Styleaholica

Crazy for: Cross-Body Bags.

Posted in things i love by bluewellesleyblue on October 8, 2008

I’ve always been very fond of cross-body, sort of messenger-bag style handbags. Though many handbags are sold in the US with detachable shoulder bags for that purpose, I almost never see anyone actually wearing their bag that way when walking around in the mall or on Newbury St. That’s not the case at all on this side of the pond. When I look around at Covent Garden or on Oxford Street, there’s a small but significant percentage of stylish ladies with convenient, small bags hanging by their hip. On most any high street shop accessory wall, there’s also a fair amount of selection if one is looking for a cross-body bag.

Now that the only small bag I brought with me to London has been rendered temporarily unusable – though hopefully not permanently so – I’ve been in the market for a cheap replacement. Normally, when it comes to handbags at least, I look for slightly pricier options knowing that I’d rather buy one very nice one every year or so rather than a cheap thrill every season (though the right cheap thrill could make me change my mind). Still, I always feel slightly exposed when I go to crowded tourist sites with a tote bag that doesn’t fasten securely or at all. The worst pickpocket horror stories from people who’ve visited Europe always seem to take place in other cities, but there’s no point in taking a risk.

Though I rarely see the style used in practice when in the states, there are almost always some options there as well. Forever 21 has at least two very colorful styles in stock right now: If the colorful striped one looks very familiar to you, it should. It’s a very clear send up of a Prada bag from a while back.

I do feel like this is a style of bag that works best when its fairly plain. Usually, my favorite versions of this type of bag are just brown leather. Miss Thumbelina often incorporates a vintage version into her outfits.

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The Look For Less: Windowpane Headbands.

Posted in miscellaneous by bluewellesleyblue on October 7, 2008

By now, it’s probably very clear that headbands are my anti-drug or something to that effect. One of the first things I look for anywhere are the hair accessories. Though I have nothing in common with Blair Waldorf I can’t help but ooh and ah over every tasteful or even slightly over the top headband I see. These windowpane headbands definitely tend towards the prim and ladylike side of headband style.

Of course, with a design as common as this, I feel that it’s meaningless to speak of knockoffs or copies. With clothes, the relative quality of the fabric can be sort of obvious and make one a better choice than the other, but with such a small accessory, I’m thinking that there’s very little functional difference between the on-sale Anthropologie version (now $19.99) and its Forever 21 sister ($4.80 from the start).

Both come in some other lovely colors, but my favorite for each is the yellow since it would really pop against my naturally dark hair.

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London Things: Pashminas.

Posted in how i wear by bluewellesleyblue on September 30, 2008

Photo from Flickr.

Now this is by no means an exclusively London or British thing: street vendors and stands all over the US and everywhere in the world have pashmina scarves galore in every imaginable color and pattern and at every price range. I even own one bought from a vendor in Wellesley’s campus center! The ones in the picture, for example, are definitely on the pricier end and they’re everywhere for merely five GBP or even a little less, as in one stand near Covent Garden. Given that unfavorable exchange rate I keep mentioning, outside of H&M and a bit of Uniqlo, my shopping indulgences will be limited to little things like pashmina scarves from street vendors and markets.

What are your preferences when it comes to scarves? For a while I wore almost exclusively faux-Burberry-print plaid scarves though I’ve since fazed them out in favor of solid color scarves because I find them a bit more sophisticated. Still, I’m regularly tempted by patterned scarves as well, including some of the heavily fringed and paisley or ethnic-printed ones they’ve had at H&M for this season.

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Randomly Loving: The Dooney and Bourke “Alto” Collection.

Posted in things i love by bluewellesleyblue on September 28, 2008

When I think about what my next handbag investment might be – I try to choose wisely since I buy bags so rarely, my last purchase was more than a year ago! – I rarely think about Dooney and Bourke bags as an option. For the most part, their bags seem to be either slightly frumpy and old lady in the case of the more subdued monogram bags or very childish as in the case of the bee bags or the colorful monogram ones. I’ve recently encountered the tassel bag from their Alto collection, however, and I’m quite impressed. The entire line is very simple and very classy, though the designs definitely suit a person whose on the older end of being a student.

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Accessorize!

Posted in london calling by bluewellesleyblue on September 24, 2008

Since classes have yet to start, I went over to the Oxford Circus shopping area yesterday. Supposedly, Oxford Street is the busiest shopping avenue in Europe, and I can believe it! There are more than four major department stores in the area, though I didn’t step into a single one since I knew that there would be precious little I could afford. Between the shops and the way everyone here seems to be so effortlessly stylish, I’ve been especially interested in updating my accessory collection.

Very Blair-like hair accessories!

One store I really like so far – though I don’t know for sure if it’s considered a decently priced area to buy fashion jewelry and headbands – is Accessorize. When I translate the prices into a rough estimate of USD (by doubling the price in GBP), I find that their things are decently priced, though I’ve kept from buying anything because I feel as if similar things would be cheaper in the US.

I don’t think I’ll end up buying any of the hair accessories since I already have too many. I will most likely give in to my shopping urges when it comes to cocktail rings. I’ve been intrigued for quite some time by the idea of a large, chunky, maybe slightly over-the-top ring to be worn with my casual outfits. I was especially charmed by the ring at the left when I tried it on at the store. My suite-mates who are from the UK assure me that street markets are much better places to find some things like scarves and some jewelry, so I’ll try to look elsewhere before I go back to this particular store.

Cheap Thrill: Forever 21 Flower Headband.

Posted in things i love by bluewellesleyblue on August 30, 2008

Forever 21 headband, $3.80.

Though I love being at home, one disadvantage to being in the suburbs is that the shopping options just don’t match up to being within easy reach of a city, even a smaller one like Boston or Providence, where I occasionally go to visit my roommate from last year during short breaks. The Providence Mall Forever 21, for example, is new, shiny, and gigantic while the Forever 21 at home is a bit small, disorganized, and hasn’t been redone since I was in middle school. I’ve been there once or twice since coming home and the clothes have been a bit disappointing. Though I do love to shop there dearly, the comparatively low quality of the clothes there does get highlighted when they try to incorporate prints or patterns like the ubiquitous plaid that seems to be quite in for fall.

The hair accessories, though, don’t disappoint quite as much. I really like this red faux leather flower headband. It looks a bit unwieldy, but the flower is just the right size when the headband is on, and it’s surprisingly understated. It’s also available in black, but I opt for the red since it has better contrast with my black hair.

Back to School: The Only Bags you Really Need in College.

Posted in shopping advice by bluewellesleyblue on August 25, 2008

As I go into my junior year at Wellesley College, and pack for my fall semester away, I can’t help but think about how best to pick and choose what clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories are traveling with me and which are staying home. Whether one is going overseas, across the country, or just across the state, anytime you can’t just drive up to your school, packing efficiently becomes an issue. Especially as airlines now charge exorbitant fees for overweight luggage or that second check-in bag due to rising fuel prices, picking and choosing what to bring is now more important than ever. Having dragged alone my entire (very modest) handbag collection across the continental United States way too many timesĀ  in the last two years, I’ve put a lot of thought into which bags I actually, really, truly need while at school.

1. The School/Work Tote.

One of the most important bags to have as a college student is a roomy tote for notebooks, pens, and smaller textbooks. Those larger brick-like monsters used in most science classes don’t travel well in anything but a backpack, but anything smaller and lighter than that should be easy to carry in a tote. Even laptops can travel very safely in a sturdy tote, though your shoulder will complain and you do need to be very careful with it. Many ambitious, busy college students will have days when they need to run straight from class to work or to an off-campus internship, which is why its twice as nice to have a bag that would be at home in both settings.

At left, the Longchamp Le Pliage tote from Nordstrom for $145. This one is a bit of a splurge and also a bit of a cliche, which you’ll find out pretty quickly upon setting foot on any Boston area college campus. However, this is for good reason as it is a very elegant, simple, and ultimately very sturdy school or work bag. At right, another option, the Hip Hip Large Hobo from Nine West, on sale for $55.

2. The Night Out Bag.

Whether for a party or dinner and a movie, there are many busy evenings when the only bag you really want to be carrying is something small enough that it only fits the bare bones: cell phone, a little bit of money, an ID, and maybe a lipgloss. As you settle into the social scene and habits that work for you, there are likely to be many awkward dorm parties, frat parties, and the like. This is where a bag that can be kept conveniently at your side at all times without restricting your movement – because dancing is fun, even if the setting occasionally results in meeting sketchy people – is especially useful.

One example is the Botkier for Target shoulder bag, pictured at left, which is only $30. For a little more of a splurge, there’s the gray Kenneth Cole Seams Right shoulder bag on sale for $90, pictured at right. Wristlets are also very good for the purpose, though I find that they are a bit awkward.

3. The Day Out Bag.

By “day” bag I just mean a sort of medium-shaped bag that is good for shopping or other daytime activities yet is not as big or bulky as the school or office tote. It’s not quite as necessary, but there are going to be outfits that don’t quite go with the one nighttime bag and occasions where the school bag just won’t do at all. I really like brown, yellow, cream, or white bags for daytime, and they’ll essentially match well with just about anything my smaller black bag won’t catch.

This B. Makowsky bag from Nordstrom is only a small splurge at $188 and is just the right color and size. It’s cute and just right for a college-aged student.