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August 2017

Fashion, Home

Celine Nano Luggage Review

The Celine Nano Luggage is one of my all-time favorites because of its design and functionality. The Luggage is a no stranger to anyone who is into designer handbags. When Phoebe Philo introduced the robot-looking tote in 2010, it became an instant hit and 7 years later, it is still going strong. If you are looking to buy this bag or debating between the sizes, leathers, or colors then hopefully this review will be helpful!

Before we get into the review on the Nano Luggage, I want to quickly write about the four different sizes for the Luggage.

Luggage Sizes: Nano, Micro, Mini or Phantom

One of the hardest decisions when you want to purchase the Luggage tote is deciding on which size you want. All the sizes have different use cases and you might want to have one of each but unfortunately that is unrealistic. Here are my personal views on the sizes:

  • Nano (8” x 8” x 4” / $2,700+) – The nano is a perfect weekend and travel bag. It is a hassle free bag that you can toss over your shoulder so you can focus on enjoying your weekend and having fun. It is also lightweight and surprisingly roomy so you can generally fit everything you need. (Note it is the only size that comes with a shoulder strap)
  • Micro (10” x 10” x 6” / $2,900+) – The micro would be a perfect work bag, the size is just right so it is not too heavy but big enough to fit everything you would need for work (if you don’t lug around big folders and laptops).
  • Mini (12” x 12” x 7” / $3,100+) – The mini was the first size that was introduced and is also a great work bag if you need the extra room. It is also a great travel bag due to its bigger carrying capacity. The downsides are: it will get heavy and mini tends to lose its shape more easily than the micro or the nano.
  • Phantom (12” x 11” x 9” / $3,400+) – The phantom is the largest Luggage and the most unique in my opinion. I love the extra wide wings and the long braided tassel. I also love the effortless vibe the phantom throws off. The only problem is if you have a small frame, the phantom can look overwhelming. Plus, this will be the heaviest bags out of the four.

Between these four sizes, I didn’t consider the mini and phantom because they are way too big for my 5’2” frame and I really shy away from heavy top handle bags. I debated for a while between the micro and the nano. Originally I was set on the micro size but ultimate I picked the nano because of the shoulder strap and my general preference for smaller bags. (Although I do still want the micro in souris….)

Okay now onto the full Nano Luggage review.

Celine Nano Luggage in Vermillion

Structure – Inside & Outside
The Nano Luggage is simple yet complicated at the same time. It’s simple because the bag is literally a square tote with two top handles, one shoulder strap, and one small zipper compartment on the outside. Then the inside is just one large open compartment with one slot for your cards and a top zipper to close the bag. It’s complicated because of the recognizable “face” on the front and the “curves” on the back.

It took me some time but ultimately I fell in love with the look of the Nano Luggage. Even though the bag is ubiquitous; the design is very unique relative to other handbags on the market. Usually the smaller the bag the more “dressy” it looks; however, the nano is one of the smaller casual bags. As much as I love the look, it is the functionality of this bag that won me over and makes it one of my all time favorites.

The nano looks small, but you shouldn’t be fooled because it actually fits a decent amount. As a weekend bag, I usually carry my iPhone 6S Plus, card case, full sunglass case, and a small makeup bag. It has enough room to carry around all my essentials comfortably. It also prevents me from lugging around things that might be “nice to have” but I will likely not use. The middle compartment is also not so big that you have to “fish” for your belongings. Everything is easily reachable and organized =)

The nano is also a great size and will look great regardless if you are petite, tall, skinny or curvy. The bag can be worn on the crook of your arm, over-the-shoulder, cross body or handheld. The smaller size means the bag is less heavy and the leather will stay structured for longer. I also love the shoulder strap option because I am not a top handles girl, I prefer to have my hands free. In fact, I don’t have a single bag in my collection that is top handle only. The shoulder strap plus the top zipper means I can throw the bag over my shoulder or have it cross body and I can forget about it.

Okay, enough of me serenading the bag, let’s talk about some parts that are not useful and some parts that I don’t like.

Compartments – Outside Zipper Pocket, Inside Card Pocket, Sunglass Holder
I don’t use the outside zipper compartment (aka the mouth of the robot) because the opening is too small. I used to put bobby pins and extra elastic bands in that pocket but getting them out was such as hassle that I stopped using that compartment. As far as the outside compartment goes, it’s purely aesthetics and nonfunctional. I also don’t use the inside pocket – it’s too small for my phone and I normally carry around a card case so I don’t put anything in that pocket. I don’t even bother sticking receipts or parking slips in that compartment because it’s just much easier to throw everything in the main compartment.

Lastly, I definitely don’t use the hook on the back on the bag to carry sunglasses. It is a great concept and may look good for an Instagram pic but it’s not functional for everyday use. Regardless if you carry the bag on the crook of your arms, over-the-shoulder or cross-body, if you hang a pair of sunglasses there, it will bump against you, be uncomfortable and potentially damaging to your sunglasses. Even if you hold the top handle, unless your arm is straight down and a little out, a pair of sunglasses will still hit against you. The only way is to flip the bag around and wear the front of the bag against your body and have the back of the bag with the pair of sunglasses out. Even then, it’s actually not that easy to insert sunglasses in that slot, unless the sunglass has super thin temples. I guess if you really need a place to your sunglasses then that little flap will come in handy. Overall, it’s a cute and unique concept but just not practical in real life.

Problems With the Top Handle & Shoulder Strap

Okay now comes my least favorite part of the bag. The top handles are so short on the Nano Luggage. I have small hands and if I want to hold the bag on my wrist or the crook of my arm, I have to semi-contort my hands like I’m trying to fit into a small bangle. The issue is due to the extra rectangular strip of leather on the back of the bag where the sunglass holder sits. The top handle measures 2 ¾ inches from the front but only 2 inches from the back and that makes all the difference – it’s inconvenient to get in and out. Weirdly, I have to admit, the bag looks better with that extra leather. (Note: larger Luggage sizes have longer handles so it won’t be a problem)

Then the shoulder strap, as much as I am grateful that it comes with a shoulder strap, the length is wayyyyy too long for me. I am 5’2” and the drop of the shoulder strap is 22-23 inches. When I wear it over the shoulder, the bottom of the bag hits me mid-thigh which makes me look shorter and the bag bumps against my thigh constantly. Then when I wear the bag cross-body, the bag hits around my butt. If I don’t fill the bag then I notice the back leather “caves” in after I wear it cross-body for a while. Also because of its boxy shape and where it hits on my body, the bag “bounces” on and off. Lastly, the shoulder strap is so long that if I carry it as a top handle with the shoulder strap hanging, the shoulder strap is merely inches off from the ground. If you are taller then the length of the shoulder strap might be perfect for you.

I just don’t understand why these bags can’t come with adjustable straps. Anyways, to solve this strap problem, I actually purchased an adjustable strap from Kate Spade and have been using it with the nano.

Leather Type – Drummed or Smooth
Celine offers two main leather types: drummed or smooth calfskin. Drummed calfskin is more carefree and not prone to scratches. Smooth calfskin is more stunning, feels more luxurious but is prone to scratches. I also think the drummed leather feels slightly “thinner” than the smooth leather so over time the smooth leather might retain the shape of the bag better. Although Celine leather does soften overtime; regardless of which leather you get, if you use your bag often and tend to carry a lot around then the Luggage will lose its shape.

I picked the pebbled, drummed leather for the Nano Luggage because I plan to wear it over-the-shoulder or crossbody most of the time so I wanted a more carefree bag. Also I fell in love with the vermillion color which only comes in drummed leather.

The interior can be micro suede or smooth lambskin leather. Smooth lambskin feels super luxurious but the micro suede is also pretty nice (my Nano Luggage comes with the suede interior). I have seen drummed leather handbags with both smooth and micro suede interiors (I think it depends on when the bag was produced), whereas for smooth leather I have only seen it with smooth leather inside.

Overall, I am very happy with the drummed leather. It’s super carefree which goes with the casual vibe of the bag. I have also seen the Luggage in other maretials including crocodile, python, shagreen, watersnake, wool, felt, canvas, etc. I would highly recommend you purchasing either the drummed or smooth leather if this is your first Celine bag. Celine’s leather is so divine – both in touch and smell, seriously.

Solid Color or Tri-Color / What Color is Vermillion?
For a while, I debated between vermillion and souris (with the contrasting stitching). Eventually I decided to go for the vermillion because small bags are the best for a pop of color. Vermillion is a very unique color; it is an orange-red. If you are outdoors and under the direct sunlight then it will appear more orange. If you are indoors or not under the direct sunlight then it will appear more red. I also debated between vermillion vs. coquelicot (a beautiful, true red color) and decided on the vermillion because vermillion is brighter and I wanted to get a red Celine Classic Box. I love vermillion and even if I had the chance to change the color, I wouldn’t. Also I have had no color transfer issues with vermillion.

Besides solid colors, nano luggages also come in tri-colors. Tri-colors nanos are more unique and if you can find the perfect color combo that you like then you should go for it! I couldn’t find any tri-color combos that I liked. In my opinion, Celine used to make amazing tri-color combos but now the color combos are more “creative” but not for everyday. Solid colors that are readily available include black, dune, indigo, souris, vermillion, etc.

The choice between solid color vs tri-color is personal. Tri-color nanos are definitely more unique but solid color nanos are less trendy and may stand the test of time better.

Where to Buy – New vs. Pre-Love Market
The nano is priced at $2,700 for a solid color version (drummed or smooth leather). Tri-color nanos and different leather nanos will have higher price tags. At first, as much as I love the nano, the $2,700 price tag for a small bag was hard to swallow, that’s why I leaned towards the micro, for $200 more, I felt like I was getting a “better” deal with the micro size. I would have probably never purchase the nano if my brother wasn’t studying abroad and was able to buy the nano for me for slightly under $2K post VAT return.

If you are looking to buy the nano luggage brand new and don’t want to pay retail, then I would suggest:

  • Wait until you, a family member or a friend travels to Europe and ask them to help you buy one (I saved over $700 by purchasing abroad)
  • Look on TJMaxx Runway, I’ve seen Celine Luggages pop up now and then for ~$2K (plus you can sign up for TJMaxx’s credit card and get 10% off your first purchase – although you might have to wait until you receive your card in the mail)
  • You can also look on flash sale websites like Gilt
  • Or as a last resort, you can open a credit card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, purchase the price at full retail and then get $500 cash back or $625 in travel credit (note you have to spend $4K in the first 3 months to qualify)

If you are looking to buy the Nano Luggage on the pre-loved market then you should look on Fashionphile, Yoogi’s Closet, Vestaire Collective, social media (Instagram accounts or Facebook groups) and of course eBay. Pre-loved Nano Luggages are selling for as low as $1.3K and as high as $2K on Fashionphile.

Buying new or pre-loved is a personal decision. Of course buying new directly from the boutique can be exhilarating but you can save a lot of money by buying the handbag pre-loved. The biggest risk of buying pre-loved is getting an inauthentic handbag. I would definitely recommend doing your diligence, authenticating the bag, and buying from reputable resellers with good return policies. Also the fuller the package (e.g., receipt, dustbag, box, authenticity card) the better and sometimes trust your gut if it’s telling you something is off. I purchased my Nano Luggage from the boutique and it came with magnetic box, dustbag, and tags (note: no authenticity card).

Summary Pros

  • The bag is extremely functional, it is small but can fit a fair amount
  • The bag is easy to use – tote like style, open center compartment with a top zip
  • Unique design (robot face) from Phoebe Philo
  • Celine leather is incredible as always (drummed leather is carefree, smooth leather is luxurious)
  • Celine doesn’t have a good resale value relative to Chanel and LV but out of all Celine bags, the Luggage has one of the highest resell values
  • Bag comes in various solid colors and tri-color combos, materials and sizes if you are not a fan of the Nano Luggage

Summary Cons

  • Very pricy for a small bag – for this price you can almost get a Chanel square mini
  • The leather will soften and the bag will lose its shape eventually
  • Handheld straps on the Nano Luggage are slightly hard to get into due to the extra back flap
  • Depending on your height, the shoulder strap can be too long and not comfortable to wear cross-body or over-the-shoulder
  • Resale value is not as great compare to LV or Chanel

Classic or Trendy / Is it Oversaturated?
I have seen this question a lot on PurseForum: is the Luggage classic or trendy. I would say it’s definitely trendy and potentially classic. It’s hard to predict whether this bag will be in style in 5 or 10 years. I personally believe that it will be but regardless, I plan on using my nano for the next 10+ years. If you are thinking about purchasing this bag but you are on the fences because you are concerned it is too trendy and will go out of style soon then I would suggest you wait until you are sure. It is a lot of money to spend on a bag and you shouldn’t buy the bag until you can tell yourself: “I don’t care if this bag is trendy for the next 10 years, I have the disposable income and am going to buy it, love it, and use it for the next decade”.

Also people tend to be bothered by the fact that this bag is ubiquitous. I completely understand why that might bother some people. At the end of the day, we all want to be unique. However, for me, it has always been about whether I like the bag and not what everyone else is doing. Once I love a bag, I will love it regardless if everyone hates it or everyone loves it. I think if you are a handbag lover, then this bag is great to have in your collection not only for its unique design but also because it’s actually a very functional bag.

 

Thank you for reading and hopefully you found this post to be helpful!

Fashion, Home

So Bright and Blue

Top: Asos Blouse with Tie Back Detail
Short: Old Aritizia Granada shorts
Bag: Celine Trapeze in Indigo
Shoes: Aquazzura Spin Me Around Sandals (Beige available and 30% off)

I love this blouse from Asos for various reasons:

  • First and foremost, the combination of a “typical” blouse in the front with a unique open, tie detail in the back
  • The longer sleeves provide better sun protection
  • The loose fit is comfortable in the hot weather
  • The material is 100% polyester but it doesn’t feel cheap, the fabric actually feels pretty nice

Sadly, there are only a couple of sizes left for this blouse on Asos, hopefully they will re-stock this affordable piece soon!

Next up are these Aquazzura Spin Me Around sandals. I have been wanting these sandals for a while and once I saw them for 50% off on the Aquazzura website, I decided to purchase them. Here are my thoughts after a couple of wears:

  • Great low-block sandal (50mm) that is perfect for the summer
  • The suede material is super comfortable and does not rub against my feet
  • The only uncomfortable part is my pinky toe get slightly pinched after walking around for a while; it’s weird because the front strap is not tight at all, there are plenty of room for my toes. Hopefully this is the “breaking-in” process and soon I won’t have this pinky toe pinching problem
  • I love the simple black sandal with the little gold straps across the ankle. However, I wished the gold straps were a little lower on the ankle so it is more flattering for short legs

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Home, Travel

Viñales – Cuba

Viñales, located in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba, is beautiful and a must-visit destination if you travel to Cuba. We booked a day trip to Viñales to explore the lush tobacco plantations and to see a different side of Cuba. The day trip cost 67 CUC (~$75 USD) per person; we booked it through a local agency located in the lobby of Hotel Iberostar near Parque Central.

The drive was ~2 hours on a comfortable, air-conditioned bus. The tour guide was very pleasant and knowledgeable. She shared information about Cuba (i.e., the island, people, school, healthcare, etc.) then Pinar del Rio and Viñales. The tour was given in both Spanish and English and stoped at el Cuevo del Indio, a tobacco plantation, the Mural del la Prehistoria, and a lookout point near Hotel Los Jazmines.

The first stop was at Cuevo del Indio, a cave that Guanajatabey Indians used to reside in. The cave was rediscovered in 1920 and is definitely a hot tourist destination, we had to wait ~15 minutes before we could go inside. I would highly recommend trying the freshly squeeze sugar cane juice (with or without alcohol) for 2 CUC. It was so delicious!

The cave was lit inside and the walk was around 10 minutes, it wasn’t strenuous and definitely a good activity if you have little kids. At the end of our walk, we took a small boat ride in the underground river back out. I liked this cave and enjoyed gawking at the beautiful rock formations. If I had more time, I would have also liked to explore the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas, the largest cave system in Cuba.

    

Our second stop was at a tobacco planation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t tobacco season so we didn’t see fields of tobacco plants (tobacco is usually planted in October / November and harvested a couple months later). We did go inside a thatched barn where the farmer passed around tobacco seeds and rolled a cigar in front of us. Once the plants are harvests, they will be dried and fermented inside these thatched barns. We explored the farmer’s home, had some coffee and then purchased some cigars. Cigars come in a pack for 10 for 10 CUC. Tobacco farmers in Cuba have to sell 90% of their tobacco to the government, the remaining 10% they can keep and sell.

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