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?

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? 

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?!

top 5 dupes that made it (too?) close to the original

top 5 dupes that made it (too?) close to the original

In the world of fashion you cannot always afford everything you want to have. Simply because the majority of us makes X amount of money each months, we have bills to pay apart from fashion bills, and we all need to eat (this is probably my other passion outside of fashion). On top of that – there are many luxury items out there that are very far from being affordable anyway. 

Naturally, these are known facts that lead us to the simple truth of modern world: demand creates its own supply. If there are many people out there wishing to get designer items (or even medium segment) they cannot afford, there will be brands and producers that will make something similar to those items at a fraction of the designer price. This is where dupes, and copies, and fakes come into play. 

In the past couple of months I came across a few really interesting ones which I would love to share with you. Just as a side note – all the items I list here are highly on trend, so, even though I only mention pairs, you will easily find something very similar in pretty much all high street brands.

  1. Checkered blazer

Sandro

Price tag: 385

Material: 64% viscose / 20% wool / 12% polyester / 4% polyamide

Sandro checkered suit

H&M 

Price tag: 79,99

Material: 64% viscose / 20% wool / 12% polyester / 4% polyamide

H&M checkered suit

Here we go with my favourite dupe couple: blazers from Sandro and H&M. What do we see here? Two checkered blazers that come with matching skirts. The amazing thing is that checks are identical and so is composition! The only difference is in fit – Sandro’s blazer comes double-breasted, while H&M is single-breasted with two buttons. The question is – is double-breasted fit worth 300 euro difference?..

2. Snakeskin ankle boots

Acne

Price tag: 700 dollars (300 on sale)

Material: real leather

Acne snakeskin ankle boots

Zara

Price tag: 99,95 euros

Material: real leather

Zara snakeskin ankle boots

If you missed out on Acne snakeskin ankle boots when they just came out, or you just didn’t want to spend 700 dollars on them – Zara will happily provide you a decent alternative. In this case you can clearly see the difference in the heel design and the front of the boots, but you can also easily see how much inspiration Zara got from Acne, including the colour of snakeskin. With a slightly higher heel (8 cm in Zara boots and 7 cm in Acne) and a significantly lower price tag, you can get a great and oh so on trend alternative!

3. Leopard print midi skirt

Realisation par

Price tag: 180 dollars

Material: 100% Silk Satin

Realisation par leopard skirt

Loavies

Price tag: 29,99 euros

Material: 100% Polyester

Loavies midi animal print skirt

Let’s be honest this Realisation Par skirt became a real it-skirt of the season, so, of course, many other more affordable brands came up with something of their own (e.g. I’ve got mine from River Island). So why have I picked a skirt by Loavies as a not-so-subtle dupe? Mainly because of the product name, which is “Realize me” – I really liked this pretty obvious reference, even though the colour and the pattern differ from the original. In addition to that, here we are also talking about different materials, where 100% silk will always win over polyester which will be obviously reflected in the price. However, if you’re looking for a trendy piece that you would not want to invest in… you know what you should do 🙂

4. Crossbody saddle bag

Loewe 

Gate bag

Price tag: 1700 euros

Material: real leather

Loewe brown leather bag

Looks like summer

Nina bag

Price tag: 175 euros (87,99 on sale)

Looks like summer brown leather bag

I think bags are the most frequent candidate for copying – not many people can afford designer bags while many want to own one which opens a niche for producers of similar (or very similar) designs. When the Nina bag from Looks like summer popped up on my Instagram, I was very surprised, to say the least. Let’s put it this way – it is difficult to say that it was just inspired by Loewe. However, there are differences in colours that these bags come in and the finishing – Loewe Gate bag come with more of a matt finish, while Nina bag is made of more glossy leather. You can also spot a difference in shape despite a very close resemblance. But, all in all, both are real leather bags with a very similar unusual design and a significant difference in price (just think of 90 euros versus 1700!), and for the rest – you can decide whether you feel like it is fair or not.

5. Letter pendant

Celine* 

Price tag: around 300 euros (as seen on Vestiaire Collective)

Material: Gold plated (?)

Celine alphabet pendant

*Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the letter pendants on sale anymore which probably makes sense now that a new creative director Hedi Slimane is out and about. However, you will be find them on resale sites, like Vestiaire… if you’re quick enough 🙂

DesignB London

Price tag: 13,99 euros

Material: Metal

DesignB London letter pendant

The original Celine pendant is one of the last pieces made while Phoebe Philo was still a creative director of the brand and it quickly became a must-have with many influencers featuring it in their accounts. As per usual this has become a trigger for others brands to come up with more budget alternatives. For this pairing I picked a letter pendant by DesignB London which is not a straight copy, but most certainly makes a reference to the original. Both pendants are gold, with the one of Celine actually being gold plated and DesignB London – just simple metal which you can expect for the price. 

 

And this concludes my list of dupes that I picked from some of this season’s favourites! I would love to hear from you: is this topic interesting for you? How often do you buy dupes and do you ever specifically look for them if you like a certain design? 

how to be a fashion declutter guru & sell, donate & recycle like a boss

how to be a fashion declutter guru & sell, donate & recycle like a boss

Hi everyone,

The holiday season is over, and I am now fully back – it is not easy to blog frequently when you have a full time job, but I will do my best to improve this 😉

A while ago I mentioned on my Instagram that I often buy second hand clothes and also sell, donate, & recycle my own. It is kind of inevitable if you are into fashion and want to follow (some) trends – and with those trends changing all the time, fast fashion brands having 6-12 collections per year, it all becomes way too easy to just keep on buying. It is also inevitable that some clothes get worn out, don’t fit you like they should, or you just fall out of love with them.

Whatever the reason is – you don’t want to hoard all the clothing you accumulate over years, because – why would you clutter your personal space (unless you live in a huge house and you don’t care about it 😉)? But what do you do with all those unloved treasures (or call it junk if you like)? And how do you make sure you keep a “healthy” balance of old and new in your closet?

One might say: “Just stop buying so much!” And it is true in a way, but this is a topic for another post. Here I want to focus on what you do when you have already accumulated lots of clothes.

I usually do a closet clear out twice a year – when I switch from Fall/ Winter to Spring/ Summer, and vice versa. This way it helps you to rethink your old clothes, think of what you would like to add to the wardrobe for a new season, and it is frequent enough to keep your closet in order. I do get rid of some more things occasionally throughout a season, e.g. when I try something on and realise that this is not quite me anymore, something is wrong with the fit (I shouldn’t have washed that handwash only viscose dress in a washing machine, I know), or it is just worn out. These are general rules I follow when going through my wardrobe in one of the big clear outs as well. Probably one more rule to add to it though – if you haven’t worn something in the last 6 months to a year, even if it’s a new item with tags – have another critical look at it and get rid of it – it must have been not your thing, even though it might have looked good on a hanger.

So, once you have a pile of things that you don’t need in your wardrobe in your life… what do you actually do with them? Putting them in a rubbish been doesn’t count – it’s not very sustainable and can be mentally difficult, especially if you’re getting rid of a brand new item… As an (almost) a pro in this, I’m happy to share some ideas & pointers  to make your life easier. Disclaimer: as I live in Amsterdam, some apps & places are location specific, but you can definitely get the general idea and add your local spin on it.

In short, you can do three things: sell, donate, recycle. But how do you decide what to do with what?

 

Selling

What: This is a category of things that is actually worth reselling, i.e. new/ good-as-new clothing, shoes & accessories that didn’t get enough love in your closet. These are also usually the most pricey items.

Where:

Online: United Wardrobe app, Marktplaats, Facebook marketplace, Facebook groups (Buy & Sell Amsterdam, ISN Amsterdam Online Market, Amsterdam Expats Online Market)

Offline: King’s Day in Amsterdam, NDSM flea market, Secondhand stores (De Ruilhoek,  Mooizo), garage sales

What do you need: good quality photos, energy to take those photos, some time/ money reserved for posting items or meeting up with buyers, patience to wait till someone buys whatever you’re selling

 

Donating & Recycling 

What: These are items that you were not able to sell, you don’t think they are worth the effort to try to sell, or you just want to do the right thing and instead of reselling donate them to those who need clothes more than you do.

Where: your friends & family who you think might like your stuff, Zara, H&M*, &other stories* (these stores pick re-usable items and donate to different charities, or recycle), various charities directly (some examples here), containers around the city that say “Kleding/ Schoenen”, or just check here.

What do you need: time to go to drop off the bags** with your old clothing at one of the stores or charities

 

*By donating your clothes there, you get a 10-15% discount voucher for your next purchase.

**Actually, if you order something at Zara & indicate that you want to donate some clothes as well, you can have a courier who delivers your purchase also pick up your bag with donations.

 

As you can see, there are plenty of options out there to keep your fashion adventures under control, and you can choose whatever suits your preferences and moral standards (except for throwing clothing away – please opt for recycling instead). My personal scheme here would be: declutter -> let my niece choose whatever she likes -> sort into sell, donate & recycle piles -> post things from the sell pile online & give away the donate & recycle pile -> if cannot sell everything online, try to sell the remaining stuff offline -> if that doesn’t work either, donate!

 

P.S. if you want to know more pros, cons, and tips on selling your clothing & accessories on different platforms, be on the look out for my next post!

 

summer in the city – how to spend staycation in style | the style part

summer in the city – how to spend staycation in style | the style part

I hope I got you a bit inspired about spending your summer in the city  – really curious to see though what ideas were your favourites? Or did you already try any of them? Please leave your comments on this 🙂

As you could notice, I called the post “how to spend staycation in style”, but I didn’t quite cover the style element. So, I’m making up for it guys! 

What are the things that come to your mind when you think of summer? 

What clothes you imagine when you think of your dream summer wardrobe? 

Hey, you know what – there are no wrong or write answers here, because we are all different and the season cannot fully determine your style. You should do you. However, there are some things that are universal (& a bit of a common sense) and there are things that can help you shape your summer style, but not determine it. So, let’s dive into this summer [in the city] style guide!

Some universal summer rules:

Let your body breathe

You want to wear natural/ breathable materials like cotton, linen, silk – heat can be already quite stressful for your body, why increase it by overheating in polyester?

Open up in moderation

I know in some cities it can get so hot that you would want to wear as little as possible, but what can be appropriate at a resort or by the beach, does not always work in a city setting. For instance, a. this can bring across a wrong message to your fellow citizens, b. you risk to burn in the sun, c. there are so many other ways to stay cool & stylish at the same time!

Sun protection

Everyone is talking about the harmful effects of the UV on our skin, so make a sunblock your main summer accessory.

Check the weather forecast

A bit obvious, but it helps you to determine how many layers to wear. That’s why when I create my summer looks, I think of both possibilities – options for both hot and more chilly summer days/ nights.

Optional:

Summer trends

If you are into fashion, it’s always a good idea to be aware of what is trendy this season and cherry pick the trends that fit your personal style. More on how to deal with fashion trends in my older blog post.

 

I really believe that you can find your style only through experimenting – so take advantage of the summer weather and go for it! And to put you on this creative styling wave, I’m sharing with you some of my summer outfit ideas – maybe it’s something for you, or maybe it’s completely not your thing – let me know in the comments!

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