Originally from Finland, Sandra Hagelstam has become a London fashionista. For Sandra fashion isn't just about what's trendy - it's a way of life. On her high-fashion blog 5 Inch and Up, Sandra talks about her love of stilettos, designer handbags, and jewellery.
A soft layer of powder-like snow has covered the frozen land, you’ve managed to buy your gifts early this year and there are already half a dozen images on your Instagram feed of you posing pretty in front of the perfectly decorated tree, that went up in November. It’s a cold mid-December morning and as you slowly wake up to the smell of freshly baked gingerbread, your better half brings you hot cocoa to bed. You spent the morning rolling in the sleets in your matching cashmere sets to the tune of The Beatles Christmas album slowly spinning on your dad's old vinyl player.
Your life is as merry as your Instagram feed as you blissfully slip into the holiday season.... or is it? I don’t know about you but this is not really what my Christmas countdown looks like. Wolford, known for being the holy grail of hosiery, saw a wild update last month and challenged me to show a more realistic side of the holiday happiness.
Baking bliss. I am no stranger to faffing about in the kitchen whilst I should be getting dressed. I dream of preparing the gingerbread dough days before, but that will have to wait yet another year. Warming up cookies straight from the box counts as baking, right?
The fact that underwear as outerwear is now acceptable, helps too.
The prettiest house in the neighbourhood. If you are one of those people that manage to store all your decoration in a neat box on the attic, patiently waiting in it’s designated corner, you are already winning. I spent a good chunk of cash on decorations again this year (it’s a step towards adulthood) only to find out that my 15m LED light wire, that I spent 45 min choosing and another 45 sorting out, was not working, at all.
The joy of giving. I live in the hope that those perfectly wrapped, golden Christmas gifts I see on the gram, neatly stacked under the tree, weeks before Christmas, are just empty boxes used as prep? Because as much as I wish to shower my loved ones with gifts too pretty to open, I tend to rely on the good old paper bag and a stapler. What I do have time for though, is making sure my dog feels like an idiot (sorry, Lily).
Ready in 5. Within a minute from this, I would have taken a perfect IG shot, touched up on my make-up, eaten dinner and have the Uber waiting outside. This is the downside of being a spontaneous dresser, but at least I’m keeping myself, quite literally, on my toes.
As we welcome sweater-weather and rightfully move into (everyone favourite) the coat season, I found myself eagerly pulling out some trusty coats from my winter wardrobe (which I wish was as seasonally organised as I make it sound). As I was hit by mountains of wool coats, capes and jackets, I could not help but to unadmire the many shades of black that I had seemed to gather so proudly over the years. It’s no secret that I am a lover of all things dramatic and I thrive on sourcing those wonderfully oversized, floor-sweeping dark capes. However, this is a hobby that has not only cost me the actual price of the coats, the lack of space and many broken hangers, but also a partial blindness for classics that I wish would have acquired years ago.
Time to rethink the coat approach and look beyond masculine, black coats that swallow me whole. Cue Max Mara. A brand that set new standards to what women’s designer coats should be and who is single-handedly responsible for my intense affection for all things camel coloured (aka. tan but for some reason, ‘camel’ rolls of the tongue better and represents all things mature). This is the story of how I came across the Max Mara Madame coat, a piece to turn to when you have everything but you’re still looking, a piece that is likely to have your CPW (cost-per-wear) dip so low that you are practically earning every time to wear it. Worn open or closed, belted or not, as the name suggests you become a ma'am, that with an added polo neck sweater, lets you get away with things like over-the-knee patent boots in broad daylight.
Looking back, there has been a number of Max Mara coats that’s shaped our demand for outerwear. Remember the teddy? A style that continues to be the most copied coat yet. I would lie if I told you that I had not fallen for a few seasonal look-a-likes, only to realise that I will not be satisfied until I get the real deal. Chances are around 100% that I’ll end up back at Selfridges, eager to talk myself into another reasonable and totally legitimate CPW story, any time soon.
Max Mara Madame coat | Arket top | Saint Laurent trousers | Gianvito Rossi boots | Celine bag | Bjorg ring | Jane Koenig earrings
Working with Wolford feels much like an old friend visiting, the one that you haven't spoken to in a while but you are picking up right were you left with zero effort.
It feels like everyone has a personal story, history or memory with Wolford. It’s most likely a piece that they can’t live without or a product category they always return to no matter what the season. For me, it’s that ‘Colorado’ body, which is, in my opinion, the sexiest you can get although you are quite literally covered up to your neck. Start with this piece and mentality, and you’ll be lined up with endless attitude boosting layering possibilities, I mean just wait for that faux leather top, a combination that has fast updated my perception of sensual layering.
Wolford is about to get a facelift this fall so expect more knits, nets and embroidery that will give underwear as overwear a whole new meaning. Pieces that gives you the option of either staying in or going out, pieces that has me falling in love with a unexpected pair of silver tights or layering a knitted body with my blazer like it’s something I’ve always done. I guess that’s what the trending hashtag #becomewolford stands for.
It’s been proven that no one has been unaffected by the seductive Gucci craze that took us by storm when Alessandro Michele stepped into the fashion house and if you are anything like me, it’s not just the wardrobe that got the experience the awakening.
The new chapter of Gucci Bloom embodies vitality and youth, as it’s inspired by friendship and the nature at its peak of Summer. Honouring this, I partnered up with the beautiful Peony Lim, a friend and colleague that inspires me on many levels, to shoot a story that would bring to life the vision that the Acqua di Fiori represents. The fresh, green scent is a continuation of the original Gucci Bloom, with added notes of Galbanum and cassis buds that will figuratively place you under a floral waterfall. Whether you currently find yourself in peaceful surroundings of a blooming countryside, or in an urban, wild garden in the middle of London like us - this scent is guaranteed to bring the feel of summer right to you.
Flowers and friendship, although it sounds like the perfect Instagram ingredients, I am talking about the real ones, that need to be nourished and treasured. This Spring has taken me by surprise and friendship-wise brought new, incredible women into my life. I don’t know if it’s the life situations over the past few years that has changed my priorities or my personal growth that has attracted these new inspiring characters. Either way, in-between the social shoutouts and ‘accidentally amazing’ press trips abroad, I am doing my best to honour all the important people in my life, new and old. You can only really be present at this very moment, so make sure those moments are spent with the people that matter the most to you.
Art Basel and the Art of Caviar, a Swiss visit with La Prairie.
In collaboration with La Prairie
A stay in a historic, Alpine spa hotel and a chance to experience Art Basel with one of the most innovative and creative skincare brands on the market? This was an opportunity that I would never be able to forgive myself should I let it pass. Next thing I know I was flying over the white Alps and landed in a green, summery Switzerland that flooded me with iconic connotations of everything from Sound of Music to the illustrated Heidi books. Much like Finland, Switzerland is iconic for its winterly sceneries but a hidden gem and ever so underestimated for its summer spectacle.
Arriving at the recently reopened Bürgenstock Resort had me slightly panicking which app, camera or media to use to best document the breathtaking setting. The anxiety quickly settled when I sat in front of a view that looked like a watercolour painting. The Resort was nothing short from amazing, ‘resort’ is putting it lightly, it’s more like a village that on top of the impressive facilities hosts an iconic guest list. The resort is where Audrey Hepburn got married and Sophia Loren lived for several years, so it’ s safe to say the charm will win you over, too.
The old Basel town, "Heyday "by Georg Herold and "Exomind" by Pierre Huyghe, as part of the Parcours tour.
An hour away from the charming Bürgenstock we arrived at the old town of Basel where we were led through the Parcours tour that spread through the city. It quickly dawned on me that this town takes a lot of pride in its reputation of being the epicentre of modern art, as sound installations were installed in the sewers and old chapels used as the arenas for modern, colourful sculptures.
This was La Prairie's second year of sponsoring Art Basel, the worlds biggest annual art fair that has now spread through Miami and Hong Kong as well. When stepping into the fair itself it opened up to me how massive this was (I should have understood that by the number of private planes lined up at the airport) but the artwork quickly drew us into a world of its own. Sustainability, overconsumption and the importance of the individual were some of the most discussed topics, even school gun violence was an addressed subject. All works were so personal and raw that it halted everyone from the experienced visitors to the first-time visitors.
''Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'' by Lara Favaretto.
‘’Tiger, Tiger, Tiger’’ by Ai Weiwei, ’'Tumba Abierta III’’ by José Yaque and Untitled by He Xiangyu.
‘’Death Star III’’ by Roberto Longo and ''Nero Cellotex'' by Alberto Burri.
Manon Wertenbroek “Mirrors”, “Blue Portrait” and “Window Glimpse” were created and photographed by the artist in collaboration with La Prairie. She paid tribute to Niki de Saint Phalle’s work and incorporated cobalt blue which is signature colour to La Prairies Skin Caviar.
Returning back to the sanctuary (the hotel that is) we were introduced to the renewed version of La Prairie’s iconic Skin Caviar. 30 years on from when the original Skin Caviar formula was introduced, the dedicated, Switzerland based team points out that the development of innovation has allowed the experts to discover ways to better the formula - why would you otherwise fix something that definitely isn't broken?
From a caviar dinner to the caviar infused facial that was hands down the best one I’ve had to date (It’s available in Harrods too, just minus the view). It’s safe to say that my standards have once again been raised, I honestly don’t know how much higher I can go from this. Talk about a trip to sooth all your senses.
I am both terrified and excited to reveal to you most exciting project yet. This time I haven't signed a million pound ambassador deal nor is this a grand brand collaboration, rather a leap into the unknown, fuelled by purely a passion and a calling that I am answering to satisfy simply one person, myself.
Over the past two years, I’ve been studying acting and I am now ready to introduce this whole new chapter into this social world. Although I find this post difficult to write (mostly because I have a million things to say and it’s hard to convert emotions into words), finally coming out with these news brings me more excitement than any announcement or collaboration ever has. In TV and film, as a drama or comedy actress (they are surprisingly close to each other) is where I see a future and I m going to combine all of this with the shoe-obsessed, fashion loving, world travelling 5 inch and up persona that you already know.
Before fashion took over my life like a pleasuring wave and long before blogs were even considered a tool for having your voice heard, let alone a career path, I wanted to become an actress. I was one of those annoying kids that would always put on an act, whether it was appropriate or not. Then came fashion and all the wonderful aspects of it, little did I know that my vain shopping addiction would soon turn useful. At the time Finland did not have enough options to study in the field of fashion so a few weeks later I found myself on a short course at LCF, which then lead me to apply for full time studies and eventually the start of this blog. So here we are, 8 years later, looking at a very different industry where the extreme ends seem to be to either ‘please your followers’ and adapt or stay true to yourself and do your own thing, even if that costs you your following. Longevity lies in the things you can continue naturally and without too much effort. As an influencer, having things come across as too ‘try hard’ is something I work hard to avoid. While this is not to be confused with hard work (the time I spend perfecting a shot…) The outcome needs to be effortless with a natural flow.
So, back the acting. After getting over the cliches - Am I too old to start? Do I need to have a background in drama? And will I ever be taken seriously? I thought I would have to end my career as an ‘Influencer’ and transition into an actress because these are two very opposite things. On one side we have the polished, posed, filtered, post-production images focused around products and a pretty face, in the other corner we have the non-filtered approach, built on emotion, raw feelings where the biggest fear is to come across as just a pretty face. See what I mean? Two years into my studies, I don’t feel the same and I don’t see them as two separate things anymore, we are all creators, whatever we do. The beauty of being an ‘influencer’ is that it’s such an undefined (and weird) profession where we have every other phone owner calling themselves an influencer, to ‘creatives’ that will hit the roof is you dare to put them in the blogger category. I guess what I am trying to say that the industry and peoples perception has changed. You are not required to fit into one box anymore, personality and aesthetics are what defines you, and that is something that I am more than happy to rely on.
So at what point does one even qualify to call themselves an actress? Not being able to answers this question is the reason why I haven't told you the news sooner. I’m now in the conversation of my second film role and I finally feel comfortable talking about this. I will be taking you along for the ride with behind the scenes images, ‘making of’ videos and more. In all honesty who the hell knows where this will take me, which is so incredibly exciting.
So in between some intense eye fucking, trying to not look like a serial killer, constipated nor gimmicky, illustrated above are some in between shots from my attempt to shoot headshots. It took a while to get into the role of not introducing a new lipstick or hiding behind a piece of jewellery, rather into a state of mind where appearing pretty would become secondary.
While my shoe closet expands into the oblivious (I’m working on turning this around) I want to make a conscious effort to introduce a larger variety of designers in my SOTM features. So on that note, I’ve chosen to praise Finnish designer Minna Parikka’s newest design in my monthly review. You might know her from the ‘bunny sneakers’ that rose to fame a few years ago and has hence become available everywhere from Selfridges to Farfetch (This style also comes in an adorable baby version so unless you have a matching pair with your toddler, please buy them now and send me pictures).
The iconic bunny ears have got a sophisticated update and by the time they were presented in satin, on a mule stiletto and with a pointy toe - I immediately booked them in for this feature. Longtime readers know I’ve been a fan of Minna Parikka for a while, but this shoe is without a doubt her best creation. A shoe so good, they come in three colours and four different styles, plus the family is set to expand for pre-fall. If you ask me, these satin bunnies are destined for greatness!
My gosh, this is a shoe that feels just as comfortable as it looks! Sturdy on the foot but perfectly arched for a comfortable balance. So far I’ve found Minna’s heels more comfortable than the flats, but I will be trialling the different styles of these satin bow bunnies throughout the summer.
A stunning shoe in scrumptious satin has it looking like it belongs in the Miuccia family. The choice of the fabric is spot on - delicate but durable enough to work on a shoe, the heel, however, could have used a bit more definition or shape to it.
Purchase price: Gifted in April, but retails for €395 on minnaparikka.com. The satin ‘bunny ears’ comes in a variety of colours and materials, with the flat slides set to be a winner for the summer to come.
Conclusion: This is a shoe that is set to be an Instagram hit for the summer to come. Cute and comfortable and at a price that will not completely blow your budget. Unless you have too many soft pink coloured shoes, go for the stunning ‘rose’ version to give the idea of a nude shoe a whole new meaning. The style comes in strappy sandals, sneakers, flats and of course the mule. The two latter ones are my prediction for the world domination 2018. Pick your pair.