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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What To Wear With A Tan Bag: Ilex London Harriet

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Ilex London were kind enough to send me a bag from their new range recently, and after a lot of umming and ahhing, I went with this gorgeous Harriet Shoulder bag in Wood. For some reason, I have very few tan bags, so when this arrived I immediately went into panic mode about which shoes to wear with it. Silly me – in fact, tan seems to go with everything!

Pictured above, I paired them with Russell & Bromley’s Coco Pop espadrilles, which were worn by Pippa Middleton a few years ago and are still part of the brand’s line. With the toe-cap detailing and the straw wedges, they’re a classic that never goes out of style, and match this Harriet perfectly!

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One of my favourite purchases from Russell & Bromley are the Stuart Weitzman Corkswoons, or as they’re called in the UK, the SW Cocos. Dark blue suede contrasts beautifully with the tan bag, and I can imagine this in an outfit with a navy skirt paired with a white blouse – effortless summer chic! This is another item from the Middleton wardrobe, this time made famous by Kate. It seems like you either loves these wedges, or you hate them – I love them, and judging from the offerings from other shoe brands, this combo of navy suede and cork heels is still firmly in style.

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Moving into more recent offerings from Russell & Bromley, these Xpresso Crossover Flats make a lovely pairing with the tan bag – taming the boyish feel of the brown and giving it a softer, even feminine feel. Pair this with a tulle skirt and a blouse tied at the waist for the ultimate in girly summer chic. You’ll feel like a ballerina, but the chunky, solid Harriet bag will prevent your outfit from turning into a costume, giving a cool juxtaposition and providing you ample space to store your stuff on the run. And, of course, wear these with pride knowing they’ve been royally approved – Kate wore these on the recent Indian Royal Tour!

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Finally, white shoes haven’t been on the fashion forefront since the ’80s, it feels like, but I couldn’t resist these Rockstud Valentinos, and they go awesomely with the Ilex – the gold detailing picks out the logo perfectly! (Check out Dune’s Heti in white for a decent alternative at £70.)

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So, enough about the shoes, what about the bag? I love this sturdy little trooper – it’s perfect for work (or play!) as it has a central, easily accesible section with a zippered pocket, plus two additional zipped compartments either side, very much like the Modalu Pippa bag. It has two straps to carry over the shoulder, or an attachment to convert it to a shoulder bag. Priced at £205, it’s an investment bag, but one which will carry you through the seasons. It can fit a heck of a lot inside – the only limit is going to be how much you can physically lift… It fits an iPad easily, and you can just about squeeze an A4 mag or paper inside the middle part.

So far I’ve taken it on weekends away (perfect for stowing makeup and jewellery), work events (to hide notebooks and my camera) and to the cinema (of course, I would never smuggle Coke Zero and a packet of chilli crackers into a movie). It’s even been carried along the ramparts of Warwick Castle and over the London Bridge! I am really looking forward to wearing it in autumn and winter, too, as the new seasons open up a whole new range of styling possibilities!

Check out the Harriet here, and the whole range from Ilex London here.Which bag would you pick from the range?

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