Month: April 2015

Bag Style: Marc by Marc Jacobs Mag Bag

When I wrote about my recent dream bag purchase, a few of you expressed interest in more bag reviews. Well, I aim to please. No one nominated a specific bag(s), but there was general interest in my Marc Jacobs lovelies, so I decided to start a new series by tackling one of my most used bags, the MbMJ Magazine (or Mag) bag.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Magazine bag
Marc by Marc Jacobs Magazine bag

Let me start by saying that I have not one, not two, but three Mag bags.

Marc Jacobs Mag bag
my 3 Mags

I was introduced to them by Adrien, who is like a soul sister when it comes to purses. I immediately loved the look of the Mag bag, and thought they would be practical as well … and I was right. So, basically, the rest of this review will consist of me telling you all the reasons why you need a Mag bag in your life. You’ve been warned.

Let’s start with looks. This is, obviously, the most subjective category for review, but here are the reasons why I like the Mag anyway. One, it’s pretty much logo-free. The pushlock is engraved with the MbMJ lettering, but it’s not very noticeable unless you’re looking at it closely.

Marc Jacobs Magazine bag

The fabric lining also has the distinctive MbMJ lettering, but again, it’s not immediately visible. Two, the leather looks (and is) soft and thick and just amazing. Three, the style is simple and classic, and works with both casual outfits and dressier ones. I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily take this bag out to a cocktail party or ball, but it can work in pretty much every other situation.

Let’s move on to functionality. This is where I feel that the Mag bag really shines. The cross-body strap option is fantastic for anyone with kids. The handles are long enough to be worn on the shoulder as well. The front pocket is great for easy access to essentials, and you don’t need to actually unlock it – just stick your hand in and grab what you need.

Marc Jacobs Mag bag
soft, smushy leather

The inside of the bag is quite roomy. You probably can’t cram the kitchen sink in there (or legal sized files, for the record), but you can easily fit a wallet, make-up bag, phone, keys, book, and extra pair of shoes (ahem, just an example). It has a small zippered inside pocket, and two even smaller open pockets for (I assume) things like phones. I rarely bother to use them, so I can’t say anything more about them … they’re the basic type of inside pockets you get in most bags.

Marc Jacobs Magazine bag
the usual inside pocket deal

I will say that the bag is not very heavy on its own, but if you do end up cramming it full of stuff, the cross-body strap can become a little uncomfortable because it is on the thinner side. I find the shoulder handles more comfortable, because they are wider and made out of that thick, soft leather, which offers a little bit of cushioning.

So, quality. As I mentioned above, the quality of the leather of all MJ bags I’ve ever owned has been fantastic, and the Mag bag is no exception. The fabric lining is decent, and the pattern helps to conceal stains. (Hey, real life happens.) The only downside to the Mag bag (and MbMJ bags generally) is colour wear. Now, some colours are more prone to fading and discoloration than others. I have a black MbMJ Aidan and the colour looks as fresh as the day it came out of the factory. Similarly, I had a red MbMJ Teri bag, and it also held up pretty well. On the other hand, two of my Mag bags are burgundy (Elderberry in Marc speak). Or, rather, were. One is, one is not.

Marc Jacobs Mag bag
one of these things is not like the other

I got the one on the right off eBay, without realizing how much the leather was discolored and faded. It’s basically a brown bag at this point, with some water spots to boot. The one on the left came to me from Adrien, and it’s still in pretty great shape. But there is some wear on the corners, and it is more visible in this colour than, say, my other Mag bag, a Fool’s Gold version (see above). The Fool’s Gold is also prone to discoloration, but it’s less visible because of the silvery gold colour.

Now, both the burgundy and the Fool’s Gold colours are incredible versatile, so you won’t go wrong with either if you find one on eBay in good condition. Not that a black or red version – or, really, any other colour you can get your hands on – will be a bad investment. [I’ve also seen patent leather Mag bags on eBay, but I don’t know how their quality stacks up.]

And speaking of cost: the most I’ve paid for one of my Mag bags was around $140, including shipping. I think that’s a very reasonable price for a bag of this overall quality, and it’s possible to find it for less. They don’t pop up on eBay all the time, but they’re not impossible to find. Ebay stalking tip: it seems that a lot of sellers don’t know the name of this bag, so searching by “Mag bag” or “Magazine bag” won’t always be helpful; always try a broader search and display results from cheapest to most expensive – that way, you’ll be sure to find the good bargains.

If you’ve got any questions about the Mag bag, or want to nominate another bag for the next Bag Style installment, hit me up in the comments!

Toddler Chic

J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
Dress, Old Navy; sweatshirt, J. Crew; boots, Hunter; bag, MbMJ

A couple of days ago we had Ugly Chic, and now we have Toddler Chic. Up to about the knees, this is a regular sort of outfit; from the knees down, this is pure Teddy: brightly coloured tights and (non-matching) rubber boots. It’s what happens when the weather can’t decide what season it wants to be, and I get tired of wearing jeggings to the grocery store.

J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
rainboots? eh, why not

So, this is a cute combo except that the chambray dress has really bunchy sleeves, and I haven’t yet found the solution to avoiding the “mutton arms” look. Part of me wants to cut off the sleeves to help the layerability (not a word, don’t care) factor, but the other part questions whether that might be a cut-your-nose-to-spite-your-face situation. We usually look for sleeves in dresses, no? For what it’s worth, roll-tab sleeves are the worst of the lot, so if any sleeves deserve the chop, it’s these ones. Still, the weather being its unpredictable self in Edmonton, who knows when a sleeve – any sleeve – will come in (wait for it) handy.

Har har.

My puns are worse than a toddler’s, that’s for sure.

J. Crew dutch floral sweatshirt
knee pop!

Buying on eBay, Part 3

This is the last post in my eBay series, and I thought it would be a good idea to touch on a few safety tips. When I started buying on eBay again (after a brief foray in the late 2000s followed by a long hiatus), I was very gun-shy; I’d heard a million terrible stories, and was worried about getting ripped off. I started by only buying vintage costume jewelry (low cost, low risk), and slowly branching out to clothes and other accessories as I started feeling more comfortable. Since then, I’ve bought a couple of pricey items, and a few dozen low cost ones, and I’ve had pretty good experiences across the board. More on that in a second. Let’s talk some very general tips.


Always Follow the Rules


My understanding is that eBay now has some pretty buyer-friendly rules in place that serve to mitigate a lot of the risks that buyers might encounter. I have no firsthand experience with them, because (thankfully) I’ve never had to invoke them, but it goes without saying that you must follow the rules if you want to take advantage of the protections eBay offers. I’ve never been asked by a seller to do something that contravened eBay rules, but if you are – don’t do it! And, by the same token, don’t ask sellers to do anything illegal (like lie on customs forms, apparently a common request).


Do Your Homework


Seller’s Feedback


I always take a quick look at a prospective seller’s feedback before I place a bid; if the item is expensive, I take a very close look. Sometimes negative feedback will reveal unreasonable buyer nitpicks; more often than not, however, it will reveal actual red flags – and the same applies to “neutral” feedback. For example, one or two buyers out of hundreds complaining about an item not being exactly as described may not necessarily mean that the seller is shady; some people don’t pay sufficiently close attention to item descriptions and photos, or have unrealistic expectations (especially for used items). On the other hand, one or two buyers out of, say, a dozen complaining about the same thing could be a different story. Personally, I have never bought anything from a seller that had a less than 98% rating (or anything less than 100% if they had fewer than a few hundred transactions in their history).


Item Listing


I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to read the listing carefully, and look at all photos closely. The only times I’ve been somewhat disappointed with my purchases is when I didn’t do this, and just “hoped for the best” based on a cursory review. Sometimes descriptions are in small font, but will contain disclosure of minor or major imperfections, which may not always be highlighted in the photos.


Counterfeit Avoidance


The main thing you need to know is that everything – and I mean everything – can and has been counterfeited. This is one reason why, for example, I don’t buy make-up or perfume on eBay. There are resources that will help you in identifying fakes (in every category), but it can take time to develop an eye for the right signs, so invest your efforts where it makes the most sense for you. Personally, I rely on eBay a lot for my designer bag habit, so I have developed a process for vetting the bags I’m interested in. [That could probably take up a post or three of its own, so I won’t get into the details. I think I’ve written about it before, but if anyone is interested, I could work on updating the info.]


Ultimately, this is one area where eBay is supposed to be protecting buyers, so if you do unwittingly end up with a fake, you should be able to get your money back. My personal stance is that, rather than incur the upfront cost and then have to deal with the hassle of getting your money back, it makes more sense to invest a bit of time in avoiding the problem altogether.


Ask Questions


Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the seller, including requesting more photos of the item (or photos of the actual item if the listing only provides stock photos). The latter, in particular, can be crucial tools in any authentication process you might need to undertake (see above). Provided your request is reasonable and politely worded, there is no reason for the seller to ignore you or refuse to answer your question/request. If that does happen, it’s a definite red flag.


I’ve generally asked questions of the sellers in 2 specific situations, frequently with great results. One, if the listing states that the seller “may not ship to [insert your location]”, I will contact them to ask if they would consider shipping to Canada. I think that wording indicates that the seller has checked off the “no international shipping” option, but many will still be happy to ship to Canada – at least if I ask nicely. In that case, always get a firm quote on shipping costs upfront, before you actually place a bid or otherwise commit to buy.


I have also sometimes asked sellers if they would consider adding a Buy It Now (BIN) option to their auction listings. As I’ve mentioned before, I find auctions stressful, and if I really want a (rare, hard to find) item, I’m willing to pay a little premium just to avoid the whole waiting-and-bidding game. Some sellers will be happy to do it – generally, in cases where you are the only person “watching” the item, even after it’s been listed for a while – while others would rather take their chances with the auction format. As I said, I wouldn’t bother trying this if the item is “hot” and is being watched by a dozen people, because the seller will have little incentive to do a BIN, at least at a reasonable price. And if you don’t get a BIN, don’t despair. I once contacted a seller to ask for a BIN, got shot down, and ended up placing the sole, winning bid on the auction – for a much lower price than what I had been willing to pay for the BIN option.



Trust Your Gut


In the end, always go with your gut. If the price seems a little too good to be true, or if anything about the listing or the seller seems “off” (even if you can’t quite put your finger on the reason), walk away. Nothing on eBay is a one-off, gone forever if you miss out on it the first time. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, you’ll find it again – and your peace of mind is more important than a (questionable) killer deal.