Closet Chronicals

Professional & Ethical: Trying the MM.LaFleur Bento Box

When I think about the way my mom used to dress up for work every day when I was younger, I remember that no matter what she wore she always looked put together. She always seemed professionally chic to me, and I really grew to admire her sense of style as I started working and had to consider what I feel I should wear to work. I’ll admit that it’s been hard finding ethical and sustainable fashion options that fit my working lifestyle and my own sense of what it means to look chic or put together. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more uptight about what I wear to work than the average shopper, but most of the offering out there would just won’t do. Linen dresses with no shape? Nope. Tunics? I don’t look great when I wear them. Low cut or interestingly cut shirts? Not appropriate for a middle school. The list goes on and on, and is especially complicated by attempting to shop ethically.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, many things, but one of them is definitely to check out MM.LaFleur.

As you know, one of my goals has been to shop from companies who make their clothing within the U.S., and who choose to use fabrics that are natural while avoiding synthetics like polyester, at all cost. Though MM.LaFleur do use some polyester, they make their clothing in NYC and seemed to be invested  in the concept of slower fashion:

…For us, it’s not about revamping our aesthetic every three months to keep up with momentary trends; we don’t speed our production to align with the industry’s prescribed agenda; we don’t inflate prices only to offer occasional “discounts;” and we don’t encourage customers to buy more than they want or need. We believe that one exquisite dress is worth 100 badly made ones.

For us, it’s about building a “slower,” more sustainable brand that helps bolster the local economy and delivers a consistent, beautiful product to our loyal and growing customer base.

I like that idea, and I was really drawn to the concept of the Bento Box. The point of the Bento Box is having a stylist send you clothing based on your preferences and trying them on at your house without being pre-charged or having to buy and return what you don’t like. I’m always leery about using services like that because in the past I found subscription boxes that follow a similar model sent clothing that were overpriced or not of the greatest quality. This, however, is different in the sense that it isn’t a subscription, but rather a one time deal, and the clothing you get are the clothing they actually sell and their normal price.

I thought it was a fabulous way to get to know the brand and really try out professional, but feminine, work attire. To begin the Bento Box process you will need to answer a few questions about your esthetic preferences. There’s also room for comments, which is where I made some very specific requests assuming I might be a bit of a pain in the bottom for the stylish who got to work with me. I asked for two specific items, asked to avoid accessories, explained what colors I will wear, what I normally would wear, and asked to avoid anything poly. Yeah. I asked for a lot.

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Bento Box packaging

The beautiful thing is that I got exactly what I asked for. While there was no total avoidance of polyester, I was sent clothes I would totally wear based on my actual requests and specifications.

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These are all the items I got, and their price. The idea of the Bento Box is that you keep and get charged for what you keep (you will have to provide your credit card information before shipment), and then send the rest back. This is the paperwork you’d fill out when sending some or all clothing back.

How It Worked For Me

Before I get started…spoiler alert: I didn’t keep anything. I’ll explain specifically why below, but let me just say that this was an amazing way of getting to know this brand.

The two items I specifically asked for were the the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan and the Foster Pant. The pants were the first thing I tried because I absolutely loved the idea that you can modify the length of the pants with a button! Sadly, sometimes pants just don’t sit right, and this was one just occasion. I also prefer pants that don’t have lots of stitching at the front of the pants, but if the fit was right I don’t think it would have stopped me from keeping them.

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Lovely tag that came attached to the pants, and everything else. I appreciated that it wasn’t in the way of truly trying the clothes on.

 

Next was the Jardigan, a concept that again I absolutely loved. A cardigan that looks like a jacket is so incredibly versatile and perfect for a smaller collection. However, this one has shoulder padding. Now, that might work for you, but I look ridiculous in shoulder pads – usually as if I tried to steal someone’s 80’s jacket in an attempt to look like a football player. If they were removable, I would have kept this piece in a heartbeat.  Quick correction, turns out the Jardigan has removal pads! I thought they were sewn in, but luckily they can still be removed. I will definitely keep this one in mind!

The Giovanna Dress was another thing that totally didn’t work for me, but this time because I felt too self-conscious about my tummy region when I wore it. This is a very form fitting dress, but I think that it’s such a tremendous basic to have if you feel comfortable wearing form-fitted dresses to work.

The two items I was very close to keeping were the Power Camisole and the Annabel dress. The camisole is not something I would be able to wear to work because it is cut quite low, but let me tell you… I felt amazing when I wore it. I ended up sending it back because I need to focus on building my work wardrobe, but if you are in the market for something that won’t show all your goodies but definitely flaunt what you’ve got, I would totally check it out.

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The two items I almost kept: the camisole and the Annabel dress.

The Annabel dress was basically the one thing I had to actually spend some time seriously debating. It is another tight dress, but the fabric is soft and the ruching so very forgiving to those of us with a bit of a belly. I love the long sleeves because it meant I won’t likely need a cardigan when I wear it in an air conditioned location, and the neckline is not an issue at all. Rather, it looks quite refined.

Yet, I couldn’t quite see myself wearing it to work. I think I really struggle with showing my figure while teaching, so this dress fell into the “going out and feeling great” category for me. Again, I just didn’t need a dress like that just yet. Let me just say, though, that the moment I need a dress for a more formal occasion, I will be returning for it.

Bottom line is I that if these are the kind of clothes you usually wear to work, I think MM.LaFleur has you covered with ethically made items. I imagine that women who work in more corporate settings would find this collection easy to wear. It’s also very appropriate for those of us who have a smaller collection of clothing and need items that can transition from day to night.

Moreover, getting the Bento Box really helped me get a feel for what they have to offer, so even though nothing was quite what I needed or could wear to my place of employment I still recommend checking it out. The whole box process was easy, and it felt nice not having to deal with real returns (and waiting for reimbursement). I got items I chose for myself and items I wouldn’t have, but still loved trying out. All and all, it was a positive experience, and the next time I have a formal event MM.LaFleur will be where I shop.

P.S: I feel a need to mention that no one contacted me and asked me to write about this brand. As with all the posts I have in my blog, I only write about things I paid for and selected myself. If that ever change, you’ll be the first to know. 

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2 thoughts on “Professional & Ethical: Trying the MM.LaFleur Bento Box

  1. Hi Alex,

    Thank you so much for your comment! I will definitely update the post to reflect that, because I think it’s just a versatile piece to have in one’s closet. When I tried it on it seemed like the pad was sewn into the Jardigan so I assumed they weren’t removable, so that’s interesting!

    Best,
    Adva

    Like

  2. Hi Adva,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful review! We’re sorry none of the items from your box were a perfect match, but are glad you gave our Bento program a try. Now that you have a sense of how our styles fit, we hope you’ll keep us in mind for any future wardrobe needs.

    We especially appreciate that you mentioned our practice of ‘slower fashion.’ As a small (but mighty!) company, practicing this value of slow fashion has remained incredibly important to us. We love that you’ve made it a personal goal to support companies who manufacture within the US, as this is a value we share, as well.

    I also wanted to share some good news on the Sant Ambroeus jardigan, since you were a fan of this piece: the shoulder pads actually are removable! All you have to do is pull the pads out through the small hole along the internal shoulder seam. Would you mind updating your post so that readers will know the shoulder pads can be removed?

    As thanks for your thorough review, we’d love to send a Sant Ambroeus your way – would you be interested in receiving one, knowing now that the shoulder pads are removable?

    All my best,
    Alex at MM.LaFleur

    Like

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