Monday, July 14, 2014

Michael Kors: Cash or Credit?

Michael Kors everywhere

In case you havent noticed, Michael Kors bags seem to be everywhere in Australia these days.

If you google a basic medium size tote with no bells & whistles, prices go upwards of $1,000.  Yet we seem to be able to buy them for $300 - $400 at the department store & other full price outlets.

What is going on?
Is Australia that much cheaper?

The answer is “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The comparison of the $400 bag and the $1,000 bad is like comparing apples & oranges.

The $1,000 bags are the Michael Kors main line.
The $400 bags are from the cheaper diffusion line, MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS.

Michael Kors also has a KORS MICHAEL KORS line however it doesn’t seem to be doing bags at the moment.

The leather difference

Like any diffusion label, the biggest compromise is on the material because that’s where the greatest portion of the cost lies. For bags, it’s the leather.

The Michael Kors bag has a calf leather which is soft to the touch. Not nappa soft, just soft. As you use this, it will develop a patina which is what makes good leather wear beautifully.  Of course you need to be careful of colour transfer on light colours and to clean it regularly before grim builds up.

The MICHAEL MICHAEL KORS (MICHAEL) is “saffiano” leather. Saffiano is a coated leather which has an embossed cross hatch design making it hard to touch but extremely resistant to scratching & tearing. It almost has the same vibe as the Louis Vuitton monogrammed bags (which are coated in plastic).

I could not find on any site (& I looked at many), what the actual animal was which donated the leather for the MICHAEL bags. There is no mention of it – simply “saffiano”.

Saffiano is not to be treated with anything that rubs into the surface. No creams. But I have heard that baby wipes can work as a surface cleaner, even though the bag is designed not to dirty like normal leather.

Prada saffiano

Prada has been doing saffiano for a long time – with the same cross hatch design. But a similar tote from Prada costs around $1,000. No surprises that the Prada saffiano clearly states in its listings that the bag is made of “calf saffiano”.

This leads me to one conclusion – that the MICHAEL bags are bonded leather – that’s all sorts of leather sliced & pounded together to form the main body. This could easily explain the price difference. 

Think of a MICHAEL bag as the pressed chicken of bags. I will ask one of the local stores about this & report bag.

Reinforcing & structure

The Michael Kors bag has much better reinforcing & it comes up at each side providing curved “corners” which resist wear much much much better than the very angular corners of the MICHAEL. It also provides a stronger base - nothing looks worse than a buckling tote base.

The other big difference with saffiano is that it’s stiff & if used for a large item which isn’t filled out, the surface of the bag starts to ripple after a short while. This is a classic tote issue and is seen in the next photo.  

Saffiano leather rippling viewed from the base

Frankly, I don’t like the way this looks after a bit of use. However for wallets & briefcases, it’s ideal as their outers are reinforced with internal scaffolding.


I think The MICHAEL handles look cheap in that they flop around where buckled on the bag – the Michael Kors is far more streamlined.


There are posts on the net about Prada saffiano leather peeling. I am not aware of how long it may take for this to happen, but saffiano is treated with a top layer & down the track, this may be inevitable. However it's seems akin to car window tinting bubbling - which you would imagine is fault & not a wear & tear issue. 
All I can say is KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS.  


The bags have a lot of similarities – both have feet, both have a large open lined section, pockets, a zipped pocket.
The MICHAEL has the traditional circle MK bauble while the Michael Kors has the rectangular plate.


The purpose of this post is not to suggest you don’t buy the cheaper MICHAEL. It’s to make you aware why it’s so cheap & that when you were comparing prices I want you to be realistic about the quality you are buying for that price.

Please don't forget the SIA mantra "You get what you pay for."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where to buy a black jacket better than Nina Proudman style

(Now defunct) TL Wood jacket

Nina's black TL Wood jacket in episode 8 of season 5 was a soft moto style.

That's a jacket with a round neck, but she left the neck folded over (that's code for flapping around). 

A moto style overlaps at the top & eases out at the bottom. 

Did you notice that leaving the jacket open like Nina looked sloppy - messy. This style is designed to be worn closed just like their close cousins, the double breasted jackets. 

It also is a soft fabric with little scaffolding - so it doesnt disguise any figure flaws - it just emphasises the wearer's figure, as it is. Great if you have a wonderful figure. Not so great otherwise. 

Who does this style of jacket suit?

Basically, a tall person with an hourglass shape. 

They dont work the best for:

rectangles - they don't create a waist;

* pears - the short style will make a pear look     larger than they are on the bottom half;

* apples - the excess floppy fabric isnt good       for the voluptuousness of an apple;

* busty - the excess floppy fabric makes the       bust even bigger;

* petites - anything with excess fabric is not a     good idea for a petite. The shorter length is     good, but sans the floppy top part;

* carrying excess weight - a longer style which   eases over the top of the hip is a better style     and any excess fabric is a no go zone. 

If you are not a tall hourglass, if you go for a classic single breasted style, you will be way ahead in the style stakes. For apples you may want to try something softer in shape (suggest a knit) with an empire waist. 

I happened to be in Zara recently, where i spotted the following beauties which are infinitely more flattering than Nina's style.

Zara Woman - the ruffle is removeable

Zara Woman - navy longer style more flowy

Zara Basic - a classic round neck style
without the extra volume of a moto style

Zara Basic - sculptural semi peplum style
with hook/eye closure

Zara Woman - Sgt Pepper style,
fabulous structure &
terrific for pear as it creates
an upper body presence

Zara Woman moto style with removeable sections.
This is a very structured piece, unlike
Nina's soft fabric floppy jacket.

Most of these Zara jackets are the main line, Zara Woman. This means the quality is excellent.

All are reduced.

Now is the time to buy. 
Not next week when you size has been sold. 

There are also many traditional jackets on sale now - both at Zara & everywhere else. Too many to photograph. 

Internet photo showing a classic/traditional jacket

Now is the time to buy.

There is also one Country Road number floating around, also reduced, which SIA loves.

$300 was the original price.

And the point of this post is.....

Pieces like black (or navy or chocolate or charcoal etc) jackets are the backbone of your closet, whether you are a boho, minimalist, rock chic or even romantic personality. 

They are workhorses - you'll wear them again & again, so they will pay themselves off, even if the initial outlay is stretching your budget.  

Think of it as a matter of priorities. Stay in for dinner a few more nights & all of a sudden, your jacket is close to funded. 

Pieces like this are cheaper in the long run because you aren't replacing them every season. 

But the real kicker however, is that you look better wearing them compared to the cheap & cheerful stuff on the high street.

Look better, feel better, perform better. 

That's Style into Action.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Offspring's Nina Proudman style: How not to kill your figure with that lace top.

Well, another episode in Ninaland (s5e8) & I am sure you all want the clothes.

So the purpose of this blog post is twofold:

a) to stop you doing harm to your wardrobe; and
b) to stop you doing harm to your figure

The jackets

Nina wore two jackets, a dove grey/blue linen look (day) and a black crepe (evening).

Don't they look like midgets here?

Both these were the same style, a moto style, which is everywhere atm. This style is a double breasted at top which tapers out to a single breasted at the hem. 

When a moto style is left unzipped/open, the "lapels" flap around. They make it look messy, just like any double breasted style which is designer to be worn closed. Both were worn open & frankly, they lacked polish as a result. 
The dove grey one also looked cheap. 

Both were waist length, both had a round neck.

The only real difference was that the black had a zip closure and the grey had buttons. 

I also think the grey wasnt lined but the black was. That would have contributed to its cheaper look. 

It was also interesting to note that both looked very long in the arms. If you look at the photos on my Facebook page, you'll see she had rolled the grey sleeves by hand. 

If you look at the black one, notice how long the arms were even when she had a bent elbow (talking on the phone when with Leo - above). She gets away with it in some scenes by scrunching up the sleeves (eg: when they were heading to the lesbian bar) - but for an elegant evening jacket, scrunched up sleeves don't cut it in the style stakes. 

Who does this style of jacket suit?

Basically, a tall person with an hourglass shape. 

They dont work the best for:

* rectangles - they don't create a waist
* pears - the short style will make a pear look larger than they are on the bottom half
* apples - the double breasted style isnt good for the voluptuousness of an apple
* busty - keep double breasted away from a busty girl as it makes the girls look even bigger
* petites - anything with excess fabric is not a good idea for a petite. So even though the length is great for a petite, the double breasted feature tends not to be. 

If you are not a tall hourglass, if you go for a classic single breasted style, you will be way ahead in the style stakes. For apples you may want to try something softer in shape with an empire waist. 

Whether its a linen look jacket or a black crepe jacket, single breasted styles are everywhere from discount stores (Target) to cheap & cheerful boutiques (temt, Forever New) to high street chains (Sussan, Cue, Veronika Maine, Portmans, Witchery, Country Road, Trenery, Jacqui E, Queenspark etc) to designer labels. The list doesnt end. 

Zara does terrific basic jackets and they are lined for example. 

There are also gazillions of black crepe jackets in single breasted styles.  

With or without lapels. 

Here is a Country Road one I spotted late last year & put it up as TODAY'S PICK because it looked like a winner for most body types and frankly it just looked expensive & classy.

Notice how it creates a waist both with the horizontal seam & the soft peplum? The lines are clean - its not messy - that's code for slimming in anyone's book. 

The plain top (worn with the dove grey jacket)

Plain front, plain back. Nothing fancy. 
easy to replicate in a woven fabric. 

Looks what I saw at Big W today....

A nice simple clean cut top - I loved the neckline binding as well as the curved edges at the hem. 

You can find white tops anywhere, so I'll let you do that search. 

But please note that Nina's length & width is overwhelming on a petite and a rectangle.

It would be blobby on a pear (it's too blocked) and a killer on an apple. 

The high neckline would kill a busty girl's figure. 

So basically that leaves hourglass shapes rocking it - as long as they are not petite.

The lace blouse

This is going to be the bane of my life for this episode. 

Every brand has done lace tops for the last 2 years. Everyone. I have no idea of the brand of this top, although a reader said they think its Zara. If that's true, you are not going to find it now as they turn over their stock like nobody's business. 

The missing tag in the episode was consistent with a Zara Woman tag. Which means its the expensive end of the scale for Zara (sat $110) but overall a cheap piece. 

What I dislike about this top is that the flowers are embroidered with very long satin stitching - that's a mark of a cheap garment & because the stitching isnt tight, it tends to pull quite easily. 

There was also minimal embroidery at the back - another sign of a cheap garment. 

The way it was clinging to Nina's back also made me think it's rayon (the cheapest of cheap fabrics), not silk. I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it. 

So, where to buy?

Stop asking me hard questions - I haven't a clue.

But I can tell you something more important than where to buy:

For the same reasons as the plain top, above, this will only suit an hourglass shape and preferably one that isnt petite. 

What proportion of us, who are on the wrong side of 30, are an hourglass? Not alot. 

So please look for another lace top.

Apples - empire waist & a neckline which exposes decolletage.

Pears - empire or something with a peplum, to hide the big pear bum.

Rectangle - you need extra waist enhancement - nothing blocky, so you really need to consider the rest of the outfit.  

Busty - lower the neckline & give it a bit of shape to show off your waist.

Petite - keep it close to the body & no longer than the top of hip.

Now, let's look at some pictures.

The traditional Nina brands all do lace tops.

Johnny Was

Johnny Was

Johnny Was

Johnny Was

Johnny Was
But please be careful - if you are thinking Johnny Was is a bargain and its rayon/viscose, that explains why the price is so "good". Cotton is the good stuff and Johnny Was prices it accordingly. 

4 Love & Liberty

Johnny Was has a cheaper diffusion label called 4 Love & Liberty. They do even more delicate lace tops than Johnny Was. 

4 Love & Liberty

4 Love & Liberty

Let's go designer....Lover do fabulous lace pieces.....

Lover calls this the White Magic capsule.
SIA calls it the Picnic at Hanging Rock collection. 

classic Lover dress

Lover (which is killing her waist)


Back to Zara....

Zara in the large satin stitch like Nina's top (that's code for cheap)

Zara - this guipure type lace is like Billie's black lace from episode 7. 

Zara - there's that long satin stitch again.....


Collette by Collette Dinnigan

The other brand that consistently does lace tops is Collette by Collette Dinnigan.

Collette by Collette Dinnigan

Collette by Collette Dinnigan

Collette by Collette Dinnigan

Collette by Collette Dinnigan

Collette by Collette Dinnigan often does alot of daisy laces - small sections of heavier embroidery than the Nina top. However she has also done quite a bit of those long satin stitch embroideries on gauzy fabric (code for cheap in cost but not necessarily cheap in price).

Te one thing I did see online was a broderie lace vest - which I think is perfect for Johnny Was....sure, Nina's style was different, but this vest will sing on a petite and that's what we want. Flattery for YOUR shape, not Nina's. 

A few randoms....

Random #1 in the same long satin stitch as Nina's top

Random #2

Random #3 in the same long satin stitch as the Nina top
If you google "white lace top", thousands will come up, both as inspiration and to buy. 
Alot of the available for purchase versions will be cheap. Please remember you get what you pay for. 

So even though this next photo looked nice, when you go to the listing & look at the details, for $16, I can promise you that you will get a ratty garment.  They look nice because these online cheap & cheerful sellers put time & effort into making the goods look spesh. 

Even brands like asos and boohoo - be careful.

A quick visit to Target....

I think this Limited Editions top can give that romantic soft Nina look. 

These would work well for a medium size bust so the girls puff it out at the top & you don't look bottom heavy with the softness at the bottom. Not great for a pear or a rectangle. 

Target Limited Editions
By some strange co-incidence, today I popped into Big W and I saw the following:

A lovely vest in the Big W equivalent of Target's Piping Hot brand, Wave Zone. 

TIP: Surfie brands have a boho feel about them & can be good sources of Nina pieces.

I would love to see this vest on a petite girl. 

Big W "Wave Zone" lace vest

Big W Vest close up

A gorgeous feminine pindot lace which coud work as an empire blouse, great for pears. 

A daisy lace fitted style (needs a cami underneath). Lovely. 

Here is a gorgeous delicate skirt in the Nina style satin stitching. Would have loved to have found a top in this lace - to to wear as matched - but as separates. 

Finally, this lace tee which is a great example of what not to buy. It was awful. It was viscose & clingy without any shape - avoid at all costs. 

I also saw a few other Nina pieces at Big W - separate post shortly. Plus I dont need to remind you that the prices at Big W are reasonable, so it may be worth having a look.

What shade of white? 

Please also be aware that different complexions suit stark white versus off white versus cream versus pearl very differently. 

COOL complexions (with pink undertones in their skin) usually cant cope with anything creamier than an off white. 

On the other hand, stark white & off white are hospital colours for WARM complexions (with yellow undertones in their skin). 

Before you invest in a white lace top, please make sure the version of white you are buying is your best, irrespective of the shade Nina wore.

If you are wearing a visible cami, you need to judge this with the cami on.

And the point is? 

So did I answer the question "Where to Buy?"
Absolutely not. I have no idea where to buy. 

But Nina's clothes in episode 8 really only suit non petite hourglass shapes. Don't know about you, but that certainly isnt me. 

Instead, you need to assess your colouring & your body shape & height - only then can you be clear on which of the millions of white lace tops (or whatever) out there, may be worth shortlisting.