I know, I know. We shouldn’t be talking about winter before we've had a hint of summer, BUT when I saw the Autumn/Winter 19 lookbook imagery from COS, I couldn't resist sharing. Doing what they do best, A/W 19 looks set to full of big silhouettes, clean cut leather and earthy tons. I’ve got the cropped navy leather jacket bookmarked in my memory already.
Isn't it funny how things can come together when you least expect it? Last week was one of those weeks in which nothing went smoothly. We decided to start work on two rooms simultaneously, so the house was in turmoil, and after two failed attempts at trying to shoot these trousers alongside a to-do list as long as my arm, my brain felt extremely frazzled. But as if by magic on Saturday morning, amongst all the chaos, I saw an opportunity in a freshly painted corner of our lounge and what a result! Shooting something different in a new space is always great to get out of a creative rut, and I've got a feeling this will be first of many impromptu posts in this room.
Everlane needs no introduction really, but in case you are new to the brand, Everlane is probably one of THE leading brands in ethical and transparent practices right now. So much so that you can even see a breakdown of how much each item costs to make! For years, because the brand is US-based, their affordable basics were an enigma to us Brits. The only way to get your hands on them was to either hop on a transatlantic flight, or like I did several times, use a mail forwarding service. Lucky for us, Everlane recently launched permanent UK shipping (currently free for all orders over $100), so I can finally start ticking off my mammoth wishlist.
The clocks are about to go forward here in the UK, which officially marks the start of British springtime (it's a pretty big deal ya know). This limbo like period of transitional dressing is always sartorially a distressing time for me because I never know how to nail it! Brands are sending out new season newsletters left, right and centre and the amount of NEW product around is exremely overwhelming. I have to fight with myself not to buy in to seasonal fads or trends as a quick fix that I'll later regret, so through trial and error, I've learnt I feel most comfortable when I strip things back to basics and what better way to do that with a pair of wide-leg chinos and a white tee. I'm very late to the chino party, as a tailored trouser devotee I've been looking for a casual alternative that isn't denim, and I think chinos are the answer. Everlane's newly released style is lightweight and breathable, ideal for the spring but not so thin that they lose the flattering wide leg shape; there's enough structure in them to keep the form while wearing. Elevated with their square-toed slingback, in Olive, this natural everyday look has certainly put a spring in my step.
[For reference I'm 5'3", waist 24-25 and wear size 00 in the trousers]
Some of you might remember all the way back in 2016, I wrote this post, a summary of my best (and worst) investment purchases and whether I thought they were worth it or not. Ever since I've been meaning to revive this style of post and make it an annual or bi-annual post depending on how much I buy. Purchases such as these not only take time to decide on, but also take time to save up for. Looking back on my purchases I have a repeat pattern of investing in one coat, one handbag and 1-2 pairs of shoes each year with the idea of them lasting me for that entire year and many more to come. That being said, some of those higher price points items aren't always built to last and your purchase isn't the wise investment you'd hoped for. So exactly as I did previously, I'm going to share my honest views on some of the best and worst splurges I made over the past year.
ACNE TRENCH / £700
A couple of years ago I made it my goal to slowly but surely replace all of my tired looking high street coats with a strong staple collection of outwear that I can rely on. Each year I pick a different style of jacket to splash the cash on and last year was the year of the trench. After lots of umming and ahhing this Acne trench won the battle against the classic Burberry trench, partly because I know the Burberry trench isn't going anywhere, whereas the last 32 in Dover Street was going somewhere, so I had to act uncomfortably fast in Acne. But also because I was looking for something with a modern profile and subtle contemporary details. A balance that I think Acne strike well when it comes to outwear and stops their pieces from dating rapidly.
Quality - The first thing that struck me when trying this coat on was the weight and structure. This is not a lightweight trench. Made from 100% cotton the texture is similar to a thick twill which naturally feels a lot heavier and more durable than your average trench. Personally, I really enjoy a weighty coat, not so heavy that it feels uncomfortable, but I think it feels more luxurious and there's something quite secure about it. The coat is half lined, which means there's not much room for error when constructing but unsurprisingly the craftsmanship, as with most Acne products, is second to none. This feels like a 'proper' indestructible kind of trench.
Functionality - Everything serves a purpose on the coat. There's no bells and whistles just for show. With three external pockets and one large internal pocket, you won't be stuck for storage space, and every button is, wait for it...actually a functioning button. Too many coats nowadays have unnecessary decorative buttons. There's also snap-fastening tabs on the sleeves which you can adjust to create a cinched in shape, and just like any good trench, you have a thick self-tie belt attached.
Style - The shade of beige used is quite rich and leans towards yellow/camel, which I think is not only more complimentary against the clothes underneath the trench but also against more skin tones. I have trenches that are a much paler beige which I think tend to wash me out, whereas this one warms my skin up (ideal at the time of year). The fit is oversized, but not in an unconventional way; it's more of an 'I-just-nonchalantly-threw-this-trench-on' kind of shape. If that even makes sense? The shape is very sympathetic to Acne's signature style though when it comes to outwear and what they're known for. All the details are slick and flat, the snap buttons are low profile, and the waist tie is quite inconspicuous, nothing juts out which I think will cleverly stop this coat from dating.
Price - £700 is still a lot for a coat, but when comparing to other trench coats of this calibre and quality, some brands are charging up to double the price. Cost per wear on this will be down to pennies in no time (if not already).
The Belt- Ok so my biggest issue with this coat has been the waist belt. Firstly it isn't detachable. There's a pretty hefty stitch at the back of the coat holding it in place, which as you can imagine is quite frustrating, so I swiftly went forth and picked the stitching apart because I wanted the option not only remove the belt but also move it around. Secondly, the belt is exceptionally long. I mean it doesn't help that I'm 5'3', but if I'm not wearing a heeled shoe then the belt proceeds to drag along the floor and even worse, people stand on it when I'm going up/down stairs or whilst I'm sat on the tube (Not what I want on a rainy day in London!). Someone on Instagram very wisely suggested I could tuck it into the pockets, but I think I'm going to take the belt to a tailor and ask them to chop off a few inches.
Care/Cleaning - As thick and as beautiful the cotton twill is I am worried this could cause difficulties when carrying out any spot cleaning because it's not exactly a wipe clean fabric. I immediately went into panic mode when I noticed an unknown sticky spillage on one of the lapels last week. My immediate reaction was to grab a damp cloth and wipe it off, but on second thoughts I decided to let the mysterious substance dry in the hope it might be easier to remove once dry, which it was, but it did make me question how easy would it be to remove larger stains. You can't have it all I guess, sometimes you have to admit defeat and take a trip to the dry cleaner.
Verdict: Worth it.
ACNE MUSUBI BAG / £850
Is it any surprise the Musubi bag is spreading like wildfire on Instagram at the moment, I mean look at it, this is a bag of great beauty! The knot detail, the thick the strap and the smooth leather exude Japanese minimalism.
I've never been one to have 'a bag', I've always been more of a shoes and coats kind of girl who flits between different bags. I think it's because day to day I used to travel quite light, so would often chuck my essentials into whichever bag looked best with my outfit. But once I switched to freelance, my handbag 'essentials' grew. The addition of more lotions and potions, my glasses and a diary meant I was struggling to fit everything into any of my bags, so last year I thought to myself - 'you could do with a reliable everyday bag'. The Musubi bag had been on my 'wishful thinking' list for some time, but the thought of spending £850 on a bag, from a brand that isn't hugely known for their leather goods, made me feel nauseous. Towards the end of last year, a significant buzz around the bag started to grow so while we were in Sydney I thought I'll take a peek at the black version, see what all the fuss is about it. The overwhelming feeling I felt as I stepped into the store and laid my eyes on the smooth white leather, perfectly embossed with 'Acne Studios' is how I imagine a mother feels when they lay eyes on their newborn baby because my god was I in love (slight over exaggeration, but I can now totally see why some women refer to handbags as their babies). The rest is history, any want towards the black version had diminished and £850 later the white Musubi was mine. While I did feel extremely uneasy spending that much money on a white bag something in me knew this was THE bag for me and I think I was correct, you only have to take one look at my Instagram feed to see Musubi and me are inseparable (Apologies, if you're sick of the sight of it).
Size - The Musubi comes in three sizes; large small and mini. I purchased the small version, but really it should be renamed 'deceivably small' because this thing is like a modern-day Mary Poppins bag. Inside are two large compartments, (separated by a zip-up compartment) of which I can comfortably fit the whole hoard of necessities (or unnecessities, you decide) I insist on carrying around with me. My phone, purse, hand cream, hand sanitizer, A6 notebook, power pack, compact powder, glasses, eight-hour cream, travel size perfume all sit perfectly inside, I've even been known to squeeze my Fuji X-T1 in there! So yeah, what I'm trying to say is, don't let the measurements online fool you because you can fit A LOT inside.
Design - Just like the trench, not only does the bag look great but it functions! The longer strap is adjustable and fully detachable, it's also wider than your average bag strap which feels more comfortable on the shoulder. The shorter top handle is also equally comfortable to carry by hand. The internal zip compartment is an acceptable size, and the bag can be closed securely with a snap closure tab. Although this doesn't close the opening of the bag entirely, it doesn't leave room for people to dip their hands in so my belongings still feel safe. I don't like bags that feel uncomfortable to wear, Duh, who does?! You know what I mean though; sometimes bags can be a too fiddly or a nuisance to get on and off especially crossbody styles. Once I've got my bag on I like it to be an afterthought throughout the day. On the whole, the Musubi bag is perfect for this; it's incredibly comfortable, you can just chuck it on and know your good to go for the day. The bulkier design does cause the bag to stick out when wearing it cross-body (see in images), but this doesn't particularly bother me.
Quality - First impressions are good. The leather is thick with raw bonded edges. I'm unsure if that's the correct term, but in laymen’s terms, there's no stitching on the edges of the leather. It's the kind of bag you can load up heavily because you know the leather can take the weight. I've been carrying the Musubi non-stop for almost three months now, and I'd go as far as saying it's still as fresh as the day I bought it.
Aftercare - The most frequently asked questions when featuring this bag on Instagram have been 'does the leather scratch?' And 'how well does it clean?'. At first glance, the leather looks smooth, but as you get closer and feel the bag, you'll notice there is a light, subtle grain which I think slightly barricades the leather from any noticeable scratches. My knowledge of leather isn't great, but I'm presuming because Acne has crafted the bag from cows leather it's more hardwearing. Unlike the A.P.C half moon bag, which is made from calfskin and scratches almost as soon as you lay a finger on it. I'm inspecting the leather on the Musubi now as I type and can't spot a single scratch on the leather! So in short, no, so far the leather doesn't seem to mark easily. Cleaning the bag has been pretty straight forward, any dirty marks have wiped off relatively easily using a damp cloth. I would, however, like to look for a leather specific cleaning product that is protective of the leather.
Colour - `The glaringly obvious con is the colour of the bag - WHITE. Which subjectively isn't a con for me, because I'm obsessively protective over all of my bags clothes and shoes, but I can see why the colour might pose as a problem for some and just because I am so careful with things doesn't mean I haven't encountered issues with owning a white bag. When carried by the top handle, I have to make sure my hands are clean; I'm not implying my hand's aren't usually clean, but any general grubbiness from hands will collect on the handle. It's like the collar on a white shirt you can put that shirt on fresh out of the shower but guaranteed by the end of the day the inside of that collar will be dirty. I especially notice it when I've been applying makeup with my hands and perhaps haven't adequately washed all the foundation from my hands it's then transferred on to the handle. The same rule applies for the entire bag; I find myself keeping tabs on it daily in case of any spills or dirty marks, especially when I've had to take it off and set down on the floor, as mentioned earlier though the leather is quite straight forward to clean.
Closure/Strap - These are two small niggles in the grand scheme of things, but I know a substantial number of people are considering purchasing the Musubi, so I want to be thorough and honest with my review. One of the pros of the bag is the considerable amount of 'stuff' you can squeeze in this bag, that does, however, cause a problem when trying to close the bag and can distort the shape of the bag. The snap closure is designed to pinch in at the top, pulling the two sides together, so if your bag is too full, it just won't close. The adjustable strap is also a pain to move or take off (see pictures of the studs that hold it in place here) I put this down to the leather being so stiff though, and I think if you were moving the strap or taking it off regularly the leather would loosen up in no time.
Verdict: Kind of worth it? I don't regret my purchase, but I think the £850 price tag is a little high. Even £700 would seem more reasonable; if you find yourself on holiday outside the EU with an Acne nearby, you can save yourself some money by claiming the tax back at the airport.
CHANEL SANDALS / £780
I still shudder thinking about the cost of these sandals, walking into Acne and spending £850 on a bag felt bad enough, but to pay almost the same amount on a pair of shoes felt ten times worse and it's not like they are a pair of classic 'sensible' shoes, these are a pair of ugly and extremely trendy sandals. They certainly divided Instagram, I think I shocked myself (and many followers) when I purchased them, but I'd yearned for them for so long, and as they became increasingly impossible to get my hands on I became more and more enthralled in the chase. Thankfully ThreadsStyling came to my rescue and sourced a pair in Paris for me.
They look cool? They're Chanel? Honestly, I'm struggling to produce a substantial list of pros that justify the hefty price tag. They are a heavy, sturdy shoe and surprisingly easy to wear. They have complimented my style more so than I thought they would I can quite effortlessly throw them on with jeans and a t-shirt or a more feminine dress. (I'm yet to try socks and sandals, step too far?) The velcro is a practical and easy feature...wow, can you tell I'm struggling here? I feel good wearing them and get lots of compliments. That's it; I'm all out.
Quality - The sandals feel well made, they've got some weight to them which I like and the leather looks (and smells) beautiful, but wearing them is a different story. It pains me to tell you the strap broke after one wear, as soon as I went to undo the ankle strap and remove the shoe the stitching came undone around the 'buckle bit' which obviously isn't something I expect from Chanel. Normally in this situation, I'd march straight down to Chanel and demand the fix them or find me a new pair, but because of how I'd acquired the sandals I wasn't able to immediately do this. I probably could have contacted the personal shopper, who could have then go in touch with Chanel for me, but I'm impatient with situations like these. Thankfully I found a cobbler here in Norwich prepared to fix the shoes for me. I must also add the cripplingly painful blisters these sandals induced on me, which sounds unusual for a pair of sandals, but the stitching on the inside of the ankle strap rubbed SO much. My final gripe with the quality is the sole when they first arrived the sole was a beautiful glossy black now I know soles wear down, get dirty, etc. etc. but within a few wears, the underside of the shoes looks terrible. The black started to peel off, almost like paint, to reveal a cardboard looking sole. Again, not something I would expect from a shoe of this price.
Verdict: Not worth it. I do love these sandals, they are a very cool shoe and I have continued to wear them a lot, but my advice would be to source them second hand through Vestiaire Collective or search for a cheaper alternative. This chunky style of shoe looks set to be quite popular this season, and I've already spotted a few high street retailers making similar versions.