Monday, March 21, 2016

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

I've been wanting a tan leather cross-body bag for the summer. I could have picked up a faux leather bag in stores for under $50 OR I could pay a little more and buy/restore a Vintage Coach bag. I've become a fan of vintage bags since acquiring my Chanel flap bag - they often feature better workmanship and higher quality materials, plus they have a slightly distressed, lived-in look that I love! I chose the Coach Willis bag - Style #9927 (on eBay) in British Tan because I knew I could use it for many years - and not have to worry about threads coming loose etc. from a "fast fashion" bag.

Blogger Outfit Coach Willis bag Style #9927
shirt (similar) / vest (similar) / jeans / shoes (similar)

If you've picked up a vintage Coach bag at an Antique Market, or tracked down a classic style on eBay, you might feel like cleaning it before using it. Here's a quick step-by-step guide on how I restored my Vintage Coach bag.

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

1) Before picture - The bag arrived in good condition, and I could probably have used it as is. But I wanted to make it completely fresh and "like-new". There are some dry patches on the front, as well as a small mark on the bottom of the bag.

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

2) WASH - I filled a tub with lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon Classic Dawn dishsoap. I completely submerged the bag, opened all the zippers and soaked every single part. I let it sit for 20 minutes, then turned it around and soaked it on the other side for another 20 minutes. By now, my tan bag turned dark brown, and the water turned brownish yellow from the dye. (I had read that some dye would come out, but not to worry about it.) 

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

3) RINSE - I put the bag in the kitchen sink and rinsed out the soap. I used an old toothbrush to scrub the insides of the bag - especially the base. After washing out the soap, I filled my tub with clean water and submerged the bag for another 10 minutes. This was to ensure that all soapy residue was removed. (The white marks in the picture are from reflections on the water.)

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

4) DRY - I took an old, clean towel and used it to dry off the bag, trying to absorb as much water as I could. I positioned the bag to minimize creasing, and stuffed it with paper towel at the base (to help keep its shape).

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

5) ADJUST - I let it dry over 2-3 days, checking on it 2x a day. I would carefully move it around to make sure it was drying evenly and that there was no creasing.  This picture was taken after 24 hours - although the bag turned completely dark brown after the wash, it slowly turned back to tan as it dried.

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial


5) CONDITION - This is the most significant step in restoring a vintage bag - bringing the leather back to life with some moisturizing conditioner. Apparently Apple Leather Conditioner is the best choice - so that's what I went with. I used my hands to slowly massage the conditioner on every leather surface, paying special attention to the handles and trim. The conditioned leather immediately became pliable and smooth- check out the difference between treated and untreated leather in the picture above! As I applied the conditioner, some patches turned darker than others, but it all faded evenly as it dried. You can apply conditioner 1-3 times on your bag, waiting half a day in between treatments. My bag only needed 2 applications.

Coach Willis Vintage Bag style number 9927 in British Tan

6) FINISHING TOUCHES - I trimmed any loose threads and added in a Coach hangtag. The original leather hangtag was missing, but if you call Coach head office (1-888-262-6224) with your bag's style number, they'll send you a replacement tag for free! I guess there weren't any British Tan hangtags in stock - so they sent me this pretty gold one to match my hardware.  With regards to hardware, apparently you can polish it with some Brasso on a q-tip (keeping it away from the leather) or you could use a jewelry cloth. I just left mine as is.

How to Restore a Vintage Coach Bag: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

How do you think it turned out? The leather feels much creamier and softer - I love it! Here's a peek inside my bag - it fits so much.

What fits inside a Coach Willis Bag style number 9927

Since restoring it - I've been using it every day. Because it has a thicker shoulder strap, it's very easy to carry around - unlike some of the newer bags with thin straps that dig into my shoulder.

Different ways of carrying a Coach Willis bag Style #9927
Carried: Cross-body / Hand-held / Shoulder (sweater / jeans / boots (this year's version)

Disclaimer: This is how I cleaned my vintage Coach bag - every bag is different and I can't guarantee that yours will turn out the same, so please proceed at your own risk. Also - these instructions are for the older, unlined leather bags, and NOT for the newer Coach leather bags with cloth lining. If in doubt, you could always bring your bag to a leather repair shop and ask them to restore it for you! Alternatively, you could purchase a new bag from their recently released "Coach 1941 line" celebrating their 75th Anniversary (option 1, option 2)

Helpful Posts:

Do you own any Vintage bags?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Answering Blogging Questions + My Top Spring Trends 2016

This past weekend we celebrated the launch of the BCC Blog with a Style Pop Party. As one of the Style Squad bloggers, I participated in a blogging panel - sharing my insights from nearly 7(!!!) years of blogging.

Forever21 Blue Chambray Ruffle Top, Aldo Tassel Necklace, H&M Black Distressed Denim, Express Black Ghillie Lace Up Flats
Shirt: Forever21 DIY (similar, $$) / Jeans: H&M / Shoes: Express (similar) / Necklace: Aldo (similar, blue option) / all 4 items c/o BCC

The party was exclusively open to members of BCC's rewards club: FashioniCITY (click here to join). One of the FashioniCITY audience members asked me: What are your favourite trends for Spring 2016? Which coincidentally is the subject of my first blog post for the BCC blog - check it out here!
Chloe Drew Dupe, Blue Chambray Ruffle Top, Distressed Denim, Black Ghillie Lace Up Flats

Of course I'm "living my truth" lol! In my outfit above, I'm wearing 3 out of the 5 trends I picked: A ruffled chambray top, distressed jeans and lace-up ballet flats. I have a secret - my ruffled top started off as a mini-dress! I chopped off the excess fabric and hemmed it by hand to get it to the perfect length.


Here is a picture of the Style Squad (Jenelle, Eleni and me) answering blogging questions during the event. I thought I'd share a short recap of my answers:
  • How often do you recommend posting on your blog?  Whatever you can consistently commit to. I try to keep it to once a week. It might be tempting to post everyday or several times a week - and this is great - but only if it doesn't overwhelm you or lead to burn out.
  • How did you come up with your blog name?  I've always had a folder on my laptop called "Zeba Pretty" where I save pictures of pretty things I find on the web. I first began blogging as an anonymous blogger - so I chose "Ella" (which is linked in meaning to Zeba)...and ended up with "Ella Pretty"
  • Who takes your pictures for you?  I started off with mirror selfies - which are easy to take, but lack the clarity of DSLR pics. Then I tried using a tripod and a remote, but unfortunately my camera toppled over and broke! So now most of my outfit pictures are thanks to my "Instagram husband".
  • What apps do you use to edit photos?  If I'm on my laptop, I'll use Pixlr. On my phone (android), I use FOTOR and Snapseed.
  • If you were to give one piece of advice to new or aspiring bloggers, what would it be?  To just jump in and start! A lot of people worry about having the most professional layout and the best photos - of course that is important if you want to position yourself as a serious blogger. But if you look back at the older posts of top bloggers - so many of them started off with grainy photos and unedited writing. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there is always room for improvement as you go along.
I'd love to hear your answers to these 5 blogging questions. Also - let me know what your top spring trends are!

DISCLAIMER: This post was sponsored by Bramalea City Centre. Click here to read my previous post for BCC - including tips on how to use their app to make shopping easy and rewarding!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pretty Lips: Testing Out Charlotte Tilbury

If you adored Kate Moss or Amal Clooney's wedding makeup - chances are, you're already a fan of Charlotte Tilbury. Since launching in 2013, her makeup line has become famous for its creamy formulation, high quality ingredients and gorgeous rose gold packaging. Charlotte's years of experience as a top makeup artist provides her with unique insight on which products create the best makeup looks. I've been wanting to try her makeup line, so I was very excited to get the opportunity to test out four of her lip products.


From their packaging to the delicately vanilla-scented formulation, Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks have a very glamourous vintage vibe. They feel super-light on your lips and contain reflective pigments that make your lips look poutier and fuller.

Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. in Velvet Underground Swatch Product Review

Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. in Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground is a bright hot pink. It has slightly purplish undertones when applied on my lips. The formula is very moisturizing, but it is so light and non-waxy, that it doesn't even feel like you have anything on!

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Lost Cherry Swatch Product Review

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Lost Cherry - Lost Cherry is a muted orange that looks red on my lips. I was impressed that it's so matte yet leaves my lips feeling hydrated- no dry patches at all! The Matte Revolution lipsticks have square shaped bullets that replicate the shape of a lip brush. I love this feature as it made it possible to bring the lipstick right to the border of my lips, for the most coverage possible.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre in Blondie Swatch Product Review

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre in Blondie - This was the star product for me. I mainly use lip gloss on the center of my lips, to add moisture and dimension - and Blondie is the best gloss for this. It is so dense with gold pigments that you only need the smallest dab to add a shimmering highlight. While I prefer pairing it with brightly colored lipsticks, in this picture I layered it over a nude lipliner.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk Swatch Product Review

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk - The Lip Cheat liners are creamy and waterproof - making it easy to "cheat" and make your lips look super plumped by lining outside of your natural lip shape. Pillowtalk is THE most popular shade, but unfortunately, the color is too light for my lips (I had to apply a concealer under it for it to show up in this photo). I do love the formula - but I think I'll need to switch to a darker shade - perhaps Hollywood Honey. 

Charlotte Tilbury MAC comparison dupes. Charlotte Tilbury Velvet Underground MAC Girl About Town, Charlotte Tilbury Lost Cherry MAC Lady Danger Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk  MAC Soar and Spice

For comparison with possible dupes, I swatched the Charlotte Tilbury lip products next to some popular MAC shades. Velvet Underground is rosier than MAC's Girl About Town, Lost Cherry is more muted than MAC's Lady Danger, and Pillow Talk is lighter and pinker than MAC's Soar and Spice.

sweatshirt / bag (similar) / necklace (similar)

If I had to pick a favourite from these products, I'd choose Velvet Underground topped with Blondie gloss. The lipstick is so saturated and rich, while the gloss helps make my lips look fuller - I'm wearing both of these products in this photo.

Have you tried Charlotte Tilbury Makeup? What is your favourite product?

DISCLAIMER: Charlotte Tilbury products were sent to me by PR, but I selected the shades I wanted to try.

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