Tag: shopping

LA – February 2017

I took a trip to LA this past week. It was unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. From what I’d heard over the past few years, California was experiencing a drought. Rich people were getting derided for using sprinklers to keep their lawns green when most vegetation was turning brown. However, when I went we were hit by a storm so bad that we spent the entire Friday inside, lying on the sofa watching the rain pour down. The infinity pool in the back yard rippled and began to overflow. One minute you could see the mountains in the distance, the next they were obscured by a wall of cloud. I was in the Valley.

I stayed in LA for four full days, but 5 nights in total. In that time I seen almost everything I wanted to see. I seen the Valley, I seen the mountains, I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, through some canyons, down Sunset at sunset and various other times throughout the day, I ate the best food, I browsed in many stores, I seen the ocean, I put my toe on the sand, I drove to the top of a hill and observed the entire city below me, looking to Downtown and across to the sea. I really loved it. I cannot fault the trip.

The differences between New York and LA were so striking to me. It’s a completely different way of life. I’ve thought about moving there after graduation a few times and it appeals to me in some ways but not in others. Now that I’ve visited I’m more sure of the positives of the city and what it has to offer. I still have my concerns though. In my mind, LA is rather isolating. Everyone drives. I worry that it would be difficult to meet people because it’s not the same as New York where you just walk around everywhere and bump into new people. I think socializing would require more effort and making new friends and trying to build relationships would take a lot of work. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable making the switch to the west coast until I knew a couple of people out there, at least as acquaintances to meet up with initially. Overall, everything just felt more chill. Less rushed. Even when we were backed up in traffic on the 405 I didn’t feel stressed out. Normally if I stop for a minute in New York I’m antsy. I can’t even wait at a traffic light for the walk sign without pacing halfway into the flow of oncoming cars. I think the pace of life would take some adjusting to, especially coming from New York. However, thousands of people move from New York to LA and vice versa every single year and manage so it must be doable.

The best element of my trip was the food. I feel like I ate so damn well. We went to Spago on Saturday evening for a meal and it was the best thing that’s ever passed my lips. The portions were perfectly sized and the pasta I had was so full of flavor that I finished it all and ate slowly to savor every piece. The steak was also perfect. Brunch at Chateau Marmont was another experience as the food was tasty (and gluten free for some reason), the surroundings were iconic, and the fellow diners were somebodies. I feel like I could look the part and somehow make people think I was a somebody too. It would’ve been funny. Johnny Depp’s daughter was two tables away from me and just as beautiful in person as the Chanel ads, but she has fantastic genetics. Mel’s Drive-In on Sunset was a good lunch option too. I ate a lot of lamb on the trip. A random snippet of information but strange if you know me as you’d know that I order bolognese at every restaurant I go to, yet nowhere I went had traditional bolognese and this was always my closest option. I had a wonderful pasta dish with lamb sausage and red peppers which tasted like Hungarian goulash to me. It was also delicious. Oh, and of course I had an In-N-Out burger. Of course.

I went to almost every store in LA and, whilst I enjoyed browsing, all I bought on the entire trip was a black zip-up hoodie from the men’s section of H&M (it got cold in the house), a new Beauty Blender sponge, and a bunch of random supplies from CVS (e.g. Intensive moisturizer as my skin just dies after travel, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition for $10…). Disappointing really when you consider some of the stores LA has to offer. There were certainly a few experiences to be had. Fred Segal was interesting because it’s such an iconic store but I found the merchandise carried different than what I’d imagined. Nasty Gal in Santa Monica was strange as the entire store was on sale, literally. You could buy the fixtures, plants, mirrors, everything. Wasteland (the vintage store) was disappointing. I’d first heard of it a few years ago, randomly stumbling across their website one time when looking for high-end vintage clothing and I remember being so amazed by it. Going into the store was a slightly disappointing experience as I found everything to be so overpriced. I think they grew too big perhaps. I went to Rodeo Drive and Abbot Kinney (but didn’t shop) and I went to the Grove (where I almost did) and I went to the Beverly Center (where I actually did). I didn’t yet make it to Decades or Elyse Walker; I’m saving them for next time.

The most interesting store to me out of all of these places was Maxfield. I loved Maxfield. It’s somewhere that I’ve wanted to visit for years now and I’ve been interested in potentially working for in the future. I just loved it. The store was so conceptual but not in an annoying and pretentious way. The merchandise selection was spot-on, a mix of high fashion, uber luxury (like vintage Hermes) with young brands like Off-White and Enfants Riches Deprimes, the visuals were cool, and the assortment of art books and coffee table books was cool – like a perfectly curated gift section really. Cool. Everything was cool. The staff, the customers, everything. If I had the funds I could’ve done some serious damage there. To make things even cooler, the Vetements pop-up was still outside. I wish I could’ve gone inside but it was closed when I was there. If you haven’t already seen images online, the Vetements pop-up was like a dry cleaners. It was so funny. To see it in person was a really cool experience for me because normally I’m an outsider to these things, just seeing it via Instagram. Across the street in the gallery space was the Daft Punk pop-up exhibition. It was the first thing like this that I’ve ever waited in line for. It was also really cool, but I think I may write about it in more detail in a separate post so I shall leave that for that.

Besides shopping, I spent most of the time on this trip as the passenger in the car. I was just chauffeured around, being the human GPS system and occasionally taking a nap but more often than not just taking in everything around me. It was really fascinating to me. My fondest memories from the trip are from places I seen whilst in the car and conversations I had on the journey. I love the palm trees too. Really, I think I would like LA. It has a lot to offer. Plus, 9 times out of 10 the weather is perfect. I look forward to my return, whenever that will be.

Shopping Find: Steve Madden vs Marc Jacobs

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These boots from Steve Madden (right) look almost identical to the boots from Marc Jacobs (left). Strikingly so. That’s why I bought them. I’m not a huge fan of the whole copycat economy in fashion, yet I consistently partake in it by buying pieces from brands who profit off of other people’s work. Steve Madden’s entire business is built on this. It’s complicated because if you cannot achieve the original should you have to go without? Honestly, I have mixed feelings. I disagree, strongly, with counterfeits but inspired designs are a different case. That is where these boots land. In that tricky space between a counterfeit and a knockoff. And yes, there is a difference.

The obvious difference between the two is the fabrications. The Marc Jacobs boots are made of real leather versus the Steve Madden ones which are PU. However, what surprised me was the fact that the Marc Jacobs boots also have a seam at the front where the leather is joined. Often in high end boots, the leather is seamless, cut all in one to prevent any extra lines. I guess because Marc Jacobs boots aren’t at a true luxury price point ($500+) they are exempt from this rule, or more so this tendency.

I just love the look of platforms. They remind me of the Spice Girls. I like to feel like I am walking on stilts when I wear them, especially as I’m fairly short so the extra height is fun for me. They also have the ability to make your legs look 6ft long, even if they’re not and make your calves look sculpted. I bought the Steve Madden version on sale for $50 and I’m excited to wear them. I only received them in the mail on the 13th so I can’t personally vouch for their comfort level yet. However, aesthetically they are on point. I would suggest ordering a size up from your regular size as they run small. I had to switch them out the first time I bought them.

SHOP ONLINE

Steve Madden – $50, from $129.95

Marc Jacobs (via Barneys) – $475

Shopping Find: Alexander Wang x Topshop x Urban Renewal

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I’m not a denim skirt fan. They look weird on me. In my mind, they are for mid-2000s moms. However, they seem to be having a resurgence. I noticed this last summer when pretty much every cool girl stepped out wearing one. I didn’t partake in it last summer and I probably wont next summer. However, I liked this Alexander Wang option because it was a little bit more interesting to me than your standard, straight-across denim skirt. Instead of being his mainline runway collection, it is a piece from his Denim x Alexander Wang line. I haven’t actually purchased any jeans from them yet but I am planning to get a pair of either the skinny style or the slightly wider straight legs. I haven’t yet decided. I came across the two dupes organically. I was just browsing on both Topshop and Urban’s websites when I seen the styles that looked eerily similar.

As this is an older season style, Alexander Wang’s skirt is available on The Outnet (therefore already reduced from regular retail price) and is on sale. Furthermore, the Urban Renewal style is half price. What’s funny to me is that Topshop’s version is current season and still full price (34 GBP). However, out of all three options it is the one I like the best. I think the wash of the denim is the nicest. All of these styles come out to less than 100 GBP in total so really any of them are a relative steal. Maybe you can rock the summer staple with the cut-out twist better than I could?

SHOP ONLINE
Alexander Wang (via The Outnet) – 94 GBP, if you’re in the US you can get it at Barney’s for $69
Topshop – 34 GBP
Urban Renewal (at Urban Outfitters) – 20 GBP

Shopping Find: Balenciaga VS Zara

The Vetements effect is real people, evidenced by the wide array of puffer jackets in stores and the styling of them to look exactly like the Balenciaga offerings that Demna Gvasalia sent down the runway. When you go into Zara on Fifth Avenue you’re actually confronted with a mannequin wearing their version of the coat, zipped up in the same way as the Balenciaga one with the wide lapels and slight triangular shape. I’m not sure how I feel about this jacket (the expensive or inexpensive version).

I generally hate puffer jackets. I don’t like things that add extra bulk to my frame and that’s exactly what a quilted jacket does. However, I do understand that they’re super warm and given the winter that we’re supposedly set to have in New York, perhaps the added bulk would be welcome. Honestly, I’m going to buy a parka and hate my appearance so much in it but at least I’ll be cosy.

On the runway
On the runway

The Balenciaga jacket is extremely expensive, in my opinion, for what it is made of. Its 100% Polyester (lining and outer) and, as far as I can see, there’s no mention of down filling. The Zara jacket is also polyester but with 70% grey duck down, 30% feather filling.

SHOP ONLINE
Balenciaga – $3250 (preorder)
Zara – $149 (there is also a different style in store I think)

Shopping Find: Isabel Marant vs Zara

The look that stood out to me from the Fall 2016 Isabel Marant show was the Prince of Wales check dress. To me it was so 80s, a little bit punk, so fun, and so appropriate for every possible situation. I still worked in an office when I seen the show so I thought it was a more interesting twist on what could be a boring work dress, based on the wrap over detail and the extra fabric to add a little flounce. Also, I loved the oversized safety pin detail as it is something that adds a little bit extra cool but could easily be missed if you wanted to hide it. In the collection, there was also a cute skirt in a similar fabric which featured a tied waist; I would settle for this too.

Left - Isabel Marant, Right - Zara
Left – Isabel Marant, Right – Zara

Fortunately, the fast fashion store that everyone loves to hate/hates to love, Zara came along and produced a pretty good copy. Yes, the red stripe is missing from the pattern but apart from that the shape and the overall design are pretty much spot on. I bought this skirt as soon as I saw it and then immediately felt guilty afterwards for two reasons: 1, because I had planned to stop buying less things from fast fashion stores after I began researching it, and 2, because I actually wanted to buy the Isabel Marant dress. It was going to be my one splurge of the year. However, I have since remembered that I’m going to be a student and have no income therefore I should just forget about buying nice things anyway. Also, I had a gift card to spend in Zara so I was going to be buying something inevitably.

I plan to wear this skirt in both summer and winter. For the summer I’m thinking about a silky cami top tucked in and for the winter I’m planning a long sleeved, low back bodysuit. I think the skirt would look really great with some black ankle boots (patent, preferably) and tights.

 

SHOP ONLINE

Isabel Marant – £280

Zara – £29.99

If anybody knows where I can get the dress photographed above please let me know. Currently, Net a Porter don’t carry it.

Shopping Find: Isa Arfen VS The Reformation VS Zara

I mentioned it in a previous post and I’ll say it again: I love frills. I love a little flounce in a skirt, or, in this case, a flared hem of a pant leg. Adore. I find the style flirty and feminine without being too girly for me. Bonus points if the item is black. Sometimes I find that a ballerina pink, although pretty, can look a little bit too young for me.

I first seen these trousers on Zara’s website, around a month ago, and since then I haven’t been able to find them again. I’m sure they were current season though so I don’t imagine that they sold out. A few days later I was flicking through a magazine when I seen this pair from Isa Arfen, a London-based label started by a CSM graduate. Instantly I thought they looked similar to the Zara pair that I had spotted previously. Later on that same week I was looking on the Reformation’s website. I actually love the aesthetic of this store, although I have never shopped there personally so I cannot vouch for them. I’ve heard a few negative whispers online about the brand but I’m not sure how much truth is behind this. All I really know is that they consistently make items that become “it” in places like New York and sell out every season.

All three pairs of trousers are visually similar, or practically the same. The biggest difference is the price tag. Here I’ve managed to come across variants of the same style for three different price points. From what I remember, the Zara trousers were around £30 and were not a satin fabric. The Reformation’s style is in a stretch twill, the most similar to the Zara ones from what I can recall, and cost $178. The Isa Arfen pair cost £406 on Farfetch and are made of a shiny cotton mix fabric.

SHOP ONLINE

Zara (check in stores)

Isa Arfen – £406 (via Farfetch)

The Reformation – $178

SHOPPING FIND: Chanel VS Zara

Ever since the classic Chanel slingbacks came back into fashion a couple of seasons ago, I wanted a pair. For one, they’re timeless. They are the kind of shoes that you can wear at 20, 40, or 80 and still look impossibly chic. The style can translate from day to night depending on how you style them and they look equally as good with boyfriend jeans as they do with a black dress. Versatility is key for me as I like to get as much use out of my possessions as I can, or else I feel like they’re just a waste.

Everyone’s favourite high street copy cat Zara have come out with their own pair, and surprisingly late may I add. The Chanel shoes come in two styles – leather or suede – whereas the Zara shoes are just suede. However, the colours are identical and from afar you probably couldn’t tell the shoes apart. The Zara shoes also have a closed back instead of a slingback.

My shoes got delivered earlier today (this is 8th July as I type this) so I have only tried them on indoors thus far. All I can say is ouch. As the back of the shoe is hard, I think they will take some breaking in. I plan to wear them with socks inside for a while then maybe try them outdoors. I’m going for afternoon tea at a nice hotel tomorrow afternoon so I’m thinking of wearing them there since I will be seated for most of the time and it will only be for a couple of hours anyway. I do not know how comfortable the Chanel shoes are as I’ve never even managed to see them in person, never mind try them on. However, for £450 I would expect a decent level of comfort.

Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller in her Chanel slingbacks, linked via her website

On top of this, I’ve found a fantastic dupe for the tights that were featured in almost every look in the Paris-Rome show that I adored so much. Initially I had planned to buy the Chanel tights, naively thinking that they would be affordable. After seeing them in a Vogue editorial with a three figure price tag (I’m going to say £250ish) I decided that I needed to look elsewhere. Lo and behold, my good trusty friend Amazon came to the rescue. The tights on Amazon are one size but for reference I am 5 foot 3 and they fit my legs fairly well with just a little bit of extra material around the toes. To top it all off, they’re less than £10. A steal if there ever was one.

SHOP ONLINE

Zara – £29.99

Amazon – £6.99 in the style Mixed Pattern (drifting in and out of stock at the moment), the brand is Yummy Bee

Chanel does not do online shopping unfortunately. Find your nearest stockist here.

SHOPPING FIND: Topshop vs Versace

Left - Versace, Right - Topshop
Left – Versace, Right – Topshop

It has been a while since I’ve done a post like this. However, I was in Topshop this weekend and I spotted these trousers from across the store. I didn’t buy them because I ended up getting this spotty dress instead but it’s likely that I’ll go back and pick them up soon. I was struck by the print and instantly made the connection to Versace’s prints in the Spring 2016 collection. It makes sense that this print is in stores now given that the Versace collection is available for sale now too but I had expected to see inspired pieces sooner actually. I have seen a couple of dresses similar to the finale dresses worn by Gigi Hadid and Natasha Poly floating around the web though so perhaps it is only a matter of time.

The print and cut of the Topshop trousers is slightly different than those shown on the Versace runway. In fact, it is more an amalgamation of different elements of the Versace show in one garment, rolled into an easy, wearable pair of pants, than a direct copy. I could see the clear inspiration though, as soon as I saw the pants hanging on the rail. I can see myself wearing them very often with just a black t-shirt or even a bodysuit to show off the paper bag waist. I love belted pants, truly. 

SHOP ONLINE

Topshop – £29

Versace – £750 (Versace store)/£625 (Tiziana Fausti)

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SHOPPING FIND: Topshop VS Acne Studios

Hello!

I am excited to share this wonderful Acne dupe with you, mainly because I actually own it and can therefore vouch for it personally. The Acne Velocite jacket is perhaps infamous amongst bloggers and editors alike and you couldn’t look at a street style blog for the past perhaps 3-5 years without seeing one at some point. Abbey Clancy recently wore one on an episode of Britain’s Next Top Model (I cannot NOT watch those programmes, it’s a weakness) and it looked just so soft to touch yet slightly tough to look at. I love a contrast like that. For example, I’ll probably wear mine with dresses or skirts so it’s fun to mix the feminine with the masculine.

A few years ago I had a beige style from H&M that I thought was good enough (suede, not leather though) but then I got rid of it this summer: the colour didn’t work for my skin tone, let’s be real. Ever since I had been searching for a perfect copy as I just don’t have £2k to spend on a coat. Along comes this Goldie coat, c/o Topshop. I don’t think you can purchase it elsewhere. Obviously there are a few key differences between the two jackets: the Acne one is real shearling and leather, the Topshop one doesn’t have all the belts and buckles, and the Topshop one is merely a fraction of the price. If I could afford the Acne one I’d definitely buy it, especially because you get different coloured linings which are fantastic. I adore the one with the pale beige fur.

I think Keira Knightley wears her jacket well

As with the Acne jacket, the styling is meant to be slightly oversized. I worried that mine would be too big though but fortunately it fits fine. The fur running along the seams in the back reminded me of the multicoloured Prada shearling coats of a few seasons ago (Rihanna wore one, for an image reference). The entire lining is fur so it’s very cosy and the outer is leather (both are faux). However, for £98 you cannot complain too much. Mine was such a bargain as I had a 20% off code that Topshop sent me for my birthday (you know how rare Topshop discount codes are, especially if you don’t have a Unidays code) and also a £20 gift card, so I ended up only paying about £58(ish) including postage. The S/M is currently sold out but it’ll likely come back in stock as I’ve seen them replenish it a few times. I hope you all love it as much as I do!

SHOP ONLINE

Acne Studios – £2000 (currently out of stock)
Topshop – £98

Things I want to buy (if I came into money…)

I got paid last week and the money is burning a hole in my pocket. There’s so much that I want to buy yet the cash only goes so far. For this reason, I write lists. I have many of them: a to-buy this month, a to-buy at some point in 2016, and a to-buy if I ever manage to save. This post is the last of the three. Realistically I’m not going to be able to afford anything on it because I’m saving for college but it’s nice to dream. I think I could live like a damn King if it weren’t for college savings but it will be so worth it in the end. Any time I think “oh, I wish I had money for [insert item that I don’t really need]”, I then remember that I’m moving to New York in literally a single digit number of months and I no longer care. Fuck. I’m moving to New York. I’m so excited, if you can’t already tell.

Since I’ve started working full time and therefore had a little more disposable income than I was used to having before I’ve been trying to buy nicer, slightly better quality items. Instead of loading a basket full of crap that I don’t actually need from the various online stores (who all seem to have the same clothes bought from the sale wholesaler, but at varying prices), I’ve been planning what I want and trying to source the best quality option in my budget. Of course, I still shop at Zara, Mango, Topshop, and the likes (I consider the quality to be fairly good for the most part but I’ve never experienced true luxury so I can’t really compare) and I struggle to resist a really good bargain on Missguided. However, I find myself increasingly longing for a good quality item that will last me forever. If I ever manage to save up for these items (and I think many are actually manageable), here’s what I would buy:

(I’ve added links to the items in the images, click and it will take you through to the retailer)

 

Gucci Soho Disco – £650 I actually have a bag from Mango which is a wonderful dupe of this (slightly larger though) and is my go-to bag for the weekend. If you ever look at my Polyvore, you’ll notice just how much I use this in sets. I find it very versatile.
Max Mara Manuela camel coat – £1125 This is a coat that I’ve wanted for years. It is a classic and for that reason I feel in no rush to buy it as I know that it will still be there in 10 years time. In the meantime, I have a wool camel coat which is similar (although a slightly different texture) that I know will keep me warm until one day I can afford to buy this.
Paul Andrew suede heels – $675 I first found out about his brand after watching “The Fashion Fund” tv show online where he was a contestant (if you haven’t watched it, let me assure you that it is more a documentary than it is reality tv). I like how his heels have a slight twist on your regular pointed heel styles. However, if I were to buy just your standard heels I think I’d buy either Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo shoes, whatever one is more comfortable.
Dolce & Gabbana summer dress – £750 – 1500 Whilst this wouldn’t be the exact print I’d choose (I’d rather a floral), every season Dolce & Gabbana puts out a range of cotton dresses which I find so delightful. They make me think of a perfect little housewife who is taking the children on a picnic. Maybe I’ll buy myself one when I become a mother.
Emilio Pucci shirt – £460 I’m a real Pucci enthusiast. I go wild for the prints. I love scouring Etsy for vintage finds. However, this shirt from Yoox was a newer alternative. I’m currently looking for a great scarf too.
Altuzarra pencil skirt – £400ish (full price) This particular style is on sale so it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get it, but I’d love an Altuzarra pencil skirt of some description, even in plain black. The thigh slit takes an already sexy style to another level. I love them.
Alexander Wang sandals – £455 These are seemingly some of the most comfortable heels out there and I’m all for comfort plus height. Fortunately, these styles often make it onto the Outnet so I may be able to score a bargain some time in the near future.
Diane Von Furstenberg Julian Two Mini – £202.75 A shorter version of her classic style.