The Cross Body Bag for Travel: Yea or Nay?

 

IMG_2043It’s getting to be that time of year when we start poring over travel magazines and planning summer excursions.  By nature, I’m slightly neurotic and I like to research where I’ll be and what’s my best plan of attack…in fashion. Handbags are a huge concern.

It seems as if there are two definitive camps in the cross body debate.  Yes, your hands are free, but your boobs are segregated in that oh-so-unflattering-way.  On the one hand, you’re more protected from a pickpocket, but when you wear a cross body bag, in Europe especially, it screams, “Tourist with a passport!” You’d do well to just write that on your forehead.  It’s the same result.

The local women, especially in Paris and Rome, (where they frighten you with stories of gypsies and vagabond rouges,) leave their tote bags carelessly hanging open as they stand near the Metro.  I’ve seen it.  You know that pinched up face people get when they’re changing a poopy diaper?  That’s the look a lot of us Americans have when we’re forced into a closed quarters situation with “Them.”  We hang on tightly to our stuff and hope that we’re giving off a “va via” (go away) vibe.

While I’m all for safety and being responsible, I think that when we’re already out of our comfort zone, the worst thing to do is compound that by going out of our comfort zone with our belongings.  If you’re normally not a cross body kind of gal, you probably have a reason for it.  Personally, I find that they’re too small.  When I’m in the store stuffing the paper wrappings into other bags to see the inside, (yes, that’s me,) it always seems big enough. (I hate that look of a warped overstuffed purse banging against my hip.)    Yet, when I get home and add a wallet, sunglasses and a ridiculous stuffed dog I bring on vacation, it’s not as roomy.

I think the lure of the cross body is not in the bag, but in the strap…the strap that comes with most purses.  Huh.  While you should clean your bag out of extraneous items before you leave, you are probably better off using the one you carry every day.  I’m assuming to some degree that you’re not toting a giant bag with all the hardware; that can be heavy. You have to be reasonable in what you’re willing to carry through the course of a day. A bulky bag may be a deterrent in cafes if they have to perch on your lap.  Most of us girls manage with a medium-sized bag so it’s not a problem.

A thing you must consider, in some attractions like historical buildings and museums, if your bag is too large, you may have to check it.  Nothing renders me “deer in the headlights” like leaving my bag in a foreign closet check.  You don’t want to black out in the Sistine Chapel because you’re obsessing about your abandoned purse back in the lobby.  You never want to be separated from your gear.  You want your possessions easily accessible to you, but safe from everyone else.

What do you carry every day?  It’s funny how we think about travel bags as something we only use on a trip.  As a veteran purse carrier, you already know the drill; keep your bag zipped and your hand on the handles.  Enough said.

 

 

 

Narcissi-stick Post: The Abomination of The Selfie-Stick

I’m writing it here first, folks.  Have you seen the Selfie Sticks?  They’re embarrassing.  I stood in line last week in Scotland waiting to go into the Palace of the Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and I watched a woman make a fool of herself…to me at least.  She stood with her trusty selfie stick that I am officially calling the Narcissi-stick and took twenty pictures of herself, fish lips and all.  You heard it here first; I’m renaming them here officially to Narcissi-sticks.

Narcissus, in Greek Mythology was the hunter from Thespiae who was known for his beauty.  It became his downfall because when he saw his own reflection in a pool of water, he was rendered helpless.  So enchanted was he with his own reflection that he could not move and it caused him to drown.  His fixation with own reflection was his utter and complete downfall.

I would venture to say that the Narcissi-stick is the same thing.  It’s embarrassing.  Other people can see you.  It’s bad enough when you’re in your own bathroom making that face into your phone.  Later, when you’re scrolling through the plethora of pictures you took of yourself, I would like to say that I am the woman in the background of your shots, laughing her head off at your narcissistic tendencies.

Big. Sweaters.

Winter is upon us and anyone who’s anyone will notice that the trend in sweaters for winter is that bigger and bulky is better. Fashion designers embraced the big sweater look on the runway for their Fall / Winter collections, which of course look gorgeous on pencil thin models… but what’s a girl to do if she’s just a mere mortal and not a willowy runway model? Well, I’ve listed my favorite ways to keep this look current and chic.

I like to call it, “Seven Tips to Help You Get The Editorial Look Without Looking Like a Linebacker.”

1.  Dark tights are your friends. Dark tights with a bit of a textured pattern like black on black argyle or pinstripes can create a visual interest that will let the eye follow your legs down and create an elongating effect.
2.  Wear a skirt. A straight cut skirt that hits just an inch or so above your knee will give you a willowy silhouette. The slightly narrow cut of the skirt will balance the bulk of a sweater. You want opposites to pull this look off; huge sweater plays against the skirt. This is entirely true until you talk about…
3.  Shoes! Play up the heavy texture of a huge sweater with a pair of shoes with some weight to them. Patent leather brogues with a thick heel paired against a big sweater will make your legs shrink into the background.
4.  Belted: Using a wide belt with a matte finish will whittle your waist. It pulls the sweater in and accentuates your figure.
5.  Start small. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of a large sweater, try wearing a large cowl or a snood. It will give you the luxurious look of the knit near your face. You’ll look current, especially if you pair it with a long belted cardigan.
6.  Try a lighter gauge knit. Instead of going straight for the heavy gauge cashmere, try a medium or lighter merino wool. The ruching that’s so popular this season will add that bit of texture without as much heft.
7.  Color. Darker, muted colors will not only make you looks slimmer in the sweater, but deep neutrals will make anything look more on trend. You want people to see you, not just a neon pink cat that you decided to wear.

Vent de Voyage: Artisan Handbag Shop of Saint Malo

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Vent de Voyage

Vent de Voyage 3 Rue St. Thomas Saint Malo

 

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Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best things about shopping on vacation is discovering local treasures.  While anyone can bring back an Eiffel Tower key chain (and I do that too,) it’s more special to have something that speaks to the region and reminds you of your wonderful vacation long after you’ve returned home.  A shop just like this can be found in Saint Malo.

A notorious pirate town, Saint Malo is nestled in the crook of the English Channel and the Celtic Sea.   This hamlet IS nautical.  Saint James Breton shirts abound, pirates in costume and seafood galore, this lovely seaside resort is also home to a lovely little jewel of a shop, Vent de Voyage.   Located at 3 Rue Saint Thomas this workshop is a one of a kind place making one of a kind bags.

Inspired by their nautical home, Yann and Christine, the proprietors, complete all their work in the shop creating beautiful bags from sailcloths.

The Port of Saint Malo

The Port of Saint Malo

Yes.  Sailcloths.  Water resistant, sturdy, and durable, these beautiful bags are clean, modern, simple and sleek, much like the shoreline.

To walk inside the shop is to know you’ve found something special.  Each bag is hand-crafted, signed and dated.  They offer sizes from tiny clutches to beautiful tote bags.  You can buy off the rack or customize a bag.  If you don’t plan on being in Saint Malo, they even offer a webcam service where you can Skype with them to plan your bag.  The shop, much like the town, is charming and unique.  Of course, I had to purchase a bag, and I decided on the “La Conchee” in canvas.  I swear I can smell the ocean when I carry it…

La Conchee Tote

La Conchee Tote

The Ugly Shoe Manifesto

That’s right, an Ugly Shoe Manifesto.  Unfortunately, Karl Marx cornered the market on the “M” word and people don’t always want to use it in every day vernacular.  After all, who wants to be on a watch list?  🙂  A Manifesto is defined simply as, “a public declaration of intentions.”  The plural of manifesto is “manifestoes.”  What better term to use when talking about ugly shoes?  Get it, Manifes-TOES…. 🙂

Did you know that in my real life I’m an English teacher?  It’s true.  So I can appreciate the poetry that’s involved in fashion.  Yes, poetry.  Shoes in and of themselves contain plenty of it.  Shoes can personify the wearer, preppy, biker, hippie, etc.  They can also convey opposite meaning.  Irony.  Unexpected.  Like, what in fact makes a shoe ugly?  Usually the very components that make it a man repelling choice of footwear are precisely the reasons why women want to wear them.  They’re comfortable and we feel good all day.  Why is that ugly?  Is it ironic, or smart?

Suddenly “ugly” is beautiful.  There’s a sense of irony in a big bulky strapped on shoe with a delicate summery dress.  Beautifully tailored cigarette pants with a big old pair of clod hoppers is chic.  It’s a hyperbole in that it’s an obvious and intentional exaggeration.  Not just big sandals, Big.  Clunky.  Sandals.  Don’t believe me?  Look here, and here, and here.

There is much debate, ironically over who started the resurgence in the popularity of the Ugly Shoe Movement.  J. Crew offered hideous pieces that flew off the shelves.  The houses of Celine, Michael Kors, Chloe and Prada to name just a few have embraced not only the ugly shoe, but it’s near blood relative, the sock.  So while really no one can truly take credit, we can all benefit.

Ugly shoes suddenly are oxymorons…two seemingly unlike things that are paired together.  (Jumbo Shrimp, Deafening Silence, Tevas and lace.)  They become a metaphor of the women who will wear them.  Reliable, making an impression, resilient.

It’s unexpected and refreshing.  Instead of teetering around in those beautiful strappy sandals that make my toe bed bleed, I can wear big dogs…and my own aren’t barking at the end of the day.

Personally, the clean line of a simple, yet large sandal appeals to me.  It’s visually interesting against any type of clothing you may choose to wear.  Hopefully this becomes a trend that will last into the fall.  Have you seen some of the big chunky heeled brogues and oxfords that the men get to wear?  Love.  Them.

Against the Black Backdrop

Stand out.

Stand out.

….at what point do you realize that maybe, just maybe, black isn’t always the right choice?

There.  I said it.

It’s true though.  Some times, the black isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be on every woman.  Some of us have a more delicate complexion, or our hair color competes, or it clashes with our coats.  I think we all reach for black because it’s slimming, it’s easy and it’s every where.  When I see choices in colors, say in sweaters or boots, I always choose the black.

It got me to thinking though, what if I DIDN’T get the black one?  It all started with this red bag.  I was so excited to find a high end designer bag on sale for such a ridiculous price that I cajoled myself into buying it solely on the fact that it would be snatched up the minute I put it down.  (After all, I could always return it if I was in fact, in a state of frenzy that I would recover from later that day.)

However; it never happened!  I brought the bag home, and suddenly, boom, it matched and popped and sparkled against my other clothing.  That little bit of red made such a difference.  I could continue to wear my basic neutrals, but somehow, they seemed less….neutral.

 

 

 

 

How To Know If You Have An Old Lady Handbag: A Quiz.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a problem.  I do.  I am ridiculous about handbags.  Any woman knows that it truly is the accessory that can Make All The Difference.  You can get away with schlumping to the grocery store in old jeans and a t-shirt if you have a fantastic bag on your arm as your escort.  Yet, like the jeans we wear, the lipstick we use and the condition of our fingernails, our handbags can really play a huge role in making us look like either, “nice bag, Lady!”  or “Nice. Bag lady.”  ( I also love punctuation, but that’s another day.)

Here is a quick quiz to see if you need to get yourself a new arm companion.  (I’m talking about handbags, you’re on your own with your choice of men.)

  1. The handbag you carry every day is A) less than six months old B) less than five years old C) inherited from your mother D) from high school
  2. Your handbag would be classified as A) a casual tote  B) a satchel C) a rectangle with little feet and a flap D) a stiff, mid sized double shoulder bag
  3. The color of your handbag would be described as A) cobalt blue, color blocked with hot pink B) greige (a dusty taupe color) navy or forest green C) cognac or black D) bright white, brown or baby poop tan.
  4. The interior of your bag has A) pockets for both your smart phone and your tablet B) an inside zipper and an additional slot. C) unfinished bare leather or a silk lining D) a white or black lining that feels stiff and crunchy.
  5. The handles of your bag are A) nonexistent, it’s a clutch B) short drop less than eight inches (maybe with a strap for cross body) C) double handles that retain their shapes D) double handles with piping along the center.  One of them has a clip on hand sanitizer attached.
  6. The exterior of your bag features A) animal print patterns and texture B) pebbled leather and a tassel C) A turn clasp or a lock D) a lot of zippered pockets and open slots.
  7. You left your handbag in the conference room after a meeting.  A co-worker A) brings it straight to you and asks where you bought it B) holds it up at the water cooler where the cool girls are talking C) skulks out with it to sell it for rent money D) leaves it where it is, she doesn’t want to be seen carrying it.
  8. You bought your bag A) at the mall, duh B) at a department store or on-line C) Across the pond after you made an appointment D) they’ve been closed for years.
  9. The major selling point of your handbag was A) it came with free cologne  and a coupon for next time B) it got five stars on the website and it was a great style for work to weekend. C) The prestige D) The lady in the commercial looked happy when she could find her umbrella from the side pocket.
  10. If you had been shopping with your best friend when you spotted it, she would A) buy the exact same one, maybe  in a different color B) wish she had spotted it first C) order one in a bigger size for herself D) just smile because best friends love you despite your flaws.

 

If you have answered mostly A’s, you do NOT have an old lady bag.  Price range here is not the point.  The color, the trendy shape and the sleek designs give off a young urban vibe.  You are slightly ahead of what’s hot (and what’s not) and you don’t think in terms of “is this practical” but rather, “is it pretty.” The only thing to be careful of here is to make sure that people don’t think you took your daughter’s bag. Some colors can look TOO young, especially if your clothes are in an entirely different spectrum of color.  Cobalt blue is the hot color this season.  You can find it everywhere from purses to sweaters to kitchen utensils.  These kinds of colors are more of a flash in the pan, so think about your cost per use before you invest too heavily in something that will be forever relegated to the bowels of your closet once the trend passes.

If you answered mostly B’s you have really nailed the balance of classic and trendy.  Quality bags will always be in style because they are well made and they have little touches that make them look current.  Buckles, tassels, bits of hardware keep the bag looking fashionable while the material is deep and rich looking.  Price points here can go from reasonable to ridiculous, but this bag, because of its neutral, yet un-brown color, will give substance and style to everything from your dressiest coat to a jean jacket.

If you answered mostly C’s you probably will pass this bag on to your own daughter, as well as your 10 mm pearls.  This bag is classic and expensive.  Carrying one looks like you have enough money to buy a true designer bag, but remember that most YOUNGER people won’t have that kind of cash….(unless they are the people chased by paparazzi because they are famous, or famous for being famous,  or they  ran off with someone’s rich old husband.)   Off set the “classiness” of these true designer pieces by wearing them with jean jackets and artisan silver, or faded jeans and a gauzy scarf.  The seemingly unbalanced look of super classic with super casual some how works every time.  If you don’t believe me, creep on some of those pictures of French women.

In case you didn’t figure it out before, if you answered D to most of these questions, then you really need to get yourself something new.  A safe bet to look chic without trying too hard is to choose a color like navy blue, forest green or deep, rich red.  These jewel tones blend as pseudo-neutrals with other pieces and they offer a pop of style and color without being an in-your-face-glittery-pink.  Pebbled and textured leathers have a more youthful, muted look than a stiff and shiny one.  (However, please note here that it doesn’t include patent leather.  Patent leather looks young.)

Before you rush out and buy something, take some time to look on the internet at different websites.  Look at magazines and pay attention to details on television and movies.  What kind of bag do you admire on someone else?  Go to a store and pick up a color you’ve never touched before.  Mentally think about the clothing that you own and judge how it would look paired with your wardrobe.

Take all the paper out of the bags in the store.  It’s kind of obnoxious, but if you put it back, it’s forgiven.  Carry it without the tissue paper plumping it up.  Is it heavy?  Too dark to see anything inside?  Does it catch on your arm?  Read reviews that other people have written about particular brands and styles.

Don’t be driven by the brand.  Look at the features that you like and rate it objectively.  Bring someone you trust for a second opinion.  Buying a new bag should be a fun adventure, so don’t let it get you crazy.  When in doubt, wait it out.  Don’t buy something just for the sake of buying something.  When you find The Bag, you’ll know.

White Pants After Labor Day

So the rule of thumb has been no white pants, shoes etc. after Labor Day.  I think in recent years, we’ve thumbed our noses at the rule.  Here are just a few reasons why you SHOULD wear those white pants into the next season (or two.)

  • White jeans, black turtleneck sweaters and black high heeled boots are Jackie-O-so-sophisticated.  Add large silver hoop earrings.
  • Classic jean jackets look better with white jeans.  If you wear a jean jacket with blue denim, it’s ALL JEANS, and  you look like you’re farming or line dancing.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
  • Rolled white jeans with a creamy colored cotton sweater look chic, especially with sunglasses and leather flip flops
  • Breton stipes and white jeans were made for one another…add a deep cranberry scarf and a blazer
  • White jeans with a t-shirt and a gauzy scarf are perfect for those warm fall Saturdays

 

What other combinations can you come up with?

 

“Whittle Your Waste Line”

Yes, I meant to spell it like that.  While a mind is a terrible thing to waste and a waist is a terrible thing to mind, THIS particular waste line is the rack of clothing in your closet that you absolutely don’t wear.

Ever.

I think our culture is ingrained to spend the last bits of the summer sorting clothing.  I know all those back-to-school sales have haunted me for weeks and now it’s time to do the deed and get rid of those shoddy t-shirts, faded shorts and distastefully worn out bathing suits.

That’s the easy part.

What about the quality items that you purchased and they just hang there, wasting away?  I know we’ve all paid good money for them.  I know we thought it would be perfect.  I know it’s not.  So now what?

There are a lot of options, but I think the first one is the classic, “your best defense is a good offense.”  Put a moratorium on shopping.  We are all guilty of shopping as an activity instead of a specific errand.  Clothing is too plentiful, too easy, too inexpensive, etc.  I do some of my best shopping from the comfort of my chair.  That.  Is.  Bad.

They say that French women’s closets are so sparse that the air can blow the items around with bliss.  (Most European countries don’t even HAVE closets which is a whole other set of issues.)  Imagine that.  I am embarrassed to count up the number of skirts that I own.  I think I’m in love with them all, but I know in reality, I’m not.  It becomes an emotional tie more than anything.

Holding on to something so tightly means you can’t open your hands for something else.  In order to create that energetic flow, we need to jump in feet first.

  • Dump all of your clothes on the bed.  It’s too late now, you’ll either sleep on them or shove them onto the floor and that’s not an option today.
  • Honestly hold up each piece.  If you can’t think immediately the last time you wore it, put it into a bag.
  • Continue this process until you’ve sorted each and every single piece.
  • Now relax, we’re not getting crazy.  Put this bag into the trunk of your car, the spare closet, wherever.  Leave it there for one month.  If you haven’t gone into that bag looking for an item, immediately bring it to your local Goodwill, a consignment shop or wherever these articles will find good homes with someone who will love them.

Trust me when I say that you won’t miss these pieces.  They were cluttering up your mind as soon as you got up in the morning and whether we admit it or not, that kind of fog affects us day in and day out.  A sparse clean line of quality clothing that you really and truly wear creates a sense of accomplishment and makes the morning rush a little less…well, rushed.

The beauty of clearing out clutter is that it becomes addictive and easier.  The Idea of Less is good.  Simple.  It opens up your day to other things.  Less Stuff means More….Non-stuff.

Can you feel the fresh air?

 

Shopping in Rome, Florence, Venice, Italy: Etiquette You Need To Know About European Shops

Shopping in Rome, (well in most of Europe) there are different social norms and customs that patrons are expected to know.  In the United States, people paw the merchandise, carry it around and then usually leave it somewhere it doesn’t belong.

This. Does Not. Happen. In. Italy.

Entering into a shop is like entering into someone’s home.  (While the larger mall like stores are more lax in this custom, for this article, I am addressing the small shops.)  When you enter into someone’s home, you immediately greet them.  This is expected in an Italian shop as well.

Vendors are ready to wait on you.  They want to serve and they are attentive.  When you walk in, say, “buon giorno” and smile.  They will greet you as well and may ask something along the lines of “Che cose’?”  This means loosely, “what would you like?”   It is expected that you do not touch the wares. Italians are very meticulous in their belongings and they frown upon the idea of someone else trying it on and touching it. In fact, if you are choosing to try it on, it is almost an unspoken expectation that you plan to purchase said garment.

Wha?????  How do I know I like it?  How do I know it will fit?  Trust me.  The salesperson will have sized you up correctly the moment you darkened their doorstep.  They will know precisely what size you need.  (An aside here is it may not be the size you want.  Sorry.  Their sizes are different anyway, so it doesn’t matter.)

If you are looking for a particular color, they will be happy to help.  When you walk into a shop, the first thing you may notice is that it is very sparse.  There may be one or two mannequins dressed in an ensemble, but that will be it.  The wall are usually lined with drawers or doors that host the goods.  Italians do not like to be overwhelmed with too much at once.  Much in the way they prefer their meals to be presented in unadorned sequence, they use the same principles for clothing stores.

You may like the scarf or the skirt on the mannequins so you can point to it and say, “Lo mi piace.”  This means “I like it.”  Suddenly, before  your very eyes, there will appear a bevy of this particular skirt or scarf or shirt in an array of colors and patterns and sizes.

If there is a certain color you are looking for, it would be a good idea to learn how to say it in Italian. (Most of the shops are housed with salespeople who can in fact, speak English, but they are so happy and proud of you when you attempt the native language, it’s adorable.)

Once you have decided what you will purchase, you can say something like, “Lo prendo.”  This means, “I’ll take it.”  This is the best part.  The salesperson will whirl you up to the cash register and prepare your new belongings for their journey home.  They use tissue wraps and ribbons and beautiful reusable bags with zippers.  It is a treat in itself to watch them.  The excitement overtakes you as you make your lovely purchase.

Try and maintain your dignity when you leave.  At least go around the corner before you begin squealing in delight.  Once, I purchased a scarf (well I made my husband purchase a scarf for me) on the via Condotti and I was so proud of myself for not tearing the package open and rolling around the streets on my new treasure.  That kind of behavior is an entirely different article.

 

Ode to an Old Purse

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The Author and Her New Sirni Bag

The Author and Her New Sirni Bag

Battered Leather, softened with time and the lip gloss that seeped through.

A faithful old friend that never left my side.

A part of myself that always provided for my needs.

My secret treasures, an enigma to others, and sometimes to myself.

As I set you in the back of my closet, I wonder what you would say if you could talk.

Would you say good bye and wish good luck to me

and have sympathy for my eager new clutch?

Instead, you settle into the shelf,

Fragrant with content memories….and the perfume I spilled on you.

-Cynthia Dite….age 18

What is it with handbags?

 I know for myself, I can’t get enough of them.  I love them.  I could spend all day in a store, playing with the pockets and straps and imagining what items of my own I would put into each little section.  Do you do that?  I know that I have an eccentric affinity for bags, but I’ve spoken with other women and some of the reasons THEY Love The Handbag….here are some answers-

  • “No matter what I weigh, it’s guaranteed to fit.”
  • “I can change my bag easier than my hair color.”
  • “Handbags don’t make your feet hurt like new shoes can do.”
  • “I can change my bag faster than I change my mood.”
  • “I feel secure with all my stuff with me.”

Handbags can last forever.  Why do YOU love your bags?

 

Buying Gold and Silver Jewelry on The Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio Over The Arno River, Florence

The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

 

One of the lovely shops on the Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio, (or The Old Bridge) is one of the most famous sites in the world to purchase gold and silver jewelry.  Founded hundreds of years ago, this trading post was the centerpiece of Florence, Italy with vendors and customers coming from all over.  Italian gold and silver is the finest in the world, and buying a little trinket, (or two) on a trip to Italy is a wonderful remembrance to bring home.  It’s something you’ll actually use because let’s face it, what do you do with a tiny Leaning Tower of Pisa after you’re home?

There is plenty of debate as to whether or not you are getting the best deal or if the jewelry is overpriced on the bridge.

This is something you have to decide for yourself.  Perhaps you pay a bit more.  Maybe it is a bit less.  Either way, all of the shops on the bridge are accredited vendors, so you know you have genuine materials.  Remember, you’ll also be paying for the experience.  Believe me when I tell you that in itself, that makes it worth the price.  You’ll remember it forever.

Italian gold is made as 18kt.  It will say 750 on it instead.  True Italian gold will also have a tiny stamp on it with usually a star and some small letters or numbers.  These are the identification numbers of the area in Italy in which the jewelry was made.  Each region has its own stamps and numbers.  When you are shopping for gold in Italy, look for this marking to insure you are getting Italian gold made in Italy.

When you shop in Italy, is is different than here in the States.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are some unspoken rules that are followed.  When you are on the Ponte Vecchio, you are truly marked as a tourist. (Or at least as someone with cash or credit cards to spend.)  You want to be alert and aware of your surroundings, so your adventure on the bridge is pleasurable.

One thing to know when you are on the bridge is that vendors are everywhere.  They aren’t selling jewelry, but they have scarves and wooden Pinocchio dolls and such.  They will attempt to distract you, so be prepared and keep walking.  Keep your hand on your purse.  If you need to, say, “Va Via!”  (This means, “Go Away!”)  While they won’t suddenly think you’re a native, they will at least know you’ve done your homework and will move on.

Shopping on the bridge, everything is there for your perusal.  When you spot something that’s caught your eyes, you knock on the door of the shop.  They only allow one party in at a time.  The vendor comes out and you can literally point to something in the window, or you can say, “posso?”  This means, “Can I?” to have entrance to the shop.  They will escort you in and lock the door behind you.  For real.  Be ready.

They are very gracious and it’s intimate.  Once you make the purchase, you will need to give information for customs as there are forms you will need to return when you arrive at the airport heading home.  You’ll receive your papers from the vendor and your purchase will be wrapped like the precious trinket that it is, in velvet bags and tissue wrap.

Honestly, the safest place for jewelry is on your person.  Wearing a gold chain or a bracelet will not make you a target, and you will be infinitely more secure than if you tuck the bag into your purse. Thieves and pickpockets will be watching to see who comes out of a store with some tiny bag in ribbons.  The important thing, again,  is to be aware and alert.   If you decide to wear the jewelry out of the store, (even if it isn’t for you, remember safety) tell them.  They will assist you and they’ll still give you all the lovely wrappings and bags.

They are used to tourists and they are so accommodating and gracious.  Every time you look at your beautiful piece of jewelry it will make you smile to know you bought it at the most famous jewelry location on the planet.

Follow Up Review of The Downeaster Sport Small Canvas Bag at L.L. Bean Signature

So, I bought the  L.L. Bean Downeaster bag a week ago, and as promised, I am doing a review.  This bag has tons of pockets.  The front one is the perfect size for a cell phone or a passport.Image It is definitely designed for being out and about all day.  There are two side pockets on the exterior of either side.  They zip and keep keys, etc. easy to find as well as secure.  There is another pocket in the front behind the zippered one, this can hold a work I.D. or such.  Inside, I was able to keep a ton of stuff!  I switched out from my usual work bag and everything fit into this!  I didn’t think it could do it, but it did.

Inside, there’s only one pocket, which would be one of my draw backs.  It would be really easy for L.L. Bean to add a line of interior pockets in the front….just a suggestion.  My other issue is that the strap is about two inches too short to be a perfect cross body.  I can use it as such, but it really is designed as a shoulder strap.  For women taller than average height, it might be a bigger problem.

It wasn’t heavy and it looked much cuter than my old bag. I love the classic colors, sailcloth, blue and red.  Each season, they update color trends, so there’s something for every taste.   I absolutely love the shape of a Speedy satchel.  It looks and feels stylish.

This bag would be perfect for a trip.  It has enough of a street chic look to it that you don’t scream out “American Tourist” but also has enough zippers and gadgets to keep your belongings secure and easy to reach.  You could easily use this as a carry-on.  It could hold a pair of shoes and a change of clothes along with all the other paraphernalia we need.

Right now, it’s on sale for $44.99.  Regular price is $59.00.  I used L.L. Bean coupons, but I don’t think I would pay the full price.  (However, I don’t pay the full price for ANYTHING so I’m not a good judge for that.)

Overall, I’d give this bag a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It really is beautiful.  I love the feel of the canvas, and it makes a pair of jeans and a simple shirt look Yacht Ready.

Choosing a Day Bag

Summer’s here.  It’s time for us to be out and about and out of the house.  This means we need to be portable, mobile and prepared.  Choosing a day bag that will meet all of our needs can be easy if you know what you have to have.

  • Pockets:  When my bag turns into a dark abyss of nonsense, I can’t find anything.  Inside and outside pockets are important for phones, pens, keys, etc.
  • Washable material:  I am outside more in the summer.  I haul my bag on my bike.  I put it in the grass.  It needs to hold up to day to day wear and tear.
  • Weather proof:  I want a bag that I can put on a beach towel, or near a pool and know my phone won’t be ruined.
  • CUTE!  Need I say more?

ImageI just purchased this Small Downeaster Canvas Bag from L.L. Bean.  It kind of looks like a Speedy.  It has a plaid water proof interior, and it has pockets.

 

We’ll see what happens.  I’m going to carry it this week and let you know.