on you. I hope you keep #2! The color/pattern looks great on you, not too girlish or too coral at all, from my perspective.
    Actually, think all of them work for you and like the different style directions they can take. I vote keep all.

  • kkards replied 2 years ago

    the sundress was unexpected, but totally fab....i can understand why you would think about getting it in the navy instead, but IMO its the unexpectedness of the floral that makes it what it is....i love the pheobe,  i have a poison eye to 3/4 sleeve so thats why i'd pass on the penny. i'm not sure on the linen dress, if it wrinkles a lot, i'd pass, if it requires ironning in the hot summer, i'd pass....

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Ha, kkards, one person's poison eye is another's sugar eye. ;)  I adore 3/4 length sleeves! I think because my arms are on the short side. 

    The linen is kind of amazing. So soft it doesn't wrinkle too much or show the wrinkles, I guess, because of the pattern. But I'm still not convinced by the colour. Need to look at it again. 

    Lisa, I also have sugar eye for white sandals. :) And these are a big HEWI for me. I have been looking for at least 4 years. But I should maybe save them for funkier outfits instead of pretty dresses. 

    Unfrumped, you raise a really good point. I may lose a bit on returns but I have learned I can wear the line and more or less what size I am in most things, so that will be useful information going forward. 

  • Sal replied 2 years ago

    I love one!!

    I like two. The style length and pattern are great. It could be a fun wildcard and I like it with the topper too which is s handy thing!!

    I also love three- and I like three quarter length sleeves. But is the weather window long enough for you to wear this?

    I am a spanner on 4 -I don't like it as much as the others.... i like the dress but i am not sure if it fits with your style direction?

    I like the sandals too!!

  • lisa p replied 2 years ago

    That's what I meant - I know you love white sandals, and these are gorgeous - I'd wear them in a heartbeat too. Those two dresses are already so prim and proper looking - and I could see you making them more inherently "you" with a cute sneaker or a sandal in a colour. 

  • Amy Isabella replied 2 years ago

    I love the Phoebe and Penny on you and the floral dress is very pretty. To my eye the coral dress may look better if it were a little shorter.

  • JAileen replied 2 years ago

    I really like the first and last ones best. My hair is much greyer than yours and I would wear the last one. It would be great with a denim jacket and Cons. Nothing wrong with the other two, but the colors/patterns don’t send me.

  • tulle replied 2 years ago

    Although the first two are a bit starchy for my taste, I can imagine their usefulness, and I don't think the coral red is too warm for you at all. I love the Penny on you---shape, pattern, color, everything--and I also get completely why your husband favors the Jade dress:  it's so pretty, and you look so summery and happy in it!  Please don't exchange it for practical navy--you can add a navy one, but this print does wonderful things for you, so I really hope you keep it. It's not too girly or youthful at all, just an old-fashioned (as you say, in the best sense) sun dress for a woman of any age.  I think Lisa has a good point about the white sandals.    All in all, a very nice batch of Boden!

  • Janet replied 2 years ago

    Love 1 and 3 for you, those are a slam dunk. I think 2 is a winner as well -- the color looks great to me! I'm less convinced of the last floral dress, even though it looks pretty on you -- I'm a bit cautious of anything that reads girlie or sweet myself, so I relate to your reservations. I think you need to evaluate how it makes you FEEL. Does it feel right to you? Do you want an excuse to wear it? Or will it not feel quite right for the occasions you have for a dress? 

  • KMM replied 2 years ago

    I ordered the Jade dress and found it to be a perfect fit for me as well (5’4, 122lbs, 32D, ordered the 4 petite). I love the construction and fabric and nearly ordered the print that you chose, Suz, but went with the safer (for me) solid chambray which is a pretty and textured blue/gray. If you’re on the fence I’d advocate for trying it in a solid color. I’ve been unsure how to handle the sash as big bows aren’t really my thing, so am really appreciating your alternative method and will try to apply it myself!

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    knowmymethods, thanks! We are near body doubles. I suspect I'll be happier with a solid, too. Re the sash, what I did was wrap the tie around to the side (so it goes one and a half times on one side) tie once (I think?) and loop part of it under the belt part of the sash, and then adjust till it feels flat -- that sounds more complicated than it is, and it seems to stay put just fine, FWIW. 

    Janet, I so hear you. But Mr. Suz is like Jamie. He has his favourites. Maybe that is reason enough? I could wear it to make him happy. :) But honestly, it makes me happy to LOOK at and less happy to wear. Does that make sense? Same with the coral (even though I adore the feel of the fabrication.) 

    JAileen, it's funny -- I was thinking if my hair were whiter I might like the floral dress better, too. Right now, I've really got BLUE hair (honestly -- no dye, and only once every two weeks violet shampoo to tone down brassiness.) It will turn stark white in time -- my mother's did. But I'm not there yet and won't be for another 15 to 20 years. 

    tulle, I love that word "starchy." Yes! That's it!! A bit too much so for my taste, too. Although the first one really doesn't feel that way in the wearing. It's a t-shirt dress with a waist. And interesting that you like the floral one so much! Thank you!

    AmyIsabelle, thank you. I could easily take the coral dress up by an inch or two -- not a problem. 

    Sal, thank you. And YES!! The Phoebe's 3/4 sleeves are not a problem. I will be in a new climate and new more urban environment next fall -- temperate!! I can wear lighter weight items, booties, gilet, etc. etc. Also this dress layers well (with cardigans, jackets, gilet, coats.) And I totally hear you on #4. That is sort of my reservation. 

  • Marilyn replied 2 years ago

    Love the Phoebe and Penny on you.  I don't like the last one but I'm not a fan of that type of print so I may be biased.  I'd prefer it in the solid navy.

  • Lynette replied 2 years ago

    I love every one of them and can’t believe that everything you ordered was a perfect fit! It would take me years to find that many. If you can keep them all I think it would be great to have many styles that all have a different feel. You really look amazing in all of them! I love Boden’s quality!

  • Sal replied 2 years ago

    Of course I think 3 would be great in a more temperate climate such as Vancouver:)  It would be brilliant in my climate here.

    And there is a place for a dress that your hubbie loves.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    *jumping up and down with delight*

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    KILLER x 4

    LOVE THEM ALL. You styled them gorgeously too, Suz.

    The new white sandals couldn’t be more perfect. K to the Power of K.

  • shevia replied 2 years ago

    You found your brand Suz. Phoebe and Penny are my favorites - love Penny with the red boots and long vest. I like the coral one (sorry forgot her name). I like the sundress least because it does read a bit girly - not for your hair but for your style. But looks great on you and if Mr. S loves it, it is worth keeping.

  • Brooklyn replied 2 years ago

    They all look good on you. I like the first 2 the best. I think you can wear coral and I like the way you have styled it. I like the fit of the third but I am not wild about the whimsical pattern. But patterns are so personal so take that with a grain. The fourth is very pretty on you but kind of unexpected for your style. Which can of course be a good thing! So I think you need to assess how you feel about it. It looks very summery.
    And yay for wittner!

  • Joy replied 2 years ago

    They are all so different, and lovely on you that I would keep them all. Love how you have styled them and those shoes are perfect for summer...dresses or crops.

  • Dianna replied 2 years ago

    I completely agree with Mr. Suz, my favorites on you are 1, 2, and 4.  Your new sandals are beautiful, I like the sandals you are wearing with dress number 1 too.

  • Mainelady replied 2 years ago

    Boden loves you! You look wonderful in all 4 dresses. Each will serve you well in different #3 for easing into autumn. Yes, I think you can wear #4 with your hair. The dress has plenty of color to keep you from looking washed out. The earrings you have are perfect! You could also wear a colorful neckless. Your white sandals make me happy.

  • Kathie replied 2 years ago

    I really like the first three. The Phoebe clearly fits your lifestyle, and the Penny is a fabulous fit. I quite like the color of the notch neck dress. Though, with the more temperate climate of Vancouver, you might have less reason to wear it after your move. The Jade dress is my least favorite- the fit in the bodice seems a bit off- but, if your husband loves it, and you have places to wear it, then I’d keep.

  • Jjsloane replied 2 years ago

    I'm no good - I like them all on you. And we would be dress twins with the Penny- I wear mine with tights and boots in winter. Love the rabbits in the print. What fun to have a floral summer frock. You need to find a garden party to attend (maybe a hat too?) Can't wait to see your final decision.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Brooklyn, I think you hit on why Mr. Suz is not a fan of the Penny.  :) You're so right about patterns. My favourites always are stripes and checks/ tartans. I like some florals but not the current crop of ditsy florals and not what I think of as "upholstery" florals. But I have a relatively high tolerance for whimsical patterns involving cats. The rabbits are a slight extension of that, but hey...

    Thanks everyone for your comments. It's really interesting hearing the mixed opinions. It seems that some like them all and some like one less but the one less liked differs from person to person so any could work and it's all a question of my own preference and needs. Which I have yet to figure out, LOL. It might require another try-on session. 

    The ones I'm strongly considering returning are the coral linen (maybe they will make this in a different colour next year?) and the Jade. It skews just a bit too girlish for me somehow. 

  • The Cat replied 2 years ago

    You wear all these dresses well and look lovely in them. My favourite photo is #7, though this styling seems better suited for autumn than for summer. I really like the white sandals--actually with all these dresses. They bookend your hair and will likely be very versatile. The last dress with its busy print on a white background somehow takes the attention away from your face. However, the dark jacket (in #12) calms it down and helps the eye focus on you, not just on your pretty dress.

  • Staysfit replied 2 years ago

    I like the straighter dresses. I happen to love florals and think that the pattern of the sundress is gorgeous, but it reads too young. I don’t think it’s in keeping with your style, and I wonder if you will continually feel happy when you wear it. Did you say this dress also came in navy? I would love to see you try that. You consistently look fabulous in navy, and you can add accessories of any sort to alter the look of the dresss. I think it has potential to become summer favorite.

    I don’t think the coral dress is awful, but the color and print may not be your best. I would return it and keep looking.

  • Christina F. replied 2 years ago

    They sometimes add new colorways as the season progresses.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Christina, yes -- I have noticed that. It's possible they will do so...

    My only hesitation in ordering the navy Jade (now there's an oxymoron!) is that everything I own is blue! That's not entirely a bad thing. I do love blue! And it's my best neutral and colour. But a person gets bored with all one colour in the closet, at least this person does. :). But I tend to agree with those who say this dress reads too young on me. Or it feels too young on me. Or something. Just not in line with my style. The style feels fresh and fun and perfectly okay -- it's the combination of the print and the style that doesn't quite do it for me. 

  • delurked replied 2 years ago

    I like them all on you. I’ve considered Phoebe many times, but even in the long I’ve hesitated thinking the front seam may hit me too high. But Boden should be a new source for you.

  • Mac replied 2 years ago

    Fantastic. I like the first 3 best - length of last one feels unbalanced to my eye, but no one else here has mentioned it I suspect the problem is with my eye rather than the length- but wonder how many true summer dresses you will want/ require once you move to Vancouver. Luckily, all can be warmed up with toppers. Great haul, gorgeous lady! Xo

  • Roxanna replied 2 years ago

    You hit the nail on the head, Suz - with so many differing opinions on this thread, it's clear that all the dresses look great and you have to choose what makes sense for your life and lifestyle. FWIW, I like the first 3 (especially the coral, though I think it should be a tad shorter.). But if you are already wondering if they will make the same dress in a different colour next year, then I would pass on that. I loved the sundress at first sight but now I do think that the pattern combined with the fit make it a bit too girly. Also, I find that when a sundress is 'that' summery in terms of pattern and fit, there are only a handful of high summer days in our climate to wear it, so it sits in the closet a lot.

  • Beth Ann replied 2 years ago

    Woohoo!  You and Boden are a great match!

    I like all the dresses, here are my thoughts:

    1.  I think the coral is a great wild card for you.  The white opens up the color, and I doubt it is a problem for your complexion.  Also, since dresses are kinda stand-alone pieces in outfit creation, it's a great way to use a color that looks fresh and modern, while not having to style it with other pieces.  The drawback?  You really have to feel great in a wild card piece --- like it's fun and special.  Also, it's not going to work beyond spring and summer.

    2.  The 1st and 3rd dresses are right in your wheelhouse.  Keep!

    3.  The floral:  I LOVE the way you fixed the girly sash problem.  When they were big in the 90's, I used to pull them back around and tie like an obi to avoid the tails behind in my 30s.  You've shown me a solution for the 50s!  I think this dress is so pretty on you.  It's sophisticated enough to work.  Wouldn't it be great to wear to sit out at a bistro with Mr. Suz?  Or to entertain at home, where you could kick off you shoes after dinner, and curl up on the couch --- some things are easier in a fuller skirt.

    Actually, this dress makes me imagine a casual fuller skirt for spring/summer.  I can see you in a striped bateau tee, with lovely elbow sleeves, a chambray or poplin skirt just below the knee, some espadrilles, white sandals or sneakers, and a jaunty kerchief at the neck or tied round your back or waist.

    Actually, maybe this is "Suz in Paris."  Tell Mr. Suz I suggested that!

  • Yana replied 2 years ago

    I like the last two best. And I absolutely love the pattern of the last one with your hair. 

  • Katerina replied 2 years ago

    All are great. The ones that are my personal gorgeous favorites on you are the second dress and the third dress. You look truly amazing in all renditions. The first one is a close runner up.

  • Chris987 replied 2 years ago

    I totally agree on the quality, especially the linings. Old fashioned quality at it's best!

    All these dresses fit you so well, which means you can keep the ones you love, plus the styles are classic enough that you can wear them for  years so stocking up is good!  The Phoebe is a no brainer..KEEP! The ones with more girly prints (good word for it) are a bit my eye sometimes girly prints can read "grandmotherly" as they are reminiscent of retro styles my own mom and grandmother used to wear (and yours, as you've said), at least to my eye. Lisa p's "prim and proper" is another variation on that description. Prints can be so tricky!  The jade is really lovely, especially with the white sandals.

    I love your comment about being willing to spend a little on returns if it gives you good info on the brand. When you have the shopping limitations you live with in Canada this becomes even more useful.

    Also listen to your own sage advice re: be careful about happy to look at vs. happy to wear. I need to follow that advice too and you've said it very succinctly.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 years ago

    My favs are 1 and 3 -- and seeing them on you is very helpful! I have my eye on the Phoebe in two different prints and this may be the push I need to order one (or both!). One of my son's teachers has the Penny dress in that rabbit print and I think it's delightful. I will say, she is another Boden devotee (we often end up exchanging fit notes and such) and she avoids looking too prim by wearing cool chunky shoes (think Fly London) and bold funky jewelry.

    ETA - I really like the Jade on you too. It is very fun and breezy and seems like a worthwhile departure from your usual. The coral/pink print in #2 I'm not quite sold on although the dress itself does fit you well. But it does not stand out to me.

  • lyn67 replied 2 years ago

    I absolutely love all of them on you and men don't know anything:-) the Penny is my second  fave-what a great print! My first fave  is the floral print(presented last onei-and NOT too girly, it is a summer dress, after all!) but love the coral, too(!). The blue is IS your all times best color and another great print, so-why spending on return shipping,  pls. keep them all!:-)

  • Sisi replied 2 years ago

    I like you a lot in nr. 1 and 2. Nr. 1 is perfect and nr.2 would be perfect in a color that you like. But the shape is so flattering on you.

  • Bijou replied 2 years ago

    What a dilemma, they all look fantastic on you! I can see why #4 is out of your usual style, but given Mr Suz loves it and it is a great sundress, it may well be worth keeping it for those hot summer days. #3 with the red boots and long cardigan is absolutely stunning on you and exactly what I would like to be wearing today!

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Coral is a wild card. TRY IT. Don’t get more blue. Cool it down with silver and grey.

  • torontogirl replied 2 years ago

    WOW! One more perfect than the next. Gorgeous, YLF!

  • Elizabeth P replied 2 years ago

    I like the first three (actually I LOVE the first one).  I say keep the coral, it DOES look good, and a dress is a great way to put a new colour into your life.  I'm not crazy about it with the long cardigan though, for some reason it looks a bit matronly to me. 

    Agree the last one is a bit girly.  Not young, just not "you" in style.

  • texstyle replied 2 years ago

    All of these look so great - #1 is esp. fantastic!  I feel the same about "girly" patterns but obviously if Mr. Suz likes you in it, maybe it's a keeper.

  • Sara L. replied 2 years ago

    I really like 1, 3, and 4.  I don't think the print in #4 is especially "girly" but it is very busy.  I love all the ways you've styled #3 so that one seems like a definite keeper.  I'm not a big fan of #2 because of the print and the fit looks weird in the side photo.  Prints are so subjective though that I feel like you really have to listen to your gut. 

  • Brooklyn replied 2 years ago

    Ha ha Suz. I like “upholstery” florals and love brocade versions (if I can find them). To each their own :)

  • Laura1975 replied 2 years ago

    I actually really like the coral one on you. The pattern gives it a faded look from a distance which tempers the colour slightly. If you were to keep it, I'd hem it slightly but not by much. What other colours does it come in?

    You really suit them all. I'd vote keep all of them.

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