Coffee Break: Westbury Medium Serena

Westbury Medium Serena This strikes us as a great deal on a basic purse — it’s made of a “soft tumbled cowhide,” has a zipper top, and isn’t overly big (11″x11″x6″) and is perfect in its simplicity.  It was $325, now $162 — available at Kate Spade in black, chocolate, and a fun green “fern.” Westbury Medium Serena


  1. I returned this bag :

    PSA: What the description does not mention is that the bag has Kate Spade New York embossed in very large letters on the base of the bag. LARGE. This may not be an issue for others, but I sent it back immediately after receiving it.

    Figured others would like to be able to make a more informed purchase!

    • SF Bay Associate :

      On the base, like on the bottom of the bag i.e. the underside? Or, around the bottom of the sides?

      • I returned this bag :

        The bottom of the bag (where the metal feet would go if this bag had feet, which it does not). But the size of the letters (BIG, think the size of Coach “C”s bothered me nonetheless).

    • oh, that is annoying that it’s not pictured, and it is a dealbreaker for me as well. Boo – kate, I like your normal minimal-logo look!

    • Anonymous K :

      This actually is mentioned in the description (perhaps they have changed it since you purchased your bag!) They describe it as a “ksny blind embossed signature on leather license plate.”

      • I think that the “ksny blind embossed signature on leather license plate” reference is actually to the small embossing on the side… (this is what the KSNY people told me as well when I returned the bag).

        • Anonymous K :

          I hate to argue, but I’m pretty sure you and they are wrong. A good friend works at the Kate Spade store and has said several times that she’s had to point out to annoyed clients that the website does in fact reference the “leather license plate” on many of their bags. also, it does make sense that they would call the embossed body of the bag a “license plate.” Looking at other bags on the website confirms that the embossing on the bottom is what they are referring to, as well. Many other bags that are only embossed on the side don’t carry that description.

          • The fact that this has come up multiple times and annoyed multiple clients suggests that the description is not clear enough.

          • Anonymous K :

            Right, E Anon, as I stated just one comment down.

        • Anonymous K :

          You’re right, though, they should give some indication that it’s larger, as a lot of the “leather license plates” are much smaller.

          • I think that what confused me was that the description indicated embossing, and I saw embossing in the photo of the side of the bag, so I was not expecting a SECOND set of embossing. KSNY could solve the problem entirely by adding more pictures of each bag to each description.

        • Anonymous K :


          I love when websites have 360 views of their products. (I’ll admit this is more common with computers, etc., but I feel like I’ve seen it on a few clothing/accessory sites as well.)

          • Absolutely – I’ve found Zappos is the best for this (interior shots, exterior shots, mod shot to see the size of the purse against a person, etc).

    • THANK YOU for just saving me the trouble of returning it, very much appreciated!

  2. I have this too and I really like it. The interior is lime green. Yes, it is embossed on the bottom, but since it is on the bottom, it doesn’t bother me in the least. Hardly anyone but me is going to see the bottom of the bag, so I don’t think it really matters.

    • I should add–I have the black one, and the interior is green. I don’t know if the other colors have different colors inside.

  3. Anonymous :

    I would love this even more if I could put my computer inside!

  4. FYI

    I was just poking around looking for a herringbone blazer, when I discovered Brooks Brothers now has over a size 16. Now I can try the no wrinkle shirts to compare th the JNY ones I have.

    • I probably just gained some weight so take this with a grain of salt. I was in BB the other day. I usually wear a 4 in their pants & had to go up to a 6. My 4s still fit me fine (maybe with slightly less room for dessert but still ok :)). Not sure if it was just an odd pair, my gaining a couple of lbs., or them fiddling with sizes but just wanted to mention it.

      • Their sizing is not consistent. I bought two skirt suits from the Seattle BB on a business trip last summer. The wool blend skirt- much more expensive — was my usual size 8. However, the polished cotton summerish skirt was way too tight on my thighs. Had to go up to a 10. So, two suits bought on same day from same store. Two different sizes necessary. Guess it’s yet another sign to lose a few pounds!

        • I don’t think any brand’s sizing is consistent any more, though it does make me feel better to hear someone else say that (even though I *know* I did gain a few lbs recently).
          I was talking to my aunt (who’s about 70) now and she told me she used to buy all her clothes, bras, etc., without trying on & everything always fit perfect. Not sure what changed, but it’s def. frustrating!

    • I thought it was going to be that they have an 18 now. But no, they have an entire selection of women’s sizes. This is a happy day!

  5. Chicago K :

    Love this bag and the price. Is the strap long enough to fit over your shoulder, even when you wear a coat? It looks a bit short.

  6. Magdeline :

    Very polished and professional looking! Great price, too! I don’t know how I feel about lime/leaf green on the inside, although I find that having a bright/light lining does help me to find things when rummaging around in my purse.

    I’m having difficulty imagining Kate Spade written on big letters on the bottom! That doesn’t seem to fit with the feel of the purse at all, and that is just an odd place for a logo. Hmm…

    • I had a different Kate Spade purse a few years ago that was black leather with a bright green suede interior, and I LOVED the lining. It made me smile every time I opened the purse, wasn’t visible at all when it was closed, and finding things was a snap (nicely organized pockets/dividers too – very disappointing this site doesn’t show the alternative views including an interior look).

    • This is obviously not the same bag, but it is kind of like this one:

      • you can sure see why they call it a “license plate” in that photo, thanks!

    • I just bought a KS bag earlier this summer (after someone kindly posted a link in the comments here about a sale + extra off + free shipping — thank you whoever you are!). Now if I was designing a purse, I probably wouldn’t put something on the bottom like that, but it honestly does not bother me in the least. I don’t think anyone has ever noticed the embossing (and I have carried everywhere now, including on a plane flight) and it’s not really that noticeable even to me. It’s not a deep embossing nor does it appear a different color than the leather. I have never carried a “logo” bag in my life, though I do frequently carry “designer” bags. If you like the purse otherwise, I would not let this fact sway you.

      • yea, I got one earlier when someone posted the sale, and it actually took me a few days of carrying the purse to even notice the embossing on the bottom (because how often do you really look at the bottom of your purse?). The purse I got wasn’t this one (though I considered this one), and was a deep turquoise, so maybe the color was distracting enough to take away from the embossing and it might be different with a black bag…

  7. divaliscious11 :


  8. Magdeline :

    BTW, for those of you looking for a great leather purse at a reasonable price, I suggest checking out Paulina Carach purses on etsy. I bought a black lambskin one that is just divine for around $140 and there are so many cute others! (Not affiliated with her at all, just thought it was a great find.)

  9. Mini-shopping report:

    Did you know that Clarks’ socks are guaranteed for life? When they wear on the toe or heel or get a hole, you just bring them back and the store will hand you a brand new pair.

    • Wow. That seems like terrible company policy but now I will look for a clark’s store.

      London Fog guarantees their umbrellas but not sure how it actually works as I’ve never actually sent one in.

      • govvie girl :

        How timely-I could use that. My Gap umbrella just got snapped by a wind gust in DC this afternoon, and is now in the trash. Luckily I also have a hooded raincoat w/me if a downpour strikes in 30 min.

      • Eh. Clarks probably makes all their money off of shoes, and the markup on the socks is probably enough to cover expenses, especially since most customers won’t take advantage of it. Plus it increases customer loyalty.

  10. Two non-related observations:

    1. In NYC this morning, I saw a woman with a boot/cast on her right foot (the kind you wear on top of a cast of your ankle/foot) and a pump on her left. I remember someone bringing up whether this was ok or not due to some foot injury. The heel of the pump was about 2″, very classic shoe and she had no problems walking in one heel shoe and one orthopedic boot thingy whatsoever. Perhaps it balanced her. I thought that was awesome.

    2. In my office complex today, I saw another woman wear a very classic outfit (sweater and pencil skirt) with black almond toe patent heels (also very classic looking shoes). With socks. Salmon colored socks. Like how they style in the magazines. I’m not sure if I thought she looked silly or cool. But there you go, people do wear socks with heels.

    • Chicago K :

      Ha, I asked a question once about hoseiry with pumps! I see people wear those “trouser socks” with them sometimes. But the verdict here was definately knee highs or nothing.

      Too funny Ru.

      • Lol, I know. These were just straight up socks – like the kind I would have worn in the 5th grade during the 90’s.

        • Oh, 90s sock fashion. Remember wearing two brightly-colored socks on each foot and folding them down so the inner color peeked out? How long until I see that spilling out of peep-toe booties?

    • i was in one of those boots for about 6 months. i found that i had to wear a slight heel or platform or something on the other foot, if i just wore a ballet flat or something my hips weren’t level and i’d end up putting too much pressure on the injured leg.

      • Interesting (and good to know!). Six months? Yikes, hope you’re all healed up now.

    • I also had a boot on my foot last year after I tore a ligament in my ankle, and yes – I always made sure to wear at least a 1.5″ heel or platform. Otherwise, like m said, my gait would be really uneven and it would put too much stress on the injury.

    • Anonymous K :

      I think I am the one-and-only person alive (besides this woman apparently) who likes the socks with heels look. It’s a bit too “fashion forward” for my work place, but I’ve done it on the weekends. I actually think it looks best with a somewhat classic outfit. I think it’s too much with a quirkier outfit. (But I’m sure others could pull this off!)

    • I raise you one office worker wearing black opaque tights and pink CROCs to an all staff meeting this morning. No foot injury either–walking very briskly and just fine. I saw our CFO do a double take as well.

      • Hot pink top and matching head band (the 2 inch, cloth kind worn in the 80’s/early 90’s), with a gray suit, in court yesterday.

      • Lol, awesome! I love our random conversations on Corporette =)

        • So do I. Aand boy do I miss them since my firm firewalled the site a couple of weeks ago :-(.

          Ru, I loved your comment on the boot and the socks/heels. A woman in my office has had to wear a boot for the last several weeks, and she has been admirably making the best of it with low heels. She’s a nearly 6 foot glamazon and usually sports 3+ inch heels – she’s generally flawlessly stylish, and I think the whole boot thing is just awful to have to deal with but I admire anyone who pulls it off. My response to foot problems is to go pretty dud-sh in the interest of comfort and salvation…

          And re the socks/heels thing, check out the sartorialist (, I think) for really contemporary, cool and not necessarily SFW but nonetheless inspirational looks. There are women (much younger than me, I am afraid) who can pull off that look and look good doing it. But for most professional offices/settings, I *highly* doubt it is appropriate. Best saved for weekend/nights out.

          • Thanks Suze! I have checked out that blog – besides the styling, the photography is amazing.

      • Surely that was an unfortunate forgot-to-bring-my-work-shoes, commuting shoe incident?

        • Sadly, no. We work in the burbs. She had on totally normal shoes today, too. Not the first of odd pairings either.

    • Ballerina girl :

      I have worn those boots twice and while you definitely need a bit of a platform, I think heels are a terrible idea. You put about twice as much pressure on your “good” foot when you’re in those boots. My “good” foot would ache after my commute and I was wearing Danskos (perfect height for the boot, by the way)!

  11. This bag is also on Gilt today for $139.

  12. Is anyone else getting the “With Success Comes Respect” ad on the right hand side of the page? That says “The perfect gift for the successful woman that relishes her power and success. Have one of our demure and respectful ladies serve her at the office or at her home for that special occasion.” Am I alone in finding that kind of appalling/horrifying? I really don’t need/want a “demure and respectful” lady to come serve me in a maid’s costume.

    Or is it a sex ad? I don’t get it.

    • Anonymous :

      Not getting that ad, but wow, that’s appalling.

      • Yeah, it has a picture of a woman in a french maid type costume scrubbing a floor … really creepy.

        • Anonymous :

          I refreshed and am getting it now. It seems basically like a sex ad to me. Kat, can you report this somehow?

    • you’re not alone — I hadn’t noticed it, but now it’s creeping me out a bit!

    • Yep, I see the same ad, but I have not clicked on it for fear of dire NSFW website consequences!

    • Kat – I know you might not have total control over you blog ads, but please, if you can keep that type out, it would be greatly appreciated!!! Yikes … what on earth are they advertising? (I don’t think I want to know.)

    • Yes, I get that too. I was going to mention it. I don’t know what to make of it.

    • govvie girl :

      Ewww….just noticing it, too.

    • Anonymous K :

      I am curious, so I clicked on it. It seems like it really is for a maid/personal assistant service, but they send drag queens. You can’t tell from the small picture, but once you know it’s a drag queen and once you see the bigger picture on the site, you can see that the pictured maid is actually a drag queen.


      (Not drag queens, but the fact that there is such a service.)

    • Chicago K :

      Yes, I’ve been getting it all day and I find it disturbing. I clicked on it too, and am still not sure what it’s selling. A creepy homemade website with a few lines about hiring a women (or possibly drag queen?) to come and clean your house…or just wear the costume. And they are available for a month. Is this some sort of sex slave for hire?

      No idea, clearly I am not up on these things. But yes, disturbing and creepy and can hopefully be removed?

      • Second (or tenth) on getting the ad – and I just logged on – and it is totally creepy. Seriously, aside from the whole sexist/chauvinist thing, I am offended on behalf of the wonderful women whom I have employed to take care of my house & kids while I trudge off to the office (or on some days – sprint there, knowing among other things that my home will be in decent order when I return). Yowza. Kat, please make it go away!

    • Maybe they really do clean the house. I wonder how well they can scrub out the toilet. Do you think they use organic cleaners? If they did a great job, I wouldn’t care what they wore, as long as they were decently covered…for health reasons, of course.

      OTOH, for equal opportunity sake, do you think they could send a male with ripped abs? I’d watch him clean, for sure.

      Maybe I should lay off the coffee now.

    • Aarghh…I just scrolled back up top and noticed it. Creepy! Not sure what the product is, but I would hate anyone at work to see that!

      • sorry about this, guys — i’ve been at a conference in VA since wednesday without much email access so this thing went up by default — now it’s going to be a pain to get it down. will do my best, though! what an odd service. like, with respect comes misogyny? odd, odd.

  13. Fashion notes from the formal business luncheon I attended today:
    – If you have a great tailored business dress you look awesome in, before you wear it out of the house without a jacket or cardi, you might want to make sure the back of the dress covers your “naked fairy complete with bare breasts” tattoo on your shoulder blade. Because if it does not, you will be giving very different impressions of yourself between your front and back views.
    – The purchase of boobs-to-knees power Spanx should be mandatory when people buy clingy wrap dresses. And it should be mandatory that the two items are worn together.
    – Even if your business partner is your boyfriend, wearing a sequined cocktail minidress to a daytime business luncheon is probably not the most professional statement you can make. Especially if you and said business partner/boyfriend are going to stand in an alcove off the banquet room and make out.
    – Sleeveless skin-tight leopard-print dresses are not daywear. Ditto shiny p0lyester satin tops, pants or dresses; sequined tanks worn under crepe suits with satin trim, and big sparkly jewelry (blingy earrings, ring and necklace worn together).
    – Another note on shiny satin. It’s not the best look for everyone. If you are on the larger end of the size scale (as I am myself), tight, wrap-around satin dresses and blouses tend to make us look like Mardi Gras parade balloons. Best to leave tight, shiny fabrics to the size-6-and-under crowd.
    – Even if you normally work at home, if you’re leaving the house for a business reason, you need to change out of your pajamas/yoga pants.
    – There’s nothing wrong with wearing a jacket or sweater that helps hide your midsection. It’s much better than putting your spare tire(s) or basketball potbelly on display. Especially if you have ignored the previous warning and not worn Spanx under your clingy wrap dress.
    – I am sure it’s pretty awesome to get breast implants and have perky round boobs in your fifties. However, the wrinkled, speckled, sun-damaged chicken skin on your overexposed chest kind of ruins the illusion. And I am not entirely sure that wearing a dress cut down to three inches below your cleavage is the best idea either. I saw several dresses today that were hanging on to enhanced boobs with only the barest bit of double-stick fashion tape, one wardrobe malfunction away from a strip show. Again, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a nice jacket or cardi over the dress. Or a cami under it.
    – If your arms are the size of canned hams, you cannot go sleeveless, sorry. It may be difficult to find garments that fit your arms, but it is a necessity. The rotundity of your torso does not disguise the fact that your arms are massive, and there’s also the “upper arm cellulite/stretch mark” issue to contend with. Sleeves are your friend. Find some.

    The men looked ten times more professional than the women today because 85 percent of them were wearing suits, or jackets and button-downs without a tie. The women were in everything from pajamas to hooker-wear to “Bette Midler on Live on Broadway” costumes. It made me feel sad. The overall impression of “Women in Business in My City” was not good – and we had several high-level officials with the Obama administration with us today. And I just have to say – it was incredible to me that the almost all the women with great bodies had them on “maximum overexposure” mode, and almost all the women with not-so-great bodies were wearing pajama or tent equivalents. Is there really no middle ground any more? It’s either “hey boys, look at me” or “screw it, I give up”? If so, that’s sad.

    • Anonymous K :

      Perhaps some of the clothing was inappropriate, but was all of that body snark really necessary?

      • Anonymous :

        I second this. I normally laugh easily, but this was a bit much.

        • Thirded.
          Did you pay attention to anything except how AWFUL everyone looked compared to your standards?

          • I think the point is that not every garment is flattering on every body, and it does not look professional to wear unflattering clothing. I agree that at events like this, almost all the men are in suits and look professional, and the women are in a much broader range of outfit types and many end up looking less than professional. The man’s suit seems to be more of a “uniform,” whereas the woman’s suit still seems like “dressing up.”

            Personally, I think it’s horrible to judge someone by their size, but I can’t help but judge someone by how they present themselves at whatever size they are.

          • There’s a way to present that point without snarking on various body flaws. I was especially annoyed by the comment about a woman’s arms- seriously? It’s easy to see why women without perfect bodies would wear pajama/tent equivalent if there are other women out there being as brutal about figure flaws as the OP.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m completely amused by the thought of an event where some folks are wearing skintight satin animal-print dresses and others are wearing yoga pants.

      And those clingy wrap dresses are NOBODY’S friend. Nobody’s. Since they got popular last summer, I’ve seen more camel toe (sorry) on the streets of DC than I’d previously seen in my whole life. That fabric is just not good for skirts or dresses.

    • govvie girl :

      Not sure what field you are in, but most women in my line of work tend to dress pretty professionally, such as wearing a jacket to meetings outside the office, etc. Then again , I think much of the choice of attire is based on background, peers, and education level. If many women at this meeting were used to moving in a different circle, not necessarily management/white-collar, they’re probably used to that style and aren’t aware of the message they’re sending in this venue. Sounds like it could have been an en masse “What Not to Wear” episode.

      • Wow. Pretty funny descriptions, but yeah, a lot of body snarks in there. I dunno, everybody can’t be perfect all the time and a little bit of ‘chicken skin’ around one’s fiftiesh neck is almost inevitable…not that I have implants and/or would boldly display them below said chicken skin. But on behalf of those of us who have and will have chicken skin (ie, everyone), I suggest being just a tad *nicer* at least in relating the impression.

        All of that said, the description does remind me of sort of a ‘female’ Dave Barry description of fashion meets work event gone awry. Use your humor and writing skills well :).

        • Suze, you are being too nice to the OP! I am less forgiving when people use (abuse) Corporette as their ivory tower from which they can preach their office-appropriate fashion gospel to the clueless rabble. Very unbecoming for a Corporette!

    • If it helps, I attended a formal continuing education seminar/luncheon today and the vast majority of the women there – from ages 26 to 75 – were beautifully and appropriately power-dressed in suits, pantsuits, skirtsuits, jackets, and other assorted professional attire. Even the casual outfits consisted of very nice jeans, heels, and a blazer. I can’t think of a single outfit that truly constituted a “misstep” into the above-mentioned categories.

      I’m a big fan of women dressing one category “up” – if it’s business casual, if in doubt, go full-on business. I’ve found that I end up with far more respect and decision-making authority from the higher-ups when I do so.

    • Honestly, this post is just downright mean spirited. As long as you were appropriately dressed, why should you care about what everyone else was wearing. Did you even get anything out of the meeting, what with all of the snarky notes that you were taking on everyone else?

      • Maybe there was a better way to say what the OP said, but I think the point was a sort of lament that while men always manage to dress more or less within the range of okay at these functions, women can really veer off-course.
        I feel this way with our summer interns all the time. The guys look like future lawyers. 75% of the women look like either girls playing dress up or wearing sundresses & flip flops with a cardi. Not surprisingly, the women end up having much less successful internship experiences.

        • govvie girl :

          Does the intern program start with orientation/info/wardrobe? If the female interns are used to dressing “cute” from their college environment, maybe they need some pointers or mentoring from young associates they can relate to. It seems to me that men as a whole are consistently steered toward career success, especially among each other, but for women it’s more ambivalent and mixed. I think some groups of female friends are career/academically-oriented, but others are focused on the M.R.S.

    • Sounds like a fun meeting; looks like you need to adjust your wardrobe for next time? ;)

  14. Help! I don’t want my husband to be proven right (when it comes to shoes anyway)….

    I bought these a few weeks ago:
    Hubs told me they wouldn’t last, I should return them – but of course I kept them anyway. Long story short, I’ve already dislodged a florette after probably three wearings (and the complementary one on the other side is visibly pulling loose). It was apparently glued on, so it seems like repair shouldn’t be too difficult, but does anyone have any ideas about the best type of glue to use on suede?

    • Just take it to a shoe repair place. It shouldn’t be expensive to fix.

    • I’m sure there are perfect fabric adhesives to use, but until someone rec’s one for you, I can recommend Loctite gel glue– from Target, drugstore, etc.– as working on Anything, freakishly, sometimes annoyingly well, and– warning: quickly. :) It is all purpose and all powerful. I just used it inside a show to reattach the pulled-out arch/insole to the bare leather under-interior. :) Works so well– but watch your fingertips. :)

  15. random question–so I moved to DC a couple of weeks ago to start a new job. I work on the Hill, and I’ve noticed people tend to wear skirts that I would think of at previous places I’ve worked (law jobs) as too short. Not like grossly short, mind you, but shorter than I would think appropriate (more than like a hand’s width or so above the knee). So question–do other fields beside the law have looser requirements on skirt length, or are people just pushing appropriate length here with it having been so hot/congress being in recess?

    • govvie girl :

      We don’t have strict guidelines for wardrobe, but where I work in DC, it behooves women to make sure we’re definitely not straying into tight/overexposure/sexy territory. And most women in my equivalent position stay firmly on the professional side….adds to credibility. Cannot speak for the Hill, specifically, though.

    • Yes and yes– looser in non-law and on the Hill (I’m at the LOC so ‘staffers’ abound in my daily life), the mode always tends to perennial youth– sorority/fraternity foe life. The staffers cycle in and then out, replaced by more of their own, but the style stays young even as the individuals age out. DC is always said to have a matronly image, but actually, on the ground, streets, metro trains, barrooms, and hallways of power… forever young. Not going-out-dancing young, but preppy, polished, trying-to-be-professional young, just not quite ever reaching ‘grown-up’ style. It’s actually sweet if you look at it right.

      • I’ve seen lots of way too short skirts on the streets of DC during my commute and always wonder where they are going. They mostly seem pretty young – maybe they don’t know better?
        I’m in law and would never wear a too-short skirt. Just above knee is shortest I’ll go here. Apparently my colleagues went to NYC for a deposition and the opposing counsel was wearing and outfit with all 3: tight, low cut, and short skirt.

    • DC nonprofit lawyer here. The ladies wearing the short skirts are young and generally aren’t taken that seriously. Many of them will only stick around a year or two. If you want to move up and be taken seriously, dress more conservatively. I’m not saying you have to wear a suit every day or dress like you would at a law firm, but no one should ever see your underarms, thighs, back, cleavage, belly, or bra straps, and you should never wear any shoe that could be considered a flip flop, even if it’s leather (and please remove calluses/blisters from your feet and clean up your nails before wearing any kind of sandal).

  16. Unrelated rant: a colleague (male) just arrived in two hours late and unshaven, and said immediately to me, “Were you out last night or something? You look tired.”

    wtf. That is not a nice thing to say! Or appropriate. (As it happened I got slightly less sleep last night than normal, but by no means an all-nighter.)

    • Ouch. Maybe he was trying to deflect any attention from him? Especially since he showed up two hours late and not shaved (although, if you’re two hours late, taking that extra 15 min to shave is no biggie).

    • govvie girl :

      Just that short description made him sound like not the world’s brightest bulb. Maybe he thought you were a mirror and was talking to himself. I just consider the source w/things like that. :)