Portland Leather Tote Bag Review

Portland Leather large tote bag in cold brew

Back in November 2021, I ordered a large leather tote bag from Portland Leather as part of their Cyber Monday sale (30% off). The sale price was less than $140), and I had been looking for an oversize tote bag for a long time. I chose the cold brew color, which is a dark coffee brown, in pebbled leather with the zipper top for more security.

I’ve been working at home full time since March 2020. Eventually (maybe!) I expect that I will go back to the office in some capacity, and I am way overdue for a stylish laptop bag. Previously I was using a very old (ugly) backpack to carry my 13 inch Apple MacBook.

I also considered the Madewell Transport tote, but I wasn’t impressed when I saw it in person at a store. The leather seemed stiff and looked like it would scratch easily.

The bag took quite a bit of time to arrive after shipping from Mesquite, Texas. My FedEx tracking was crazy wonky (it even said my bag was in Nova Scotia at one point). Then just when I was ready to give up, the package arrived on my doorstep.

Excited, I wrapped it up for Christmas and didn’t give it a second thought until December 26, when I got ready to place it in my closet. At that time, I realized there was a problem. The bag had a noticeable flaw, or scratch, on the side. Uh oh. Note: Portland Leather does sell “almost perfect” bags for a lower price, but I had NOT ordered one of these.

Visible flaw or scratch on the bag

Thankfully a customer service rep replied quickly to my email. She also noted that I had received a nutmeg colored bag, not cold brew. She sent me a return label and gave me clear instructions for packing the damaged bag back up and returning it. Within a week or two, a replacement tote bag arrived, without any flaws.

Bag spill photo

As you can see, this tote is very roomy. It easily holds my laptop, as well as a hat, scarf, gloves, wallet and my phone. There is a small interior pocket for personal items that I need to access quickly, such as my keys, face mask and hand sanitizer. The bag also has a side exterior pocket where you could place your phone or a small notebook.

Interior pocket

The bag is not lined; other than the pocket, the interior surface is just the unfinished back side of the leather. To be honest, I’m not sure I love this, but I will say the bag smells incredible. When the bag is not stuffed, it is soft and supple; this tote will not stand up on its own.

I am slightly nervous about how it will hold up to scratches over time, given what happened with the first one that I returned, but I do not want to baby the bag. For comparison, my trusty Coach pebbled leather hobo bag still looks great after many years of use (however that bag is fully lined).

Would I buy it again? Probably not…I like the size, the capacity, and the soft leather, but I think I would shop around a bit more and select a bag that I could view in person. Or go with a canvas or nylon tote that would hold up better to the weather and wear-and-tear.

I still feel like I got a good value for my money, and I expect I will use the bag often for work and travel in the future.

Kamik Sienna Snow Boots

Note: Affiliate links – I may earn a commission

I went shopping with my family at DSW today because my daughter needed new sneakers and my husband wanted some casual leather boots. Well, if you know me at all, I can’t resist a shoe clearance rack. So I browsed the size 6 section before leaving the store.

The pickings were kind of slim but a pair of winter boots caught my eye. My family lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so winter boots are an essential part of my wardrobe from November through April. I liked the quilted plaid fabric (very on trend right now) and the tag said “Made in the USA” — certainly not common these days. I tried them on and they felt warm and durable. Allegedly the boots are waterproof and they promise to keep my feet warm to minus 4 degrees. So that should cover me for everything but an extreme polar vortex. Let’s be real, if it’s colder than -4, I shouldn’t be going out anyway…

I am not familiar with the Kamik brand so I Googled it when I got home. Turns out, fun surprise, the Kamik Sienna boots that I bought are also Meghan Markle’s favorite snow boots! Hey, I’m glad to be in good company! Meghan lived in Canada, so she definitely knows a thing or two about dealing with cold and snow.

In addition to DSW, you can also find similar boots on Amazon and Zappos.

At any rate, I’m glad I’ll be dashing through the snow in style this winter. What are your favorite winter boots?

My Favorite Fashion Books

The weather is getting colder and it’s the perfect season to curl up with a good book. I love to read fashion biographies. Here are some of my favorites. They would make great gifts for the fashion lover in your life.

Note: Affiliate links-as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Chiffon Trenches – Andre Leon Talley

I have not finished reading this book yet, but it immediately drew me in from the first page. Andre Leon Talley has a unique perspective as a black man in the fashion industry, and he has crossed paths and worked with anyone who’s anyone, from Anna Wintour to Andy Warhol. I can’t wait to get to the insider gossip from his time at Vogue.

DV Diana Vreeland

In my opinion Diana Vreeland will forever be THE queen of all fashion editors. Her eccentric personality, fabulousness and incredible eye for talent and style will never be matched. Fun fact- the editor character in the film “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn was based on Vreeland.

The Beautiful Fall

You know you want to learn more about the drama of Paris fashion in the 1970s, when a sparkling, explosive rivalry erupted between Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. This book is like a vintage gossip magazine and you won’t want to put it down.

Coco Chanel The Legend and the Life

There are plenty of books about Chanel but this is one of the best. I particularly enjoyed all the elegant photos and gorgeous illustrations. You’ll learn a great deal about the many chapters (some controversial) in the life of the legendary woman behind the French fashion house.

Grace – A Memoir

I still have pages from Grace Coddington’s fashion shoots framed on my wall. Her imagination and talent absolutely captivates me. And if you haven’t watched “The September Issue” documentary, add it to your watch list NOW! When it comes to creative directors she’s the best of the best. Fun fact–Grace started out as a model before switching to the other side of the camera at British (and later American) Vogue. 

Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano

These two fashion designers meant the world to me as a fashion obsessed college student. The back story of McQueen and Galliano’s meteoric rise to fame and subsequent dramatic downfall (leading to McQueen’s suicide and Galliano’s disgusting racist attacks) is often difficult to read. But it’s a vital reminder of the dangers of substance abuse and mental illness.

The World According to Karl

This is not a biography but rather a whimsical collection of Karl Lagerfeld’s best sayings and musings. The iconic fashion designer was incredibly intelligent, sometimes shocking, and always quotable. 

Rachel Comey for Target Review

I don’t get as excited about the designer collaborations at Target as I did a few years ago. But the Rachel Comey for Target collection did spark my interest because she is a designer that I admire. So I logged onto Target.com during my daughter’s soccer game last week to see if any items were still in stock. Here is my review.

In the past I’ve stayed up crazy late to shop online at 3 am to ensure I could snag the best pieces. Clearly I failed at that plan (let’s be honest, I didn’t even try), but some interesting pieces were still available mid-morning. Also some items have since been restocked, so check the website again (or watch your store for returns) if you missed out.

To shop my looks, check out my LTK profile, or follow LVMKE on the LiketoKnow.It app.

Rachel Comey for Target Try-on Part 1

Rachel Comey for Target Try-on Part 2

I ordered the quilted jacket and animal print sweater. Later that night, I added a pair of animal print jeans.

First up, the coat. Quilted jackets are a hot trend right now (maybe it’s related to how we’ve all been basically homebodies, learning to sew and baking bread over the past year). I love the bright colors in the floral print design. Initially I ordered the medium because I typically size up for outerwear, so I can layer underneath. That was a mistake. This coat is enormous. I could have fit myself and my two daughters in that medium. Fortunately a local Target store still had the small in stock, so I could exchange it. The small fits much better, but it is still very long on me (almost floor length). I am only 5’3″. Currently debating if I should try to get it tailored or just return it. My overall review is that it seems good quality and looks really pretty (it matches my mums!), but definitely size down!

Second, the sweater. I absolutely adore it! Super soft, fun tiger print, oversized sleeves. It’s everything I need for fall and winter. This is my favorite piece from the collection. Again, I bought a medium, but unlike the coat, it fits me well.

Finally, the jeans. When I took them out of the package, I immediately thought, “Hmm, these might be really ugly.” It’s definitely a fine line. I will say that they photograph well. They look better in pictures than they look in person, IMO. These jeans are 100% cotton with no stretch. So if you are between sizes like me right now, size up for comfort. I ordered a size 6, my typical Target jean size, and they are tight on me in the waist. Debating if I want to try the 8 or return them. Also, they hit me at the bottom of the ankle; I wish they were an inch or two shorter.

Three other designers were also featured in the fall collection. Did you pick up any great pieces?

Hunter Boots for Petites Review

If you’re short or petite like me, you know that it can be hard to judge how boots will fit
and look on you when shopping online. The models always seem to be 5’10 with long
legs. I’m only 5’3″, so I took photos of my tall original and short original Hunter Boots side-by-side
to help you make the best choice.

I bought my original tall Hunter Boots last fall. They were on sale at Walmart.com, of all
places, and the deal was too great to pass up. I debated what color to buy and settled
on navy because I wanted a classic look that wouldn’t go out of style. Plus, I think navy
goes with pretty much everything. The tall boots fit me well and look great when I’m
standing up or walking around.

I think they make my legs look longer. But they do dig into the backs of my calves/knees
when I sit down (they are about 14 inches high). Plus, they are kind of difficult for me to
get on and off. Overall, I am still very happy with my purchase. The boots are very high
quality and I plan to keep them for years. I also invested in the Hunter rubber boot care
kit, and I bought the cute cable knit boot socks for fall and winter wear.

We’re currently in peak sale season, and I noticed that Hunterboots.com was having a
sale on some of their boots, up to 50% off. I’ve been feeling the itch to get another pair
in a more fun spring/summer color; and I was curious about the original short style. I
actually went into Nordstrom Rack and tried on a pair of short Nebula boots in black.
I liked the way they fit me. They are much easier to pull on and off and they hit me
about mid-calf (they are about 9 inches tall). But I didn’t want black, so I left them behind.

I ordered the original short gloss spearmint boots from the Hunter sale because the deal
was so incredible. The spearmint color in person is a very pretty pale mint green. However,
I have noticed that the color frequently photographs baby blue. I plan to wear them with
dark jeans, as well as with white, pink and purple.

I could also easily fit into the Big Kids boots. For reference, I wear a US size 6 women’s
shoe, which means I would fit into a size 4 in the Big Kids boots. This is definitely something
to consider if you’re looking for a deal and find a color that you like.

Hopefully this helps you if you’re debating which boots are a better fit for you! I’m happy
with both pairs, but I think I’ll probably wear the short boots more often for running errands
on rainy days.

Shopping at Intermix: April 2021

Intermix is one of my favorite stores to visit whenever I’m in Chicago. Unfortunately, due to Covid, I haven’t visited Chicago since February 2020. That needs to change soon! But Intermix is also a great store to shop online. I checked out their site recently and added two amazing new items to my closet.

J Brand Sateen Joggers

These are my new favorite work-from-home pants. They’re so comfortable, feel luxurious, and look amazing. I thought I was completely sick of loungewear but then I found these pants. I know they will get lots of use, since I’m going to be fully working at home until at least September. The olive green color is a perfect neutral. For once, they’re actually the right length on me (most pants are way too long, because I’m only 5’3″). And now the best news–they’re on sale!

For reference, I bought a size 29; I’m normally a 28 but that size was sold out. They do fit a little bit loose in the waist but I’m not mad about it. We could all use a little extra breathing room these days!

Staud Colorblock Sweater Dress

If you love bold colors, which I do, you will love this sweater dress. This is my first item of Staud clothing; I recently purchased a blush pink Staud moon bag from Net-a-Porter. I haven’t actually tried to make this work as a dress yet because it’s very long on me, even with heels. I’m primarily planning to wear it as a cardigan or a duster. I will also try wearing it open and unbuttoned or with a vintage belt. I’m the type of person who is always cold, and I adore a good layering piece. It can be surprisingly chilly in Wisconsin, even in June or July! I purchased the medium size because it’s a very clingy, body-conscious style.

What are you shopping for this month?

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