to shop / {high and low} celine small vertical cabas tote vs mark and graham italian leather crossbody tote

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 due to using up expiring 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 those 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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to shop / {high & low} petit bateau mariniere vs lord & taylor bateau top

Petit Bateau mariniere ($102)

Lord & Taylor cotton bateau neck top ($29.99, pre-20% discount listed on site)

Lord & Taylor has great sales. It’s too bad their site is so hard to navigate and checkout, so if do not have patience, it’s best to stay away. Consider yourself warned.

I love striped shirts. I especially like these L&T tops because they are 100% cotton (typically anything with other content gets dingy after a few washes and I appreciate durability), have 3/4 sleeves (great for my petite length arms), and they are mid-weight (perfect for layering and doesn’t show each lump and bump). I tried both XS and S and think I’m going to go with S, especially if they shrink a little. If you have a ShopRunner account (which was heavily pushed by Amex last holiday season), link your account for free 2 day shipping and returns.

They are much more affordable than the Petit Bateau marinieres (which does go on sale), but the PB tops have a much heavier weight (no summer or spring wear), cut much slimmer, and have long sleeves.

 

to shop / {high & low} sam edelman ‘trina’ vs loft ‘talia’ low heel sandal

Sam Edelman Trina ($99.95) vs. LOFT Talia ($89.50 $53.70)

Since warm weather is around the corner, I’ve been on the watch for sensible, stylish summer sandals and have been gravitating towards nudes and golds since they are my colors of the moment.

I walked into the lower Fifth Avenue LOFT store while I was doing my walk down Fifth Avenue and was nearly about to walk out when I spotted the Talia sandals on the shelves. LOFT sells Sam Edelman shoes, so at first I thought they were the Trinas, but turns out they aren’t. Given the history of the Sam Edelman relationship, I wonder if they had SE slap the LOFT label on the Trina sandals. They look identical and it wouldn’t make sense for them to knock off a partner. I am usually an 8 and think I might be between a 7.5 and 8. The store did not have 7.5. Based on the Nordstrom reviews, others thought they ran big too. The beautiful thing about LOFT is that there is a 30-40% off sale almost every other day. Currently they are running a sitewide 40% off promotion with code NOW40. (It pains me when friends shop full price at places like LOFT and Gap.)

Note to LOFT: if you want to actually sell the shoes, you should have a proper shoe section. All of the Talia’s were high on the shelves as a display.

This particular sandal is really popular on the blogosphere. Aside from the nude (natural) color, there are a ton of other color options. I especially like the “Red Ink” and “Whiskey” with the gold heel, versus silver, and it looks like some buyers agree with me.

You can find ’em at:

The following stores have limited styles/sizes:

 

to shop / {high & low} striped dress, d’orsay pump, bow flats

Ann Taylor Rian D’Orsay “Sweet Biscotti” Nude Patent Leather Kitten Heels ($118) vs. J.Crew Valentina Patent Pumps ($238)

Tinley Road Black and Camel Striped Ponte Fit and Flare Dress ($79) vs. Kate Spade Carolina Black and Cream Stripe Fit and Flare Dress ($478)

J.Crew Nora Bow Ballet Flats in Black ($168) vs. Loft Madalyn Bow Ballet Flats in Black ($59.50)