Monday, 28 April 2014

Bags for the Big Day

I spent last Friday at a gorgeous wedding in Gloucestershire and thought it was probably a good idea to wear one of my many dresses that still had the tag on as I can only use the excuse 'it's not right for tonight' so many times. It was a dark navy AX Paris dress and I went with some simple black New Look heels that I knew wouldn't let me down when I made it through to the night's events.

I took a choice of two bags, both black but one slightly larger than the other, as I'm never sure how many essentials I'll want with me. I used my smaller Dorothy Perkins monochrome bag to go with the light and dark shades on my dress and it did the job perfectly. The handy wrist strap meant I had the option to let go when I needed to grab a new glass of champagne from the waiter before he disappeared again and even though there's only a tiny pocket inside it held all the usual essentials for a long day including my mini brush, mirror, eye liner, purse and of course my phone.

So with the wedding season fast approaching (yey!), I've found a few of the best affordable bags online at the moment, and some outfits to go with them. Lets face it, I know we want to look our best but when its a friend of a friend you don't always want to break the bank on a bag you may use for one day, so I've chosen some that can be mixed with outfits for other occasions too.

Firstly, this Miss Selfridge clutch is a subtle but summery pop of colour for £35.

It comes with an optional chain strap for when you're champagne is in your right hand and nibbles are in the left, and even though there's only a small pocket inside, having tried and tested this size last week, I think it will still hold what you need just fine. This would be great being paired with a simple black dress but I think it would look great with this pair of black, white and yellow shoes also from Miss Selfridge (£49), and a monochrome dress from Topshop (£36) to tie in the colours and geometric patterns but still keep some contrast to stand out.

My second option would be this gorgeous embellished clutch from River Island for just £20.

This too comes with a detachable chain strap and glams up an otherwise plain outfit with the bright colour and twinkles. I think it's one of those bags that would look great at whatever occasion, whether just some cocktails with the girls or an anniversary dinner by just altering the outfit you wear it with. For a wedding, pairing the coral with a nude or taupe colour dress will look classy yet current. Here, I've chosen a nude high neck dress from Missguided as we all know you can't wear white to a wedding unless you're the bride (£24.99), and matched some nude shoes from New Look (£24.99) which complement both the dress and bag with the embellished front. I'm quite often chilly whether its July or January, so throwing on a coral blazer like this one from New Look (£24.99, trend here!) will look perfect but is practical at the same time. We can all admit defeat when it comes to weather in England!

I love the excuse a wedding gives you to wear a bright, uplifting outfit, come rain or shine, and this is no exception. This solid pink clutch by French Connection from ASOS is again great to go with a guest's outfit or for just a night out on the town, so for £65 I'll allow you to spend a little more.

It's made from a leather look fabric with a matte finish, has a small pocket inside, a clasp close, a removable chain strap again, and even though it's fairly thin, it looks big enough to hold your bits and pieces snugly (maybe after a game of handbag Tetris but we're all good at that when we need to be!). This outfit is perfect for ladies without 'abs like slabs' as the busy pattern will take the attention away from the muffin-tops that appear from nowhere after the third course. The dress is from AX Paris and comes in 7 different patterns to suit everyone and it's just £30. These shoes are from Faith at Debenhams, which are £45, but any plain pink shoes would work well.

Obviously there are thousands of gorgeous clutches out there, but for a spring or summer wedding I'd definitely recommend choosing a brighter colour; embellished clutches are a must have right now. And trust me, you don't want to buy a bag that you look at next month and think it would look best at a wedding - buy one you'll use for other occasions or you'll be in all the photos at your family and friends' weddings with the same bag!

Enjoy matching your outfits, and as I said earlier, if a wedding isn't a good excuse to wear bright colours then where is?! Happy shopping!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bags for City Breaks

I’ve spent the last few days in Brussels, which I can thoroughly recommend to any chocolate and beer lovers out there but be warned, you may need to spend the next 3 days in the gym just trying to shift all the waffles and alcohol! We took the train to Brugge, and even though Brussels offers streets bursting with all kinds of shops selling traditional souvenirs and hundreds of local beers to your classier stores offering Armani Jeans bags and shoes, I think Brugge came across as an easier place to part with your cash as the shops were more concentrated and intermingled with pretty caf├ęs overlooking the canals.

As I was only staying there for two nights I took 3 bags with me; my black MK tote as it fitted all my essentials in for the train journey, a black clutch back for the evening big enough for my camera, and a tan across the body bag from Primark (on the left in the picture below, right is from Oasis) for the daytime when I’d be carrying my sunnies as well as everything else.

Whenever I indulge in a city break, I think carefully and practically about my bag choices as I know it has to be big enough for the daytime essentials, comfortable to carry as I know I’ll be walking until my legs give up on me, and above all, it has to be safe due to the risk of pickpockets in larger cities. I chose my Primark bag to accompany me this time (thanks to @Primark asking me so nicely on Twitter!) and it did the job perfectly.

Call me over precautious, but I have strict criteria for city break bags.

  • It must have a long strap to put across the body leaving your hands free for those all-important photo opportunities
  • The strap mustn’t have clasps attaching it to the bag itself as they’re too easily removed
  • It must be a colour that goes with all the outfits you’re taking
  • There must be an inside zipped pocket for your phone so it doesn’t slip out when you’re fumbling around for the map
  • And it must have a zip across the top as well as a fastened cover over the zip making sure it’s like Fort Knox to get into!

So here are my recommendations for some bags around at the moment to take on a city break with you.

Skye Satchel by Oasis comes in two colours but even though the green would put a spring in your step, the black here would be a safer option if your suitcase is already threatening the sit-on closing method. The snakeskin effect corners and the shiny gold chain and lock bring a touch of Parisian glam making it perfect to use moving from day to night. Best of all, for £25 I think you’d get your money’s worth.

For just £19.99 
Missguided have this faux leather, small satchel bag in blush, a colour more fitting for a spring or summer city break. The leather effect material is a wise choice in case you get caught in an unexpected shower and the satchel style would look at home in any European city. It can be easily paired with lighter outfits especially those light denim shorts that every girl owns! 

For a little more at £65, you can get this
 handmade real leather saddle bag from Zatchels, guaranteed to be hard wearing if you’re going to be globetrotting around a few cities in one trip. With the fastening being underneath the bag I think this gives extra security as it isn’t easily popped open. The website recommends applying a Nano Pro spray to add a waterproof layer to the bag making it suitable for all weathers and as with the lighter bag above, this can easily be paired with spring fashions like floating florals and other pastels shades, looking well placed on the streets of Rome this summer. The best bit about this bag is that you can personalise it with your name or initials for that extra special touch!

Trusty New Look always have something to suit whatever you’re looking for and this is no exception. This tan leather-look woven bag is perfect for a casual look complementing a beige lace dress or a denim shorts and jumper combo for when you’re slightly more uncertain of the weather forecast, and its just £9.99! The colour, material and style of this bag is more bohemian than the others and wouldn’t look out of place accompanying you around the arty sights that Gaudi so kindly created for our viewing pleasure around Barcelona.

Obviously you may have a preference to use a larger shoulder bag on your holidays, but I would strongly advise going for the security aspect when you’re travelling to any cities. Ensure there’s a good zip and if its on show, make sure its facing towards you. And even though it may sound far-fetched, try to avoid using one with a clasp attaching the strap as they’re easily undone and can go unnoticed on a busy metro. 

If you’re satisfied that your valuables are safe and sound by your side, while looking suitably stylish of course, trust me, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed and free to enjoy your sightseeing around the wonderful cities of the world!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Kate Spade UK

Having been asked to recommend a bag as a special present for one of my friends to buy his girlfriend, I found myself spending yesterday lunch time browsing websites like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Michael Kors and Ted Baker, but came across the Kate Spade New York site.

I've seen quite a lot of Kate Spade products when browsing Pinterest, which have found their way into more than one of my boards, so I was intrigued to do a bit of research on the range of bags and the prices. I knew this was a dangerous move... 

The Charlotte Street Reena in beige caught my eye, among others of course, and is currently on sale on the UK site.

It boasts 2 side zip compartments, an interior zip, double side pockets, a magnetic 'snap closure', and the delicate gold spade logo on the front. With the colour being quite neutral and not a bright white or anything startling, I think this could be paired with a lot of outfits from blacks or navies to pastels like a green or pink ready for the sun to finally make an appearance.

As I've always been wary of buying bags in a shade this pale due to my own clumsiness and inability to control a biro, I think this might be a good place to start... I told you it wasn't safe doing 'research' for someone else! I've made a couple of attempts at buying the bag tonight but seem to be having unexpected difficulty with the UK site so I'll have to patiently wait on the edge of my seat for now.

Oh and if you're interested, I recommended a Michael Kors bag in the end as I'm still slightly in love with my Jet Set Tote I bought a few weeks back!

11th April 2014 UPDATE
I wrote the above blog on the 8th and was able to purchase the bag in question on the 9th, however I've since been given reason to suspect that is not a genuine site even though it's doing a pretty good job of coming across as one. I have contacted the trademarking department of Kate Spade New York to confirm my suspicions asking for an urgent response and I will update this however necessary. In the meantime, please do not use this website.

18th April 2014 UPDATE
I've now received confirmation from the Kate Spade New York site that is NOT GENUINE. Although some people are more than happy to buy fake bags, I'm not one of them, and especially not from a site posing as the real thing. I have contacted the site to ask for my order to be cancelled and for a refund but I'm awaiting a response still. In the meantime my bank are sending me forms to claim back the money as I paid on my credit card (which I would always advise doing if you're spending larger amounts online). Please share this information and do not use the site. Kate Spade NY have advised that the following sites are genuine stockists:

October 2014 UPDATE
The above website has been taken down and yet I've recently received an email from whoever I bought the bags from asking for me to pay them again and send the bags back, which were never received. I received my full payment back from my credit card company so it's definitely worth using a credit card for the security.
Anyway, I think this sneaky lot are back in the form of there are plenty of signs; images you'd expect to be links that don't work, spelling mistakes, missing words, the number of items available etc etc. So avoid it like the plague ladies, and spread the word!

Please leave me a comment if you've found that my misfortune has helped you! And don't forget to spread the word on Twitter etc to stop others using this site.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Having been influenced so easily by an email from at 8am the other day, which led to me buying a second Michael Kors bag (review to follow once I receive it!), I wanted to share my new favourite website with you.

A few of my friends have never heard of the site yet I’ve been signed up to their emails for quite some time now but I seem to be opening more of them than ever before! They cater for everything ‘designer’ from kitchen accessories and bed linen to sunglasses, kid’s clothes and of course your favourite designer bags. 

My most recent purchases were a Michael Kors tote bag (£89), two Ted Baker iPhone covers (£5 & £6), an Inki iPad case (£19) and a pair of lavish Prada sunglasses (£185).

So here’s how it works…

They’re a private shopping website, asking you to become a member before making a purchase, which doesn’t cost anything and only takes a minute to do. They deal directly with hundreds of brands to secure excess stock acting as a stock clearance platform, enabling them to bring us between 30% and 70% off the RRP.

Their website shows a list of all the brands they work with and also the sale events coming soon at the bottom of the home page, which you can handily set reminders for so you can stay ahead when there’s a particular item you’ve been wishing will appear. The sales usually last 4 days but the desirable items are usually snapped up quickly so the reminders are a must if you have your eye on something. The orders are placed with the brand once the sale has ended, meaning that the turnaround on orders isn’t the quickest and can take up to 2 weeks. Once you’ve placed an order, the communication is brilliant; they email you every step of the way and give you tracking details for you to spy on your item as it gets closer to your front door. All items require a signature on delivery and are packed securely so you don’t have to worry about your postie dropping your fragrance and ending up with a porch smelling like Versace (maybe not such a bad thing?).

Here's an example of just a few of the current sales...

If you’re feeling a little more impatient and just fancy a browse, they do also have an Outlet store with delivery of 3-5 days on all items.

Also, to make you feel slightly better about your spending, you can collect £5 vouchers through the loyalty points system. For every £1 you spend you get 5 points, and for every 500 points you earn a £5 voucher will be allocated to your account. The only downside to this is that the vouchers aren't available to use until 30 days after your last purchase, and you must use the voucher within 3 months. In reality, £5 off isn't going to get you a noticeable discount on the nature of things available but they are useful for the cheaper items like jewellery or home products so still worth browsing within the 3 month allowance.

I thoroughly recommend taking a look if you want to bag a bargain, but be warned, you may find yourself spending rather too long checking up on and not enough time on the housework! But why not, work hard and play hard.