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

September 20, 2019 – Pro Tip (OOTD #565)

Pro tip: fashion for the professional workplace is hard.I don’t know if that’s really a tip so much as it is an observation. I struggle to come up with work-appropriate silhouettes that aren’t receptive and boring every single day. It’s so hard. What am I supposed to do if I’m not allowed to wear ripped boyfriend jeans and mini-skirts every other day?

I think professional clothing is a little unfair to women — “workplace” fashion tends to de-emphasize sexuality. You’re supposed to look plain and unassuming: dark colors, conservative silhouettes, plain cuts. You’re supposed to “not be a distraction to men” or whatever (as if men can’t learn to just…not be distracted). You wear slacks and cardigans and turtlenecks, which, while they can be made to look attractive, are not necessarily the most flattering,

Men, on the other hand, get to wear suits, which are perceived as the most flattering attire for their gender. Think about it — men wear suits for every fancy occasion. They wear them for prom, for weddings, for funerals, and, of course, for work. You see a man at work in a suit and you think, “oh, that man is dressed up.” You see a women at work in a cardigan and you think, “well, she looks appropriate.”

It goes both ways, though. Women are culturally allowed a greater diversity of styles than men are — we can wear dresses and skirts and crop tops and heels and a whole number of types of clothing that men can’t wear without looking “effeminate.” Sure, men wear suits to work, which, due to their associations with formal occasions, tend to make them look dressier, but then they also don’t get to wear wedding gowns and club wear and prom dresses.

Or rather, society says they can’t. I think they can if they want. As they say, “we’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”

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: thrifted, Ecseri Bazaar in Budapest

Skirt: River Island

September 18, 2019 – Elle Woods Style (OOTD #564)

I feel weird even venturing to compare myself to Elle Woods — it feels almost sacrilegious.

Legally Blonde was one of the very first PG-13 movies I was allowed to watch with my mother. I can’t even remember how old I was — maybe fourth grade? But fourth grade-Meilin loved that movie — probably more than it deserved from an artistic standpoint. It’s a cute chick flick, sure, but it’s no cinematic masterpiece.

It was Legally Blonde and not Law and Order that glamorized the idea of being a lawyer for me. I’m sure both are wildly inaccurate depictions of the profession, but as a kid, I was way more drawn to the idea of wearing pink suits and carrying scented documents than I was to dramatic courtroom showdowns.

I’m not ready yet for the dramatic courtroom showdowns (I need to like…get into law school first), but, with my 9-5 internship, I have an excuse to wear cute professional outfits every day.

Herein lies the challenge — making my everyday professional outfits “cute.” It’s not hard to put on a pair of trousers and a blazer each morning; it’s hard to find a way to make a pair of trousers and a blazer unique and interesting when you wore basically the same thing the day before.

I’m learning, though. I’m discovering that the key to cute professional dressing is bright colors and fun accessories. If you’re relegated to wearing “work-appropriate” cuts and silhouettes, the best way to dress things up is to play up your color, pattern, and texture palette. I like wearing scarves and jackets to add layers to basics, like this plain blouse. A patterned skirt or sparkly necklace can help too.

I may not wear pink every day, but I at least try to dress as fashionably as possible, even for a boring day at the office desk. Elle Woods would approve.

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: Ann Taylor (thrifted)

Skirt: The LOFT

Blouse: Forever21

September 13, 2019 – Over the Moon (OOTD #562)

As a kid, I always liked the Mid-Autumn Festival more than Chinese New Year.

Now, I’ve never actually gotten to celebrate either of these holidays in China, so I don’t know what they’re like when they’re celebrated in the culture from which they originated, but for me, as a child in Kentucky, the Mid-Autumn Festival (or Moon Festival, if you prefer that nomenclature) was superior.

When I lived in Louisville, the local Chinese cultural association put on a party every year for the Mid-Autumn Festival that blended traditional Chinese festivities with American fall fair activities. I distinctly remember that there was a corn maze and pumpkins alongside the moon cakes and lanterns. Honestly, as a kid, I was probably more excited about the corn maze than I was about the moon cakes — I don’t actually like moon cakes that much.

But I was feeling nostalgic this year because I kind-of fell out of touch with Chinese culture after I moved to Lexington and, while I’ve tried to reconnect with it a little after I’ve come to Notre Dame, a college campus in the middle of Indiana is admittedly not an ideal place to do that.

And so I thought, Washington DC, a city with its own Chinatown, might be a decent place to try again.

And like, I suppose it wasn’t bad. DC’s Chinatown is small — literally, just a part of one street, compared to New York’s or Chicago’s, which are full neighborhoods. I went too late to see any of the actual festivities, but I found a little Chinese bodega where I could buy a moon cake and I got a picture with the famous Friendship Gate. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

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

Jeans: American Eagle

August 31, 2019 – A Monumental Semester (OOTD #558)

Blog title courtesy of Notre Dame’s Washington Program tagline.

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Say what you will about Washington DC being a fake city consisting of nothing but tourists and glorified temps who come and go with every election (in fact, I’d probably half agree with you), but I like the monuments and memorials.

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I don’t know, I just think they’re cool. With the exception of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (which is my favorite) and maybe to a lesser extent the Korean War Veterans Memorial, none of them are super provocative, which to me is what makes a good memorial.  However, they’re still fun to look at. No, there’s nothing emotive or honestly really even that controversial about the Lincoln Memorial. In the end, it’s just a giant statue of a guy in a chair. But you can still marvel at the artistry and technique that went into creating the giant statue of a guy in a chair.

I think, for me, that’s what makes the difference between a cool statue and a memorial — a memorial should have some form of impact for the viewer. And that doesn’t have to be in the form of controversy in its creation or design, as was the case with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (though I do find the story behind its design to be fascinating).

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A memorial should make you think or reflect on something — in the case of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, it’s to make you reflect on how terrible war is for just about everyone involved. It’s an ugly wall for an ugly war. To compare, the National World War II Memorial may have a flashy fountain and beautiful sculptures of eagles, but it doesn’t really make you think about anything but how flashy the fountain is and how beautiful the sculptures of the eagles are. For that reason, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the better memorial — even if it’s the uglier “statue.”

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Like I said, though, that’s not to say that some of the “big statue” memorials, like Lincoln or Washington or Jefferson, aren’t still fun to see. They’re just not provocative to see. Comparing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial is like comparing a Francis Bacon to a Pier1 Imports painting of a fruit bowl — yes, Lincoln is pretty to look at and an impressive display of technique, but what did it really make you think about? We all already know what a fruit bowl looks like, and we all already know that Lincon was a good president.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the monuments and memorials in DC that you didn’t ask for. One last opinion for the road — how long until a woman gets a memorial on the National Mall of the scale of Lincoln or Jefferson? And who do I have to know in order to get to design it?

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: H&M

Skirt: Forever21

August 26, 2019 – Summer Salmon (OOTD #555)

I kind-of regret not considering Georgetown more seriously when I was applying for university.

I don’t remember why I ruled it out, but it was eliminated from consideration before I even got around to visiting schools. I think if I had visited, I may have given it some more serious thought — as it turns out, Georgetown is a really lovely neighborhood, not to mention, it’s in DC, arguably the hub for the types of studies I want to pursue.

(I also probably could’ve gotten into it when I was 18, unlike, say, H_____d, but we don’t have to talk about that).

But no matter — I’m at Notre Dame now, and I love it all the same. South Bend is no Washington DC, but I’m sure I’d have things to complain about if I lived in DC for 10 months a year: in fact, I already had some complaints about the culture of the city after having been here for less than a week, which I voiced in yesterday’s blog.

And besides, I get to come work and live in DC now for a semester, so I ended up getting my DC experience in the end.

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: Vintage (thrift, Street Scene Vintage)

Skirt: Forever21

August 25, 2019 – Rainbow Road (OOTD #554)

You know, if you squinted, this could almost pass for a part of Notting Hill in London.

Look, I’ll be up front about it: Washington DC is not my favorite city in the world. It’s not even my favorite city in the US. As much as I’m grateful to be here for the semester as a part of an internship program with Notre Dame and as much as I’m excited to be away from South Bend for a few months, my enthusiasm is more to do with what goes on in DC, rather than DC 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!


Dress: Thrifted (the pile of abandoned clothing in my dorm room’s laundry room)

Jacket: Forever21

August 24, 2019 – The Washington Way (OOTD #553)

Finally, my actual location and the location that I’m writing about in my blogs match up again!

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As I’ve mentioned before, the content I’m posting about in my blogs tends to be a bit behind (or, has been the case recently, quite behind) the date I’m actually posting it. For example, I’m writing this blog in late October, but it’s about something that happened back in late August. So in late August, I was moving in to my apartment in Washington, DC.

But wait, Washington DC isn’t in Northern Indiana! Isn’t there where I normally go to school? Why wasn’t I moving back into my dorm at Notre Dame in late August, along with all of my friends and the rest of the student body?

The answer: because I’m taking a semester away from Notre Dame to do a special program though the Political Science Department to take a full 15-credit semester course load while working an internship here part-time. Think of it like a study abroad semester — except of course, DC isn’t really abroad.

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Unlike a semester abroad, however, I get to work (and in my case, get paid!) while maintaining my status as a full-time student. And at any rate, I get to go abroad in the spring semester anyway, so I really get the best of both worlds.

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What I don’t get, however, is the third world: my friends back on campus at Notre Dame. I’m going to be away for a whole year, and that’s kind of saddening. Not saddening enough to prevent me from doing it (and honestly not even really saddening enough for me to give a second thought about whether I wanted to do it), but enough so to make looking at my friends’ Instagram posts of them moving back into the dorms a little bittersweet.

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!


Turtleneck: Forever21

Trousers: Zara

 

August 16, 2019 – End Times (OOTD #549)

I’m really on a roll with these religion-themed blog titles.

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The reasoning behind this one, if it weren’t clear (which, to be fair, it’s probably not on the surface) is because this was my last day in Israel-Palestine, and I visited the Mount of Olives — the location where some faith traditions believe the end of the world will occur.

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Another layer of meaning you could derive, if you so choose to, is that I also visited the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus stopped and prayed before the end of his life. It was also a Friday, the end of the working week and the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, Shabbat. 

After my big tour the previous day, I felt like I had pretty much seen everything within Old City that I wanted to see, so I decided to walk a little beyond the bounds of Jerusalem city center. After consulting the Internet for ideas of things to do in Jerusalem for free on Shabbat, I decided on the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives.

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And I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t know if I’d say either of them were my favorite sites from the whole trip (to be honest, I don’t know if I could choose just one) but they were a perfect way to get away from the insanity that is Jerusalem. Jerusalem wasn’t Rome insane, but, like Rome, it’s an ancient city that modern people live in — as a result, the limitations of architecture that was only built to accommodate donkeys and foot traffic is  constantly coming into conflict with the demands of 21st century life. I can’t tell you how many times I was almost run over by a scooter trying to drive through the narrow, winding streets of Old City.

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Gethsemane wasn’t much to look at as a garden — sure, it was lovely, but it’s no grand botanical conservatory, like what Copenhagen has. It’s simple and small — you can walk the perimeter in about two minutes. There’s an attached church, as with all of the “holy” Christian sites in Jerusalem, but it’s no architectural marvel.

What makes the Garden of Gethsemane great is that it’s one of the only sites in Jerusalem that actually looks somewhat like what it might have looked like in Biblical times. You can visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, but there will be no traces of the stable that supposedly used to stand there. You can visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Old City, but there’s no geographic indication that is was once a hill where the crosses stood. In fact, as I understand, many historians question whether these are the real locations of these famous religious events at all — or whether they’re just based on tradition stemming from an era of Crusaders who were desperate to claim they’d discovered the location of Jesus’s first carpentry classes.

The Garden of Gethsemane, however, actually is the garden from the stories. And furthermore, the olive trees may even potentially be the trees (or at least, descendants of the trees) that were there in Biblical times. Though the trees are too old to date precisely, scientists have determined that it’s possible that several are at least 900 years old, possibly older.Compare this to the (in my opinion) somewhat gaudy Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus was supposedly crucified, that’s surrounded on all sides by apartments and shops that prevent you from visualizing Golgotha as it might have looked 2000 years ago, and you see why I liked Gethsemane so much. A local caretaker for the garden even offered me some clippings from the olive trees and some saffron (which he instructed me to make tea out of in order to attract a boyfriend). IMG_6011

The other site I liked was the Mount of Olives. I wish it weren’t so hot when I made the climb from Lions’ Gate to the Church of the Ascension  (which I didn’t even go into because there was an entrance fee), but it made for a beautiful panoramic view of the city from the top. It made for the perfect end times to my Jerusalem trip.

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That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Israel-Palestine 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!


T-shirt: Forever21

Turtleneck: Amazon

Jeans: Hollister