The ‘it’ bag

The dust is still settling from my most recent handbag purchase – a mini pashli bag from 3.1 by Phillip Lim – but that hasn’t stopped me from keeping my blinders out for a few other bags that have been on my wishlist this last year or so. Irrationally, the thought of getting yet another ‘it’ bag as a belated birthday present has definitely crossed my mind, and the saturation of these bags on my Instagram feed has done little to deter me.

Given it usually takes months for me to actually pull the trigger on a new bag purchase (I deliberated over my Proenza Schouler PS11 for a year!), new handbag additions aren’t a decision I make lightly. Plus, I figure any bag that is going to cost upwards of $500 is a serious investment, so I want to make sure that I’ve well and truly thought about whether it is the right bag for me, and my lifestyle, before I find a sales assistant ringing up a new luxury purchase at the register.

While I don’t think I’ll be buying a new bag in the next week, I thought I’d share a couple of the bags that have been on my radar recently…

Chloe Faye bag in the small size – Admittedly, this is currently topping my wishlist, and probably the bag that I’ll end up going for first. Let’s just forget the fact that this wasn’t even on my radar 12 months ago, as it just felt a little too… trendy. A girlfriend of mine bought this bag while living in London, and after seeing in IRL, I’ve done a complete 180. What I love is that the bag seems deceivingly small, but the three interior compartments make it easy to organise your bag, and carry around all your essentials. I’m also such a sucker for anything suede, and I’ve come to find the chain detail really charming.

Chanel mini le boy bag (preferably in the chevron leather) – Real talk; the chances of me owning anything from Chanel in the near future are pretty slim, but hey, a girl can dream! I’ve watched enough Chanel handbag collection videos to know that if money were no object, I’d be rushing to buy the Chanel mini le boy bag in the chevron leather in a heartbeat. Suffice to say, this is definitely a ‘long game’ kind of bag.

Balenciaga mini city bag with giant hardware – One of the first bags I ever bought as a teenager, was a faux leather moto bag, which while I didn’t know it at the time, was heavily inspired by Balenciaga’s iconic city bag. I thrashed that bag until the point of no return, and more than ten years later, I’m still thinking about that bag. While classic black would be the obvious choice, I was really bowled over by the burgundy leather recently, and the bright yellow gold hardware makes for a stunning contrast.

Gucci Dionysus mini bag – Instagram and basically every blogger on the planet is to blame for this one, but there’s no denying that Alessandro Michele has done wonders for the brand, and the fashion world has been lapping it up – myself included. Personally, I’m more included to opt for the full suede version, as I feel like the monogram might look a little ‘dated’ in a couple years time, but I love the combination of the horse shoe shaped clasp, and aged silver hardware.

Givenchy Antigona bag – I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this bag for years, and it’s probably pretty obvious which side of the fence I’m currently sitting on. I love that this bag has a lot of structure, is minimal in design, has a shoulder strap, and is roomy enough to fit a 13” Macbook Pro.

YSL Chevron WOC – I clearly have a thing for chevron leather, and this little beauty from Saint Laurent has been no exception. What’s drawn me most to this bag is that it can be worn on its own as a small bag with a chain strap, as a clutch with the chain tucked in, or as a wallet within a larger bag.

Valentino Spike Rockstud bag – I’ve always had a bit of a thing for the Valentino Rockstud shoulder bag, but I came pretty convinced early on that the style was a bit too dressy for my lifestyle, and the smooth calf leather always struck me as a little too delicate. The spike rockstud bag on the other hand appears malleable and soft, and it comes in velvet. Velvet!!!

Gucci Marmont mini matalesse bag – For obvious reasons, I’m not typically drawn towards bags which are so light-coloured, but this milky-hued camera bag from Gucci is all kinds of cute (I also love the dusty rose shade, too).

If you have any of these bags currently hanging out in your closet, I’d love to hear your thoughts (watching hours of YouTube reviews is never enough to convince me!), and I’d also love to know what bags are currently on your wishtlist! x

Tips for shopping on eBay and buying secondhand

tips for shopping eBay and secondhand

As much as I love bringing home something shiny and new, nothing quite beats the thrill of stumbling across something you’ve love had your eye on for an absolute steal on eBay. I’ve been shopping the online marketplace for the last 12 years or so now, and some of my best bargains have included a much-loved grey wool flannel skirt from Karen Walker that I took home for a mere $10, a pair of brand new pebbled leather ‘jensen’ boots from Acne Studios for half the price, and some vintage denim shorts that I managed to nab for less than a dollar.

My secondhand shopping successes have come with their fair share of misses, so today I wanted to share some of my tips on how to successfully navigate eBay and online consignment stores to come away with a new wardrobe addition that you absolutely l-o-v-e.

Whether you are buying brand new or second hand, you should always make a point of shopping with purpose. Maybe you’re after a sleek black blazer to round out your work wardrobe, a buttery leather skirt for model off-duty vibes, or perhaps you’re trying to track down a pair of YSL caged heels from six years ago; knowing what it is that you are after will help you to narrow down your search, and also serve as a guide to navigate you towards making a purchase that you actually want, rather than buying something that is an absolute steal, but that isn’t going to stand the test of time in your wardrobe.

Particularly if you are looking for an archival piece, as I often am, one of the most useful tools to have on hand is the eBay (or consignment store’s) app. I set up searches for specific designers (I love to browse through listings for Karen Walker and Lover), and specific items from designers – like Chloe shoes in a size EU40. The search function filters through only the listings you haven’t seen, so every couple of days or so, I’ll drop into the app to take a peek at what new listings have popped up. I think it’s also worth noting here that patience is absolutely key. Because you’re relying on other people the world over to sell something you want, it can take time – one of my most recent eBay finds is a dress I’ve been trying to track down for seven years!

What condition is the item in? What size is it? What are the measurements? Pay attention to all these details as unlike shopping in a real store, unless the seller accepts returns, you often don’t have the luxury of changing your mind if you don’t really like the item when it arrives. Make sure you use the website’s zoom function to get a close up of the material to look closely for any marks or wear to the fabric, and have a tape measure on hand to check that the item is going to fit you.

Listing descriptiongs for items are completely a mixed bag; some are extensive, offering up measurements, clear condition of the item, as well as ample photographs, whereas others will use stock imagery of the item up for sale with only the size listed in the description. For that reason, I like to touch base with the seller and ask them questions, like specific measurements or for additional photographs, just to get a better overall picture of what exactly it is that I’m considering buying. Also, given that sizing does vary from season to season, and from label to label, I typically tend to gravitate more towards brands that I’m familiar with – it helps to reduce the chances of ending up with something that doesn’t fit quite right, and it also gives me a good idea of the type of quality I can expect from the item I’m buying. It’s also a great way to see whether the seller would consider a slightly lower price – particularly if you’ve noticed that the item has been relisted a few times.

I’ve definitely gotten caught up in the excitement of bidding on an item, and it never ends well. For that reason, I think it’s always important to set a defined budget, and stick to it. Figure out what you think something is worth, and don’t spare a penny more – I’ve found that even when I have missed out on an auction, the same item usually pops up a little later down the track and if you’re lucky, you may manage to nab it for a better price than the original listing.

My secret weapon when is comes to winning auctions, is Bidnip. I’ve been using this service for about ten years now, and essentially it allows you to program in the amount you are willing to pay (ie. the top end of your budget), as well as the number of seconds that you’d like to place your bid before the auction ends. Aside from the fact that this stops me from checking my phone every five seconds in the minutes leading up to an auction ending, it also gives me the freedom to bid on auctions originating in the United States or Europe, that typically end during the middle of the night.

While I’m yet to buy a designer handbag second hand (a single flap classic Chanel is high on my list!), there’s a few additional tips I wanted to mention. I couldn’t recommend watching YouTube reviews enough – this should help to frame the expectation of what you should be receiving, as well as the importance of getting the item authenticated before and after you have the bag in your hot little hands. There are definitely certain items which are more likely to spawn knock offs than others, so use your better judgement, and make sure that you are always buying via Paypal as it offers buyer protection, in the instance that what you receive isn’t actually what was advertised – whether that be as a result of authenticity, markings, and the overall condition of the item.

In addition to shopping on eBay, I have a huge love for second hand consignment stores such as The Real Real (my personal favourite) and Vestiare Collective, both of which offer comprehensive returns – perfect if the item doesn’t fit quite the way you’d expect. Generally speaking, I apply a lot of the same principles, and I’ve come away with some really incredible new additions to my wardrobe over the last couple of years.

What I love most about shopping second hand, aside from the ability to find sought after archival pieces or current season items for a fraction of the price, is that you can build up a core wardrobe of quality essentials, without breaking the bank. Do you like to shop secondhand? x

Five Accessories that will elevate any Minimal Look

minimal look update accessories mademoiselle
minimal look update accessories mademoiselle

From the humble white cotton shirt, to a slim fitting pair of trousers, the foundation of my wardrobe is built upon those classics which truly do stand the test of time. And when it comes to getting dressed every morning, I like to take a simple approach; muted colour palettes and streamlined silhouettes, which on their own, complete the perfect minimal look. But for those days when I really want to amp up my outfit a notch, there are five simple accessories I’ll reach for, that never fail to elevate a look.

1. A chic sun hat or felted fedora
One of the first things that I’ll reach for in the winter time – especially when I’m wearing an all black outfit – is a cute fedora or wide brimmed hat. It adds another layer to your outfit, and not to mention it covers a multitude of sins if you’re having a bad hair day… Personally I think that Lack of Color (also available here) are definitely the way to go (I love their wide brimmed hats for winter, and straw boaters for the summer time), alternatively I think that the wool felted fedoras from Maison Michel are absolutely beautiful, and a really stunning luxurious option if your budget is on the higher end of the scale.

2. Add some sparkle
The jewellery I reach for on the daily is generally more minimal than my outfit; my wedding rings and my current favourite watch (from Paul Hewitt) are all you’ll find me wearing most days. So, it doesn’t really take much to ramp things up to the next level but when I do, it’s all about a glitzy earring, a bold necklace, or a bracelet that really makes a mark. Mismatched earrings are definitely my go to (I love this pair from Mounser) as the asymmetry never fails to be an eye catcher, and I love browsing J Crew and Anthropologie for art deco inspired necklaces and bracelets that add a bit of glitz for every day.

3. A killer pair of shoes
Shoes are definitely my weakness, so it goes without saying that they’re one of the key pieces that I look to when I want to make a simple outfit look a little more interesting. Charlotte Olympia’s quirky flats are practically an essential when it comes to my closet – I don’t know where I’d be without my kitty flats – and I always am on the lookout for shoes that will not only make an impact, but also work well for everyday. When it comes to a statement heel, I swear by my Valentino Rockstuds, and my gold sequinned Givenchy pumps (love this option); which are both such fun takes on an otherwise classic shoe.

minimal look update accessories mademoiselle
minimal look update accessories mademoiselle

4. A bold handbag speaks volumes
Never underestimate the power of a statement bag; it has the ability to revolutionise your entire outfit, and if you opt for something with a pop of colour, it can also become the focal point of your look. For me, it’s often about complementing what I’m wearing, with my Proenza Schouler PS11 satchel in classic black, but recently, I’ve been reaching for my latest handbag acquisition, a mini pashli satchel from 3.1 by Phillip Lim (also available here), which adds a subtle contrast to a white shirt dress and softens any darker toned outfits. Killing it lately when it comes to statement bags – and bags in general – is Gucci; their maximalist take on the everyday bag is a statement on its own, which lends itself well to a minimal look.

5. Wrap something around your neck
One of my favourite accessories the past couple of seasons has been a printed neck tie, worn either as a choker or loosely tied in a knot at the nape of the neck. My favourites come from Madewell and J Crew (although I do love this one), and I just love how versatile they are and they really help to finish an otherwise monochromatic or muted outfit. I’ll occasionally also wear my bandana’s wrapped around my wrist as a bracelet, or tied to the side of my bag to add an element of whimsy, and to help break things up a little (especially if it’s a colourful bandana!). In the cooler months, I’ll swap out the neck tie for a huge cosy scarf, preferably in a colour other than black. Just like with the bandana, this can help to break things up a bit (my current go to is patchwork pink, from ASOS) and it’s a great way to add a touch of colour to an otherwise monochromatic outfit.

In the Christmas spirit

grana silk camisole slip dress rio red emerald
grana silk camisole slip dress rio red emerald

Grana silk camisoles in rio red and emerald *, Grana silk slip dress in navy *

Over the last five years, adding colour to my wardrobe hasn’t quite been my strong point, unless you count my current obsession with everything pink. But, in the spirit of trying something new, I jumped at the chance to test drive some of Grana’s newly launched colours. Their silk cami in ivory has fast become a wardrobe staple of mine, and with temps in Sydney currently sitting at 37 degrees (who doesn’t love a heat wave..?), I’ve been all for anything that is made of natural fibres in a classic cut. So to mix things up a bit, I’m looking forward to adding the beautiful rich garnet and emerald hues into regular rotation (plus it helps that they’re just a little bit festive).

I also get the feeling that I’ve got my Christmas day outfit sorted (for when I’m not at the beach, that is!) with their v-neck silk slip dress in a vibrantly dreamy shade of navy. Silk is one of those fabrics which always feels like a little taste of luxury and this slinky number is no exception, and I’m all over the minimal and streamlined silhouette. They’ve upped the ante by releasing this style in rio red and emerald as well, just in case you’re still on the hunt for a little – colourful – dress for your office Christmas party.

And for those of you planning to treat yo’self this Christmas to some new wardrobe essentials, don’t forget that you can get 10% off your order at Grana and free shipping using the code JAMIExGRANA (as if you needed more of an excuse!). x

Beach ready

sportscraft straw hat bag eBay au

Sportscraft straw hat & bag via eBay

This Christmas we’re planning on nipping down to the beach for a swim, after a hearty breakfast of croissants with lashings of butter, sweet strawberry jam, and fresh squeezed orange juice – of course.

I figure it’s never too early to start getting ready for anything (this comes from the girl who plans her holidays three years in advance – not even joking), and I feel like I’m pretty much ready, aside from needing to stock up on a couple of extra beach towels. The straw bag definitely seems to be the centrepiece of all the summer looks I’ve been dreaming up as of late, and given I wear so much white come summertime, I’m thinking it might be time to invest in something like this beauty from Hat Attack. It’s been sitting in my bookmarks for a good three months now and the love for it is yet to fade, which has me wondering… is it finally time to pull the trigger?