Omnia mea mecum porto*: the backpack edit

Omnia mea mecum porto*: the backpack edit

*All that is mine I carry with me

They say that there are two type of women – those who can get away with carrying only essentials in a small to medium purse and those who need to carry their whole life in a bag… Well I do love small purses and find them extremely pretty, but in reality I’m really that latter type.

It’s probably also a reflection of my lifestyle and years of carrying stuff around – and lots of it! Textbooks & notebooks for school and university, my DSLR around during trips and for my freelance gigs (or – let’s be honest – I used to carry it around pretty much everywhere), laptop for work and for what-not… But let’s leave more details to what’s in my bag post 😉

Trying to cater for all my needs, I experimented with tons of different bags, but I’ve always returned to a solution that is much more comfortable and back-friendly than a full tote bag or even a crossbody – a backpack! If the first associations that come to your mind are backpacks for hiking (which would definitely fit your whole life in it) or school girl hello kitty backpack – don’t worry, backpacks can be just as stylish and trendy and meet all your [fashion] soul desires as any other bag. They vary in size, they don’t give you shoulder pain if the straps are right, they come in different finishes and styles… they are definitely an ingenious invention of humanity and one might even call it a full on wardrobe staple.

But in the times of abundance of choice, how do you pick your perfect backpack? Here are some things you would need to consider.

 

Back straps

This is one element that you should never underestimate. To make backpack last for years and make sure you enjoy wearing it, it’s crucial to pick one with straps that are not too thin and attached quite sturdily attached on the top.

Size

Obvious, but the size of the backpack depends on your needs. For instance, if you know that you will probably need to take your laptop frequently, it won’t hurt to check the measurement of a potential backpack – because there’s nothing more painful than trying to close the zip when a laptop barely fits.

Material

I have a personal preference for leather backpacks (genuine or high quality vegan leather), just because it is generally more durable and gives a backpack more of a city look. However, if it’s not your thing, go for waterproof textile. Suede or nubuck do look classy, but may be difficult in care and maintenance unfortunately. Natural materials like straw, wood, bamboo are very hot this season and look very cool and breezy in summer, however, a natural backpack would probably not be a long-term investment piece (even though they are pretty cool!).

Zippers et al.

Here the same rules apply as to clothing: do pay attention to hardware on your future backpack. Cheap zipper can ruin a look of an, otherwise, very decent looking backpack or bag. Plus you probably wouldn’t want it to break at the least appropriate moment, e.g. when you’re trying to fit in a barely fitting laptop (see “Size” section).

Colour

Since we’re talking basics, I would also recommend to go for a basic colour that will go with majority of items in your wardrobe. Think of: black, grey, off-white, beige/ tan & other neutrals.

Style

With fashion moving more towards minimalism and comfort in the past few seasons, if you want to be on trend and yet keep using it for the next few years, you would probably want to go for a more classic looking model with minimum décor which would work in classic, romantic, or even sport chic outfits.

 

Having all this in mind, I made a selection of my favourite 10 backpacks on the market RN (including one very exciting Russian brand!).

Beauties from ARNY PRAHT for lovers of minimalism and simplicity (BONUS: these backpacks are made vegan, come in different sizes and colours, downside – they ship only to CIS countries)

Blue backpackBrown backpack

A few faves from Matt & Nat – because it was impossible to pick just one. Again, a wonderful example of sustainable fashion of great quality for a chic look

Blush pink backpack  Tan backpackOff-white backpack

A never-getting-old classic backpack from Liebeskind from black leather

Black leather backpack

Or another stylish one by Picard – for those of us who loves gold hardware

Black backpack

For those who wants to infuse some logo mania in a classy manner – this backpack by Joop! (potentially) inspired by LV may save the day and some money 

Logomania backpack

A bright red backpack by Calvin Klein for those who do want to infuse some colour 

Red backpack

 

Last but not least, this pricey but amazingly elegant and functional backpack by P.MAI that could be a worthy investment for those of us who carry lots of s… stuff 🙂

Black backpack

 

I’m genuinely a really – really – big fan of backpacks, and I hope that I can convert you too!

Perfect match: how to find a trench coat of your dreams & my 8 faves on the market

Perfect match: how to find a trench coat of your dreams & my 8 faves on the market

You probably noticed how I often talk about importance of having the right basics in place over having a trendy wardrobe that constantly needs to be renewed. Well, the thing is that it is not actually that easy to find the right staple piece that would be your 100% which would guarantee its permanent spot in your closet for many years to come.

I’ve been in search of a perfect beige trench coat which is to me the number one wardrobe staple that suits everyone. Seriously. Men, women, children – everyone needs to have a trench coat in their life. Or at least, this is what I am a firm believer of 🙂

The magic of a trench coat is that it is flattering for any body type and skin colour and it can be incorporated into pretty much any personal style. BUT… as there is always a but. There are certain things that you need to consider while searching for the one [trench coat], and not any coat will look equally as good on everyone. And I would not be me if I didn’t share with you the tips on how to make your trench coat hunt successful.

So, what do you need to think about?

Length

Length is one of the criteria that can make or break the deal when choosing your perfect trench coat. The most classic option would be a midi trench, however, this can mean different things depending on your height and proportions. For instance, if you’re a petite girl, that perfect midi can turn into a blanket covering you all. 

Size

Sounds like a no brainer, but it is important to pick the right size – whatever it means for you personally. Be it the just right oversize or figure hugging fit, you’re choosing your potential wardrobe staple and you want to be able to wear it for many coming years. In this case, it may not be a bad idea to tailor the trench coat to make it even more perfect.

Fit

Straight or figure fitting, here you can choose either to your liking. The key here is to think of your overall style and how this fit will go with your clothes. For instance, if majority of your clothes are more relaxed, a figure fitting trench might look a bit like an alien in your closet.

Colour

If we are talking about the staples of the staples, you probably want to get a beige trench coat. However, this doesn’t make the search easier, because, as you may know, there are so many shades of beige out there. The key here is to determine your skin colour tone – whether it is more warm, cool, or neutral – and pick the colour based on that. As the trench coat is something that would be in a close proximity to your face, you do want to pay attention to this stuff, because a wrong colour can easily make you look too pale or even ill.

Quality/ Material

This doesn’t mean that you should only look at the luxury or middle-market brands and completely disregard mass market. The truth is that you can find great high quality pieces anywhere, as long as you check the composition (yes to natural materials!) of the item and and stitching. Another pitfall that you want to avoid is getting a trench coat that is too thing and has no lining, because in this case it will not be as warm and it will easily show all the structure of whatever you wear underneath it. This in itself can make your whole outfit look cheap and less figure flattering.

Decorative elements

If we’re talking about a basic piece, then you would probably want to avoid any prominent decor. However, don’t be afraid to get creative and make a piece with decorative elements your personal basic – as long as you can match it with majority of your wardrobe and you’re sure you won’t change your mind about it in a month 🙂

After considering all of these, you can happily dive into online or offline shopping. To give your some idea where to look, here are my affordable favourites.

A very affordable basic trench coat by H&M

classic trench coat H&M

…. and its more pricey brother from Premium collection.

classic trench coat H&M premium

This & other stories trench coat in a beautiful mustard…

Trench coat & other stories in mustard

…and this linen beauty.

Linen trench coat & other stories

This easy-breezy Monki trench coat with a minimalist vibe…

Monki trench coat straight fit

… and this chic trench coat from Whistles with amazing finishing touches.

Trench coat Whistles

This Helene Berman trench coat with a twist…

Helena Berman trench coat

… and this stylish & sophisticated coat from Arket.

Arket trench coat

So, guys, which one is your favourite?

the -tion word

the -tion word

I might have not mentioned it in the blog, but I work for a tech company. My days are full of -tion words – localization, optimization, collaboration, integration – and all types of management – stakeholder management, project management, terminology management, or expectations management. The list can go on and on, but there is one -tion word which has a permanent spot in all of our lives – communication, and for that same reason it is often undervalued and neglected.

Without realizing it, we communicate in one way or another every single day, pretty much all day long. We communicate to buy that much needed coffee in the morning, we communicate to our colleagues to get things done at work, we communicate to our friends and family to keep those meaningful connections and bonds alive, we learn new languages to communicate and be understood abroad. We communicate with our voice, our gadgets, our gestures and facial expressions, our clothes (yes, I am not kidding – our fashion choices are just another way to communicate). Every day we send so many messages intentionally and so many more – unintentionally. And yet we do not often explicitly think whether we bring the right message across and whether we are understood in a way we intended it.

I am a firm believer that communication is a skill and not a talent that some are blessed with. It does take effort and time to acquire this skill and improve and some people do grasp it better than others, but still it is something that is accessible for everyone. But where do you start?

Key principle for communication broadly used in marketing is all about “ bringing the right message to the right audience at the right time in the right place”. However, if you think about it, this principle works not only when you want to sell something – it is equally relevant when you want to support a friend going through some difficult times. The only difference is that in social situations we often make those choices about message/ audience/ time/ place subconsciously and our decisions are driven by social norms and perception of what is contextually appropriate. However, even then it may get tricky.

So, what would you need to do to communicate more effectively (and trust me this will help you not only at work)?

Think of a key message that you want to bring across

You may think that you have so many great ideas that it is difficult to pick just one, but in reality if you do not focus on the key point you are trying to make, you risk losing the attention of your audience and having them remember a completely different idea to what you were really trying to convey.

Be conscious of your medium

Depending on your communication goal, target audience, importance of this specific message and other constraints, you go for different communication media. In one case you would want to have a longer face-to face meeting, while in another a simple text or email would be enough. In one case you would want to get more personal and informal, while in another – keep it strictly professional. And if you pick your medium right – chances are that you will be understood just the way you wanted.

Visual information is easier to consume

This is related to my previous point, but I really wanted to emphasise this: it is much easier for us to perceive and remember visual information (it is also scientifically proven, so it is not just imho). Now that you know it, the booming popularity of Instagram and Youtube make a lot more sense, right?

Be aware of cultural differences

We all grew up in different conditions which formed our perceptions of what is appropriate and what is not. I do realise that it is quite difficult to generalize these things to purely cultural differences, but this may help you to start moving into the right direction. It is cultural differences and being insensitive to them that may have even a harmless text cause some serious damage.

Be open and personal

Even in the most highly professional environment you are dealing with other humans just like you are, and you should not forget that. Simple things like being friendly, open and (when appropriate) personal will make you more relatable and pleasant to deal with, and in return you will be more likely to be heard.

I cannot claim that these tips will always save you from miscommunication disasters, but they will definitely help you to prevent some.

 

And now, tell me – would you be interested in topics like this on the blog?

 

why clothes can help you to break free

why clothes can help you to break free

The other day a good friend of mine told me: “You know, Al, I’ve been experimenting with my clothes recently… like I put on things I wouldn’t put on before, I mix them together… and I see people’s reactions sometimes like “wtf is she wearing”… and yet I just go for it and it’s been one of the most liberating experiences in my life!” 

She’s going through a lot of changes in her life right now, and this really made me think: why wearing what you like regardless of others is so liberating?

Since the time when prehistoric humans decided that they need clothes to cover up their bits, a lot has changed. We don’t just dress to keep ourselves warm, we dress for all sorts of other reasons: to fit in, to make a specific impression, to respond to societal expectations, or to show where we belong. All of this makes clothes so much more like another universal language that everyone can speak. And like with any language, not everyone can speak it to a full extent and there are certain grammar rules you should adhere to.

When you think about it, you realise how many pre-imposed restrictions we put on ourselves. We dress to impress and attract others in a conventional way while all we really want to do is to wear a colourful bandana. Or that weird dress that only you like. Or statement socks with crop pants. Or just anything that you like, but you’d say to yourself: “Nah, I might look weird in this”. 

You might even say that you don’t care about fashion, dressing rules or anything remotely related to it, but yet if you look deep down you will notice that, perhaps subconsciously, you still follow some gut feeling that tells you what will look appropriate and what not. But what if you try to break the cycle? 

This is why I truly believe that simply wearing what you like is extremely freeing. It helps you to break free and learn more about what you really like. And it allows you to finally speak up your real mind to others rather then say what they expect to hear.

So, tell me, do you truly know what you like? Do you dress to impress or do you dress against? What is really moving you when dressing? 

reasons to love the colder time of the year 

reasons to love the colder time of the year 

In my experience winter time is often the least favourite season for majority of people. No one really likes short days, cloudy sky, wind, and rain, or snow, depending where in the world you are. However, it’s not actually all doom and gloom, it is really the matter of perspective. Like with many other things in life, you can keep focusing on the negatives and go into seasonal depression mode every year, or you can look for the positives instead.

Growing up, I always excitedly waited for the first snow. It would often happen over night, so in the morning I would jump out of bed to look out of the window just to confirm that the whole neighbourhood is finally covered with a pristine white snow blanket. My childhood memories of getting 10 layers on before leaving the house, warming hands on a hot cup of tea after coming back home, or just peaceful moments of watching snowflakes dancing outside from the warmth of our home fill my heart with joy and love for that least favourite season of the year.

As I grew older and my love for fashion grew, I’ve also found that dressing for colder seasons can be just as exciting – if not more – as dressing in spring or summer. And if you’re not with me on being slightly more positive about winter, I hope I might just slightly change your mind 🙂

So, why is dressing in winter not so boring?

Layering fashion close up street styleLayering 

When, if not in cold weather, can you pull off a layered look without dying from a heat stroke? You can go as simple as a turtle neck under a dress, or as elaborate as you wish really. Key thing – it will definitely keep you warm.

Image taken from Vogue.es

 

Close up image of a midi skirt and high bootsHigh boots

This fall/ winter trend which will also keep you warm and comfortable when the temperature drops. Great to pair with skinny jeans and chunky knitwear or with midi skirts and dresses which will create an interesting overlay.

Image taken from TheFashionFuse.com

 

Blogger Aimee Song in a white total lookWhite

Yes, that’s right – wearing white and off-white palette never looks as good as in winter months. For the very brave once I totally recommend a total look in off-white – it looks super elegant and classy. Just try to avoid coffee the day you wear it!

Image taken from Vogue.es

 

A girl wearing balaclavaHats

This accessory can make or break an outfit (and make your mom happy that you finally keep your head warm). Every fall/ winter designers come up with plenty of variations on more classic and more our there hats providing you an opportunity to experiment, like this year – with bucket hats, balaclavas and caps you have plenty of choice to make your statement. Or not.

Image taken from ManRepeller.com 

 

Girl with a scarf "MADE IN ENGLAND"Scarfs

Another accessory that will protect you from the wind and finish your look with another layer. Whether you go for a matching colour or a statement piece (like the slogan scarfs), it will be definitely a trendy response to cold.

Image taken from @wethepeoplestyle

…and this list can be continued, so as I said – look for positives and keep experimenting!

New year, new blog: why did I disappear & plans for 2019

New year, new blog: why did I disappear & plans for 2019

DISCLAIMER: this will not be a fashion post

Hey guys,

I know it’s been a while and I haven’t appeared here since Black Friday, which makes it good two months. I do have a good excuse though – as they say, life happens and sometimes your priorities have to shift. And for me, those priorities were moving houses and also sorting out my mental health.

It might sound like a contradiction, because moving houses is a stressful and at times painful process by definition… and how on earth can you try to deal with anxiety and stress in your life in parallel, right?! However, both needed to happen and it happened so that their timing coincided. 

And, most importantly, both are now over – or almost over – at least, we‘ve moved and (almost) settled in and I’ve made a significant step towards an anxiety-free existence (winning!). 

These last couple of months made me realise that even though I started my blog primarily focusing on fashion, I want to be sharing ideas beyond that. However, I feel like I need to vocalise it to truly commit, so there we go: in 2019 I’m hoping to make this blog something beyond fashion trends and style tips. I would still be writing about fashion and personal styling, but with a bit of a twist.

Because really – I am quite nerdy and I enjoy nerdy topics too! So, I was thinking to bring some nerdiness into my fashion posts – like how tech changes fashion, or whether fashion is another way of communicating with each other… hope you get the idea 🙂

In addition to that, I would like to inject some completely different topics that I find important, some of which would be my experience as an expat and some more personal things – because I want to keep it real.

And last, but not least… I do want to start working with more steady blogging schedule, so starting from today, you can expect a new blog post on Mondays & Fridays.

Stay tuned & let’s make 2019 another great year!

Black Friday ready: how to take the most of the biggest sale of the year

Black Friday ready: how to take the most of the biggest sale of the year

In the world where you get bombarded with sales and promotions urging you to buy-buy-buy, it can be quite difficult to stay sane and not to overspend. I mean… I’m not trying to be “the wise one” and pretend that I’ve never fallen into the marketing trap. Especially when the world of online shopping available to you 24/7 from anywhere makes buying so easy. Come on guys – we’ve all been there and done that!

When I just moved to the Netherlands, I was actually amazed with accessibility of online shopping which was still not always the case back in Moscow (at least, not to the same extent). I was so overwhelmed.. and -boy-oh-buy did I make my dozen of mistakes buying stuff on sale that seemed like a bargain but was clearly not something I needed. When you are a student on a budget, it hits you really hard, but you also learn fast.

I think everyone by now is acquainted with a phenomena of Black Friday – at least, to an extent that it’s the day when you can get discounts for pretty much anything. Initially it originated in the United States as the fourth Friday of November that followed after Thanksgiving that also kicks off the Christmas sales season in the US. In the Digital era, we then got a Cyber Monday that added on some online bargains. Seeing the commercial success of Black Friday, companies across the world quickly picked up the trend and now you have Black Friday pretty much everywhere. This year it started to become not just a day, but more like a week or the whole month of discounts – et voila! – you’re already running around, or intensely scrolling through the websites spending your cash. However, do you want to be smart while doing that?

For that, I prepared for you 5 Tips to make Black Friday/ Cyber Monday a success.

  1. Make a list of items you actually need

Sounds a bit obvious, but… you should actually try doing it and see how many unnecessary purchases you can prevent this way. Start noting items that you need and would buy anyway, regardless of any discounts – it will keep you focused and less overwhelmed when you dive into the whole buying exercise.

2. Based on the list of necessities, create a concrete wishlist using favourite function on the websites, Pinterest, or already put the desired items in the shopping basket

Ideally you want to already know what exactly you want to buy and where rather than search for the desirable items when the discounts kick off. This will save you time, money, and stress. Plus you will be more likely to buy what you want because as it often happens in the heat of sale – things get sold out at a lightning speed.

3. For fashion purchases: focus on are high quality basics and/ or on-trend items

Black Friday is a good opportunity to get one or a few high quality basics made of natural materials – the kind of investment you are unlikely to regret. Alternatively, if you would like to expand your wardrobe with some trends – go for it! This would be a safe way to try something new with a minimum damage to your wallet, given you follow the previous points too 🙂

4. When assessing the items in your basket, ask yourself: “Would I buy it for the full price?”

This is a good way to distinguish a necessity from junk that you pick up just because it’s cheap, which not only saves money, but also space in your house. Win-win, right?!

5. Get ready with the discount codes

Do your discount code hunt well: check the accounts of your favourite bloggers, your mailbox for some promo-emails from your favourite brands, or simply use the power of Google. Having this list ready for check out instead of trying to find the promo codes last minute will once again save you some nerves and decrease the chance the your desired items will be sold out before you know it. 

Girl in an oversized blazer looking at her watch

Sounds like quite a bit of work, but trust me it will pay off with less stress and some money savings. And now… are you ready for Black Friday?!