So, it’s time for the final reveal of my office! I’ve hated the home office I’ve worked in ever since we moved in – peach walls, beige carpet, blonde wood bookcases, a bright purple desk (thanks teenage me!), a black fabric office chair… Nothing matched, it was always messy, and we didn’t use the space properly. Plus, I hate carpets and I couldn’t wait to rip everything up and replace it with fresh, clean laminate! (Style note: Charlotte Olympia kitty flats here.)
I recently posted about my office makeover, which felt like a mammoth task – only because it’s also taken place at the same time as a lot of other house decorating and renovation. So far in the past 12 months we’ve built a summer house, had a new boiler installed, had our kitchen redone, and also completely redecorated the office, which doesn’t sound like much… Except, honestly, it’s been pretty hellish.
Move over, Natalie. There’s a new girl in town. Her name is Nina, and she comes in trench…
The Duchess of Cambridge recently debuted a new L.K. Bennett clutch during her royal tour of India, and it sparked a bit of a buzz, not least because it wasn’t even available to the public yet. Teamed with matching high heels (in two heel heights, no less), the Nina in trench looked to be Kate’s new favourite clutch. L.K. Bennett released the item for sale yesterday, and as I find myself with nothing else better to do on a Friday afternoon, I thought I’d take time out to compare it to an old favourite, the Natalie clutch in straw.
Now, I have a massive soft spot for the Natalie, because during the summer months it really feels like it goes with everything. Kate most often wore it with her trusty L.K. Bennett sledges in taupe, but it also went with the Minx Wedges from Stuart Weitzman, her L.K. Bennett sliver sandals (still only seen once on Kate!), also in taupe, and arguments could be made for it matching any number of her other wedges and espadrilles. However, since Kate’s recently switched from the Sledge to the Fern / Floret in trench, she seems to have ditched the Natalie as her working horse summer clutch in favour of the new Nina.
Size-wise, there’s not much in the way of difference between the two. The Nina is slightly longer and wider, but the Natalie is fatter. Style wise, the Natalie’s puffy stuffed exterior gives it a pleasantly plump hand-feel, whereas the Nina is much less forgiving and easily marked (mine arrived with a dent in it!). I can imagine the leather becoming damaged from a sweaty palm print or a snagged fingernail very easily, whereas the Natalie really feels fairly indestructible. Natalie has a chic dark taupe satin trim around the edges, like a ribbon, and the Nina is the same trench-coloured leather all around. Finally, while the Natalie has the brand name embossed on the latch, the Nina latch is bare.
In terms of internal chain, the Nina beats Natalie hands down. I never was too happy with Natalie’s puny, silver-esque chain, but Nina’s is long and elegant, and a pretty pale gold shade. It’s far easier to sling it across your shoulder, and the slightly longer look gives it a sleek mini shoulder bag feel. Despite having several bags with this feature (off the top of my head, the Mulberry Bayswaters, the Jaegar Kates, and the Oroton Odeion snake clutch), Kate never seems to use the chains on her clutches, and in fact rarely appears with a shoulder bag at all.
Inside, the bag is very similar to the Natalie – lined with a satin type fabric that has an internal pocket for credit cards, with the metal L.K. Bennett plaque attached.
In the original, the plaque is attached with fabric, but the Nina has its plaque glued on. I also found it really difficult to fit my cards in the pocket, whereas the Natalie’s pocket was easy to get in and out of. Finally, perhaps a fault with my Nina, but the fabric was not glued rigidly to the corners of the bag, rather it had a smoothed effect where it felt like the fabric wasn’t reaching the edges, making the internal space a lot smaller than it should have been.
That said, what can you fit inside? Pretty much the same as the Natalie, to be honest – except the Nina is slightly better suited to the slimmer, longer phones of the current gen Samsungs and iPhones. You’ll be able to fit a phone, some credit cards, a lipstick and some change, but not a whole lot more.
Overall, my impression of the Nina is that it’s an expensive bag considering it’s not as versatile as the Natalie – and considering the Natalie originally retailed at £140 (then £160) and the Nina starts at £185, the price per wear is going to be pretty high for me… Of course, the Nina is going to be a year-round clutch, whereas Natalie’s straw effect means it’s best used in spring and summer. And finally, the big question is going to be, does this new season trench match the old season’s taupe? The answer… No.
Trench is a much pinker-based nude than taupe’s yellow-based one. You can probably wear both together as they’re a close enough match, but they’re certainly not the same colour when you look closely. If you’ve purchased a pair of shoes from L.K. Bennett in trench, the Nina is probably going to be your best bet to match the colour!
What do you think? Are you going to purchase one? Wait for a sale? Or skip this one all together? I’m still wondering whether or not to return mine…
There are some companies I keep coming back to season after season, because I know their clothes are comfy, reliable and good quality. Hush is one of those companies! They specialise in stylish clothes that are easy to wear – relaxed chic, if you will. Today marks the first day of their spring sale, and if you use this code as a new customer (https://hush.mention-me.com/m/ol/rjz-gemma-cox-18) you get £10 off (and so do I! Win-win!) You can also add APR1610 on the top and get 10% off your order too!
Here are my picks from the spring sale line-up!
Jessica Dress: £20. A cool and effortless dress for spring and summer days, with a contrasting grey back panel for an added edge!
Lana Lace Dress, £55. Stay cool and breezy with this floaty dress, covered in sophisticated midnight blue lace.
S/S Lilly Dress, £45. Pale ivory and light grey create an edgy contrast for this sweet and simple lace-skirted dress. Just casual enough to wear anywhere!
Starlight Jumper, £65. Hush jumpers are another staple of mine, and I love the cool star motif dusted across the front of this one!
Colourblock Stripe Jumper, £45. You can’t go wrong with a Breton stripe – wear this one baggy with your favourite jeans and a pair of sunnies for cool summer style!
Check out the rest of the sale here! And, don’t forget to follow this link for £10 off if you’re a new customer, and use the code APR1610 for 10% off your whole order!
What’s gone into your basket?
If there’s one thing that every fashion expert will tell you, it’s that you should invest in classic pieces – those fashion staples you can use year on year…
After seeing how versatile my Valentine’s Bayswater clutch is – and how often Kate Middleton uses hers in black suede – I couldn’t resist picking up a black leather version!
This is the glossy goat leather – Mulberry have just changed to a different leather called small classic grain, which has a slightly different finish. Getting hold of this clutch was a mission in itself, but I tracked down one of the last four in the country in Birmingham’s branch of Harvey Nichols!
The great thing about this clutch is that it’s just about big enough to use as a bag if you’re only carrying a few cards, your phone and a lippy – but it’s also stylish and small enough to use as an evening bag. The chain is detachable but I like to use it as a shoulder bag, because the chain is just beautiful!
Check out the clutch online in a variety of colours here: http://www.mulberry.com/shop/women/bags/shoulder-bags/bayswater-clutch-wallet-black-small-classic-grain. (And, if you hurry, there are still some colours on sale including peony pink, poppy red and mandarin!)
Don’t worry about your passport, your tickets and your itinerary – that’s all deadly boring. When it comes to packing for a holiday, my favorite thing to consider are the accessories!
That’s why I picked out these amazing black cat eye sunnies from DKNY from sunglasses-shop.co.uk. Cat eye shades are such a classic shape – they’re stylish without being too trendy, and you can wear them with everything from a swimming costume on the beach to a maxi dress at the bar.
I love sunglasses-shop.co.uk because you can actually search for your shades by frame shape, as well as the usual brand and colour options. As well as cat eye sunglasses, you can search for Aviator style, butterfly, oval, rectangle, retro, visor, Wayfarer and more! (Should I admit this…? I honestly didn’t realise that there were that many different styles!)
These awesome shades come from the DKNY range – this style comes in tortoise, leopard and black (pictured), and is a best seller (look for DKNY 4109). The biggest seller in the DKNY range is the 4084 – an elegant, more rounded cat eye shape that comes in black and tortoise. Also, check out the DKNY 4096, which is featured in the campaign with Cara Delevingne! You can’t beat a bit of DKNY while you’re lounging by the pool, can you?!
I’ll be taking these gorgeous shades with me to Marseille, so expect some modeling shots live from France later next week!
This summer season (for me, anyway) is going to be all about replikating Kate Middleton’s staple wedges. I know plenty of people scoff at her Corkswoons, Minx and Imperias, but I’m not one of them! I certainly haven’t grown tired of seeing these shoes, and I can’t wait to wear them out and about!
When Dune, the company that now owns Pied A Terre, re-released the Imperia D wedges in natural under the new Dune Black label, I was thrilled – I already had a pair in black, but the natural had been unavailable for a long time. As soon as I saw they were on sale again, I snapped them up! Despite them being under a different brand name, I can confirm they are the same shoe – although why Pied A Terre also has a range of Imperias as well, albeit without the natural colour, I couldn’t tell you.
Once they arrived, I started to wonder – how to accessorize them? So, I put together this Polyvore set with some basic ideas to get my creative juices flowing! (And I resisted the temptation to add my beloved Mulberry Lily in tweed – all of these bags are still available, if you fancy a purchase!)
Kate Middleton’s most iconic pair of smart casual shoes are probably her blue suede wedges. Most frequently seen during the 2013 Summer Olympics in London, these wedges are by American designer Stuart Weitzman and available at Russell & Bromley in the UK. However, there are also plenty of high street replicas – such as the pairs from Next and Hobbs last year. This year, grocery chain Sainsbury’s is in on the trend, producing a pair of blue suede cork wedges for £18 for their clothing line Tu. I happened to drop into Sainsbury’s yesterday wearing the originals, so I present a quick side by side comparison in the interests of retail science!
(Just an FYI, Sainsbury’s is the lighter blue of the two!)
I thought it was funny to note that 1) these were the only pair left after the Duchess’s appearance with the similar pair the other day, and 2) that they were positioned right next to some Sledge lookalikes!
My verdict: the Tu wedges are a decent replicate at £18, although the colour is not really a match for the dark navy of the originals and therefore doesn’t blend that well with dark jeans – which is the way Kate usually wears hers. For the price you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the suede doesn’t feel as nice, and the shoe itself isn’t as comfortable – although the heel and platform are both lower!
See my previous post about the difference between the Hobbs Myra wedges and the R&B Corkswoons here.
When I first started exercising “properly”, it was in 2009, in order to lose weight for my wedding in summer of 2010. I exercised at home with games like EA Sports Active and DVDs like Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. At home, my only concern when it came to kit was a good sports bra – any old T-shirt and jogging bottoms would do. But this year, as I’ve started jogging OUTSIDE, under the watchful gaze of OTHER PEOPLE, I started to consider my exercise clothes in the same way as I did my everyday outfits: a chance to express myself, enjoy what I wear, and feel better about myself too.
When SportsShoes.com got in touch with me to ask me to select some items from their site in order to post about fashion and fitness, I leapt at the chance – not least because that exact same day I was planning a trip to pick up some trail shoes from the Nike Factory Store at Gunwharf Quays. The event I am training for this spring is really one that requires trail shoes, as it’s basically one long mud bath punctuated with a variety of opportunities for me to fail hilariously at being sporty. But hey, at least no one will be able to accuse me of not having the right kit!
The shoes I selected from the site’s extensive range were Nike Zoom Terra Kiger running shoes (pictured above, £69.99) which are designed to cushion the foot and provide extra grip in muddy conditions! Perfect! I also selected a pair of Nike Legend 2.0 Women’s Dri-Fit workout pants – my first pair of ‘proper’ running bottoms. Previously I’ve made do with offerings from Primark, F&F and Next’s own sport range, which are all fine, but not made of technical material like Nike’s Dri-Fit products. These help to wick moisture away from the skin to keep you comfortable while you sweat like a maniac.
As I’ve never knowingly undershopped, I took the opportunity to pick up a beautiful silver reflective jacket from the Nike store on my trip (which I went on anyway, because shops). I already had a great red cycling jacket, but the Nike Flash range jackets are reflective ALL OVER, and plus, are pretty space age. Sports Shoes has a selection of similar jackets here.
Styling workout outfits is infinitely easier if everything you have can be mixed and matched, and is generally along the same colour scheme. As your trainers are your most important piece of kit (in my opinion!), I think that you should pick these first, according to your needs and budget, and then build your collection from there. These Nike Trail shoes came with a purple and grey colour scheme, so I ran with that and picked up a variety of black, pink and purple items. Pictured above with my Nike shoes and joggers are a pink Nike Jam Jam top (£20 here), my silver running jacket, a pink and grey Adidas gym bag, and NOT pictured is a pink and black sports bra from Shock Absorber (£35 here).
On my spree, I also bought a black Heidi Klum for New Balance cropped tee from Next (£30 here), and a pink Nike boyfriend tank (similar here). Combine the two, and you have an outfit which brings back good memories of netball practice at school…
I also have to mention my phone, which is one of my most essential pieces of kit. I’ve mentioned before that I’m using the Zombies 5k training app, and it’s really keeping me on track and motivated to get out there several times a week – both to keep up my progress, and to find out what’s going to happen to Abel Township next! Luckily, my Kate Spade iPhone cover matches my new trainers or I would have had to throw it away in disgust…
Finally, as it is nippy outside, I decided to pick up a reversible purple Nike headband (£9.99 here) to keep my ears warm and my hair out of my face. In all honesty, for me, this is a frivilous and unessential purchase as I always get very hot on my runs anyway, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to look as sporty as possible. And let’s face it, what’s more sporty looking than headbands, sweatbands and leg warmers?
I’m sure you’ll agree from the photographic evidence that just with the simple addition of a headband, I suddenly look 85% more sporty, and 50% more likely to be able to complete a marathon at the drop of a hat.
Nike Zoom Terra Kiger running shoes, c/o SportsShoes.com / Reflective running jacket, Nike (similar here) / Cropped T-shirt, Heidi Klum for New Balance / Reversible Headband, Nike / Nike Legend 2.0 Women’s Dri-Fit workout pants, c/o SportsShoes.com / Jam Jam Top, Nike / Ultimate Gym Bra, Shock Absorber
What do you wear when you exercise? What’s your favourite work out outfit? And, what do you think about fitness fashion in general? Let me know!
My Nike Zoom Terra Kiger running shoes and Nike Legend 2.0 Women’s Dri-Fit workout pants were sent to me by SportsShoes.com for the purposes of review on this blog.