MM. LaFleur is my favorite workwear designer. Their dresses, jackets, and separates are sleek and sophisticated. I own their Akiko dress in three colors (the obsession is strong), and pounce on new arrivals like a wild jungle cat. And as the brand grows, so do their offerings.
Last year, they launched a product called the Bento Box. A personal stylist selects four to six pieces from their collection based on a questionnaire, and then mails them to your home. You have four days to try on the pieces, and ask your stylist questions about how to style them. Then, you mail back what you don’t want at their cost and you’re only charged for what you keep.
But how do you ensure you get a great Bento Box filled with pieces you just can’t bear to part with? Here are my tips for getting your very best Bento.
When you sign up for a Bento Box, you fill out a lengthy questionnaire about your personal style, your office dress code, and your wants and needs. Answering this questionnaire (‘The BQ’) honestly, and in detail, is the key to a good Bento experience.
The Fit Is It. When you order clothes online, finding the right fit is tricky. The BQ asks you to describe your body type (pear, heart), your proportions (broad shoulders, wider hips), and what size you wear in common brands.
MM. LaFleur runs a bit small, so communicating with your stylist is critical. But as the ladies at MM say, size is just a number. Don’t be intimidated if you need to go up a size or two. Fit matters, size doesn’t.
In addition to the questionnaire, I recommend breaking out a tape measurer. Augment your answers in the comments by providing your measurements and minimizing the opportunity for error. Also, if you wear one size on top and a different size on bottom, make sure to tell your stylist.
Don’t Expect Your Stylist to Read Your Mind. My first Bento was a bit lackluster, but a lot of that was my fault. Like many professional women, I own a lot of black. The last thing I wanted was more black. Did I tell my stylist this? No. What did I get as a result? A box of black.
To prevent this from happening to you, I thought long and hard about how to cure this issue.
Share Your Feelings. Hate a-line skirts? Look terrible in wrap dresses? Wear nothing but v-necks? Can’t stand sleeveless/cap sleeve/long sleeve? Tell your stylist. You know what you love and what you hate, so share that information. If you only wear skirts and you don’t share that information, you’re going to be really disappointed when you receive pants.
Know Your Closet. What do you already own? What colors, styles, and pieces make up your wardrobe? If you know you need tops or that you own too much black (face palm), your stylist needs to know.
Skim the MM Collection. Unless you really love surprises, don’t leave everything up to chance. Look through the MM website and see which pieces you gravitate to. Love that bright yellow Monique dress? Interested in the De Beauvoir blouse? Tell your stylist.
Employ the Anchor Strategy. The ladies at MM let you request pieces from the collection to fill your Bento. So I would recommend requesting one piece that you like, and asking your stylist to curate the other selections based on that piece and what you love about it.
Here’s an example of what I would send to the stylist.
“I adore the Sant Ambroeus Jardigan in ecru. The lightness, the sleek shape, the versatility. I’m trying to get away from black and incorporate more light neutrals into my wardrobe. I also like the pastels and jewel tones in the rest of the new collection. If you could send pieces to make two outfits using that jacket, that would be ideal.”
Give Your Stylist a Second Chance. Think of your Bento like a negotiation. You told your stylist what you wanted. She sent you the pieces she thought met your criteria. If her selections fell short, tell her how. Give her direction on what went right and what wasn’t up to par so she can try again.
Once you’re on the same page with your stylist, you’re going to get better Bentos. Take a little time to develop a relationship with your stylist so that she can please and surprise you with her selections.
The Bento Box is a great offering for women who want to expand their fashion horizons. Whether your style is fashion forward, business casual, or conservative, MM. LaFleur can fill your closet with the pieces love and didn’t know you needed.
I have a long-term relationship with MM. LaFleur. I bought my first dress after they launched in 2013 and blogged about it. After that, they reached out to form a partnership. Now, I work with them regularly and own eight MM. pieces (four I bought, four were gifts from MM. LaFleur). I was not paid for this post.