Kate’s New BFF: Nina vs Natalie in the Battle of the Clutches

Move over, Natalie. There’s a new girl in town. Her name is Nina, and she comes in trench…

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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.

Nina vs

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.

Tops

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.

vs

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

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.

Inside original

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.

Fit inside

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.

Nina Trench 2

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 vs Taupe

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!

Nina Trench

The Nina clutch is available here from L.K. Bennett for £185.

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…

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Bag ‘n’ Shoes: Modalu Pippa Grab bag and Mint Velvet taupe suede plimsolls

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(EDIT: See the end of my post for international availability on the Mint Velvet shoes!)

Pippa, meet Kate. Kate, meet Pippa. Ah, you’re already acquainted? What a coincidence!

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I have to say, before this year, I didn’t take much notice of Pippa Middleton’s style. I really like her columns in Waitrose Magazine, and I enjoyed her book, but her fashion never really made its way onto my radar until I picked up a pretty grey necklace from Accessorize I saw her wearing in a Telegraph piece. From there, it wasn’t too long before I fell in love with the Pippa grab bag in shark from Modalu!

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I’d been looking for a replacement for my beloved grey tote bag for a while, since the shoulder strap broke. I never thought a grey tote would be so versatile until I picked it up as a (very poor) replikate of Kate’s grey Tod’s bag. So with mine broken, I was open to alternatives, and as soon as I saw the Pippa bag, I fell in love!

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It’s a very handsome and practical bag, and it seems impossible to ever completely fill it up! Plus, all those handy compartments and zips makes organising things a breeze. (We’ve all been there, elbow deep in a bag that’s mysteriously swallowed door keys, right?).

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Plus, I love the shell motif on the zipper tags too! The Pippa is currently only available in shark (grey) with silver hardware, so I had to go on eBay to find one with gold.

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Anyway, onto my other style influence, Kate, most famous as Pippa’s sister – you might have seen her at Pippa’s debut when she was wearing that fabulous bridesmaid dress. Many people don’t realise this, but Kate was actually the bride. I KNOW! Small world, right?! Anyway, Kate’s been pictured wearing her taupe Mint Velvet plimsolls recently on tour Down Under, and as Mint Velvet have announced they are releasing the shoe again at the beginning of May, I thought I’d do a post about them!

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As I’ve mentioned before, my shoe size varies from a 6 (39) to a 7 (40), but I most usually take a 7, so this is the size I ordered. They fit a little snugly, and are narrow in the toe, which is worth mentioning if you’re going to order a pair yourself.

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They also have a neat Mint Velvet logo at the base of the heel, which I think is how they were ID’d when Kate first wore them!

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I wouldn’t call them my comfiest shoe, especially without socks, but I haven’t really broken them in yet. But they are a very smart pair of shoes if you’re looking for something casual that’s still stylish and somewhat dressy. I also think the grey laces are the final touch that really makes the design feel that much more polished!

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And of course, they’re the perfect match for my Pippa bag! Thanks, Middleton sisters!

EDIT: Mint Velvet has been inundated with requests for this item since it first appeared last year (originally priced £79). The company has stated on Facebook that they will be releasing the shoes again in stores and online in the first week of May. Excitingly for international customers, who previously couldn’t order from Mint Velvet, the company has also suggested that they will open facilities for international orders soon. However, you will also be able to order directly from House of Fraser, which offers international shipping to the US, amongst other places. (Read the comments thread on Facebook here for my source on this! You can keep updated about the availability of the Mint Velvet taupe plimsolls here on their website. I don’t have a direct link for the item on House of Fraser yet, but the shoes are likely to appear in this section of the site. You can find House of Fraser’s homepage at http://www.houseoffraser.com/)

Find the Mint Velvet taupe plimsolls, now called Bibi, at Mint Velvet here for £89. For international orders, contact Mint Velvet directly at customercare@mintvelvet.co.uk, or you can wait until they are stocked at House of Fraser: http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/.

The Modalu Pippa grab bag is available in a range of colours on their site here. And, here’s a direct link to the bag in shark, my favourite colour! (Pst – I asked Modalu if they were going to bring back the shark with gold hardware and they told me they were not planning to continue production of the shark colour. So, if it’s a shade you like, bear that in mind!)

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you’re all having a fantastic day today!

20140420-105705.jpg(Yellow d’Orsay style flats from Next)

Don’t forget, Easter’s not just about chocolate either – I say it’s also about…

20140420-110036.jpg(Shoes from Mint Velvet – and they’ll be available again in the first week of May!)

Eggs in general! Namely these homemade Scotch eggs I made using chorizo sausage – perfect for an Easter buffet.

How do you celebrate Easter? A family dinner, Easter egg hunt, church service, walk in the woods? Let me know!

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Duchess Style: Great Plains Cezanne dress

I have a bit of a thing for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe. Who wouldn’t want to dress like a future queen, after all? I love finding out what she’s wearing and then tracking down the item myself! When Kate appeared in Grimsby wearing a new dress last week, I logged onto the amazing Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/WhatKateWore, where the community had located the dress within minutes of her appearance. So, I had to bag one for myself (on sale at www.greatplains.co.uk). Here’s the result!

Cezanne

I decided to pair it with a couple of other Kate-related items, my L.K. Bennett Sliver sandals in taupe (bought from the outlet store in Portsmouth, now renamed as the Sandy) and my L.K. Bennett Natalie clutch (still available from the site).

Sliver shoes 2 Sliver shoes

I love these shoes – had them resoled as the leather soles are pretty delicate. It’s sooo cold here at the moment though that it’s impossible to wear them out anywhere, so for once I’m actually looking forward to the warmer months!

Natalie clutch Natalie clutch 2

The Natalie clutch is an item I’ve been lusting after for a long time, so I decided to break down and treat myself last month. I’m glad I did, because it goes perfectly with my sandals, and my nude heels that I bought from M&S. I did try on a pair of Kate’s beloved Sledges, but sadly they are too dark a shade to really be ‘nude’ on me, so I bought the much cheaper pair from the Autograph range – practically identical in every way, expect a better match for me! (And comfy too!)

Clutch and shoes

Do you follow Kate’s fashions? Ever bought anything she was seen wearing? Ever replicated one of her looks? I’d love to hear from you in the comments if so!

21 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Fade to Greige

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21 Dec Fade to Greige
21 Dec Fade to Greige

Today’s colour is Fade to Greige, a cool, grungy, grey-purple.

21 Dec Fade to Greige

This creme is described by Ciate thusly: “A violetly grey that delivers a unique take on the fabulous taupe trend colour. Perfect for adding an edge to black and teaming with silver jewellery.”

21 Dec Fade to Greige

I love this colour – it’s a very dark purple, but that taupe edge just stops it from tipping too far over into Halloween territory. It totally doesn’t go with the outfit I planned for this evening, but hey – it’s Christmas! You can wear what you like on your nails, right?!

21 Dec Fade to Greige

19 Dec: Ciate Mini Mani Month – Cookies and Cream

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Today’s colour is a pretty light beige called Cookies and Cream!

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Ciate’s site says: “A light taupe pastel grey that is versatile and easy to wear. A soft nude milkshake delight that can elevate your workwear or even relax a grunge rock look.”

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This is a really lovely colour – a nice, soft neutral. I’m really drawn to polishes like this, so I was definitely pleased to see it in the calendar today! I decided to add a topcoat, and as Pirouette My Whistle by OPI was already sitting on my desk, I decided it was a match made in heaven…

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Subtly festive, right? Love it!