FASHION | How to buy Max Mara and other designer brands for European prices without travelling to Europe

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Today I wanted to let you in on a secret… I purchased my brand new Max Mara Manuela Icon Coat for 40% off the Canadian retail price. It was shipped directly to me via DHL, duty paid, from Italy.

Background

When I was researching Max Mara, I had the realization that the products are significantly cheaper in Europe compared to North America. The Manuela coat retails for C$3,490 (plus tax) in Canada but only EURO 1,400 in Italy, plus you get a nice 18%-ish percent VAT refund too, so the coat ends up being just approximately C$1,700. Of course you may pay duty upon entering into Canada, but sometimes you get lucky and just get waved through by the customs agent. Of course, the smart thing to do was to wait until I had plans to go to Italy to make my purchase, but we have no plans to go back to Italy since I was just there last summer. I also wasn’t going to plan a trip just so I can buy this coat since that just made no sense.

Luckily for me and my awesome internet research skills, I stumbled across a site called Italist. This company is based in LA but they work with stores and boutiques in Italy to bring you products at Italian-local prices, VAT-free, shipped directly to your house anywhere on the planet for free.

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Shopping experience

Shopping on the Italist is very confusing. It is not for the faint of heart or for someone who wants an easy shopping experience. You place your order online, then they will confirm stock with their boutique partner, and if the item is in stock, the boutique partner will ship it out within the next day. Since the stock listed on their website isn’t theirs, stock isn’t guaranteed and your order is only confirmed if the boutique partner confirms it. I messaged Italist on Instagram and they said one out of every 200 orders is cancelled due to lack of stock, since their inventory system refreshes every hour.

In addition, because product information is provided by the boutiques, sometimes it is very vague and you don’t get all of the details. You really have to know your brand, research the product you want, before making your order on the Italist. For example, when I found my Manuela coat on the site (screenshot below), the item wasn’t even labelled as the Manuela coat – it actually made zero reference to the word “Manuela”‘ and was just called the Tie Waist Coat. However I was familiar with the description of the coat and various details that make it the Manuela coat, so I knew it was that exact coat. I also confirmed my knowledge by comparing the the photos of the coat on the website with stock photos on the Max Mara website, and with my own photos I took when I tried the coat on in store.

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The listing of the coat I bought was taken off once my purchase went through (there was only one available from that particular boutique so once inventory was sold, the listing was removed), but the current listing for the Manuela coat is available here and just calls it the “Max Mara Coat.”

Also, you might see multiple listings of the same product, making it even more confusing to the shopper. This is because there are multiple boutique partners selling the same style. If you are looking for a particular size and one boutique partner doesn’t have it, just search for the style in their search bar and you will likely see another boutique partner offering it in your size.

Since it was my first time ordering, I took screenshots of the product page so I can compare the end product that I received with what was listed on the website. This is just me being overcautious, but also it was for good reason. Italist does not accept free returns. I know that being in North America, we are used to free shipping and returns as that is just the nature of retail here, but in Europe, a lot of places do not accept returns, especially smaller boutiques. Since Italist offers low prices for products based in Italy, free express DHL shipping on a duty paid basis, returns are a hassle. You have to pay for the shipping back to Italy, and because it has to go through customs again, it is a huge hassle to get the customs refund and your ultimate refund for the product. This is another reason why I suggest doing a lot of research outside of Italist before you make an order. I would essentially treat each order as final sale.

Before you buy, definitely read up on their “How to Shop” guide, which has everything you need to know to shop there.

Price savings

Now why would anyone go through that trouble and such inconvenience? Because you get huge price savings. Like I said before, the Manuela coat costs C$3,908 in Canada with tax. I paid C$2,300 for mine in the classic camel colour. This is the tax in, with free shipping, the all in cost. If I had travelled to Italy, bought the coat, got the VAT refund, paid duty upon entering Canada, my end cost for the coat would be about the same as what I paid on Italist. Plus I saved all of the travel costs and the hassle of bringing a giant coat back in my luggage.

Let’s look at another example of a Max Mara Icon Coat – the 101801 “Madame” coat retails for C$4,650 (plus tax) in Canada. On the Italist, you can purchase the same coat for US$1,550-$1,800 (plus import duty). After converting this to Canadian dollars, it’s about C$2,400 before import duty, which is usually about 20% of the base value of the product. Essentially you save almost half the Canadian price.

I only researched Max Mara on Italist, but from reading the Italist thread at Purseforum, people have purchased other brands from there. Most of them were successful and very happy with their purchase, but there were a few people who had minor issues and had to work out a return with the company.

In addition to the Italist, there is also the Clutcher, which is a similar concept shopping site, as well as Elsa Boutique, which is a boutique based in Italy that ships to countries around the world. I was considering ordering from these but in the end the Italist had the style I wanted at the right price so I shopped with them. I haven’t ordered from the Clutcher or Elsa Boutique so I strongly suggest doing your own research before placing an order as there is always some level of risk when you order from a website that ships products from overseas.

I’m always a strong advocate for smart shopping. I love buying designer products but if you do it in a savvy way, you can find incredible deals, leaving you more money in the bank for savings (or to buy other things).

Hope this was helpful! Also, I don’t use affiliate links so none of the links here give me any kind of commission if you click on the links.

FASHION | First impressions of four Max Mara coats: Manuela, Doraci, Flint, and Ted

Max Mara Manuela camel coat

Can you believe it – I don’t own a good camel coat. I have a few in black and also a beige trench coat, but none in camel. I recently started looking to Max Mara, and I wanted to share my thoughts on trying on the various coats that I’ve been trying on from the brand. I was looking to spend as little as possible while still getting a good quality product, and Max Mara also has a few diffusion brands that that are a lot more affordable compared to its main line.

I tried on four models of varying price points: Manuela (from the main Max Mara line), Doraci and Flint (from S Max Mara), and Ted (from Weekend Max Mara). Overall I found that most of the coats I tried on ran very true to my designer clothing size (IT 42 or UK 10 – I normally wear US 8 or UK 12, but for some reason for designer coats my size is UK 10). Only the Manuela coat is made in Italy, everything else is made in Central Asia or China. Despite the other coats not being made in Italy, I found that the craftsmanship in general to be good.

Max Mara so many different styles of coats that come out every year; it only has three classic Icon Coats that that are released seasonally, and the Manuela (C$3,490) is one of them. It is made of camel hair and the only coat of the ones I tried that is lined. I tried this one with both just a simple knit top underneath (first picture above), as well as trying to layer with a thick oversized cardigan underneath (pictures below). There is a reason this coat is the classic style because it is such a versatile coat. Regardless of how much you layer underneath, it still looks really streamlined and classy. It is extremely warm, even without any layering, but I do like the option. I thought it was going to be heavy but it actually is actually relatively light for its size. The camel hair is interesting – I’ve never owned a camel hair coat before (I usually wear wool or cashmere) and it’s slightly longer fibres so it feels very luxurious. In terms of length, it hits me mid-calf which is a bit longer than I would have liked, but it is a length that works on me.

Max Mara Manuela camel coatMax Mara Manuela camel coat

The Doraci (C$1,690) was the coat that got me interested in Max Mara. It is an unlined virgin wool coat that has a Peter Pan collar and is a bit more oversized. I found it on an Italian website (with free ship) for strangely something pretty affordable so I almost bought it. It’s the least versatile of the styles here because it’s not lined so if you wear anything thick underneath, it’ll ruin the drape of the wool. While it is super lightweight and comfortable on, you can really only wear it under certain circumstances as it doesn’t hold up well under the super cold, and I also wouldn’t wear this in the rain. Because of the lack of versatility, I was turned off by the design. I do really like the unlined wool coat look because it is so effortless but you still look really put together.

Max Mara Doraci coat

The Flint (C$2,050) I tried on just for fun because I wanted to see what the beige colour looked like on me. The length and colour combination made it look too much like a bathrobe. I also didn’t like the slits on the side or the hood. If I were to buy a wool coat in this colour, it would have to be way shorter in length. This is also made of 100% virgin wool and was super soft.

Max Mara Flint coat

The Ted (C$1,190) was my original 2nd runner up. It’s the most similar to Max Mara’s classic coat silhouette, and it’s also the most affordable out of all the coats I tried on. Sadly I felt that the virgin wool was a bit scratchy and not as soft as the other coats I tried on. Even though the Doraci and Flint are made of the same material, the Ted is noticeably rougher and less flowy. I had to size down for the Ted coat because the kimono sleeves made it look bulky when I took it in my original size. I’m wearing my original size (IT 42) in the pictures because they didn’t have 40 available in the camel.

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I’m glad I went and tried these on in store. I really dislike store shopping most days because I don’t like having to wait around for a fitting room or wait around for service, but I had a really pleasant time the three times I went back to try on the coats. The service at Max Mara was fantastic and everyone was so kind even though I really was just there for research. It made me feel a lot better about buying products from their brand. Hope this was somewhat useful to someone looking to buy a Max Mara coat!

FASHION | Five best luxury purchases

I’ve been seeing these videos floating around Youtube and I absolutely love watching them. Since I don’t have a Youtube channel, I figured I can share some of my thoughts here with you on my five best luxury purchases so far!

I hope to be back with regular beauty content once I have my life sorted out. Hopefully that should be very soon because I have so many products I want to share with you. I’ve also been trying out new home products so I hope to also write about those. In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram for some mini-reviews and also just general life updates.

5. Chanel Classic Jumbo Flap in Black Caviar

My absolute favourite handbag ever, my Chanel Classic Jumbo is included on this list not because of how much I use it (I don’t actually use it THAT much), but because of how it makes me feel every time I do use it. My heart sings, butterflies dance in my stomach, and I just feel pure euphoria when I touch the leather on this bag, and sling it over my shoulder. It is an expensive bag for sure, but the fact that I feel so happy whenever I use this, I think it’s a worthy investment.

4. Burberry Kensington Trench Coat

My first designer clothing item, I’ve had my classic Burberry trench since 2012. I absolutely LOVE this style – it’s a gorgeous, timeless style, with fantastic tailoring and quality. Mine is Made in England, which is what you want when it comes to a Burberry trench. Mine came with a removable quilted vest lining which I can put in when it gets too cold, making this piece even more versatile than a regular trench. I love my Burberry outerwear and have so far accumulated 3 coats.

In the first photo above, I’m wearing my beloved Burberry Kensington Trench Coat and my Chanel 2.55 Mini Reissue.

3. Chanel 2.55 Mini Reissue (single flap)

My newest bag acquisition which I’ve been wearing a ton. For Chanel, it’s quite a “cheap” bag at just US$3500 / C$4025. It comes in the ultra classic reissue design with the bijoux chain and mademoiselle turnlock. I love that it’s very low-key for a Chanel bag, you can’t really tell that it’s Chanel unless you know Chanel. The distressed calfskin is wonderful – super durable, and any scratches are buffed out easily. It’s a fantastic bag for cross-border, or worn on the shoulder.

2. Gucci Soho Disco

Before I got my Chanel 2.55 Reissue Mini, my Gucci Soho Disco was my go-to every day bag. I have it in the red colour which is a beautiful muted red. The leather is extremely durable – I throw this bag around and there aren’t many scrapes or scratches, just some minor rubbing along the corners. I’ve been caught in the rain with this, and even though the water gets absorbed into the leather, it dries completely fine without a single mark. It fits a ton, and is super lightweight, so it’s great for travelling.

1. Salvatore Ferragamo Vara pumps

I have four pairs of these shoes, and with the exception of the one that I purchased most recently, every single one of them have been worn to death. They are the perfect heel height, with a simple 1 inch block heel, almond toe, and come in so many different colours and leather options. I love the beautiful bow detail at the front, it makes it look elegant and luxurious but not flashy. They are extremely comfortable, and I can wear them for the entire day without too much pain. If you’re looking for a high end shoe, I highly recommend these. The best thing is that they also go on sale pretty often so you don’t have to spend a pretty penny on a luxury shoe.

Which are some of your favourite luxury purchases?

FASHION | Derby style ideas for the Deighton Cup

I’m so excited to be attending the Deighton Cup in Vancouver this Saturday, July 20, 2019. The Deighton Cup is an annual Vancouver tradition, now in it’s 11th year. Not only is this a derby, it’s also one of Vancouver’s favourite style events. The event usually happens around my birthday, and despite being invited each year, this year will be the first that I’ll be around to attend. I’m looking forward to take in the atmosphere, and also dress up in my derby best.

I wanted to share some of my style inspirations with you so that if you are attending a similar type of event, hopefully this can give you some ideas for what to wear. Many of these outfits are wedding appropriate as well!

Dresses

1. I love Self-Portrait dresses, and every season I find a few that really inspire me. I love the idea of a sexy but still demure lace dress for formal daytime events such as the Deighton Cup, or a wedding. This one you can find at Moda Operandi.

2. I’ve been obsessed with jumpsuits lately. With the Royal Ascot now allowing jumpsuits in its extremely strict dress code, why not try a modern jumpsuit outfit at the Deighton Cup this summer. A good flattering jumpsuit is also extremely comfortable, so you can look put together while still feeling like yourself. This one you can find at Le Chateau.

3. Floral dresses are always in, especially in the spring summer season. I love ones that don’t have a small print, which makes the dress look busy. This high-low pleated dress has a classic floral pattern, with a fun pleated bottom which makes it flow beautifully as you walk. You can find this at Ted Baker.

4. Last but not least, if you’re short on budget and always want to look classy, a little black dress is your best bet. These dresses are great for all occasions, and you can rewear them to any event, which makes them the best bang for your buck. You can spice up the classic black dress by adding a ruffle or off-the-shoulder detail, or both! This one you can find at Aritzia.

Hat

No derby event is complete without a fancy hat. I ordered mine off of Amazon – it was affordable and arrived on time. I don’t think you really need to splurge on a hat since we rarely find the right occasion to wear them, however once-in-a-while they are extremely fun to dress up with.

I’ll be sharing my final Deighton Cup outfit with you on Instagram, so make sure to follow along on my posts and Instagram Stories. Tickets for the Deighton Cup are still available for purchase, and this year lunch isn’t included which means you have more flexibility if you don’t want to eat on-site… and ticket prices are cheaper because of it too. If you are wanting to eat on-site, lunch is catered by Earl’s and there are plenty of different options to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

If you’re also attending this event, I look forward to seeing you there!

I was invited as media to the Deighton Cup and my ticket was complimentary. I do not use affiliate links.

Celebrate winter memories with Soufeel

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For the holiday season, Soufeel has released several winter-themed charms that make incredible gifts. I previously wrote about Soufeel here, so I won’t go into too much detail about the quality of the products – my thoughts on the superior quality remain the same.

For my second Soufeel order, I chose the 17cm snake chain bracelet instead of the leather chain. The snake chain looks and feels more luxurious than the leather chain, and the quality is basically identical to my Pandora bracelet. Soufeel offers bracelet lengths from 16cm to 23cm, which should fit most people. The only downside of this snake chain bracelet that makes it less preferably to my Pandora bracelet is that it doesn’t have stoppers every 1/3 of the way into the bracelet to prevent the charms from falling out. It’s happened to me a few times where I’m putting on a new charm and all of the charms fall off the chain. It’s not a quality issue, just a bit inconvenient.

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Christmas charms are typically priced at $15-60, but there are often sales that bring the prices of the sterling silver charms down. I picked out a bell with green lacquer accents (which contains a real clapper!), a snowflake, red dangly bell (yes I like bells), a gift box with a lid that opens up, and a penguin (no longer available online). In addition to the charms I chose, I also really like this wreath, the hot cocoa mug, and the pumpkin carriage, which is great for any Cinderella lovers in your life too. Soufeel is constantly releasing new charms with different themes, so keep an eye out for charms that might suit your needs.

SOUFEEL offers free shipping for orders over C$59, in addition to a 365-day return policy and guarantee to ensure that you’re 100% satisfied with your purchase. They ship via DHL, so you can get your Christmas orders shipped to your loved ones ASAP.

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Memory keepsakes with SOUFEEL bracelet and charms

SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review

Since last year, I’ve been collecting charms from my various travels on a Pandora charm bracelet. As most Pandora-wearers know, their charms are extremely expensive, starting upwards of $50 each, and you can easily fill up each bracelet with 15 or more charms. I was recently introduced to SOUFEEL, a company that also does charm bracelets at more affordable prices. The silver charms at SOUFEEL are all made of 925 sterling silver (the same with the Pandora charms).

SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review

I selected three charms to go with my bracelet: the Red Travel Suitcase, the Vintage Camera, and the Panda Love Bamboo, all made of sterling silver with some coloured lacquer accents. All of these charms represent something about myself that represents me as a person. The suitcase is to represent my love for travelling, the camera for photography, and the panda because I’m obsessed with pandas (who isn’t?!). The quality of these charms are excellent and are similar to, or even superior to the Pandora charms that I own. They feel weighty and substantial when held in my hands.

SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review
SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review
SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review

Instead of the usual silver snake chain bracelet, I decided to go for something more unconventional – the leather braided bracelet made of real leather with the sterling silver clasp. The leather bracelet is more lightweight and also pairs well with outfits all year round.

SOUFEEL charms are designed to fit with Pandora and Chamilia bracelets as well, so you can get a wide variety of charms to select from to create your perfect memory keepsake. I actually love the look of the SOUFEEL charms more compared to the Pandora equivalents, for example the Pandora panda charm is really… fugly, whereas the SOUFEEL one is just super adorable.

SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review

SOUFEEL is offering 5% off to Maddy Loves readers with the code 5Sheila, in addition to free gifts with purchase – you can get a free pair of earrings with a $49 purchase, a free charm with $79 purchase, and a free sterling silver bracelet with $99 purchase. SOUFEEL also offers free shipping for orders over $50, in addition to a 365-day return policy and guarantee to ensure that you’re 100% satisfied with your purchase.

I also love that SOUFEEL bracelets come packaged in a beautiful, gift-ready box and gift bag. It makes gift giving super easy and worry-free, great for those who often get headaches about what to buy for gifts.

SOUFEEL bracelet and charms review

Outfit: classy, preppy, colour blocking with LACOSTE

lacoste spring summer collection

A few weeks ago, I announced that I was hosting a style challenge with a few of my fellow Vancouver bloggers in collaboration with LACOSTE. If you haven’t done so yet, you can vote for your favourite look here by liking or commenting on your favourite blogger’s photo.

lacoste spring summer collection

Skirt from LACOSTE | Sweatshirt from LACOSTE (also available in grey/pink/red combination)

Today I’m sharing my own interpretation of the LACOSTE style. My personal style is full of pencil skirts, sheath dresses, lace, and other girly yet work appropriate things. Drawing from my personal style, I fell in love with this stretch pencil skirt with contrast zip pockets. I paired the skirt with a bright pink, yellow, and blue sweatshirt to bring the outfit back to LACOSTE’s sporty roots (and because the bright pink is so me). The result? A colour blocked look that would be perfect for sunday brunch, or a weekend outing with the significant other. Since the pencil skirt is such a classic, you can also switch up the top to something else more formal and wear this to work!

Another thing I’m really happy about is the skirt hitting just below my knee, but not long enough to make my calves look fat/short. I’ve been searching for a skirt in this length for months and I’m happy to have found the perfect fit, length and style in this LACOSTE skirt.

lacoste spring summer collection
lacoste spring summer collection

In terms of the fit, I wear a size 6 in both items and I’m generally a 6-8 in US sizing, or size 29 in jeans. I would say LACOSTE clothes fit mostly true to your US sizing.

lacoste spring summer collection

I also wanted to share with you my new found love for the LACOSTE L.12.12 tote bag (not available on the Canadian site but available at LACOSTE boutiques across Canada). I’ve been using the Longchamp Le Pliage totes for many years now, while I’ve loved that it’s so versatile and light, they aren’t super durable either. The LACOSTE L.12.12 tote bag is a similar shape and design as the Longchamp, but I find it a lot more durable and better made than the Longchamp. The material for the body of the bag is PVC and the handles are leather, which is the same as the Longchamp. However the material is thicker and the seams a lot more reinforced; because the material is thicker, I also found that it doesn’t sag or dip as much as the Longchamp. The colour that I have is the “Bird’s Egg Green” (aka MINT!), and I absolutely love using it in the beautiful Vancouver spring/summer season. Price-wise, it costs $110 in Canada for the medium, which is comparable to Longchamp. It is slightly heavier than the Longchamp, but it’s such a marginal difference that I would still take this over the Longchamp any day. Definitely recommend!

I hope you like my look, and please remember to vote for your favourite styled outfit!

lacoste spring summer collection
lacoste spring summer collection

Vancouver Bloggers x LACOSTE styling challenge

I’m super excited to announce to you an exciting project that I’ve been working on for the last few months. As the founder of the Vancouver Beauty & Lifestyle Bloggers network, I’ve been working with LACOSTE and several Vancouver fashion bloggers in a styling challenge! Three ultra-stylish and influential bloggers were selected by LACOSTE to create three different looks based on LACOSTE‘s Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

Starting tomorrow, you can VOTE for your favourte look on the Maddy Loves Facebook page by either liking or commenting on the photo. You can help your favourite blogger win prizes, and as the reader you will also be eligible to win prizes courtesy of LACOSTE.

Our three amazing bloggers (these are not their official styled looks, the looks will be published tomorrow morning):

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Cee from Coco and Vera

Jordana from Just J

Justin

Justin from Walking, Talking Style

Check out LACOSTE’s Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show:

 

New Burberry trench coat

The Burberry boutique in Vancouver was doing end-of-season sales last month and I got my hands on this super versatile Burberry trench coat. The style is called the Kensington and the colour is trench. (Sorry I didn’t realize that the buckle was off centre when I got these photos taken)

What I love most about it is how it has a removable quilt lining on the inside, so it can be worn in colder weather.

It is not 100%% cotton ganbardine, which is too bad because Burberry makes great waterproof cottons, but rather a blend of cotton and polyester. This came at a perfect timing because I’ve been looking to get another trench coat since my other one from Banana Republic is not stain proof at all; it gets dirty very quickly and I end up spending more money on dry cleaning than anything else. The buckles on the waist and wrists are made of leather.

This trench coat was made in England, which is great because I’ve heard that they’ve started to move their factories to China, so if you want Made in England, please make sure to check the label.

If you are looking to buy Burberry, I highly recommend asking for Carla or Lisa at the Burberry Vancouver boutique inside the Shangri-La. You can contact them by phone at 604-974-1110.

Thanks to MizzJ for taking my photos =]

Outfit: Studs & Leather

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Leather jacket: ASOS (similar) | Max Dress: EDC by Esprit (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Belt: Taobao

Photo by MizzJ

Studs are one of my favourite things on any piece of clothing or accessory. These studded belt are actually a replica of Carrie’s famous leather belt from the original SATC movie which I bought it off Taobao for about $2 CAD. The quality is kind of terrible, but you can’t go wrong for just $2. I’ve also gotten a little more creative with my poses, but of course there is still room for improvement. I look to Rosie for some posing inspiration.

Contrary to this blogging pattern from the past couple of weeks, no, I will not be turning into a fashion blogger. BUT, the weather is so beautiful now that I must take advantage of it and get some outfit photos taken. Thank you to MizzJ for taking all of my photos for me!