January 15, 2020 – Bienvenue à Paris (OOTD #596)

Finalement, je suis ici à Paris! 

It’s hard to believe that I finally made it here to Paris. It’s been a whole year since I first committed to study abroad at Sciences Po Paris for a semester, and it’s been over a year since I first submitted my application. My arrival in Paris has been a long time coming.

It almost didn’t happen either. My last blog post, I wrote about going to the Chicago visa office to submit the last of my paperwork. I thought that was going to be the end of it — I’d hand it my papers at the office, and then they would issue me my visa right there. I was deeply wrong. As it turns out, after I handed in my papers, I had to hand in my passport as well, leave it with in Chicago so they could send it all the way to Washington DC, and then, finally, they would send it back.

You can imagine how anxious I was as my flight departure date grew nearer and I still didn’t have my passport back from the DC visa office. I braced myself to have to reschedule my flight, potentially missing the Sciences Po Welcome Programme in the fallout.

I got lucky though — my passport, with my visa attached inside, arrived literally one day before my departure. A word of advice, though, if you’re going to be studying abroad in France and don’t want to deal with the stress of waiting for you passport to be returned to you via snail mail — do your visa appointment early! Don’t wait until the last second like I did.

Believe it or not, this is actually my first time in Paris. I feel like almost everyone (at least, those of my friends who had to go on international family vacations when they were kids) has been to Paris. It isn’t the number one tourist destination in the world for nothing.

My first few days in Paris were relatively uneventful. The grève, or strike, against the retirement pension reforms was still going on, so the RER and several métro lines were down, making getting from CDG Aéroport to my apartment in the 14e arrondissement more difficult that I had anticipated it being. In the end, rather than braving a taxi or a bus, I called a car service to pick me up and drive me to my apartment. It was perhaps the less “authentic” choice, but it got me where I needed to be.

After arriving at my apartment, I spent a good chunk of the day asleep. I was hardly able to sleep on the plane, despite my attempts, and so I was exhausted when I arrived. Unfortunately, since I arrived in the morning (7am to be exact), I still had a full day ahead of me to try to stay awake — a task that I admittedly didn’t do amazingly at.

When I was finally able to stay awake for more than five minutes at a time, I decided to take the bus into the city to walk around a little, as well as to get some paperwork from my landlord’s office. Completely unintentionally, as I was wandering around, I ended up bumping into the Eiffel Tower.

I still think la tour Eiffel looks a little like an overhyped telephone pole, but don’t tell the French I said that about their most iconic architectural structure. I’m sure it’s gorgeous at night when it’s all sparkling and lit up, and I’m sure it offers a beautiful view of the city if you go to the top. During the day, though, when viewed as a spectator from the ground, I think the romanticized idea of the Eiffel Tower is cooler than the reality.

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 abroad in the Paris, France. 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)

Turtleneck: Express

Jeans: Hollister

January 2, 2020 – The Chicago Sun (OOTD #595)

I don’t care what anyone says; the sun feels the best in the winter in the Midwest.

I’m sure the sun is lovely in California. I’m sure it’s wonderful to live in a state where it never dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, where you see the sun every day no matter what the season. I’m sure the sun is lovely elsewhere too. But in the Midwest in the winter — in places like South Bend, Indiana or Chicago, Illinois — where you can go the entirety of December through April without once seeing a ray of sunshine, it hits a little different. The sun is special there; it’s sacred.

When I hopped onto the plane in the wee hours of the morning on one of the first days of 2020 to head to the French visa office in Chicago, I braced myself for the worst. I expected winds, snow, ice — maybe hail. I may not have been in the Midwest since the first half of 2019,  but believe me, I remember how winter there works. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget how winter there works.

So imagine my surprise when it was actually…kind of nice out? Arguably even nicer than Kentucky had been during the same time?

I mean, I still needed my coat and scarf. I definitely didn’t regret bringing those. But as winter days in Chicago go, it was about as beautiful as it could be. For starters, the sun was out — and the sun is never out in that part of the country during that time of year. The permacloud life is real.

And not only was the weather beautiful, but my father and I got to spend nice day together in the city. I had my visa appointment in the morning, which went fairly smoothly, and after it was done, we were free to enjoy ourselves until our flight back to Lexington at 9pm at night.

I’ve been to Chicago several times, so I know most of what it has to offer, but every time, I feel like I discover something new. For example, I realized during this trip that I’d never even seen the Chicago River before. I’ve also never been to the Lincoln Park Zoo (that I remember — apparently I went once as a kid, but since I don’t remember it, I don’t count it). The more I go to Chicago, the more I learn to like it; my appreciation for it is growing.

The accent still kills me though. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over the way they all talk through their nose. They do know that they can pronounce words using their chest and throat, right? It’s Chi-augh-go, not Chi-cah-go. 

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 winter break in the States. 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!


Coat: Thrifted (Goodwill)

Sweater: H&M

Turtleneck: Amazon

Jeans: Altar’d State

December 30, 2019 – Suburban Style (OOTD #594)

Being home again makes me realize how difficult it is to find good locations for photos when you’re not in a city.

Think about it — for the last six months, I’ve been traveling around from one city to another. This blog has almost become more of a travel blog than a fashion one at this point. I’ve been to Europe, South America, and the Middle East, and I’ve lived in both Washington, DC and Rome, Italy. There were pros and cons to each location, and nowhere was perfect (except arguably New York, which will always have a special place in my heart), but one thing you could say consistently with confidence was that there were always great locations for fashion photography..

December 2019 was the first time I’d been home for more than two weeks in basically a year and a half. I think the last time I was home for this long was winter break my freshman year. I’d forgotten how hard it was to find places to take pictures for my blog at home; a small suburb in Kentucky doesn’t quite compare to an ancient European city.

I have to be more creative when I’m at home. I can’t just go out and find a random pretty building to stand next to — all the buildings around are cookie-cutter brick houses. They’re not really worth photographing, and besides, it’d be kind of creepy if I used my neighbor’s house as a backdrop for my blog!

In the spring and fall, I like to get foliage and plantlife to incorporate color and variety. In the winter, I can’t really rely on those though — half of the time, I can’t even rely on the sun to be out.

I’ve found that I like this sort of “street scene” shot — I’ve done it before, and each time, it makes for a really cool set of photos, or at least, as cool as they can get for being taken in suburbia. I do what I can with what I have.

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 winter break in Kentucky. 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: Express

Sweater: Thrift (Goodwill)

Trousers: Express

December 23, 2019 – Christmas Red (OOTD #593)

The first time I wore this dress for a blog post, I admitted that I didn’t know the right occasion to wear it.  I think I’ve finally discovered the right occasion: Christmas!

A few days before Christmas, my friend, Jane, came and visited from Louisville. I wanted something nice and festive to wear for our brunch out, but I didn’t want to just wear another Christmas sweater, like I do every year in the days right before Christmas. This dress, which had been sitting unworn in my closet since I first wore it back in April, ended up being the perfect choice.

I miss having my full wardrobe available to me whenever I want it. Over the last year and a half, I feel like I’ve had to move to a new location every three months or so. First I was at Notre Dame, then I was in Rome, then I was in DC,  then I was home. I haven’t had all of my clothes in one place since high school.

I know I’m capable of putting together diverse looks even when I have a limited selection of clothes, but nonetheless, I prefer to have my full wardrobe to choose from. I like being able to pull pieces from the back of my closet, things that I’ve almost forgotten that I owned. It’s easy to make outfits out of your favorite pieces; it’s a challenge to make outfits out of things that you wouldn’t normally be inclined to wear.

This dress is one of those pieces that I wouldn’t bring with me for one of my three-month short-term internship or school living arrangements. It’s not practical or wearable enough to be worth bringing when I have limited packing space. Wearing it at home, then, feels like a special treat — I know I won’t have a chance to wear it again for a few months at least, so I have to make the most out of the time I have with it.

Anyway, that was me being sentimental about a cheap dress that I barely wear. Up next time: crying about the old Ugg boots in the back of my closet that I haven’t worn since I was 14.

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 winter break in Kentucky. 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!


Dress: Dokotoo

 

December 21, 2019 – Antique Shop Culture (OOTD #592)

I used to hate antique shops as a kid.

For one, my parents seemed to want to go all the time. Every time we went to a new city, we had to go to the flea market or the antique mall. I didn’t get it — what was so cool about looking at old junk? And furthermore, why, when we were in a new city or vacation spot, would we bother spending our time at an antique store that sold the same 1970s furniture as all of the other antique stores across the country?

Somewhere along the way in the last 21 years, though, I changed my tune on antique shops. Now, as a piece of old junk myself, I understand the appeal of looking at other pieces of old junk. I am an antique. I relate to antiques now.

I almost never buy anything either! I could spend all day and all of my bank account on vintage clothing, but other antiques — furniture, knick knacks, etc. — I almost never actually purchase. I can’t remember the last “antique” I actually bought. Maybe an old Polaroid camera that I keep on my bookshelf as a decoration?

On this antique shop trip, I didn’t buy anything either. Nonetheless, I had a great time — we went to a few places in Louisville with my grandmother and two New Jersey uncles, including the famous Jo Ley Antiques (which is now closed, unfortunately) and a place called Architectural Salvage, which I’d never been to before.

Architectural Salvage was a great place to visit. I didn’t buy anything, and in fact, the things they sold weren’t really my style (lots of tools and furniture and furniture parts), but it was worth the visit just for the location. It’s this huge, three-building (maybe more?) complex full of staircases and courtyards and stained glass windows. It’s like a maze.

My favorite bit was the top floor of the main house, where the owners kept a bunch of plants — essentially, a makeshift greenhouse. With the stained glass windows that let in just enough sunlight on a cold winter day, it’d make for a great place to curl up with a book and a cup of coffee — if it weren’t a dirty old building full of dust and antiques. Clean it up a little bit, though, and it’d make a really cute café.

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 winter break in Kentucky. 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!

Sponsored link: Check out this one-button women’s office wear blazer on dresshead.com!


Jacket: Vintage (thrifted, Foxhouse Vintage)

Turtleneck: The LOFT (thrifted, Goodwill)

Skirt: Forever21

December 20, 2019 – Punk Goes Christmas (OOTD #591)

You know someone loves you when they agree they do something they hate with you.

My mother hates the mall at Christmastime. In general, she’s not really a mall person during the regular season because she doesn’t like the crowds — so you can imagine why she avoids them when they’re packed with last-minute Christmas shoppers.

But I do like the mall at Chirstmastime. I like crowds, to a certain extent — I don’t like being packed like sardines on a hot summer day on the subway, but most crowds, like concerts or busy streets or malls at Christmastime, I’m actually rather fond of. I think they’re energizing, and I like people-watching, I like thinking about where all of the people are going and what they’re doing with their lives.

A few days before Christmas, my mother agreed to take a Friday off from work to spend time with me and do some shopping. I had a few Christmas gifts still to pick up, as well as an Express gift card to spend for a collaboration. She wanted to spend time with me, so she was lovely enough to come along — and also to drive me, since I don’t have a car to go on my own.

Mothers are nice like that. She didn’t even mind being seen in public with me with my ripped jeans and fishnets. I really looked the part of a rebellious teenager (though I guess I’m two years removed from my teenage years) dragging her mom along with her to the mall.

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 winter break in Kentucky. 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

Turtleneck: Express

Jeans: Hot Topic

December 18, 2019 – Friendship is Magic (OOTD #590)

Not to be all sentimental, but the 2010 children’s series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was truly worthy of its status as a cultural phenomenon.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Oh, and my friends are cool too.

Every year after we’ve all finished with classes and exams, my friends and I have a tradition of going out to see all of the neighborhood Christmas lights in Lexington. It’s a really great way to catch up after we’ve all been spread out across the country (or sometimes, across the world) because it gives us a reason to just drive around, play music, and talk about how much the city’s changed since we were last there.

Despite all of the new housing developments and buildings that seem to be being constructed, one thing that never seems to change in Lexington is this “God Bless America” house. Every year, this one particular household with a lot of money and a lot of time puts up a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation-worthy display of decorations. It’s one we’ve visited in the past — in fact, if you want to see the blog from 2019 when we visited the same house, you can check it out here. Look how short my hair was back then!

It’s always nice to have people I can return to back in Lexington to hang out with. We don’t get to see each other every single break (and I won’t be getting to see them for several months this spring, seeing as I’ll be studying abroad in Paris and not coming back to the States), but we make an effort to try to meet up — usually at a Waffle House — when we can. Each time, someone has a new story to tell, which means we can talk for hours without running out of things to say.

I love my friends on campus whom I get to say every day (or, I used to get to see every day — not so much anymore since I’ve decided to spend all of junior year off campus), but I think there’s something special about friends you only get to see once in a while. Since your time together is more limited, you tend to make the time you do have more significant.

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 winter break in Kentucky. 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: A vintage shop in Budapest

Sweater: Talbot’s (thrifted, Goodwill)

Skirt: The LOFT (thrifted, Goodwill)

December 8, 2019 – And It Was All Yellow (OOTD #589)

Hey, have I told you about my favorite color yet?

If you couldn’t guess from literally everything about this outfit, it’s yellow. My favorite color is yellow.

Yellow is such a powerful color. It’s the least saturated of the primary colors, making it one of the most difficult to mix with (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to make a form of orange and wound up with tomato red because of how saturated red is), but it’s also the brightest. Yellow makes a statement.

I’m so glad yellow is in style again. I don’t know the last time in my life I owned this much yellow clothing; I used to hate it as a color. For a while, I thought I couldn’t wear it because I was Asian, and then I thought it was too bright and baby-ish for me as a teenager.

Now I realize the error of my ways, and I’m happy to wear as much yellow as possible to make up for all of those yeaKatrs of refusing to wear it. Do you think this outfit gets the point across?

After I got home from Washington DC, my family had several celebrations all in a row — the first, my birthday, which took place on November 1, and which I’d not been home for. Then, there was Thanksgiving, which I celebrated in Philadelphia with my uncles just one weekend before I flew back home to Kentucky.  Then, there was Christmas.

These photos are from the very first of our celebrations — my birthday. In DC, I went out to dinner with the other students from my program and then I went clubbing with one of my Berkeley roommates, but none of those are the same as just getting a nice Sunday lunch with my parents and grandmother.

For one, none of the people in DC gave me any gifts — and from my parents, I got this lovely Kate Spade tote bag with a map of New York City, which, guess what, has yellow accents!

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 winter break in Kentucky. 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!


Dress: A boutique on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem

Bag: Kate Spade

 

 

December 6, 2019 – Farewell, DC (OOTD #588)

My semester in DC felt like my shortest semester of university yet.

To be fair, I think it literally was — because it was administered through the University of California and not Notre Dame, my schedule turned out a little differently than a regular ND semester, and I wound up finishing classes and my internship about two weeks before everyone back on campus.

But the actual timing aside, in terms of personal lived experience, this semester just flew by, especially the second half. I’ve discussed this a little already, but after my 21st birthday weekend, the whole semester really picked up, and things improved exponentially. The first half of the semester, from September to October, was kind of a drag. It was hot and miserable and I felt like I hadn’t made any good friends to do things with. Then, come mid-late October, the weather cooled down, I finished up my domestic violence liaison trainings at the MPD that had been taking up several hours each week, and I finally established a solid group of friends. After that, everything turned around.

I think each weekend after my 21st birthday, I had something fun to do — the following weekend, Jane visited, then Mariana visited, then it was Thanksgiving, then the semester was over. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

The Friday of my last day of work and my last day of the semester, my friends and I treated ourselves to a nice dinner to celebrate the end of it all. In preparation for my upcoming semester in Paris, I chose a French restaurant called Le Diplomate. Then, we headed to the Smithsonian National Zoo for their Christmas lights show.

The zoo was one of the sites in DC that I had wanted to visit all semester, but that I hadn’t gotten around to. And in an almost poetic manner, when I finally did visit, it was my last night in DC.

It was a nice way to say goodbye to the city. I got to spend time with my friends, enjoy the lights, and relax knowing that all of my work for the semester was done. Even though it was a short semester, it was a productive one. It was my first time working a full-time politics-related job, my first time living in an apartment, my first time cooking for myself every day, and my first time living in a real American city. I know what I experienced in DC wasn’t full-blown independent adult life — I still had the help of my family and university to support me —  but I think it was the closest I’d been up until that point.

And you know what? I think I did an okay job.

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!


Cape: Vintage (thrifted, Street Scene Vintage)

Blouse: A boutique at a mall in Kathmandu, Nepal

Skirt: Abercrombie

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