December 2, 2019 – Legally Blonde (OOTD #587)

I guess dreams really do come true, sometimes.

Attending a session of Supreme Court oral arguments has always been on my bucket list. I attribute it to the Schoolhouse Rock song about the three branches of US government, “Three Ring Government.”  I had a DVD box set of all of the old School House Rock songs, and that, along with “No More Kings” and “Telegraph Line,” (and probably a dozen more songs whose titles I can’t remember right now), I would play on repeat. This was before I had YouTube or Spotify — or even an iPod or MP3 player — so the only way I could listen to the songs was by playing the DVDs on my big square television in my room.

Just describing that makes me feel old. I know I’m not even that old, but the fact that I am now able to describe how life “used to be” makes me feel like my parents.

Anyway, I attribute my early interest in politics and government (and to a slightly lesser extent, US history) to Schoolhouse Rock. I loved that box set — in fact, I bet I still have it in a drawer somewhere in my parents’ house. I got a weird sense of superiority from knowing the three branches of government and basic early US history before all of my other classmates. I was never one to raise my hand much in class, but just knowing that I knew how the balance of power at the federal level worked while other kids didn’t made me feel special.

That’s not to say those feelings of superiority were good feelings, or that I still have them. But they did inspire me to take more interest in government and politics — an interest that died off in middle and high school and was really only renewed after the 2016 election. And just as importantly, they inspired me to consider a career in law for the first time.

I never dreamt of being president — I’m not a natural born citizen, so that’s never been an option for me. I did take some smug satisfaction from telling adults who tried to be inspiring with that even YOU could become President one day propaganda that I literally could not due to centuries-old irrelevant laws, but that’s beside the point. What I did dream of becoming was a Supreme Court Justice.

And no — the dream I referenced in the opening sentence of this blog that came true was not becoming a Supreme Court Justice (yet) — it was simply getting to visit the Supreme Court and observe oral arguments. I had visited the building earlier in the semester for a tour, but the season hadn’t yet begun, so we didn’t get to watch a case unfold.

My friend, Joanna, and I got there at 6AM for doors that weren’t due to open until 10AM. By the time we had gotten there, there was already a line snaking halfway down the street. From our online research, we’d found that they typically only allow in around 50-60 people; from a preliminary headcount, we were in spaces 55 and 56.

We had a mini-panic attack around 8 or 9am when they let in the first round of people to get out of the cold, and they cut off at fives spaces ahead of us — at number 50 exactly. We knew the number of people they let in each session varied, but we were afraid that maybe they would just cut it off at 50, and we were going to have been literally a few people away from being let in. We decided to stick it out though, hoping that they would let more people in just before 10am.

Turns out, they did. There was some speculation for that first case we went to hear (New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vs the City of New York) might end up being a landmark 2nd amendment ruling. Though it became fairly clear that, due to the law that was up for debate being revoked before the appeal made it to the Supreme Court, there’d be no guns rights showdown like some people hoped, I still think they knew it would be a case that a lot of people would want to hear, so perhaps that’s why we got in even after the first round cutoff.

Despite the fact that the case didn’t end up being a big deal in the gun control vs. gun rights debate (protesters showed up anyway — some with free coffee, which Joanna and I much appreciated after standing outside for four hours) it was still fun to watch. I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck seeing the Justices in person, even from the very back of the room. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the chamber, but even if I could, you’d probably only be able to see a blurry image of RBG scowling and Clarence Thomas slumping in his seat, bored out of his mind.

The second case — something about copyright law — was less exciting. Justice Thomas and I definitely nodded off a few times.

I’m so glad I got to go though. Getting no sleep the night before, waiting outside for four hours, panicking when we thought we had just missed the cutoff, and then going to work after it all for three hours in the afternoon — it was all worth it, in my opinion. Honestly, it was possibly one of my favorite things I did the whole DC semester.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Banana Republic

Blouse: Banana Republic

Sweater: Aeropostale

Trousers: The LOFT

November 18, 2019 – Can’t Somebody Open Up A Window? (OOTD #581)

The best part of the Brookings Library was that I could open the windows.

I didn’t realize until after I’d lived in an apartment with limited natural light and un-openable windows for three months that I really value the ability to get fresh air indoors.   In my entire apartment building, which I don’t believe had been updated since 1990 when it was built by the University of California, I don’t think there was one openable window.

At first, I hardly noticed — it’s not like I open every window I come across. And for weeks, it was too hot in DC to want to let any hot air in at all.

But think about it — when you do want to open a window, however rarely that may be, you really want to open it. Maybe you burned something in the kitchen and you want to let the smoke out before it sets the alarm off. Maybe your neighbor’s plumbing overflowed and you currently have sewage seeping into your living room carpet (that actually happened to me and my roommate twice). Or maybe you’re just feeling bothered and anxious and you know that some fresh air would make you feel better. Not being able to open a window in any of those situations ends up being quite a nuisance.

So I couldn’t open the windows in my apartment, and I couldn’t open the windows in any of the student lounges or study spaces (not that most of them even had windows), and there were no windows to be found in the cubicle where I worked. Thus, when I found that I could open the windows of the Brookings Library, I knew I had found my favorite study space.

I say that, but funnily enough, this is actually my last blog post from the Brookings Library — or Brookings itself. I still had about three more weeks of my internship to go, but I sort-of ran out of locations to use for backgrounds, and so I saw no need to continue taking pictures there. Besides, I started going out more and doing things outside of work and school. Who needs to open up a window to let fresh air in when you can walk out the door and into the fresh air itself?

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Thrift (Goodwill)

Sweater: Thrift (Goodwill)

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan

November 7, 2019 – Still Emo (OOTD #576)

Now that My Chemical Romance is back, you know what that means: time to break out my old Hot Topic band tees and smear black eyeliner down my cheeks.

I was a teenaged closet emo; I’ve discussed that before on this blog. My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco, and Fall Out Boy were once my favorite bands (and I still like them — even though it’s now more like Brendon! At the Disco and Sell Out Boy). I never went full emo, at least, not in appearance because I went to high school in the mid-late 2010’s and if I tried to come to school wearing an MCR sweatshirt and knee-high Converse I’d be laughed out of the building.

I went to high school in the age where hipsters had replaced the emos as the “cool” counterculture alternative crowd. Emo culture was for the cynical post-9/11 early 2000’s kids; hipster culture was for the cynical anticapitalist Occupy Wall Street 2010’s kids.

I was never a proper hipster: I never knitted my own scarves, brewed my own coffee, or grew my own weed. I bought into the hipster look after it had been appropriated by all of the mall chain boutiques (ironic given how counterculture the original hipster subculture was trying to be) by wearing skater skirts and wide-rimmed glasses.

Like I said, in high school, I was a closeted emo. I wasn’t able to actually go full emo — the closest I came was dyeing my (already black) hair black when I was 17. I wish I had just gone for it though — pierced my eyebrow, gotten a tattoo, blasted my My Chemical Romance albums through the hallways, and beat some people on the head with a croquet mallet à la the “I’m Not Okay” music video.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Banana Republic

Shirt: Banana Republic

Trousers: Banana Republic (apparently, I was dressed by Banana Republic)

October 28, 2019 – 70s Hollywood Producer (OOTD #571)

Today’s outfit inspiration is 1970s Hollywood — not the glamorous red carpet stars, though, but the behind-the-scenes executive producers.

For goodness’s sake, I’m wearing an ascot. An ascot. I don’t think it gets any more 70s than that.

I’ve become a little bit enamored with the 70s lately. For a while there, I was all about 60s style — the retro patterns, suede skirts, the layered jumpers. I had what was basically a Hairspray phase, but 10 years after the Zac Efron movie (and even more years after the original Broadway musical) came out.

But then, all the 60s stuff became mainstream, and you couldn’t go to Forever21 without seeing fourteen different suede skirts and twelve different denim jumpers in their storefront. The 60s were new and cool in 2017. They had become a little old and tired again by 2019.

The 70s, on the other hand, are on their way up — at least, in my opinion. I like the 70s. They’re like the 60s, but worse — less optimism, more drugs, worse pop music (though better rock), more polyester. If I don’t look like I walked out of an early Scorsese film, what’s the point?

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Thrift (Goodwill)

Blouse: Banana Republic

Trousers: Thrift (Salvation Army)

October 17, 2019 – The Hill Has Eyes (OOTD #567)

After a month in DC, I began picking up on DC lingo.

It’s the little things that make you seem like a local: for example, saying “to metro” as if it’s a verb. You don’t “take the metro” (or worse, “take the subway”) to get somewhere, you just “metro.” Oh, I’m going to metro to the game. I’ll metro and meet you there.

And another thing that DC people like to say — “the Hill.” It’s not Capitol Hill. It’s not the Capitol, or the Capitol Building. It’s just the Hill.

People work “on the Hill.” People who don’t work on the Hill go to meetings “on the Hill.” No matter what you do, you, or at the very least someone in your office, probably winds up “on the Hill” once or twice a month.

The same could be said of me while I was in DC. I went there for class, I went there for work, I went there with my friends on the weekend. I kept winding up there without really making any particular effort to go there; in a list of my top 10 favorite places in DC, the Hill area probably would not place, and it’s not like my apartment or place of work was really anywhere in that part of town.

But without fail, I would find myself near the Hill every couple of weeks, whether it was for lunch with my boss or to go to the Conservatory with my friends. And it wouldn’t be a DC semester without picture or two of me with that iconic dome (no, not that iconic dome. Or that one). I mean, if your LinkedIn headshot isn’t a picture of you on the Hill, did you even intern in Washington DC for three months?

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Forever21

Shirt: Banana Republic

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan

Scarf: The MOMA gift shop

October 8, 2019 – Khaki (OOTD #562)

I’ve talked about my first job as a grocery bagger (official title: courtesy clerk) a lot on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my uniform.

“So then what was your uniform, Meilin?” I’m so glad you asked. Every day I went to work at this particular grocery store, I wore basically the same thing: a black t-shirt with the grocery store’s logo on it provided by the grocery store, a pair of khaki skinny jeans (wait…are they still jeans if they’re not made of denim?) and my white Converse.

I still own all three of those pieces. I actually wear the white Converse a fair amount because they’re white Converse and they never go out of style, but the t-shirt and khaki pants have been sitting in my chest of drawers for years. I just can’t bring myself to put them on again — I associate them with too many bad memories of having to go out into the dark, creepy parking lot at 11pm right before close to bring in all of the carts that customers had left in the farthest corners of the lot.

In the case of the t-shirt, who cares? It’s a t-shirt. I get those for free with every event I attend. The khakis, on the other hand, are technically still perfectly wearable.

But there’s something about wearing the same pair of gross Macy’s trousers two to three days a week for an entire summer when you’re 16 that renders them cursed. I just can’t bring myself to put them on again, even though they’d probably fit (or who knows? Maybe they wouldn’t. I did eat a lot of pasta in Italy). In fact, I bought a whole new pair of Banana Republic trousers in the same khaki color (pictured here) to replace them.

Recently, I went back to my old grocery store, and I realized that the cashiers and baggers no longer have to wear the uniforms. In fact, they can even dress up a little on special occasions, like UK football games. Honestly, given the struggles I’ve had navigating the world of professional fashion, maybe I should go back to being a grocery bagger. I may very possibly have more freedom in my choice of clothes in that position than I do now as an intern at a think tank.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Blazer: Banana Republic

Top: Zara

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan

October 4, 2019 – Work in Progress (OOTD #560)

I thought for certain I would have used that blog title before, but I guess not.

I think I’m finally getting into a groove with creating interesting but work-appropriate outfits. It took me a while to figure it out, but I believe I’ve got it down pat at this point. I’m finding that the key to success is good accessories, like this bolo tie-style necklace that I got for Christmas from Forever21 years and years ago.

I find it interesting to think about the pieces in my wardrobe that have wound up being enduringly stylish, especially when I didn’t expect them to do so. Like, I knew when I bought this maroon blazer that I would probably have it for a while — blazers take a long time before their design starts looking dated. Same goes for the black button-down. The bolo tie necklace, on the other hand, could have very easily been something that I ended up giving away a year later.

But it didn’t, and I still have it and like it. Sometimes, you never know.

And sometimes, things you thought would be in style for years become unwearable. I may or may not have three pairs of Uggs hidden in my closet that I purchased as a middle schooler and I now feel too guilty to give away (I spent a lot of money on them! At least in my sixth grader mindset). I thought for certain that they would be a worthwhile investment for years and years to come — guess not.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Blazer: Forever21

Trousers: Zara

Shirt: Banana Republic

October 2, 2019 – Meilin v. Mosquitoes (OOTD #559)

The worst part of DC has been the mosquitoes, hands-down.

They love me, which means by extension, I absolutely hate them. They attack me whenever I stand still for more than two minutes at a time; I’m never safe. It’s the worst city I’ve ever been to for bug bites in the US. It’s in the same category in Kathmandu, and that was near the Himalayan Mountains.

For example, taking these pictures — it was maybe 7pm at night, so not too late, and in a busy part of town. It was not the place or time where I thought mosquitoes would be on the prowl. I was wrong.

Within about two minutes of setting up my phone to take some pictures, I noticed the first bite on my leg. It’s like a barely noticeable prick, almost like brushing up against an evergreen with needles.

One bug bite isn’t a problem. When I go outside for a walk in the neighborhood and I come back with ten new bites, then I have a complaint.

I guess that’s what happens when you build a city in a literal swamp. Thanks a lot for that, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. We could’ve had our capital in New York or Philadelphia, but no, we had to go to the swamp.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Forever21

Top: ASOS

Skirt: Banana Republic

August 29, 2019 – Capitalizing on the Capitol (OOTD #556)

Naturally, the first tourist destination for my semester in DC was Capitol Hill.

I mean, I’ve visited Congress before, on account of having been a middle schooler before and going on the trip that every American middle schooler (at least on the Eastern half of the country) seems to go on to DC. It’s like a rite of passage for young American teens — if your parents don’t take you, your school probably will.

Honestly, in terms of cool government buildings, DC probably isn’t the best. The Capitol is definitely worth seeing, but the Supreme Court and the White House aren’t all that. Otherwise, DC has a lot of brutalist designs (think the FBI building or the State Department, which I think were designed to be as ugly as physically possible). Budapest’s Parliament or London’s Westminster Palace are personally more my taste in terms of impressive architecture.

Some of the monuments and memorials are really cool, though, but I’ll get into those another day.

I can’t speak to the basement offices or the mysterious Capitol subway that runs between the two chambers, but the stuff you get to see on a generic tour is neat. We went with someone from the office of Jackie Walorski, the Indiana representative from the district where Notre Dame was. It was just some poor intern who looked more excited to get to something interesting for once, but she did a good job.

In fact, I’m a little jealous she got to give us a tour — that’s not something I can do in my internship. As much as I don’t think a Capitol Hill internship is really for me, I do think some of the benefits to working on the Hill are enviable.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester in Washington, DC. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: a boutique in Kathmandu

Blazer: Banana Republic

Skirt: Banana Republic

May 20, 2019 – Up On the House Top (OOTD #504)

I’m sorry, I don’t know why I used that title, it’s not even remotely close to Christmas and this post is going to have nothing to do with reindeers. I just happen to be standing on a roof because it was empty, and I didn’t know where else to go to get a picture of my outfit.

This was my first day of work outfit, and I personally feel like it was a success. It can be tough dressing professionally and stylishly at the same time, so my work-around is usually to incorporate color and pattern when I can. This outfit gets both.

What it didn’t get, however, was points for being appropriate for the weather.

May in Rome was cooler than June and July, but not by enough to justify wearing long trousers, a long-sleeve blouse, and a blazer. My daily commute was also an hour each way through a combination of walking and the metro. Either I could walk longer and take one metro line, or walk a shorter distance and take two metro lines. In the beginning, when it was cooler, I chose to walk, but by July, when it was reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day, you can bet I was walking as little as possible.

But at least I looked cute while I sweltered and died in the heat. I wouldn’t want the policeman or woman who has to write me up when I die of heatstroke to judge me.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Banana Republic

Blouse: Zara

Trousers: Banana Republic Sloan