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I’ve always thought men had it much easier when it came to professional dress.
Suit, shirt, tie… done. Sure, perhaps more casual work wardrobes can add a bit of a snag when it comes to understanding which types of slacks work for which occasional and how to mix a sports coat or sweater into the mix. 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. While I’ve long cultivated great capsule lists to help me pack for work (and leisure) trips, 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) and it served me well. But I got bored with the pieces (and admittedly gained a size too) 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 so I 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 to 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) and 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 so 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. (Signs 1 and 2 that the brand might be a good match – they picked a higher-end hotel in the center of the professional universe in Dallas and they scheduled private appointments (several times that meshed with my own calendar were already gone when I booked, a good sign too).
Hanna emailed to confirm my appointment a couple of days out and 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. I think all of us were skeptical after doing online boxes like Stitch Fix (while I like and have shopped with Stitch Fix several times, I haven’t always been impressed with the quality and 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 and 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 and 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 – 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 and learn a bit more about the brand.
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 – no peek-a-boo bra straps or cleavage or risque hems – 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!