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I bought the Celine small vertical cabas tote in black grained calfskin (FR link) a few years ago and promptly sold it as it was an unplanned purchase in Paris (and had to do with leftover credit). I don’t regret it, the timing was off. Lately I’ve been wanting the same bag again, but I couldn’t find it in during my last trip to Europe. I’m guessing this style and color is hard to find outside of Paris, which has an abundance of Celine stockists. Celine has updated their website since so now you can easily search for availability online.

I came upon Mark and Graham and their Italian Leather Crossbody Tote looked very much inspired by the Celine. (Note: this site is owned by Williams-Sonoma and will put a monogram on everything.) M&G has some good looking bags but it’s hard to find reviews of them. I have one piazza zip pouch from M&G made of Italian leather and the leather is very nice. I would say it’s a similar leather as this bag.

(Images: Celine, Mark and Graham)

The M&G comes in navy, brown, and cream. Of the three colors, I think Celine’s only ever made it in cream. I like the navy and the brown, but would’ve preferred it in black. I ordered a monogram-less brown and navy when it was initially marked down.

(Image: Mark and Graham)

My photo of the actual item

Notes: 

  • Dimensions were very similar.
  • Leather grain was noticeable smaller and more delicate on the Celine.

What I didn’t like:

  • Hardware: There’s a round piece of hardware on the sides of the bag. It distracts from the sleekness. You can see it the clearest on the blue bag above.
  • Edges: The vertical edges are very round and nowhere near a 90 degree angle and as a result didn’t appear to be straight edge (as seen above). Also distracting from the sleekness. I think this comes from the stiffness of the leather and don’t see it going away or softening up with usage.
  • Hard to adjust strap: I’m not sure if it’s that hard to adjust the strap length on the Celine but it was impossible to adjust on this bag. If you’re shorter end of petite, you would need to get extra holes punched.

Verdict: I didn’t expect the M&G to match up to the Celine at ~10-20% of the price. The M&G sale price is a steal (I didn’t think it’s worth its retail) and a good buy for someone who wants this style and doesn’t mind the lack of defined edges. I am still waiting to encounter the Celine again.

Note on Mark & Graham shopping experience:

  • If you want to be able to return it, don’t get it monogrammed. I have gotten stuff monogrammed before and some were done poorly. They were good about sending replacements. 
  • The returning process was slow compared to most other e-tailers. It took them almost 2 weeks to process the return after receipt during the summer and maybe it’s because I sent an email to inquire on the status. They also charge you for the UPS label (which is fine given the size of the boxes). 
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I really like the aesthetics of Sophie Bille Brahe. Even if I could save a little bit from shopping from European sites, the prices are still too high for a trendy style I’m not guaranteed to love and the SBB earring prices are for a single earring.

Enter Pinterest which shows your similar images and reminded me that affordable alternatives were feasible. I first found a Korean brand (CRANNE), but the prices were still a bit high and it’s hard to make a return to Korea. Eventually I found Ross-Simons and these pearl crawlers (3-6.5mm cultured pearls and 14k backing) for less than 10% of the SBB earrings. (I almost bought these on Etsy but prefer shopping within the US + return policy.) This is my second pair of crawlers — the first pair I got in a Shanghai boutique eventually broke, another reason not to spend too much on crawlers.

Some of my pearl earring collection…

 

(Left) I got the Chanel earrings as a birthday gift to myself at duty-free years ago and slightly regret not getting something bigger.

(Right) This pair is also from Ross-Simons. I like the front-back look and this pair makes it very easy to put on. You can easily wear the top pearl on its own if you have extra backings. Overall they are much bigger and I wouldn’t mind finding a daintier version in cultured pearls.

(Background) I’m also a big fan of the Muji acrylic storage and velour inserts, which has helped immensely with organizing and centralizing my jewelry.

Tatcha‘s fukubukuro (“lucky bag”) promotion is back through January 14, 2018 with code LUCK18. These bags are a part of the Japanese New Year traditions — retailers selling grab bags of goods at discounted prices, partially to unload excess inventory. I wouldn’t buy something just to get the grab bag, but it’s a nice treat if you’re already planning a purchase.

Last year, I got two products in my lucky bag – a full size Deep Hydration Firming Serum ($95 value) and a travel size Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder ($15 value). I saw that some people got more travel size items instead of a full size item.

I recommend the:

The Water Cream is really popular, but I tried it and found it too scented and performed similarly to other products. I will be trying the new Deep Cleanse.

When you mindlessly browse the internet and realize the Susanne Kaufmann advent calendar you really want is almost 60% off… I love Susanne Kaufmann but haven’t tried most things (aside from some bath products and a facial at the spa in Berlin) as it’s hard to access at a reasonable price here. Don’t fall for the Net-a-porter version in gold that has the same products in gold boxes for a much higher price.

Rest of the Anthropologie sale.

Their sister brand, Free People, also has a noteworthy beauty and wellness sale if you’re interested in consumables (Beauty Chef) or natural beauty.

I wasn’t able to blog earlier, but rest assured, there are still plenty of sales going on in case you are late to the game, and Cyber Monday is sometimes better than Black Friday. I save many purchases for November — it’s best to navigate with a list in mind. Unfortunately, I don’t plan to update this during the day on Monday.

Overall
Anthropologie / 30% off through Sunday. Predicting it will be 20% off and a larger % off for sale items on Monday. I shop their homewares and beauty more often than their clothes. They have a ton of good stuff, especially natural beauty! Recent loves: Rooster Highball Glass Set, Aquis towels. Also really been wanting the Faravel Moto Jacket in my size (backordered) and this CJW Italian Elements Scarf.
Apple iTunes and Google Play gift cards from Costco for 15%+ off (requires membership). Whatever I can pay for through iTunes I will so that I’m getting a discount (including my Netflix). Youtube Red is also really useful for watching those Chinese dramas with 50+ episodes on my commute. The $100 iTunes gift card is also available at Amazon for $85 if you have the Discover credit card that gives you 5% cashback this quarter.
ShopSpring / Not sure if they will do Cyber Monday but hope they do. They are a shopping service and tend to do 20% off site-wide sales with a cap. This is great because they carry items from Clare V, L’Occitane, Barneys, Brooklinen, etc.
Target / 15% off Monday. This is when I stock up on Cerave foaming cleanser.
Texture / 3 months for $5. Expiration unknown. If you like to read magazines on your mobile device. I love this, especially when I am traveling. You can download all back issues too!
Amazon / $5 off $20 on books through Sunday with GIFTBOOK17.

Beauty 
Birchbox / Spend over $75 to get 25% site-wide through Monday. They carry some brands I love like Shu Uemura Art of Hair, Tata Harper, Dr Jart, and Oribe. You can also buy gift cards for subscriptions. I no longer get their box but this is the only time of year I would shop from them.
Dermstore / 25% off today, 30% off predicted for tomorrow. They carry a lot of other brands and I love that they also have a rewards program. They had a 30% off sale for Black Friday, currently have a 25% off sale, but I expect it to be 30% tomorrow with no exclusions. When it’s no exclusions, you can shop for Drunk Elephant. Nope, it was 25% the entire weekend and exclusions never lifted.
Glossier / 20% off and free shipping through Monday. I got the clear boy brow, stretch concealer, and body hero duo (hope it’s not too badly scented).
Tata Harper / 20% off $100+ with exclusions through Thursday, Nov 30. A pretty good sale but not the best sale. I ended up getting what I wanted at Birchbox or Cult Beauty’s Black Friday sale (with a nice gwp).
Tatcha / You have to submit your email to get your offer. They have a bunch of holiday sets. I also got their lip oil – which is nice, but a splurge. This is an ok sale — if you want Tatcha, be sure to check QVC as well who has their own sets and a free shipping promotion going on.
Bloomingdales / 10% almost all beauty with nice gwp (including full size items for Space NK purchases). Good through Monday.
Peach and Lily / 30% off Korean beauty through Monday. I have stuff in my cart but am tempted to buy nothing.
Neiman Marcus / They did a $50 off $200 through yesterday and now have a tiered gift certificate promotion. I only mention NM here because they have Vintner’s Daughter on back order.
Nordstrom / They have a lot of gift with purchases. Depending on what you are buying, the freebie may > a discount.

Clothing
Uniqlo / Love their Heattech stuff and collabs. They started their Black Friday sales early. This year I got some Ultra Warm Heattech items (which is warmer than Extra Warm).
J.Crew / Through Monday noon, 40% + 10% with some exclusions. (That’s 46% off.) I’ve been shopping a bit at J.Crew lately, but also returning a lot. If you like anything that Nordstrom carries, you can also pricematch there.
Petit Bateau / 50% off sitewide through Monday for Cyber Monday/Weekend. Black Friday was 40% off. I love their tees so I’m really excited for this milleraies travel set with shawl, eye mask, and pouch that’s made with the same material.

Home/Accessories
roztayger / 25% off full price with NOIR25. Exclusions noted on top of page. Tightly curated collection of bags. Through Monday, Nov 27.
MoMA Design Store / 20% off and free shipping through Monday. This is a pretty generous offer, especially if you are a member too. I love their curation (which also has some Uniqlo and Muji). They have the Stendig calendar which always sells out.
Need Supply Co. / 20% off through Sunday. Last year they did 25% off for Cyber Monday. A nice curation and while they have clothes, I’ve only paid attention to the home/office/accessories.
Baggu / 25% off through Monday. My favorite print of this season is the strawberry (sold out) and orange tree.
Rifle Paper Co. / 30% off through Tuesday.

I love Ines, but the Uniqlo x IDLF fall/winter collections have been getting a bit boring. It’s not totally my style or if it’s a repeat style, I already have it and mine is in great condition. Not to say I didn’t get anything, but most of what I bought in person is going back — those dressing room lines in Soho are crazy. There are items that are in-stores but were launched days later online. There are also items that are not launching until October. Some styles are selling out.

Overall, the quality of Uniqlo collabs is better than their normal collection and some “basics” are worth getting. I like the quality of the flannel shirts/dresses. I like the style of this ultralight down jacket. But for something like a velvet blazer, I’d go to J.Crew. You can’t compare the velvet blazers between the two. This season is also the first men’s IDLF collection.

Images: Uniqlo

In the summer, my work uniform is usually a dress (often COS) with a cardigan. The cardigan is a necessity — the a/c is blasted on the bus, ferry, and in the office and I also prefer to cover my arms if I’m wearing a sleeveless top. I fell in love with the Uniqlo lightweight cardigan last summer and was sad that the long version didn’t return this year. I did, however, end up buying this Uniqlo light v-neck long sleeve cardigan in black and then returned to get the blue and white. It’s sheer, made of a tencel/lyocell blend, hopefully blocks some UV rays, and is super affordable. I wash it in the machine on delicate. It runs TTS. Uniqlo also says it has a cooling touch and is anti-microbial. Sizes online are scant, but were plentiful when I stopped by the Fifth Avenue store.

Images: Uniqlo JP

What I bought in the second round. The anniversary sale ends on Sunday.

(1) Fresh Eye Cream. I recently read that wrinkles take 6 years to surface. Maybe I should be more diligent with using eye cream (I have not been)… As I mentioned last time, the Nordstrom anniversary sale has a ton of beauty deals and gifts with purchase (gwp), which in my opinion is the best time to buy beauty products in lieu of a site-wide 20-25% off. I get really excited when you can stack gwps for a brand like Fresh since they normally are not that generous with deluxe samples. I got the Fresh Creme Ancienne eye cream, and with it came 7 minis (along with 5 beauty samples from Nordstrom).

  • The 5 minis on the left are auto-added with any $125+ Fresh purchase ($83 value).
  • The 2 minis on the right above the eye cream are through code DMFRESH (exp unknown) for a $50+ Fresh purchase ($60 value). If you don’t care for these minis, you can get an 17 piece sampler with code DEALMOON (exp unknown) with any beauty/fragrance purchase over $125. You can see its details once you add the code at checkout.

(2) Cubic zirconia stud earrings. I want a pair of diamond studs, but I’m not sure how much I want them. So, these are a low stress experiment to avoid a financial regret! They also come in other sizes.

(3) Gehwol foot cream. I love everything from this German brand.

I looked at the Nordstrom anniversary sale a few days too late and know I already missed out on stuff I don’t really need. What’s nice about the anniversary sale is that they mark down Fall merchandise or what normally does not get marked down. The sale is open to cardholders through Thursday, July 20.

These days, I don’t workout often but I do love wearing Zella leggings on occasion, especially when flying. Zella is a Nordstrom house brand that I would buy at full price in black as it frequently sells out. I prefer high waisted over regular, black over blue, and midi over full length. The Keep it Cool leggings really do keep you cool — I could wear them in balmy Taipei weather. Also, if you need hemming, you get a $100 alterations allowance with the basic, fee-free Nordstrom card. I have yet to try it since I’m not super close to a Nordstrom.

‘Live In’ Midi Leggings (not on sale) | Live In High Waist Leggings | ‘Keep it Cool’ Crop Leggings

I also ordered some other stuff — the search function doesn’t work for showing anniversary items, you have to navigate through the anniversary sale menu. I did some restocking. If you’re a fan of J.Crew or Madewell, they are included in the sale. There are a ton of beauty deals (including lots of gadgets). I prefer to buy electronics through Nordstrom, so I highly recommend checking out the sale if you’re looking for e.g. a new Clarisonic.

Amazon Prime Day has started as of 9pm ET. I’m quite sad my friend missed out on the $45 Instant Pot 9-in-1 deal by minutes, but hope Amazon revives it even for the original $90 deal!

While you need to be a Prime user to partake in most of the deals, here’s a deal for all Amazon users – $5 off $15 any book sold by Amazon.com with code PRIMEBOOKS17 (it didn’t show up when I applied it the first time, I had to return to my cart and re-checkout for it to show). I normally save books I want in the “saved for later” part of my cart and finally ordered the Yayoi Kusama illustrated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland book:

Image source: Amazon