Seven Tips for Getting Your Best MM. LaFleur Bento

Jul 27, 2016

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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.

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  1. Carolyn says:

    Love that you introduced this brand! I bought the Akiko 2.0 last fall on your recommendation and just ordered the Etsuko and Alexandra last week when they were re-stocked!

  2. stephanie says:

    I’ve bought two tops from them and I’m really happy with them. They’re both the wrap blouse– a little more fitted than most. A lot of the stuff is too drapey for me, but it would be great for hiding a post partum belly or other weight gain, and it’s all very office appropriate. I do like the dresses and I will at some point pull the trigger on one. But like Belle I’m trying to get away from black, and even the solids aren’t really appealing to me right now. Maybe in winter. But in general the stuff is well made. I honestly don’t see a reason to get the Bento– there’s no price break for it. Just go through their site and pick what you want. But then again I don’t get the subscription service thing and I’m still pissed about the time I wasted on Stitch Fix.

    • Janet says:

      I was considering trying Stitch Fix, but maybe I should reconsider! Can you share details on why it didn’t work out for you? Thanks!

      • anon says:

        I’ll bite. StitchFix is tremendously convenient but it doesn’t really seem like the stylists listen to your wants. I explicitly said I don’t wear black and didn’t want any black – and got multiple black pieces. I asked for no jeans, and they sent me jeans. Just feels really not personalized. And on top of that, quality is not consistent.

      • stephanie says:

        Just saw this. OMG Stitch Fix. So bad. So so so bad. The cheapest, grossest clothes, no matter what price range you specify (and they rip you off by charging you like $89 for a polyester “Daniel Rainn” blouse or some other Nordstrom Rack crap), and the outfits were totally unremarkable. It would be good for someone who doesn’t have access to online shopping or a mall. Or Target.

  3. Sally says:

    You mentioned that their pieces run a bit small. If my measurements put me in a size 10, should I order a 12?

    • MM.LaFleur says:

      Hi Sally! If you normally wear a 10, you will likely be a 12 in MM, although it varies a bit from style to style. Feel free to email us at bonjour@mmlafleur.com, and one of our stylists can answer fit questions or help you decide which size to order in a specific style. Hope that helps!

  4. Sandra says:

    Thanks for this post and thanks for introducing this brand to me (my wallet does not thank you). I own MANY MM pieces but I never have luck with the boxes so these suggestions are great.

    • Barbara says:

      I just received my first Bento. One of the tops and one of the dresses ran small. I will definitely go up a size on the knit items.

  5. Mo says:

    I regularly bike to work in the Etsuko. Note, these are the share bikes, so they have a low cross-bar, but I haven’t flashed anyone yet. The cuts are great and the machine-wash fabric wears well after 2 seasons of weekly wear.

  6. M says:

    MM comes to DC so often, you’re better off booking an appointment at one of their pop-ups than ordering a Bento. (They are coming to DC again in September – there’s information about that pop-up posted on their website.) When you arrive, they will have a variety of pieces set up for you to try on based on a survey that you will have filled out beforehand. Based on what you like or don’t like, the stylist will then bring you different pieces to see and try. This whole process is helpful in figuring out sizing in the different styles and also gives you the opportunity to see more than 4-6 pieces at a time.

  7. Jo says:

    Great post. I adore MM! I highly recommend going to the showroom or pop-up. I ended up liking pieces I did not know I would like! I also like your recommendation to know what you need. I found myself liking a lot and had to think hard how to fit the pieces in.

  8. the says:

    I think I want one of thee for Christmas! Great idea!

  9. MPK says:

    I’ve long meant to order a bento, but I just wrote them a novel in the comments section based on this valuable advice. Thanks for the tips! Fingers crossed for a good pick or two.

  10. E. M. says:

    Can’t wait until they carry larger sizes so I can participate in the excitement, too! A DC store sounds great!

  11. Valerie says:

    Sidenote: thank you (as always) for including your affiliation with particular brands and monetary compensation (or lack of compensation) on posts. It’s so hard to tell sometimes whether bloggers actually endorse and wear certain products, or if they’re paid to do so. Your honesty is refreshing!

  12. Lynn Ricker says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I just got my first Bento Box and loved the experience. These tips are really helpful as a think about a second one for fall.

  13. Emily says:

    Long time fan of MM LaFleur. The Sarah is my power dress. I highly recommend both Jardigans (Saint Ambroeus and Woolf). I recently bought the Foster pants and cannot sing their praises enough. Pants are tough for me and I was worried about the side zip on these pants. They do not create the issues like the J.Crew pixie does, and they maintain their shape (don’t stretch/bag out at knees and seat). To top it off, you can adjust the length from long to ankle via two buttons and hidden slits inside the seam.

  14. Cassandra Brown says:

    I received my first Bento two weeks ago and I like the concept. Do you plan any pop up shops in Atlanta?

    • MM.LaFleur says:

      Hi Cassandra! So glad to hear you liked your first Bento. We’ve visited Atlanta in the past and will likely go back in 2017! We’ll keep you posted via email, and you can follow us on Twitter or Instagram (@mmlafleur) for pop-up updates as well.

  15. Heather says:

    I can’t find anything about this on the website, if you just order individual pieces (rather than the bento) how do returns work?

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