Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bag Logic

Passing through these pages I would completely forgive you if you said I was bag-mad. A bit obsessed. And if you thought that I just bought handbags on a whim. Of course, if you read my back and forth with the Roxette and Cara, you'll know that I am probably more the exact opposite. That I overthink my purchases at times.

The truth is, that I do both. Sometimes I think and analyse to the nth degree. Then a bag, which I loved and would probably work very well, becomes almost unfeasible and I abandon the idea altogether. Then again I might see something that I just pounce on. Usually (and thankfully) the impulse buys tend to be comparatively affordable. Well, everything is relative...

Anyway, I thought it might be useful for me to share the reasonable levels of consideration that  give a bag purchase. I think buying your first designer handbag can be quite daunting - even if we don't consider questions around authenticity, where to buy and budget. 

Row of Mulberry Bayswaters at Bicester Village

When considering a bag for myself (or advising somebody else on a purchase), I would always consider the following:

1. Lifestyle
What kind of bag would you use most often? Do you want something for a night out, a special occasion or day to day? Would a bag that's suitable for work be the best investment piece?

2. Size
The above will make you think about which occasion you want your bag for. So how much would you want to carry on those occasions? Just a purse, phone and key? Or maybe even just lippy and a credit card? Or will you want to lug around snacks, a change of clothes, dummies, toys..? The bigger the bag, the more you might try to carry, whilst a smaller one might discipline you into thinking what's important and what can stay at home. Also, don't underestimate how much all your stuff weighs.

3. Use
How do you like to organise your bag's contents? Do you prefer a boxy style that retains its shape? Or something lose and casual. Do you hate rooting around your bag and want to be able to find everything quickly? How do you want to carry your bag? Do you need to be hands free? (Maybe because you're chasing after a toddler or carrying something else.) Do you have any issues with your neck or back that would make it uncomfortable to be carried a certain way? Or would a heavy bag cause any issues? Are you fine having to baby a bag or do you need something you don't mind getting wet, e.g. because you commute and might have to walk in the rain.  
And then I'd decide on what I do and don't want from the below:

Self explanatory, right? How big is the bag - what does it hold?
Big - holds your kitchen sink
Medium - typical handbag size
Small - fit in your key items (purse, keys, phone, tissues...)
Mini - essentials only (key, credit card, coin purse)

Mulberry Roxanne, Rosemary and Blenheim

How can you carry this bag?
Very Short - handheld or crook of arm only
Short - maybe just about on the shoulder
Medium - carry on the shoulder
Long - carry cross body (or usually: adjust to taste)

Mulberry Mini Alexa in Cabbage Green

Closely linked to size and strap is weight. A big bag will most likely weigh more than a small one - as will its contents. A long strap can make carrying your bag much easier, if it's too heavy it might still prove a struggle for everyday use. Then there is the choice of leather, that can make a real difference. Especially important if you have issues with your shoulder(s) or arm(s). The below are all relative to yourself, of course. What's heavy for some, might be no problem for others.
Light - no problem to carry
Medium - no big issue if carried for short times
Heavy - best to sit on a chair or the car seat next to you. Not really a daily commute bag. (My Roxanne falls into this but I can make her somewhat easier to use with a wide guitar strap.)


How boxy or slouchy is this bag? Will it fall into a puddle if empty?
Slouchy - yep, this one puddles
Boxy - will hold its shape

Mulberry Alexa in two different finishes

How sensitive is the leather/finish? Will two drops of rain have you run for cover or is it one of those bags that you can chuck in the corner without worrying?
High Maintenance - take outside at your own peril, order an extra chair at dinner
So so - treat her with respect, treat with Collonil and be a bit careful
Bomb Proof - well, maybe not quite bombs but raindrops, baby dribble or even a drop of wine 
- as long as she's been Collonil'd you don't have to worry.

I'm a sucker for Mulberry NVT Oak and think it kind of goes with everything. But then again, I also never match shoes and belt or bag. For me, function always comes first. But maybe you're looking for a specific colour, or for one that will go with an existing outfit? I If you are, you might already exclude certain styles, that simply didn't come in your desired hue. If you're not looking for a specific shade, it's still worth considering the following choices:
Neutral light - nudes or oak, I think goes with everything
Neutral dark - black or very dark blue
Pop of colour - punchy, you have to be happy for your bag to either stand out or have the wardrobe to match/harmonise

Mulberry Beatrice, Small Del Rey, Mini Alexa and Multizip Pouch

I like doing the "queue test": Imagine you're stood in a queue and have to fish out your purse, travel ticket or passport quickly without setting your bag down. Does it work? How quickly? I like bags I can work cross body for that reason but have found other bags that I expected fiddly to be ok - and others that I thought would be ok don't work quite as well.
Fiddly - yep, takes me a while and/or I have to worry to drop something (or maybe I look like an idiot doing it?)
With Practice - might seem fiddly at first but once you get the hang of it, no problem.
Easy - open, retrieve item, close. That simple.

Mulberry Alexa with Samorga insert

Are you looking for a bag for every day or for a (fancy) occasion? I personally don't do any matching of shoes with bags and am happy to carry something sparky with my jeans - but you might think differently.
Dressy - something very pretty, maybe sparkly, probably best for a special occasion
Everyday - goes with a day outfit, doesn't look too dressy

Mulberry Small Bayswater Buckle in Oak NVT

What I do now, is exclude all bags that contradict what I would select as a 'must have' from above. And look closer at those that tick multiple boxes - or at least those that are most important. And then I have a pretty good shopping list. (If you're new to (vintage) Mulberry, have a look at my review archive, where you can find reviews of lots of Mulberry models - and match them against your shopping list.) What's your absolute must have?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Two of The Same

My usual looking back at last week with one outfit that was a forgotten leftover thrown in - and then as I was pasting that one in I realised that I am now wearing the same skirt in different prints but with the same jacket in the last two pictures. Not 100% on the darkness of that last outfit but I can't wait to pair that navy print with something bright and summery!

When you buy the same dress as your colleague, who is a part time model - and there's no way you want to stand next to her wearing the same! How do you avoid that? You wait until she's on holiday. ;)
Dress: Zara
Boots: Marks and Spencer
Necklace: Accessorize

You've probably seen this outfit on me before, so I thought I'd show you the bag that I am currently using: my Mulberry Small Bayswater Buckle. 
Denim shirt: La Redoute 
Skirt & necklace: Zara 
Boots: Office 
Belt: Reiss 
Bag: Mulberry 

Team away day yesterday with a foodie walking tour or the Northern Quarter - so comfy footwear was mandatory. 
Seriously, we were even told in an email! ;) 
T-shirt: &Other Stories 
Jeans: Next 
Jacket: Zara 
Trainers: Converse

And here those two outfits with the same skirt - Boden's Richmond pencil skirt:

A leftover pic from before last week's holiday. I thought this would be the last of the opaque tights but 
I'm not convinced by the temperatures to give them up yet. 
Top: Karen Millen Skirt: Boden 
Jacket: Warehouse 
Boots: Zara

...and here is that skirt in a different outfit. Though I don't really like how dark all of this is. Feels too wintry... 
Top: Hallhuber 
Skirt: Boden 
Jacket: Warehouse 
Necklace: ??? 
Boots: ZARA

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Bag Collection: Mulberry Small Bayswater Buckle

"My Bag Collection" feature is really just about the bags that managed to stay in this whirlwind of buying, trying out and selling. So far I have only featured my Alexa (my first new and bought from Mulberry direct) and my Mini Alexa (with me on every holiday) as these were the only two I was  100% sure would be staying.

My Small Bayswater Buckle is a fairly recent addition and I only started using her a couple of weeks ago. And yet, I am pretty sure she's going to stay. How come? I absolutely love her!

Mulberry Small Bayswater Buckle

Mulberry Small Bayswater Buckle

ca 30cm - 43cm wide, 27cm high, 15cm deep

Interior zip and slip pocket, postman lock closure.

Relaxed formal, i.e. not as formal as a classic Bayswater but more so than a tote. Quite boxy and therefore roomy. Works well as a workbag (though not really A4 compatible) but also as a cute weekend bag - as long as you don't need a long strap to remain hands free.

When I use her
Mainly for work. She's a perfect size to get all that stuff that I lug to and from work (excluding laptop), more lightweight than my Bayswater and surprisingly easy to carry - despite the short handles.

All the following in a Love Lolo liner: Purse, Naked Cow Fauxdori with 4 Fieldnote-sized inserts, Mulberry Multizip Pouch, 2 shopping bags, handcream, inhaler, car keys, phone (normally x 2), tissues, Boden leather pouch, work pass, Mulberry train pass holder.

Contents of bag

Recommended Care
Use Collonil Gel for cleaning and nourishing and finish off with Collonil Waterstop spray to protect. For more info, check out my full video review here

So there you go - an incredibly fast acceptance into the 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stripes and Florals

Two outfits and one arrival of a Boden order - and a whole lotta florals!

I love it when matching/clashing prints work - and I think it does in those two stripy skirt/floral top outfits! Do you like mixing prints?

Floral top with block stripe skirt
Not from last week but a leftover from quite a few weeks ago (just found it when tidying my pictures over the weekend). Trying a bit of that pattern clashing thing.
Top: Topshop
Skirt: Reiss
Boots: Zara

Full skirt with cropped floral top
Trying that patter mixing thing again. With stripes and florals - again.
Top: Miss Selfridge
Skirt: Rumour London at Wolf & Badger
Boots: Zara

Boden sale order arrived - whoop! What do you think of my new pencil skirts? I know I'll wear them both to death! :)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Strapping Beauties

You know I'm not very good in the kitchen, right? I won't lie: I'm generally not very crafty. I blame it on not having enough time but the truth is I'm neither very talented nor patient enough to refine any rudimentary skill. And yet I am bringing you a crafty 'How to'. How so? On one of the Mulberry groups I frequent, a very talented lady called Helen shared how she made guitar style straps for her bags. I think they are fab and make most bags instantly more useable. I asked her straight away whether she would write a guest post for my blog so that her step by step guide could be preserved for all eternity. So without much further ado - but a big THANKS to Helen - here it is!

Bags with straps
Kate Spade Orchard Street Arla in Deep Indigo and Mulberry Small Bayswater Satchel in Oak with guitar style straps

With interchangeable straps being so popular at the moment, I wanted to try one on my bag, but couldn’t find one I liked – so I decided to make my own. Now, I sew quite a lot of my own clothes, so I’m reasonable good with a sewing machine, but this is so straightforward anyone can have a go, and you could hand sew this, if you don’t have a machine. It took me about 15 minutes to make each strap – shopping online for the bits took longer than making them. Here’s my quick walk through how to make a strap, what you’ll need, and my top tips. 

You'll need 
- 1.5-2m of webbing, 
- the same length of jacquard type ribbon or trim, 
- two dog lead type clips and 
- a slide bar (optional, but it's easier than trying to get exactly the right length strap). 

Tip 1 - hardware- be sure to get the right size clips, the first ones I got weren't big enough for the chunky d-rings on my SBS, so I had to order larger ones. If in doubt go for larger sized clips

Required supplies to make your bag strap

I got the webbing and hardware from eBay (search for bag hardware or dog lead / lobster clips), and the jacquard ribbon from my local sewing shop (online search for jacquard or woven ribbon/trim/braid for similar). I went for cotton webbing as I prefer how that feels to nylon. You can use almost any trim, but I’d avoid anything which might get caught in the slide bar and hardware, so that rules out pom-poms. Also, avoid anything which describes itself as stretch – there are some lovely decorative elastic trims but they won’t work! I spent about £12 on each strap, so they aren't cheaper than a strap from Next, but they are unique and exactly what I wanted. Webbing and hardware (the loops for the webbing, not the clip) need to be the same size, but trim can be narrower. Both of these straps use 40mm webbing and clips. You can get smaller, but I like a wide strap, both for comfort and effect, and I carry a lot about. 

Tip 2 - Differently sized trim is trickier to sew so try to avoid this if you aren't a confident sewist. 

Affix the trim to the strap with needles

I started by sewing the trim to the webbing. Sew this as close to the edge as you can, and take your time. You’ll be securing the end later, so don’t bother back stitching. If you are handsewing, this just need to be secure, it won’t be taking any weight. I had some spray fabric glue so used this to hold the trim to the webbing while I did this, but pins work too. 

Tip 4 - I also used an edge stitch foot to help get really close to the edge, a zipper foot would also work. 

Using a sewing machine to sew the trim to the strap
The strap with narrower trim was trickier, and the hardest bit was getting this trim dead centre down the whole length. I used a 1/4inch piecing foot to keep the stitches perfectly on the narrow edging on this one. 

A slim trim is being sewn onto light coloured webbing

Tip 5 - Use a bag with a similar strap to help figure out the hardware. I started by sewing the slider on, then threaded the first clip on, back through the slider, and finished by sewing the second clip. Just turn the edge under once and then sew through the three layers several times. 

Tip 6 - I found it easier to leave the needle down (my machine has a setting for this) and then turned the whole strap round, rather than trying to backstitch. I made sure this was very secure by doing this about five times. If handsewing this is the heaviest and trickiest bit – remember that these stiches will take the whole weight of your bag. You’ll probably need a thimble! 

How to attach hardware to webbing

Affix webbing to hardware with sewing machine

Hardware attached to strap

That’s it – adjust the length and you are done!

Helen Charlton
I am a keen sewist, knitter and crocheter, and I’m developing an alarmingly expensive taste in handbags! 
(I’m wearing a Cashmerette Springfield Top in Liberty Karter Tana Lawn in pink.)

Helen Charlton

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Something Green and Something New

This week you're not just getting all my outfits from last week but also a sneaky peek at my Victoria Beckham X Target purchase before I actually wear it out.

Victoria Beckham X Target dresses
So what do you think of my VB dresses? I do love the mint one - and the quality is amazing for £40! The dress on the right is actually a girls' dress in size XL. I probably wouldn't put it with black tights but, regardless of that, I am not so sure about it. It's just a bit of a funny shape on me...

Sweatshirt paired with green boucle skirt
Trying to coax out spring with some greenery. Remember that Chanel inspired black and white skirt I have and never wore until recently? Well, this is the same one in green. [incidentally "das gleiche in grün" is a German saying but let's not get sidetracked.] I've been waiting to pair it with something and found a plain top just too boring, so I tried this new sweatshirt. Too green? Kinda like it...
Top: Next
Skirt: River Island
Boots: Zara

Topshop jacquard skirt with slouchy boots
More florals for spring, though the colours have a distinct autumnal feel - as does the weather at times. The skirt and top are a fairly recent Topshop sale purchase, both were a bit of a bargain - though I'm not that sure about the top...
Top & skirt: Topshop
Cardigan: Boden
Boots: Marks and Spencer

Boden Leopard print dress
Boden prints: when they're good, they're really good! Still love this dress, which combines flattering shape and striking print to something just that extra bit special.
Dress: Boden
Boots: Zara

Long denim shirt and leggings
You know when something seems like a good idea in your head? Like that outfit you think you're gonna pull out of the wardrobe and you mentally put together as you're waking up. Then the shirt is suddenly a bit too short as a dress, so you add leggings. And, for some reason, a belt. And you're suddenly in territory you didn't really want to be. Especially if 2 of our colleagues wear denim dresses the same day and look fab in them. 😂 #outfitfail 
Shirt: Sainsbury's 
Leggings: Topshop 
Boots: Office
Belt: Reiss 
Necklace: Stella & Dot

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Buckle Down

I had actually quite happily settled into my Mulberry Roxanne recently and, though fairly heavy, found her pretty easy to get on with for my daily work needs. She's spacious, boxy, fitted my Bayswater Samorga, has 2 front pockets that allow me to easily access train ticket and work pass. And she's a fair bit vintage, so I don't feel like I have to be too precious about her.

But I am having one of those "I need to be good and get rid of a bag or two" phases and that means either justifying me owning a bag - or selling it on. My Small Bayswater Buckle had been sitting in wardrobe for a few weeks so I thought she'd better earn her keep. 

So changeover it was: Unpack Roxanne and pack up the little Buckle. Have a look what she can hold and how she compares to my regular Bayswater and my Ledbury!

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