to travel / lo & sons hanover deluxe 2 backpack review

I recently changed my travel backpack from the Fjallraven 17″ laptop backpack to the Lo & Sons Hanover Deluxe 2 backpack. While I liked the Fjallraven and its light weight, it lacked a suitcase sleeve. I really wanted a backpack with a suitcase sleeve so that my backpack can sit on top of my carry-on suitcase secured to the suitcase handle. The top handle on one of my carry-ons defaults to one direction and without the suitcase sleeve, the backpack slides right off. And while I could sit the Fjallraven on its side and tighten the straps, it was inconvenient to have to adjust the straps every time I was switching between modes. I had tried looking for alternatives to Lo & Sons, but nothing checked all the boxes as Lo & Sons did.

Pros:

  • The compartments! Within the front pocket, main inner section (it comes with an insert that can be removed), sides (I put a S’well bottle and umbrella on each side), laptop compartment, and my favorite – the top pocket which is perfect for the phone/passport/boarding pass. It makes it easy to find what I’m looking for.
  • The suitcase sleeve.
  • No logo
  • Zippers are easy to use and easy to access items — speaking as someone who doesn’t always zip everything fully while inflight. You can also twist the zippers together so that they deter theft.
  • Unisex. Overall, I prefer function over form. I got the backpack in Onyx black in the 600D Recycled Poly material. It’s a very unisex style so that the mister can use it if he wants to — I normally do not use a backpack for work.
  • Comfortable shoulder straps

Cons

  • The suitcase sleeve is a tight fit with the suitcase handles and requires two hands/some maneuvering. But, I guess a tight fit is better than a loose fit.
  • Not many color options.
  • The retail $188 requires some thought.

The Hanover Deluxe 2 is a perfect size for me. I almost always travel with a laptop, iPad mini and/or Kindle, noise cancelling headphones, some chargers, adapters, skincare (for the dry long-hauls), jewelry, socks, a scarf, a water bottle, etc. Although, I may experiment with traveling without the inner sleeve which does contribute to the ~2 lb weight.

I also got the Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Tote but haven’t had a chance to use it yet. It is a weekender and doesn’t have compartments like the backpack does, e.g. no laptop sleeve although it can fit a laptop. In general, I think a backpack is more versatile to travel with since I can distribute the weight across both shoulders when I have to carry it, and it looks smaller than the tote in case they are strict on carry-ons.

Lo & Sons seems to make updates to their designs fairly frequently and addressing customer feedback. If you want a slightly smaller backpack, there is the Hanover 2. The Hanover Deluxe retails for $188 and the Hanover 2 for $168. (Comparison guide here.) They also have more feminine backpacks if that is your preference. Their holiday sale has been going on for a while and 30% is a nice discount (also if you have Chase Freedom for the 5% cashback on PayPal). If you are interested in Lo & Sons, they are still having a 30% off holiday sale!

Images: Lo & Sons

to shop / uniqlo u lightweight bag & ss 2019 mini review

My favorite item from the Uniqlo U SS 2019 collection is the U lightweight bag in black. I held back from ordering more t-shirts though, so that could have been a contender.


  • It’s a super lightweight nylon bag. It folds down easy for storage.
  • It’s meant for light, bulkier contents. Measurements: Height: 15.3″/39cm, Width: 19″/48.5cm, Length: 5.5″/14cm, Handle Length: 22.8″/58cm.
  • It hangs easily on the shoulder.
  • It has adjustable drawstrings on the ends. This makes it perfect for travel, especially if you want to protect any nicer bags. I personally hate putting most bags directly on the floor, x-ray machine, etc. The drawstring also makes the contents safer.
  • At $29.90, it is pretty affordable.

The Uniqlo U collection is always a big hit or miss for me. The fit typically runs oversized and tall. I was not into most of the color choices. Mini reviews for what I’d caught my eye online:

  • WOMEN U WRAP SLEEVELESS DRESS – Soft rayon material. Nice drape. If you’re ever the type to have to size up, you may need to size up for the best fit. Verdict: Maybe…
  • WOMEN U MIDI SKIRT – Soft rayon material. Runs big. Verdict: No, because I don’t need it/it’s too casual for work.
  • WOMEN U BIG LONG-SLEEVE SHIRT – Yes, it is called big and long. Maybe it would’ve worked if the material felt nicer? This was a great hit per the Uniqlo.com reviews. Verdict: Not for me.
  • WOMEN U COTTON DOUBLE FACE PANTS – Wrong cut for me, but if it looks like it would work for you, get it! Verdict: Not for me.
  • WOMEN U BALLOON HALF SLEEVE DRESS – It is a light knit sweater dress with a nice silhouette, but unfortunately, it is very clingy in the midsection, especially obvious in a bright color like green. Works best for those in great shape. The emerald green is so pretty.  The blue is not a true navy. Verdict: Not for me.
  • WOMEN U SHIRT LONG-SLEEVE DRESS – I didn’t have time to check to size chart for measurements. The material is very stiff. The fit is long and waist very slim. Verdict: Not for me.

See the rest of the collection.

Images: Uniqlo

review / want les essentiels mini ohare leather tote



Want Les Essentiels has been tempting me for a long time with their leather products. I picked up the Mini O’Hare mini leather tote in black. It comes in various colors and the black was certainly the hardest to find on sale.

Continue reading “review / want les essentiels mini ohare leather tote”

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). 

to shop / mansur gavriel nyc pop-up review & lady bag in tumbled and saffiano leather

The Mansur Gavriel pop-up shop in the Soho area of NYC has been open from mid-November through January 11. After MG announced the expansion of their Saffiano line on December 13, it gave me incentive to check out the saffiano bags. Unfortunately, MG bags are still final sale when you purchase from mansurgavriel.com, which I strongly dislike because (1) they are expensive (2) many styles/colors are only available directly from MG who normally doesn’t have a storefront and (3) MG can be difficult with any flaws on the bag (this is based on personal experience and what I’ve read on TPF). I consider myself lucky that I live near their pop-up.

The pop-up is very spacious, minimalist, and pink. If you don’t like rose quartz pink which is popular with MG and Glossier, tough luck! I went mid-afternoon and got personal attention from both SA’s — not all stocked items are displayed and they also mentioned that they have the large lady bag in stock. There is also plenty of seating for the men and a fancy flower shop.

As I was trying on the bags, I realized that if I ever were to get another, I would need a regular sized lady bag so I can hold letter sized paper. I also was surprised at how gorgeous the tumbled leather is! The tumbled leather bag was lying around (the sales assistants try their best to put away bags while answering questions) and I think I might like it more than the saffiano, which is unfortunate for my wallet. The tumbled leather style is thicker than expected, perhaps due to the canvas lining, and will not stand on its own unless you stuff it. Out of all of the MG bag styles, the lady bag is my favorite and uniquely MG.

Pricing is higher than the bucket, given the style and construction:

  • Mini Lady: vegetable tanned $750, saffiano $795, tumbled or calf $1050
  • Lady: vegetable tanned $895, saffiano $945, tumbled or calf $1195

Orders with MG sent to NJ, NY, and CA have sales tax.

This “baby bucket” is exclusive to the pop-up and designed for a baby/toddler. It fits your smartphone if it’s not XL.

The mini lady bag in black saffiano and rosa saffiano with matching interiors.

I compared the mini lady with a regular lady in calf leather and quickly noticed the fraying thread. Ick. I have a detailed post on regular lady vs mini lady bag size here.

The saffiano leather is a very structured leather. Maybe it’s a little too structured for the lady bag style.

It’s hard to see, but there were dirt marks on the rosa saffiano. Not impressed even if it’s a floor sample. This cemented my decision to steer away from a rosa saffiano lady. I have a rosa saffiano mini bucket (review) which has some dirt marks that couldn’t be easily removed with a baby wipe. I asked the SA how to clean it and referred me to Leather Spa. That’s a cop out answer to me.

Regular lady bag in peony pink calf leather, mini lady bag in royal blue tumbled leather

Circle of MG lady bags, clockwise from left: black saffiano mini lady, red calf lady, rosa saffiano mini lady, and blu tumbled mini lady.

Love the non-knot of this peony tumbled leather mini lady

Closer look