Tag Archives: Boden

Making the Most of Online Sales

24 Jul

Ever have the feeling you have 17,000 email messages in your inbox? I actually did – I signed up to receive “marketing communications” from all my favorite online stores, and then fell behind on reading all the messages. After more than a year of neglect, I finally sat down to clear out the backlog, and was amazed at the volume of email urging me to buy, buy, buy… message after message saying “hurry” or “last day” (only to announce another sale a few weeks later).

They just keep coming...

They just keep coming… over 20 marketing messages received by 10am.

Truth is,  you don’t need to be on a store’s email list to take advantage of the best sales of the year.  They always happen twice a year: after Christmas, and right now – in late July and August, when Fall and Winter clothes begin to arrive in stores. But email marketing offers you the advantage of early access and sometimes an additional discount.

I recently needed a dress to wear to a summer wedding in Sonoma, and I was hoping to land a deal.  So when Boden (one of my favorite online stores) announced their end-of-summer sale, I jumped on the site the same day. I loaded up my cart with 10 “maybe” items, then quickly narrowed down to the best five. I gulped at the total dollar amount and then ordered all five items, knowing I’d be sending half of it back – because in a real store, you take more stuff into the dressing room than you intend to buy. I even paid $15 for express shipping to find out quickly if I had “the right dress” for the occasion. The next day, a large box was on my doorstep!   (It’s my first time using overnight shipping, and I have to say, I could get used to this.)

As it turns out, of the two dresses I ordered, one was a winner. Even with the extra shipping charges, it ended up costing less than $160 – not bad considering I never even had to leave my house. No raking through cluttered clothing racks. I could try it on at home with my own shoes and accessories. As a footnote, less than a week after ordering it, my size is already sold out – so I’m glad I acted quickly.

boden silk petal dress

A recent score from Boden’s online sale – just the dress to wear to a summer wedding.

The unexpected winner from the order was a funky 60’s print tunic – I had my doubts about the crazy retro print, but when I put it on, it felt so good that I decided to keep it. I live in tunic length tops, and the print offers a welcome pop of color.  The fit is great too – flattering neckline, not too tight around the hips, long enough to wear with leggings (or as a super-mini dress if you are feeling daring). $58 is more than I usually spend on tops, but I know it will get plenty of wear.

Boden Fab Jersey Tunic on Sale

The stretchy cotton jersey material was so soft and comfy that I ended up keeping this one.

In a nutshell, here is how I make the most of online sales:

1) Use a separate email account for online shopping. Then, ignore the account unless you’re looking to buy something.

2) Be stingy with your time. Delete all marketing emails older than a week without reading them.

3) If you do intend to buy, respond to online sales early, because popular items can go out of stock in a few days.

4) Order more items than you intend to keep. (You may need to pay for return shipping, but perhaps ordering more means you get free shipping with your order.) Order two sizes of the same item if you have trouble finding your size in a real store.  Yes, you’ll have to float the cost of the additional items until your return is processed, but you’re more likely to end up with something that you’re excited about.

5) Look for coupon codes before you check out  – it only takes a minute and may save you shipping or 20% off with very little effort. My favorite site is Retailmenot.com

6)  Be picky when trying on your clothes at home. Using the best mirror in the house, force yourself to make quick decisions based on gut-level reaction. When in doubt, send it back.

7) Bang out the logistics. To make returns easy, keep your computer connected to a printer for creating return labels, and keep a roll of packing tape in your desk for sealing your package. Fill out the paperwork for the return as soon as you can (to avoid losing it). Find the most convenient place near home or work to drop off UPS packages (using UPS.com). If your package has prepaid postage, don’t stand in line at the post office – walk up to the front of the line, make eye contact with a clerk, and he/she will tell you where to leave it.

8) Log off and get back to real life.  It’s easy to get sucked into hunting for deals online – so I give myself a time limit. If nothing clicks in the first 1 or 2 minutes on a specific site, I ditch out, knowing there will always be a next time.

Do you have another tip to share? Leave it in the comments section below!

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Thanks for the memories

8 Dec

Now that the weather is cold, and a t-shirt just doesn’t cut it anymore, I find myself wearing a hoodie all the time. I love hoodies – maybe a little too much. Believe it or not, I still wear an item that I’ve had since high school: a sorry-looking, saggy-baggy maroon hoodie.  I bought it used at Goodwill – or maybe picked it up on sale at a sporting goods store.  It never looked great back then, but now it’s stretched out, frayed at the wrists, and has a dime-size hole in the kangaroo pocket. Still, there is something so comforting about putting it on – welcoming and familiar- and provides a nice layer of warmth without being confining. It’s the closest I get to wearing a blanket without actually wearing a blanket.

During my senior year of high school, I wore this hoodie to an interview for a scholarship at UCLA. A few weeks later, I got the call from the man who interviewed me, saying that I got the scholarship – but “please, wear something more respectable next time you go to an interview.” Fair enough. Yet here I am, almost twenty years later, and I still love wearing the hoodie. Even though it looks like hell, I didn’t even consider ditching it during my last closet purge.

For momming around, the hoodie is hard to beat. It’s comfortable, washable, easy to tie around my waist at the playground, and zips down when chasing after my 2-year old has me breaking out in a sweat. It’s repelled almost every stain imaginable. There is always something I need to stow in a pocket, whether it’s my cell phone or my child’s most recently discovered “treasure”.

But wait, aren’t I blogging about upgrading my look? Maybe the maroon hoodie needs to be retired. Yet the thought of going without it makes me feel like someone has just told me that I need to give up chocolate. (My husband actually tried that a few years ago when we were trying to eat more healthy, and I think the look I shot him pretty much ended that conversation.) I need to find something that has the coziness and utility of my maroon hoodie, but doesn’t look like it just got picked up off a dorm room floor.

Past efforts to replace or upgrade the hoodie have failed – I have tried, and abandoned, at least 5 other hoodies because they started feeling too tight, too short, or too hard to care for.  It’s time to expand my fashion universe. Luckily, there are some nice options out there right now.  Unless you are in the haze of raising a baby or have been living on a similar far away planet, you have probably noticed the trend to wear long sweaters that drape open in front, often made of a thick cable knit. Sometimes they’re worn belted, but mostly they hang loose – kind of like wearing a blanket.  (Hmmm. I think I’m on to something.)

After my recent failures with shopping at Amazon for clothes, I am reluctant to try online shopping again. Then, my favorite catalog company, Boden, sends me an offer for “buy 2 items, get the third for $1”. Boden is based in the UK, and I appreciate their sense of humor, which is evident in their kids’ clothes which are cute and fun and well-made. I haven’t really ventured into the adult clothes much, but like most of us, I am tempted by the feeling of getting a deal. I decide to spend some time on their web site (Bodenusa.com). Three clicks later, I am in the knitwear section.

Usually, I am not a big fan of shopping for sweaters. Just the sight of all that wool makes me feel hot and itchy. After all, how cold does it ever really get in the Bay Area? However, this open, relaxed style of sweater has fitted short sleeves, and is loose and drapey off the waist – cozy, but not bulky. The fine print reads it’s machine washable, despite being a wool blend. Enticed by the sale, I order the two sweaters below (plus a silk dress which was so unflattering, I won’t bother discussing it any further here).

This cardigan is flattering, kid-friendly, and fun to wear - a winner!

I consider myself an optimist, so I will call this online shopping adventure a moderate success. I love the drapey cardigan – it’s warm and comfortable, and though I have not tried to wash it yet, the label says it can be machine-washed on delicate and hung to dry.  More importantly, I love the look- it’s stylish but still low-key, and goes with just about anything.  Even though I am wearing  jeans and boots from more than three years ago, I still look very current.  The cut is flattering – it follows the shape of my shoulders and arms, and drapes to mid-thigh with an overall long and pleasing line. It falls open in a way to add interest around the neckline without appearing fussy. In short, it’s fun to wear, and kid-compatible – my definition of success!

boden chic sweater

The drape of this sweater is a little relaxed for me, and the tie won't stay tied.

The second sweater, which ties at the waist, is a less exiciting cut, also a bit too thin to hold its shape. The rear likes to ride up over my bum and hang out there. Also, the tie is made of slippery satin trim and does not want to stay tied, which I find irritating. I already have plenty of moments when I feel like I am coming undone from drama with the kids; it doesn’t help for my sweater to *actually* come undone too.

Still, the color is nice and it provides lightweight warmth, and so I decide to keep it – I tell myself it will be a useful layering piece into next spring. Only time will tell if I just talked myself into keeping a dud.

I wish I could say that I finally found a sweater to replace my hoodie – but no such luck. It’s really hard to dethrone the hoodie that is the wardrobe equivalent of my security blanket. As any mother knows, it’s not easy to part with your lovie, even when it’s high time to do so. I’m unwilling to let it go. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my carefree teenage years, or maybe of my father, who died earlier this year and whom I still miss dearly. (I haven’t looked through my high school photos in many years, but if I did, I am sure I would find a few photos of me standing next to my father wearing that hoodie.)

I’ll take that one up with my shrink. Meanwhile, I am shopping for more drapey, open-in-front sweaters.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find – I see a lot of other women, including moms, wearing them.  (Send me a link if you have seen a good one online – otherwise maybe I’ll see you in a few weeks in the real world, shopping the after-Christmas sales.)

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