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I’ve always thought men had it much easier when it came to professional clothing.
Suit, shirt, tie… done.
Sure, perhaps more casual work wardrobes can add a bit of a snag. It might be tough to understand which types of slacks work for which occasion. Or how to mix a sports coat or sweater into the mix and still look sharp. But by and large, men can build a basic wardrobe easily from a few staple pieces.
When it comes to professional clothing for women, its tougher. I’ve long cultivated great capsule lists to help me pack for work (and leisure) trips. B I’ve still struggled to put together a long-lasting quality professional wardrobe.
Many years ago, I had a mini-wardrobe made in Bangkok with a great tailor. Wool suits, silk blouses, dresses with matching jackets, crisp French cuff shirts, mix and match separates – they all served me well. But I got bored with the pieces so those sit lovingly wrapped in tissue in an under-bed box waiting to come out for another day.
In the interim, I’ve pulled together lots of great pieces from stores I love – Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic – and cultivated a “suit free” professional existence. Still, finding separates that still function well in a world of suits can be a challenge. I thus was intrigued when I first heard about MM.LaFleur last year.
MM.LaFleur promises effort-free high-quality women’s professional wear by mail-order. You can shop styles directly online OR have a stylist work with you. For the latter, you put together a “Bento Box” (the brand’s term for a personally curated assortment of styles). Try them on in the comfort of your home (or office… if you are like me, that’s where shipping tends to arrive). Keep what you like, return what you don’t.
It sounded easy enough – and I was lured by the beautiful styles I saw on the website. But pieces ranging (on average) from $110-$295 are not something I shop for on whimsy. I held back waiting for some sign from the universe.
That sign came – MM.LaFleur was visiting Dallas for a pop-up event at the Crescent Hotel in Dallas.
I signed up for a private appointment to come shop on a Friday evening after work. Sign 1 that the brand might be a good match – they picked a higher-end hotel in the center of the professional universe in Dallas. Sign 2 – they scheduled private appointments.
My MM.LaFleur Personal Styling Appointment
My new personal stylist, Hanna, emailed to confirm my appointment a couple of days out. She also encouraged me to bring friends with me, promising featherweight silk scarves for all of us if my friends came. I grabbed two girlfriends and convinced them to join me for shopping. We all were skeptical after doing online boxes like Stitch Fix. I haven’t always been impressed with the quality of the clothing. I also have yet to find anything that I would wear professionally from the boxes I’ve received.
Hanna greeted me at the door of the MM.LaFleur suite at the Crescent with a glass of champagne. She quickly showed me to my private fitting area. My friends who arrived shortly after would each have their own stylist and private area as well. We all started out with the same dress for fit purposes. Once our stylist could assess us, we each then diverged based on our own unique body types (we spanned willowy to average to curvy/muscular). I spent close to an hour trying on a variety of items while Hanna took careful notes about my likes and fit needs.
At the end of it all, I ordered two jackets, a skirt, a dress, and three tops. This was a small investment, but I was thrilled with each and every piece. I put several more on my wish list for future orders or Bento Boxes. As we wrapped up our purchases (yes, we all shopped!) we had a chance to chat more with the stylists. This allowed us to learn a bit more about the brand.
The Verdict? MM.LaFleur is a Winner
I found myself most impressed by the workmanship. Details like dress shields, handpicked hems, French seams, and snap-in shoulder pads reminded me of my grandmother’s couture pieces. The conservative but on-trend color palette is designed to make dressing or packing easy. And most of all, the pieces are designed with a boardroom in mind. That means no peek-a-boo bra straps or cleavage or risque hems. This brand delivers truly fashionable professional clothing for women at last!
But the best part – the compliments. I’ve truly gotten so many that I know it is the clothing.
I may now be an addict…. I have two more boxes waiting when I return from this trip!