Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Next Sludge Boots and Zatchels vs Jacky Tsai Skulls Saddle Bag

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I thought it was about time I did another bag and shoes post – especially considering that the bag in question is a limited edition design, only available for another week or so! I bought this bag late last year from Zatchels – it’s part of a collaboration with the Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, and the range consists of satchels and saddle bags with three designs on; the iconic floral skulls design, the psychedelic virus pattern, and the purple and lime green petrol motif. As soon as I saw the saddle bag with the floral skull design, I knew I had to add it to my collection!

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As you can see, the leather is printed with a beautiful pattern of skulls crafted out of silver flowers. Here’s what Zatchels says about the design: “Instinctively recognizable, Jacky Tsai’s skulls print designs take inspiration from one of his most well-known pieces of art, the iconic Floral Skull design he created for Alexander McQueen. The placement and positioning of the skulls show a 360 degree view of this unique piece of art. A deep black background sets off the metallic skull shapes.”

Alexander McQueen = right up my alley! You can purchase this design for a limited time at Zatchels’ site here for £85, along with the other designs here (satchels are £165).

The boots I’ve been wearing pretty much all winter – they’re no longer available from Next, but you can purchase a similar design here. Simple, basic, flat heeled boots are the perfect addition to my winter wardrobe, so this was a definite no-brainer purchase for me!

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What do you think – will you be picking up one of these beauties whilst they’re still available?

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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: French Sole Silver Sparkle Henrietta Flats and Wilbur & Gussie Navy Charlie Clutch

Finally, there’s time to post about last week’s bag and shoes combo (don’t worry, I have a special one lined up for this week!). Again, this continues the saga of the French Sole Factory Shop visit last month (read about it here)!

Sparkle French Sole and Navy WG 640

These are the third pair of my epic haul, and they are very slightly translucent, with a reinforced area around the toes for added strength. The shoes are dotted with gorgeous silver sparkles, and have a muted navy trim. Because they were samples, and had no box, they were actually £20 instead of £25! I paired them with my favourite Wilbur & Gussie clutch (although it has plenty of competition, I LOVE W&G!), the raw navy silk with the beautiful ship fastening! (This style is currently unavailable, but you can browse the Charlie clutch range here.)

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Because of the diamantes on the clutch’s ship clasp, and the gold edging, you can match it to silver or gold accessories, which is handy! As you can see, I usually carry it by the strap handle, which allows you to dangle it off one wrist at a jaunty angle…

I love these silver strips on the heel of the flats too.

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I also love the way the muted colour scheme creates a really subtle look for the Henriettas – the opaque material is also really unusual and great fun. Although the sparkles work well for the holiday season (indoors, of course!), this kind of look would also be terrific for a balmy summer night too!

The clutch – well, what can I say? The Charlie clutch in gold was carried on tour by the Duchess of Cambridge, and her sister, Pippa, is often spotted with a W&G clutch under her arm. Given my fondness for nautical accents, how could I resist this one – especially when it combines two of my favourite colours, navy and red?!

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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Primark Snakeskin Clutch and Jonathan Kelsey for Mulberry Cropped Booties

I accidentally did a bit of high/low fashion melding for this week’s Bag ‘n’ Shoes post, pairing a cheap as chips Primark foldover clutch with some gorgeous Jonathan Kelsey boots. These were part of Mulberry’s first foray into the shoe market in 2008, where they teamed up with Kelsey to create a capsule collection that included these rather beautiful cropped, polished, gunmetal booties.

Mulberry shoes and Primark bag

(This was actually for my Medusa outfit for Halloween – which was pretty uninspiring, to be honest, but I did go all out on the accessories!)

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I have to say, the more I look at these shoes, the more I love them. They’re not so high they’re impossible to walk in, and the colour is phenomenal, but they are a tad battered, poor things! In the end, I thought they went pretty well with the snakeskin clutch – I’m not a huge fan of snakeskin, so I wasn’t prepared to spend much at all on the bag. Primark to the rescue – this was just £6!

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Designer Accessories: The Wishlist Edit

If you could make a list of your top five most wanted designer accessories, what would you include?

Designer Accessories
For me, it’s got to be Chanel studs (in gold, please!), an iconic skull scarf from Alexander McQueen, and to continue the theme, a skull bracelet from Links of London, plus a pretty black Alexa from Mulberry with soft gold furniture (I love black and gold together!) – and of course, what else but a pair of classic Louboutin pumps in black, with sky high heels!
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Handbag Heaven: Naughtipidgins’ Nest

You may remember my Bag ‘n’ Shoes post from last week, where I revealed my much-lusted after Fendi B Bag, a style I’ve loved for years but never thought I’d have the opportunity to own – particularly as they don’t make them any more! As I mentioned, I nabbed mine second hand, and sometimes this can be a daunting prospect, as you’re not always sure whether you’re buying the real deal… This is where the fabulous Shian from Naughtipidgins’ Nest comes in! The site is a handbag lover’s dream, chock full of designer gear from labels like Chanel, Mulberry, Dior, Jimmy Choo and more – all of them authentic, second-hand, designer bags, in great quality condition, at reasonable prices.

Chanel Gucci LV montageLouis Vuitton Roxbury Drive (£545) / Gucci Sukey Top Handle President (£435) / Chanel Glazed Calfskin Clutch (£1395)

I first stumbled upon the site after stalking Purseblog’s forums, particularly the Mulberry section. As you know, I’m a massive Mulberry fangirl so when I heard that there was a much-trusted, second hand seller of Mulberry, I was quick to check it out. I was desperately after the Mulberry Valentine’s clutch from this year (eventually bagged one on eBay), and Shian was so helpful that I check her site regularly ever since. (Seriously, she is lovely.)

As Naughtipidgins is nearing its 5000th sale (and planning to celebrate in fine style!) I thought it would be interesting to talk to Shian about the business for the blog. Because let’s face it, anyone with that many designer handbags in their vicinity is definitely worth talking to…!

What got you into the business (and how long have you been in business)?
“Downsizing my own collection when we moved from London to Lancashire in 2005. I started selling my own bags on eBay and both Buyers and Sellers seemed to like the way I took lots and lots of photos and described things very honestly. It wasn’t long before people were contacting me to ask if I could sell their bags for them and it really went from there. In May 2011 I decided eBay had served its time for the ‘Nest’ and set up my own website which has been incredible fun and I’m loving every minute of it.”

What’s your own collection like?
“Rather sadly depleted from its peak, but it is true… I really don’t need two different bags a day, every day of the week, each month of the year, any more! (At least that’s what I try to keep telling myself when my collection creeps up in size. An occupational hazard of the job, so I’m not too hard on myself). I now tend to keep a core of classics that I rarely stray from, and a varied collection of Mulberry (mainly older styles as it seems to take me a while to ‘warm up’ to newer ones). As long as they all still fit in my designated ‘personal-bag-space’ then I know I’m still in control, lol!”

Mulberry montageAlexa (£575) / Medium Daria (£475) / Ledbury (£365) All Mulberry

Do you remember your first designer bag purchase?
“Absolutely. Though I dabbled with a few Bally’s in my late teens, my first ‘wow’ moment was the first time I walked into Chanel Rue Saint-Honoré. I left with my first Chanel 2.55 and the rest is history.” (SO JEALOUS)

What’s your favourite brand? Bag?
“That’s such a difficult question to answer and I don’t actually think I can choose just one brand. Different occasions call for different bags and there isn’t one single designer that can do it all. I’d still say the classic 2.55 Chanel 10″ is my favourite style though and have been known to sit and stroke a lambskin for hours, lol!”

What’s the most unusual bag you’ve sold?
“I’ve sold a few ‘famous’ peoples’ bags and some quite amazing exotic skins over the years, but only ever sell things that I actually like, so being a bit conservative, I don’t think there’s ever been anything too ‘out’ there in the grand scheme of things.”

Misc montagePrada Saffiano Lux Bowler (£795) / Chloe Angie Tote (£795) / Hermes Vintage Box Calf (£975)

How do you authenticate your bags?
“Authentication is a time-served skill and takes a lot of experience, observation and research. You have to have observed, handled and examined a lot of bags, both genuine and fake, over a long period of time, in order to be able to discern the authentic from the counterfeit. Yes, some fakes are really rubbish and anyone can ‘tell’ but many are incredibly ‘close’ to the real thing and those who haven’t the knowledge or skill to identify the indicators can be very easily taken in. It’s ALWAYS a complete waste of money to buy fake, whether knowingly or unwittingly, as they will never match up to the longeivity, quality and ultimately, beauty and craftmanship of a genuine item.”

Where did the name of your business come from?
“It was my eBay ID, and as word spread, it stayed with me. How it actually came about in the first instance is a bit of a mystery really… not the easiest business name to say or spell, so, had I known I’d eventually have a business, I’d of chosen something a bit more relevant!”

What makes an iconic design in your opinion?
“That’s a good question as a lot of those bags you’d call ‘icons’ don’t actually stand the test of time in terms of style. Some do, but I’d say a true icon is a bag that is completely timeless.”

What are some bags that really hold value?
“In terms of financial value the bags that depreciate the least, currently and very generically, are Chanel Flaps, Lady Diors and Mulberry Bayswaters. Maintained well, these styles will retain the greatest value and in some instances appreciate.”

Montage most wantedMulberry Bayswater / Lady Dior / Chanel Flap

What advice can you give people on how to store and care for their bags?
“It depends on the finish. You would treat a lambskin leather differently to an LV canvas, but generally the golden rules are:

  1. Ensure you know how to care for your finish
  2. Make sure you have the right products
  3. Remember to clean and care for them regularly (which again will depend upon finish and usage)
  4. Store with stuffing inside their dustbags to maintain their shape.”

If you had to create a capsule designer bag wardrobe of five items (with no budget!) what bags would you pick? (Colours too!)
“Created for my lifestyle now… (10 years ago this would have looked different!)

  • Mulberry Bayswater in oak darwin with older style glossy postman’s lock plate – smart everyday bag perfect for work, play or anything life can throw at you.
  • Lady Dior medium in black lambskin leather with gold tone hardware – classic, great for day with shoulder strap or evening without.
  • Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM in damier ebene – shopping, gym, beach… you name it, its big and easy to use.
  • Chanel 2.55 flap 10″ in black lambskin with silver hardware – no more need to be said…
  • Hermes Birkin ostrich 32cm (preferably in chocolate) – just because I’ve never owned one!”

Misc 2 montageGucci D Ring Medium Hobo (£295) / Michael Kors Hamilton Tote (£235) / Anya Hindmarch Pleated Multi-Way (£195)

My thanks to Shian for so graciously answering my questions, and allowing me to use these images from her site. As of the time of writing, all of the bags with prices listed next to them were still available on the site, so get shopping… Plus, Naughtipidgin is soon set to celebrate the 5000th sale from the shop with a special gift certificate worth £100 at the Nest’s shop! All you have to do to be in with a chance is enter by making a purchase – and the winner will be announced in November.

If you have a bag you’d like to sell, you can check out the terms over here. And, see the amazing range of bags on offer here!

Visit Naughtipidgins Nest at http://www.naughtipidginsnest.co.uk.

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What’s your style: classic, or cool?

One of the things I love about British fashion is the way it fuses heritage brands with cutting edge cool. Old names like Burberry and Mulberry mixing with new ones like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. One side representing tradition, the other side bringing innovation and a playful sense of danger.

Even as I’ve evolved in my own sense of personal style, I can never seem to quite settle on a fashion persona that entirely embraces one or the other. I am certain I would be kicked out with equal amounts of disgust from the front row of any reputable British fashion brand – and it’s almost with a sense of pride I can declare myself to be a free agent in international waters. Of course, it means my wardrobe is a chaotic mess of rock-chick style accessories, prim, retro dresses, and far too many hats – but doesn’t everyone strive for a wardrobe like that? (They don’t? Off with you!)

Anyway, since I love a good scarf, and I seem to have one permanently wrapped around my neck from the months of October to March, I thought I’d investigate some good designer staples – and yet again, came into the age old question: cool or classic?

Brit-Style Scarves
The correct answer is undoubtedly BOTH! In which case, I shall rephrase – which one first? And can you sum up your own personal style? Does your wardrobe follow a general theme, or are you like me – a fashion butterfly, flitting mindlessly from pretty thing to pretty thing, never to settle? What is to become of us poor homeless butterflies? Ask not, for as my cat would tell you, they usually get eaten.
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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Fendi B Bag and ASOS flats

Since I can’t seem to stop taking photos of my bag and shoes (even if I can’t pull off a semi-decent outfit I can usually muster some nice shoes and a bag at least once a week…) I decided to make it into a semi-regular feature, called Bag ‘n’ Shoes – because if there’s one thing I wholeheartedly believe about any kind of journalism, whether it’s on a blog or in the mainstream press, it’s that simple is better. (And it also helps that I am a simple creature at heart, and have almost no capacity for creating clever titles or puns.)

Without further ado, here are my inaugural Bag ‘n’ Shoes of the week:

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Fendi B Bag, Naughtipidginsnest / Little Miss Ballet Flats, ASOS

That’s RIGHT! After all my years (literally, years) of pining over Fendi B Bags, I finally scooped one up. Only carried once, she’s a real beauty, from the pre-owned store http://www.naughtipidginsnest.co.uk/ (HIGHLY recommended – in fact, I’ll be doing an interview soon with the owner, I hope!). I’d been after a black and gold bag for a while (my previous black bag, the Hobbs Lanesley, has silver hardware) and when I saw this one appear on the site, I was certain I NEEDED IT. Unfortunately, my discovery also coincided with the summer holiday, which is when the shop takes a break, so I sat with my fingers hovering over the mouse for the grand reopening in order to make sure the bag was mine. And it is! What a happy ending.

After that expense, Marc Jacobs’ exquisite mouse flats are a trifle outside my budget, but I think I might even like these flats from ASOS better… I’ve been telling everyone they are mice, but they are clearly bunnies. I am obviously in need of a lie-down.

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Lust List: Mulberry Brights

Let’s play a game. The game is called ‘You Are Enviously Rich’, and the aim is to pretend you can afford anything – anything – from your favourite designer du jour. You may have already played this game, but called it by a different name. Like, ‘Heart Break Lusting’ or ‘Fury Surfing’. Or ‘Green-Eyed With Envy’. Or even ‘Who Can Afford This Stuff, Really?’. It doesn’t matter, I’m sure we all enjoy the game the same…

At the moment, I am still in the grip of my Mulberry fangirl phase – and drooling over the label’s new offerings for A/W 2013. As I am but an apprentice to the Mulberry ways, I am hesitant to make statements with any confidence, but I believe I am in love with two new additions to the Mulberry family. Or at least, I think they’re new – but who can be sure of anything in this crazy world?

Mulberry Brights

How could you pick a favourite between the two of these beauties?

First, let us consider the elegant golden clasp of the Small Suffolk – a well proportioned, comfortably English bag, adorned with no nonsense and frills, but supremely self-assured in its simplicity. Perhaps, one might say, this bag is too simple – but surely, only if one were of the lowest intellect and completely devoid of style. For what this bag lacks in gaudy panache and attention-seeking embellishments, it makes up for with its achingly sublime emerald leather – a colour that shouts more loudly than any extraneous pockets, flaps or straps ever could. The Small Suffolk need not dance for your amusement – you must dance for her, for she is a lady. And she costs £1350. But, for that, she is yours forever.

But, don’t stop there. Observe, if you will, Primrose’s confident curves, and her daring – some might say, overly complex – postman’s lock fastening, which has a hinge. A hinge! Admire her flaming red leather, contrasting elegantly with her gold furniture, and weep. For you know that £1200 for a bag is probably too much. Is it? Is it really too much for this bag? “Yes,” says the bank manager. A tear falls down his cheek. “Yes, my child.” His eyes close, and you both take a moment to mourn… And to wonder when the next Mulberry sale will be. And to maybe do some sums, because surely that’s only £100 a month for a year, which actually sounds pretty reasonable when you’ll be using it every day. EVERY DAY.

And what do bank managers know about fashion, anyway?

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Bicester Village: Chic Shopping at Bargain Prices

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One of fashion’s best kept secrets is Bicester Village – a shopper’s paradise located in Oxfordshire. Part of the Chic Outlet Shopping group, the Village is home to luxury brands like La Perla, Mulberry, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Temperley London, Anya Hindmarch and more – along with high-end high street stores like L.K. Bennett, Hobbs, Ted Baker, Reiss, Links of London, and French Connection. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather spend the day shopping!

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I recently went for a visit as Bicester Village is very conveniently located halfway between my house and my in-laws’ (near Birmingham), so a spot of retail therapy breaks up the trip nicely…

The Village itself is beautifully laid out – a long walkway lined with shops and restaurants, and it’ll take you a couple of hours at least – at a brisk, no-dawdling pace – to see everything. If you’re planning some serious shopping, you’ll probably want to take all day! There are some lovely places to eat – Busaba Eathai, Carluccio’s, Starbucks and Pret A Manger I can all vouch for, while I’m dying to try out Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts, and the Creperie Angelie and Amorino Ice Cream kiosks.

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Strategy is the key for a successful shop at Bicester – make sure you set yourself a budget, although if you’re like me, you may well blow it on some serious bargains. There’s always something new here as the stock changes fairly regularly, and each company has a different policy about what makes its way to the outlet stores, and when.

Needless to say, everyone will be after something different from their visit. I always like to pop into Jimmy Choo (last seen with some wellies on offer for £50!), and to lust after the gorgeous wedding dresses in Temperley. Scarves and clutch bags are the order of the day in Alexander McQueen, and I just love to check out the huge range of beauty products at the Cosmetics Company Store (including Bobbi Brown!). No visit would be complete without checking out the bags at Mulberry or the scarves (and trench coats!) at Burberry, although with some of the high street stores you’ll certainly find items priced at most budgets.

If you’re a massive fan of the Duchess of Cambridge’s style – as I am (could you guess?) – you’ll be pretty pleased to find many of the brands she’s been pictured wearing all in one spot. If you’re ever visiting the UK, you really need to put this on your ‘must-do’ list – there are even luxury coach services from London, as well as regular trains from London and Birmingham. In fact, if you fancy, you could charter a chauffeur service too – check out the options on the site here. (Of course, it goes without saying that driving there is very simple – it’s just off the M40 and A34, and again, if you want to make your trip even more luxurious, Bicester has just the option for you – valet parking!).

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One of my favourite shops to stop in at is L.K. Bennett, and during my trip I noticed the Natalie clutch and the Maddox wedge (heir to the Greta) on sale, and previously other acquaintances of mine have scooped up some coats the Duchess has worn in both Hobbs and Ted Baker. Sadly for me, I already owned the Natalie and the Maddox (yes, in both colours!), but there was plenty to tug at my purse strings on my visit.

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I came away from my trip with a beautiful Fox Charm necklace from Mulberry (£90 reduced from £150), a red purse from Anya Hindmarch (£61 down from £175, I believe – can’t believe I forgot to check!) and a free – FREE – dotty umbrella from Jaeger, courtesy of my loyalty card voucher. I can definitely attest that that’s one scheme worth signing up for! I would have come away with a beautiful deer brown Lily bag from Mulberry (which was just over £400), but let’s just say I’ve been buying too many designer bags recently and people are starting to notice…! (By that, I mean my bank manager specifically.)

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Sunglasses, eBay / Bondi Font Bracket Necklace, Maqaroon / Tangerine Michelle Top, hush / Grey Trousers, Next / Vectra5 Studded Slippers, TopShop / Lanesley Bag, Hobbs / Bloomingdale’s Charm, Bloomingdale’s / Dog Zodiac Bracelet, Mulberry / Lucky Charm Camera Bracelet, Maqaroon

Bicester Village has recently launched a new campaign for autumn called Touch of Chic, which I’ll post about later in the month – in the meantime, make sure you check out the site for Bicester Village at www.bicestervillage.com to find out more about the brands, offers and services available, including travel information and a list of shops!

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If you’re visiting, get there early to get into the big name shops without queuing (these are easy to spot by the velvet ropes outside!). On my visit I arrived promptly at 9am on a Saturday in the school holidays and managed to get into all the shops I was aiming to without having to wait – but by the time I was leaving, just a couple of hours later, the queue were starting to form. Well, good things do come to those who wait, right?

Find Bicester Village at 50 Pringle Drive, Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX26 6WD. You can also give them a ring at +44 (0)1869 366 266. And, check out the visitor information at the site by clicking here.

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It bags: then and now

Stuck on deadline last week, I spent most of my spare seconds thinking about designer bags…

I daren’t speak for all women, but I think it’s fair to say that most fashionistas have at least a few dream bags in their sights that they’d kill to own one day – even if it’s a far off fantasy. For some reason, I started thinking about the bags I used to lust after when I was younger, versus the sort of bags I really love now. It’s not surprising that my taste has changed after all these years!

IT bags
Looking at my list of hallowed It Bags from my youth (well, if eight years ago can really be considered that long ago – I’ve certainly come a long way since!), it seems as though I only really started lusting after designer bags around 2006, which is when the Chloe Paddington reigned supreme and the Fendi B Bag was just launched. I actually ended up buying a Paddington which turned out to be a fake (I’m fairly sure it’s fake but I’ve never authenticated it – if something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t – although it wasn’t that cheap to start with!). I just absolutely loved the padlock closure and the thick chunky leather look of the bag, although I never could decide whether I liked the brown better than the black… The Dior Saddle bag is pretty timeless, although I couldn’t find a good picture of the sort I lusted after, which was the gaucho style distressed version, coated in charms. Designed by John Galliano, the bag certainly isn’t as timeless as it was thought to be at the height of its fame, around 2007, although I’d still make room for it in my collection! The same goes for the Fendi B Bag, which was pretty polarising when it debuted. But I still have a massive soft spot for it, with its huge oversized buckles! Some colourways, such as the one above, really don’t do it for me, as I think the design works better when it’s allowed to speak for itself. Subtle one colour designs really work for the B Bag. Since then, it’s been eclipsed somewhat by the Fendi Spy – not sure why, but I’ve never really fallen in love with that one!Compared to my mid-2000s style, my current style is a lot simpler. It’s certainly evolved into (I like to think, anyway) a more sophisticated and classic look – but I think that’s fairly indicative of the way high fashion is going. I absolutely love Mulberry’s now retired Polly Push Lock bag in midnight and brown leather – the combination of the two is refreshing yet classic, and I love the simple lines of the satchel style bag. I’ll always love a good satchel! My new found love of Mulberry also shows in my selection of the Lily – in particular, this beautiful emerald green colour in micrograin calf skin. The adjustable length of the strap, which can be doubled to make it sorter, or left longer, makes it a versatile bag, and there’s just something about the contrast between the gold furniture and the rich green that makes this combination lustworthy to me! And finally, that old classic, the Chanel 2.55. I used to be the type of girl who couldn’t understand all the fuss over this quilted beauty – to me it seemed old fashioned and a bit twee. But maybe it’s through repeat exposure, maybe it’s just my natural style evolution, but this is one designer bag I would certainly love to own one day – although it seems highly unlikely considering that they sell for £2.5k new at the moment, and not much less second-hand! I guess I’ll have to make do with my Jaeger Kate bag until then…

Do you have a wish-list of It Bags? Has your taste changed over the years? I’d love to know what bags you lust over now, and how you think your style has evolved!

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