Monday, June 18, 2018

We want cheap but we don't want to look cheap.

Importance of this post: Very

Sydney's Double Bay has always had at least three designer recycled stores, for at least the last 30 years.

Very crowded, loot often not just a few years old, but dated (even though they all claim to only accept loot younger than 2 years) & overpriced (but able to price that way due to pre internet & the isolation Aust had when it came to getting good loot).

A few years ago, a new player emerged - Appartamento 57.
This place looks like a boutique. No pre love here. They dont just list high end brands & hope they arrive. Their base brands are Balmain, Gucci, Prada, Lanvin, Chanel, Dolce, Wang, Stella, Dries, Bottega & the like. To fill some gaps, they have J Brand or Rag & Bone, Vince, Moschino etc. 

Here's the kicker. Or two of them.

1. The prices are reasonable for the quality. Very reasonable. 

2. The loot looks new. It took me some very close looks to find signs of wear on many leather items and clothes & I notice every detail. 

They also have some artwork & housey things - all exquisite. 

Now this isn't a plug but feel free to look at their Insta page. 

SIA saw a sterling bracelet (hinge & screw closure) for $225. It was exactly the kind of thing my wrists love. Unbranded but heavy, solid, etched, good size. 

Here is the strange bit. I was in there wondering whether I should spend $225 on this thing.


Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten & this thing was so stupidly cheap anyway. 

Plus when you wear something out of the shop, it's a real give away that it was the right decision to allow it to follow you home. 

But here is the good bit. 

A few days ago, I landed in a suburban David Jones in the clothing clearance area. I walked out with a scarf, a few blouses (Wite), a tee (Ping Pong) and a couple of (duplicate) shirts in the DJs home brand. 

I look at this photo & cringe. Seriously. What was I thinking even if Ms 925 hadn't come into my life. 

Buying hauls is fun, eh? Unless you do it in a refund for change of mind umbrella, it can be more painful than fun once the high has worn off. 

1. All this loot was "nice" but I bought it because it was cheap. When you are price driven, purchases rarely turn out to be your best because you compromise on quality because it's cheap. 

2. I would have never considered buying any of it at full price.  That's the other test - don't waste your money on anything you wouldnt have been prepared to buy at full price. 

3. Plus I already have much nicer versions of each of these things. So if you already have substitutable items which you would love more, then leave it at the shop. 

4. Basically, if you buy just "nice" you end up with a pretty ordinary closet. Anything you buy needs to look fabulous. Nice doesn't cut it. Don't get me started on "it'll do". 

I hear alot of you are scared to apply this standard to your purchases because you are afraid you will never find anything amazing. Keep looking. It will find you & you'll know instantly. Kind of like the romance stuff. 

So I took everything back, tipped the bags on the counter & asked for refunds. $260. The whole time I was looking at my bracelet smiling. 


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Minaudieres - you get what you pay for

This is a story of three different qualities of an evening fish clutch and which one to buy. 

A few days ago, SIA spotted the following Olga Berg minaudiere at TK Maxx for $80. The original was $500.

So the research commenced to decide whether it was worth acquiring. 

The bag is a copy of the Judith Leiber koi fish minaudeure which has been done in many colours and has a retail of approx US$6K. 

Note that Leiber has done a number of fish styles & I believe a number of koi fish. The discussion in this post is only about one of those koi fish. This one. Sometimes it is called the Dora style. 

If you are curious, here is another Leiber koi worn by Blake Lively. It is the Ginrin Kohaku koi fish.

Attending The Age of Adeline premiere in April 2015

In Monique Lhuillier and Lorraine Schwartz jewels,
an overall vintage Hollywood style to which
the Leiber clutch gave a quirky contrast.

The shapes between the Dora Leiber & the Berg are not the same especially toward the middle & back of the fish. But as the high street would say, they are similar. 

The Leiber is completely encased in crystals unlike the Berg version which has "holes" in the casing, which are partly covered in "crystals". 

Leiber bags always use Swarovski crystals. Always. However for some reason, none of the retailers nor the actual web site mention this. They simply call the beads "Australian crystal". Must have something to do with legal restrictions. 

Leiber has an astounding sparkle to its crystals. The Berg stones are sparkly and the photo above does them no justice, but they are chalk & cheese with the Leiber stones. 

Leiber is made in Italy. Berg is made in China. 

Leiber is a brass base. Berg is probably a base metal. It is quite heavy, so I doubt that it is plastic. 

Leiber has a nappa leather lining, usually black, gold or silver. Berg has a felt fabric inner, in black. 

Leiber has a gold tone push button clasp.
Berg opens by flicking the dorsal fins - you can see a break in fin which is the opening. 

Both have removeable shoulder straps. 

The crystals on both Leiber and Berg are hand glued. 

Leiber has smaller outer measurements but Berg's internal measurements are not much larger than Leiber's internals. It's the Berg back fins which make up alot of it's outer measurements without providing storage room. 

Then I did some more research. You have to really love it when your job allows you to call online shopping research.

I found a version of the koi which is coming out of China & is being used by alot of high street brands. In terms of quality, it seems to sit in between Leiber & the Berg, obviously closer to the Berg than the Leiber.  Here it is. We'll call it the middle child.

And here is another colourway. In fact, there are a gazillion colourways of this one. 

This version seems to vary in price from US$100 to around US$400 give or take, the latter being the Natasha Couture price. 

It has more fins than Berg, hence more detailed crystal work. 

It opens via the dorsal fins like Berg.

The inner is generally polyeurethane.

It is not completely covered in crystals but like the Berg, has "holes" in the casing, which are partly covered in "crystals".

I've noticed alot of middle children state they are made with Czech crystals, but I am sure the quality of the bling varies.  One of the possibly dodgy sites calls the crystals "diamonds", not "diamond like", but "diamonds" with no inverted commas.

Aliexpress calls the crystals "crystal diamond". Yup. 

The main indicator of this middle child is that each fish scale has three rows of crystals. In contrast, each scale on the Berg has two rows of crystals. If you flip between the photos & look at this specifically, you will see that it is a serious contributor to the apparent quality differences. 

Based on photos from the more reputable sellers, the middle child looks like a better quality than the Berg but I have not seen it in real life. 


Do I buy Olga Berg?
Not yet. 
For the price, it's a decent high street version, although if I could see the middle child, I think I'd feel more comfortable with its quality. 

FYI, Leiber minaudieres generally start at US$6K. 
It's definitely a case of you get what you pay for. 

Judith with her bags

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Roxy J buys a hot pink Birkin at auction


1. Everything in this post is from SIA's perspective
2. Considerable effort has been made to list the facts
3. There will also be opinions, which are SIA's alone.
4. We would love to hear from you if you agree with the views expressed. 
5. We would love to hear from you if you disagree with the facts or the views expressed. 
6. Logical, articulate and well thought out the comments are preferred to vague opinions, swearing & personal insults. 

Here we go:

Fact: SIA went to a Shapiro luxury goods auction on Tuesday night. 

Fact: Roxy Jacenko arrived while everyone was being seated. She claimed four seats. Her seat was in front of me, two seats to the left. 

Fact: For the hour & a half she was there, I spent more time looking at her than looking at the screen of loot. Because of her loot obsession, I find her fascinating. 

Fact: She had a small frame; unassuming. 

Fact: She was perfectly groomed & coiffured as per usual.
She was wearing diamonds & gold on her wrists. I do not recall checking out her ears. She was wearing leggings as pants in a shades of blue, grey/black pattern. They had a slight sheen to them. The fabric looked like it was of very good quality. I think she was wearing a short sleeve tee & a navy sleeveless puffa jacket. I have seen the puffa a few times previously in out & about photos. I dont recall her shoes. But she was carrying a tiny orange Birkin, about 15 cm in width. Cute & tiny. 

Fact: All you have to do is google & you will see many photos of her run about outfit being leggings as pants, and a puffa or a sweatshirt.  

Opinion: Why does a woman decked out all the way in terms of grooming, hair & accessories wear leggings as pants? Not just occasionally, but often. It just doesnt make any sense at face value. 

Leggings as pants? 

Even if you have a lovely figure (she does), it's just an ugly combination.

Unless she is getting paid to wear the leggings. That's a hypothesis. 

Let's talk hair. 

Fact: I noticed that she has these soft waves all over her head. They are also visible in the above photo. Each wave falls in exactly the same way. Perfect. As I would expect. Until I realised that each perfect wave is actually a hair extension clip. Her hair under each wave is the same shade at the extension - good job hairdresser. But go under another layer & her hair is black/brown/dark. So as soon as hair parts, as she moves around, you see the dark head.  

Opinion: Not ideal. 

Let's talk the nose. After all, it was in my line of sight quite a bit. 

Fact: At the auction, I had completely forgotten she has her nose changed. It was due to a breathing issue. In the process, she made a cosmetic adjustment, as you do. 

Opinion: I looked at her nose & thought "nature does not give out noses like that". It's not that it's gorgeous per se, but it was just too thin & straight to be nature's gift. 

What did she bid on?

Roxy left soon after the Hermes bag part of the auction. 

LOT 124 followed her home. It was a hot pink epsom Birkin with palladium hardware.
Hammer price $9,700
Sale price $11,640

I think all the auction house's photos have been touched up - like Roxy! 

The corner on the right looks like it has wear. I did not examine this at the viewing.  

Fact: When Roxy posted her Instagram photo, she didnt disclose her new Birkin was via auction. 

Fact: She also bid on LOT 128A. This was a black shiny crocodile Kelly. It opened at $12K, she went to $19.5K but it sold to someone else for $20K hammer (sale price $24K).

This lovely is about 20 years old. 

Who was she with?

Fact: Soon after Roxy arrived, two girls joined her. They looked around mid 20s. Both were dressed all in black, had long dark hair & dark skin. They were not Roxy slim. They were both more animated than Roxy. 

Opinion: They didn't seem to be "Roxy clones" as per photo below. 

Roxy clones

Opinion: The girls seem more animated than Roxy. She seemed very quiet & unassuming. Not an alpha female at all. 

Fact: Just as the Hermes bag auction commenced, a man joined the girls - late 40s, heavy set. The girls made room & he sat next to Roxy. 

SIA hopes that this has helped all Roxy lovers have a terrific day. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Handbag corners are evil

Apart from the aesthetics, the first thing SIA looks for in a bag is the absence of corners. 

A corner wears the fastest when it rubs against your body because it is a sharp area. In contrast, rounded areas don't wear as fast. 

Wear the bag every day and the corners will discolour, thin in their leather and soon after, form a hole. The same applies to bags made of synthetic.  



evil - this is already starting to discolour
















Finally, if a bag (below) is experiencing this much wear, ask yourself, is it me or is it possibly sub standard materials?

Piping is no where near as easy to wear as corners. If the rest of the bag is in terrific condition, this type of wear to the corner piping is a real let down. It's caused from friction with your body. Grab your proof & purchase & go back to the seller. 

In conclusion, there are things to look for in a bag which will cause it to wear better or not so well. Make sure you take these things into consideration based on your priorities. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The pieces SIA rejects

People are always asking me what I think of this piece or that piece. I respond and always try to explain why. Because if you know the why, you can replicate the logic when I am not around. 

A scan of the racks at Trade Secret reveals FOUR possibilities. I outline the pros & cons for each. 

1st top

Made in Italy
Pure silk outer with stretch lining sewn into the seams
Love the lace bits
Love the floaty sleeves
Navy. What more can I say?

The hemline finished at the widest part of my thighs. 
I looked like I had gained 5 kg. 

OUTCOME: Bye bye top. 

2nd top

Made in Italy
Pure silk outer with stretch lining sewn into the seams
Can you see a theme here? 
Love the colours, crisp white with navy
Love the open neckline

Boho styling - not the real me
Raglan sleeves - make your upper half look look smaller
The deal breaker - gathered elastic hem - anything with a blouson effect will always make you look shorter & fatter where the gathers are placed. As a pear, the last place i want to looks fatter is my hips. 

OUTCOME: Bye bye top.

                              3rd top

Pure cotton
Navy & white stripe

The white is actually quite off white
It's made in China
The front placket is not functional - it's just a pleat. When you move & it opens up, you see a pleat. This is a sign of cutting corners, high street rather than high end. 

OUTCOME: Bye bye top.

4th top
This is a First Daughter top - Ivanka Trump
I put it on & I was transformed. I saw it instantly. It draped well, was cut well for my shape. 
Polyfester - easy to care for but looked pricey

Made in China
It says dry clean only, but I know fabrics & polyfester like this can survive any hand wash. 

OUTCOME: Hello top 
FYI: The US styled necklace is from Zara via ebay & was my hero piece of jewellery for the day. 

THE MORAL OF THIS POST is that you should only buy pieces which make you look & feel amazing. 

"It's OK" or "it'll do" will build you a wardrobe of very ordinary clothes. 

When something makes you look & feel amazing, you will notice it instantly in the mirror. No hesitation. That's when it comes home with you.

Friday, November 25, 2016

It's all about the full length mirror.

If you love the styling tips provided by Style into Action, then you have to read this post. 

Frankly, even I was surprised at how things turned out. 

Firstly, I love linen, men's style shirts and certain shades of blue and green sing on me. 


Target Collection women's shirt - perfect.

I didnt even try it on - just ensured the measurements havent changed since the last one from there & off I went, shirt in hand. 

As I was perusing the rest of the floor, enter EXHIBIT B:

The almost twin version from the Belle Curve range.

1. Same fabric
2. Same price
3. Same cut except, Belle Curve has 2 small 5 cm slits at the hem on each side seam AND Belle Curve has no flaps on the front pockets.

Frankly I prefer the lack of pocket flaps b/c it's easier to iron & has a cleaner line. But that is such a small difference, I didnt want to use it as sole basis of my decision.  

The ONLY answer was to TRY THEM ON in front of a FULL LENGTH MIRROR. 

Knowing that Belle Curve cuts more generously, I made sure I was comparing shirts with the same measurements rather than the same size on the tag. 

Target Collection was the winner by far.


Target Collection's flaps were sitting just above my nipple (with well fitting bra), bringing the eye upwards & widening my upper half. For a pear shape, clothing that does that is gold.

The Belle Curve shirt's pocket started below my nipples, bringing the eye downwards toward my belly. That's the last place a pear wants the eye to go. It visibly made my upper body look smaller & my lower body look bigger. 

I was shocked at what a huge difference these two babies made. All thanks to TRYING ON & A FULL LENGTH MIRROR.

I can't emphasise those two things enough. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

There are Nina Proudman clothes EVERYWHERE!

SIA did a quick lap in Zara & came up with the following loot for Nina (or Billie or Zara).... 
Current Zara

Scotch & Soda (Myer) - Nina style
Current Zara - the bomber is Billie style

Current Zara but more Billie style

current Zara - these colours are too harsh
for Nina's complexion
but in softer colours, this is Nina style

current Zara - front

current Zara - back

current Zara - definitely Billie style

current Zara - I see Billie wearing this

current Zara - the bomber is Billie style

current Zara - a Billie frock

current Zara - Nina, perhaps Zara style

current Zara - Zara style

current Zara - Nina style

current Zara - Nina style

current Zara - Nina style

current Zara - Nina style

current Zara lace bell bottoms - Billie style

current Zara - Nina style

current Zara - perhaps Zara style?

current Zara - Nina style

current Zara - Nina style

Please dont forget:

1. If you dont have Nina's height, body shape & colouring, you may look scarily different to her if you are hunting down her wardrobe pieces.

2. There are MANY more sources of Nina STYLE than just the clothes on the show. 

3. Alof of the actual items on the show are now not available anyway.

4. You'll feel better (& look more confident) if you do your interpretation of Nina style rather than just wear what's show on the show.