Dear, dear Johnnie,

"Back in the pre-internet nineties, when we were weighed down with ankle biters and couldn't get to the shops, we used to look forward to the plop of the Boden catalogue on our door-mats.

 And back then, Johnnie, you used to write regularly, but we have heard nothing from you of late, and were wondering what you are about these days? So we went undercover to the concessions' floor at Johns Lewis where you have a real-life shop, to sample your current wares and see if you have something to offer your former fans."

Boots £130
What greeted us was a sea of red, white and blue. We applaud your Britishness Johnnie, the real tweed and the 100 per cent wool. And there are some high fashion touches in there: leopard print, military flourishes and bright red, which, naturally we adore. On the not so positive side, the shapes seemed lumpen and unstylish, but surely all would be well once we got them on our bodies.


Or perhaps not, it isn't your fault exactly that our Bezza grows more chins that Jabba The Hutt in a polo neck sweater, but one would need to have no breasts, a tiny waist and a long neck to carry off this sweater with conviction. You are alas, now grappling with the realities of middle aged British women's bodies, who like a raspberry tart or two in the restaurant on the fourth floor. And the trousers...hmm... are a tad loud even for Beryl who embraces loud and for whom loud is a positively wondrous thing.

Disappointingly, Johnnie, Jane had to try very hard to find anything that floated her boat. This jumper with its fifty per cent cotton content, felt cool on her woefully overheated skin (Marjorie Menopause is her constant companion), but she was rather unsure about the arrow and oh, dear, the trousers! What was the designer thinking of? A flared crop! Never, never, never!


Sadly, Johnnie, Jane has had to try very hard to cover her knicker fat in this clingy knitted cotton frock. In fact, she is lost for words, which is so usual as to be unheard of, such was her astonishment at how truly dreadful this made her look.

British tweed trouser £110, T-shirt £30,
cardigan £98
 Forgive us Johnnie we are really not trying to be churlish, but neither of us are finding anything in store that raises our pulse or makes our little facile fashion heart's pound. Beryl thinks that there is a hint of the F-word about this ensemble. Yes, frumpy. 

 Talking of pounds these clothes are a tad pricy and in common with many WOACA's (Women Of A Certain Age) these fifty-something shoppers are, oh, what is the word, oh yes... tight, as in hard to extract money from. 

Faux fur coat £170

Jane felt that she was on safe territory with a snuggly faux fur jacket but, while soft, it lacked the Je ne sais quois that Jane desires in her furs, and its whopping price tag put her off - she had seen a more subtle version in Zara not ten minutes before for half the price.

Top £33 (sale)

Oh, dear, we are back to scraping the sartorial barrel! No wonder this top has 30 per cent off and no wonder there is a rackfull of them still hanging around. Shapeless and a funny colour not quite red and not quite orange. Jane is feeling 190.

Suit jacket £175, skirt £90

Bristol trousers £64 on line

This heritage check suit was probably Beryl's favourite of the clothes that she tried on, Johnnie. Post Brexit we are very keen on British wool, and will pay a premium for clothes made from natural fibres and not plastic. We really liked the detailing, and if anyone were fool enough to employ Beryl which they are not, she might even consider purchasing this costume, umm... sorry suit. The best bit however is definitely the lining. Please could Beryl have a shirt made from the lining, which is divine. Divine Johnnie, yes, we used the d-word. 

Shirt £65 
  At last Jane is smiling, Johnnie. This shirt lacked hanger appeal, but once on her body, Jane really liked the swishy feeling and especially wants to put in a good word for the balloon sleeves. She may even go back to buy this...

So, Johnnie, perhaps you are not aiming for our money, perhaps you crave the attentions of the thirty-something Mummies from the shires which we once were, and if so, then we won't be bothering you again. There are plenty of other brands we can go to, Hobbs is about the same price, however, it seems a shame as in case you haven't noticed, we are the fastest growing demographic, and are the ones with the dosh even if we shop carefully.  Of course we keep a fondness in our hearts for you, even if this has turned into something of a dear John letter.

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