February 1, 2020 – Never Bored in Bordeaux (OOTD #605)

I took my first short day trip outside of Paris the weekend after classes began.

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wait, this isn’t a bourbon distillery

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Normally, I wouldn’t opt to do a ton of traveling right after I’d arrived in a new city (remember — I’d arrived in Paris just two weeks prior), but my Welcome Programme friends wanted to travel, and I wanted to make sure I kept up my ties with them. The first few weeks in a new location/school are a critical period — I don’t normally adhere to a FOMO (fear of missing out) mindset,  but when I’m trying to make and keep new friends, I find it’s often best to take people up on as many invitations as possible.

Sometimes though, that can be exhausting. In the case of this Bordeaux trip, it meant getting on a night bus at 10pm on a Friday night after I’d just finished the first week of classes so that I could arrive at 6am Saturday morning in Bordeaux. This was my first experience traveling via night bus — and not my last. Keep that in mind for later.

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place de quoi?

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The morning in Bordeaux was spent walking around the actual city center with a free walking tour (interestingly, I believe it was with the same walking tours group as I took a tour with in Jerusalem? Small world). My friends and I got lunch at an Italian pizza place in the afternoon, and then we hopped on a bus for a winery tour — the actual main attraction of Bordeaux.

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sip, sip, hooray

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I’ve gone on many bourbon distillery tours in my life, but I believe this was only second time (the first one being in Frascati, just outside of Rome) at a winery. I’ll be honest — I’m not super interested in the actual process of manufacturing or bottling wine. I’m mostly just there for the free tasting at the end and the pretty locations for photos. That I will say winery tours seem to be better at than distillery tours — the pretty locations for photo-taking. French châteaux in the countryside are admittedly a little more romantic than what Kentucky has to offer.

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never bored in bordeaux

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In the evening, we left Bordeaux via the fast train, so at least we didn’t have another 12 hour bus ride to top off an already exhausting day. I made it back to my apartment in Paris before the last Metro on Ligne 4 left for Porte d’Orléans at 10pm.

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in my element 🌱

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I didn’t get a ton of work done that day, but since it was the very beginning of the year, there wasn’t much to do anyway. As they say, “less study, more abroad.”

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 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: Free’p’star Paris (thrifted)

Sweater: H&M

Blouse: H&M

Skirt: Pitaya

January 23, 2020 – L’Assemblée du jour (OOTD #600)

(Unrelated to the rest of this post: this is my 600th OOTD blog! I can’t even believe that. Thanks to everyone who’s read my stories over the last four years — it really means a lot).

I’m really proud of this blog title: L’Assemblée du jour. Because…I’m standing in front of l’Assemblée nationale. And because…my blog is called L’ensemble du jour. I thought I was clever.

I mentioned this briefly in my last blog, but before the start of classes at Sciences Po, I participated in a Welcome Programme for international exchange students. I was initially hesitant about the idea — I remembered how awkward and horrible Welcome Weekend before the start of my freshman year at Notre Dame was, and I was not eager to go through that again.

But the one upside of Notre Dame’s Welcome Weekend — and it’s a major, important upside — was that it helped me make friends. I met some of my best friends during Welcome Weekend. It was a harrowing, exhausting experience, but I think the trauma of nonstop manufactured socialization brings people together.

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme also helped me make friends. But it did so in a way that was not…traumatic? Is that even possible?

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme was, dare I say, legitimately fun. Yeah, the first day was pretty stressful getting to know people and navigate my way around the buildings. But after that, the events and activities they put together for us were things I actually wanted to do — it wasn’t a chore to convince myself to go to the wine and cheese tasting or the Seine river tour or happy hour drinks at Montmartre. Making friends came naturally because they put together a schedule of programming where socializing didn’t feel forced. No offense to Welcome Weekend 2017 at Notre Dame, but “go stand there in an open field with 500 other kids while we blast loud music at you and 18 year-old boys have all been tasked by their Welcome Weekend leaders with getting you and other girls’ numbers — also you can’t have alcohol” really wasn’t an event that made making friends feel natural.

And I’m so grateful that I made friends so quickly and naturally at Sciences Po. It made saying goodbye to them suddenly in mid-March significantly harder, but it made the two months that I did have all the better.

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!


Sweater: H&M

Blouse: H&M

Trousers: Banana Republic

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

November 2, 2019 – Go Nats? (OOTD #574)

I’ve never been a baseball person.

Okay, I’ve never really been a sports person at all. Over the years, I’ve developed an appreciation for college and professional football and college basketball, owing to the places I’ve lived and the need to be able to talk about Notre Dame football at Notre Dame and UK Basketball in Lexington.

But I’ve never understood baseball. I’ve been to a game or two, including a professional Mets game in New York City. I’ve watched it on TV. And I just don’t get the appeal.

It’s such a slow game! Whether you’re at home or in the stands, there just isn’t much to see. People only manage to hit the ball and then actually go for a run a small percentage of the time. I can appreciate that there can be enjoyment in a sport even if people aren’t running all over the field all of the time, but…baseball seems to be mostly a game of people standing around.

Apparently, most of the people of Washington DC agree with me. Their team, the Nationals,  won the World Series, but you wouldn’t have known that in the months and even weeks leading up to their win.

Here’s how much Washington DC was not cheering on their baseball team in their games before the World Series: around late October, I began noticing a few people walking around the city with cursive W’s on their red baseball caps. The first person I saw, I thought okay, it’s just a man going to work at Walgreens wearing his Walgreens uniform. The second person I saw, I thought okay, I guess that woman works at Walgreens too. 

It literally took until right before the first game of the World Series for me to realize that the cursive W hats were actually meant to be for the Washington Nationals. How was I supposed to know? There were no signs congratulating the team for making it so far. There were no shops selling Nats merchandise. None of the televisions in office lobbies or drugstores were playing Nats games.

Up until the World Series, the only cursive W logo I knew was Walgreens. Honestly, I think Washington people like Walgreens more than they like the Nats — you can find a Walgreens at every street corner, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who’s a serious fan of the Nats.

After they won the World Series, a bunch of people came out in red and white for a parade downtown to celebrate the team, but I seriously question how genuine the majority of the crowd was in their fandom. I’m pretty sure most of the people there at the parade were like me: just there to get dressed up and take advantage of a 60 degree day in autumn. We were all fake fans that day.

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: Zara

Blouse: H&M

Skirt: Forever21

September 2, 2019 – A Monumental Semester Part Two (OOTD #559)

For part one, click here.

I think the main draw of Washington DC as a tourist destination for me is the monuments and memorials. Think about it — what can you really see in the White House or the Supreme Court? Not a lot. The average tours they give to the public only last about 30 minutes because there’s very little that they actually will allow people in to see. They have the potential to be very cool buildings, but you can’t see much of their insides, and what you can see of their outsides is pretty but not jaw-droppingly so.

So what’s left? The museums, I guess — which I absolutely respect if you were to say they’re your favorite part of DC. I’m just not a museum person. I don’t deny that the Smithsonians may be some of the best history and science museums in the world, but that only means so much to a gremlin like me that gets bored in museums. My only exception is art museums — I could spend a lifetime in those. Unfortunately, DC’s not big in the art museum scene. I guess there’s the National Portrait Gallery?

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That’s not to say DC lacks art, though — and that’s where the monuments and memorials come in. With the exception of the Washington Monument (which — I’m sorry if you’re a big Washington Monument fan — is just a giant stick into the sky), the monuments and memorials on the National Mall are really something to see.

This was my second tour of the National Mall within just a few days, though this one was a lot more thorough. Compared to last time, where we were just led around from one monument to another to explore on our own (so much on our own, that I in fact got separated from the group and never made it to the Jefferson Memorial), this time, we actually had someone explain to us what we were looking at.

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Honestly, it was almost too much explaining — it was like, a four-hour tour, and we really only saw a few things. I still haven’t gotten to see the Jefferson Memorial. Will I actually make it there before the end of the semester? Stay tuned.

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

Shorts: H&M

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 6, 2019 – The Suite Life on Deck (OOTD #540)

*blog post features no actual images of me on the cruise ship

I’ve never been on a cruise before.

This trip has been full of firsts — first time in South America, first time snorkeling, first time on a cruise. Unlike snorkeling, though, I’ve actually really enjoyed cruise ship life. Unlike South America, though, as much as I enjoyed it I wouldn’t necessarily go and do it again immediately.

I liked the cruise, and I would definitely do one again eventually if given the opportunity. I really appreciated how everything was taken care of for you — there was someone to pick you up at the airport and guide you to the boat, there was someone to carry your bags to your room as soon as you got on board, there was a chef and full kitchen staff so all you had to do was show up in the dining room at meal times. It’s what I imagine vacation for rich people is like.

But since everything is taken care of for you, there’s a lot less autonomy on your part in deciding what to do each day. The boat might offer a range of options — snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, etc. — but they’re still the boat’s options. There’s no such thing as deciding you don’t like any of their options and going off on your own.

There’s also a lot of just waiting on the boat as you travel from one island to another. In principle, I don’t like that — who wants to spend half of their day in transit? But in practice, it was actually kind-of nice to have a built-in rest period during the day. I took a lot of much-needed naps.

Gratefully, I didn’t have trouble at all with seasickness. I’ve been on boats before, but only for a few hours at a time — not for a whole week. I wasn’t sure how my body would react. Turns out, it didn’t really react at all. Sometimes, if I looked out at the window and saw the waves rushing by, I’d feel dizzy, but otherwise, I faired surprisingly well. Honestly, the worst was getting off the boat at the end of the week. I felt like everything was rocking back and forth for days afterwards.

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sleepy ocean puppy

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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 the Galápagos Islands 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!


Top: Amazon

Shorts: H&M

Hat: Target

July 31, 2019 – Off to the Races (OOTD #537)

Disclaimer: This post contains products that were received complimentary from DiscountGlasses.com. All opinions are my own.


Sometimes, I happen upon clothing in the strangest places.

Case in point: I came across these racing silks (the jacket jockeys wear when racing horses) in a bargain bin of a leather goods store’s going-out-of-business sale.

Apparently, they’d been used as a part of store decorations and promotional material during spring meets (aka, around the time of the Kentucky Derby). They also had various Christmas and Halloween decorations in the pile. With the store going out of business, there was no reason for them to keep their horse season decorations, and so they threw them in the bin to get rid of.

I of course wasn’t really in the hunt for racing silks when I entered the leather goods shop — I was looking for leather goods (specifically, for a wallet to replace the one I lost whilst in Rome). I found the wallet first, and as I was waiting for my dad to finish looking around, I came across their bargain bin holiday decorations.

I couldn’t resist the jacket, even though I admit I don’t really need more jackets. It’s just such a fun yet unobtrusive was to represent my Kentucky heritage in fashion. Who needs one of those t-shirts that says “y’all” inside the silhouette of Kentucky when you can have racing silks?

Side note: these are the exact same brand and model of glasses that I lost in France after a Tinder date gone-awry! Long story short, I had just gotten this new pair of glasses from DiscountGlasses.com as a part of a sponsorship, and so I brought them with me on my trip to Vichy, France right after Christmas. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to bring them back from my trip to Vichy, France, as I somehow lost them while I was on a walk in a park with a guy named Axel whom I’d met through Tinder.

I liked them so much that I decided to order a replacement pair. They’re the Westend Argyle Park design, and you can check them out here on DiscountGlasses.com’s website. Maybe you’d also like to bring them with you on your next trip to France.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life back home 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: Thrifted (a local leather goods store)

Top: H&M

Shorts: American Eagle

Glasses: DiscountGlasses.com (Westend Argyle Park)

July 13, 2019 – Eastern Kentucky or Croatia? (OOTD #531)

I think my favorite part of Croatia was just driving through the countryside.

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croatia or eastern kentucky?

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For some potentially explanatory context, I was hardly in a car at all for the entirety for my time in Europe. In Rome, I drove with some friends to a club once and once to the airport shuttle stop when I was about to leave. In Copenhagen and Budapest, I never even had the chance to get in a car if I’d wanted to. In comparison, back in the US, I’m in a car almost everyday, especially when I’m at home with my parents in Kentucky. It’s a little different when I’m on campus at Notre Dame, but for most parts of the US, you need a car to go anywhere, so you tend to spend a lot of time driving around places.

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over the castle on the hill

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So when I got to Croatia and I got to live with my friend’s cousin’s family, that was pretty much the first time I got to drive anywhere in over a month. And since they didn’t really live in the city (but rather, a small town called Samobor outside of Zagreb), we ended up driving a lot.

One day, we drove out about an hour outside of Samobor to a museum in the mountains where they’d found some Neanderthal remains. Being honest, the museum — or the restaurant we went to afterwards — wasn’t the most interesting part of the day. It was the drive through the Croatian countryside.

The Croatian countryside reminds me in a way of Eastern Kentucky. Lots of rolling hills and mountains with houses dotted along the road. It’s quiet and picturesque, though if you ask me, Croatia beats out Eastern Kentucky in the picturesque category. The people of the Croatian countryside are quite different from the people of the Kentuckian countryside, who very often seem to fit their stereotype of being “hillbillies.” It can be a bit hard to categorize Kentucky as picturesque when, among the rolling hills and green mountains, there are people who look like Colonel Sanders was their father.

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!


Top: Thrift

Jacket: H&M

Trousers: The LOFT

 

July 10, 2019 – What Rhymes with Zagreb? (OOTD #529)

All I could potentially think of was “Maghreb” but I don’t know how I’d be able to utilize that for a blog title.

My trip to Croatia did not turn out quite as planned: for one, my school friend whom I was visiting with got sick the day before I arrived, meaning we were unable to visit any of the other cities we’d been planning to go to. Instead, we spent the week in Somobor with a day trip to Zagreb and to Brezîce, Slovenia.

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At first, I was disappointed: everyone goes to Croatia to see the beaches, which was a part of our original plan that ended up getting scrapped. Instead, I mostly saw a small town outside of the capital. However, as the week went on, I realized I didn’t mind spending the majority of my time in one place — it helped me to get to know the people I was staying with better. I did feel a little badly about potentially overstaying their hospitality’s welcome, though. I’ve never met more kind and generous people than this Croatian family; I wish there was some way I could repay them.

And I did get in little day trip to Zagreb itself. My friend needed to go to the hospital, and so her cousin, her cousin’s sister, and I tagged along for the drive into the city. My friend and her cousin went to the hospital and left her cousin’s sister, Nina, and I to hang out for a few hours in the city.

Zagreb I think wins the cutest European city award for me. It’s tiny compared to larger cities like Rome or London, but it is its size that makes it special: it feels like something out of a storybook. With its color palette that relies heavily on pastel pinks, blues, and yellows and its location nestled into the lush Croatian countryside, it could easily pass as a water color background in a Disney fairy tale.

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it’s all croatian to me

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Would I ever move here? Maybe not — it’s a little too quiet, kind of like Copenhagen was. But unlike Copenhagen, which seemed almost eerily happy, Zagreb had a more somber, melancholy air that I appreciated. It felt more authentic, less tourist-driven. Maybe it’s the recent memories of the Yugoslav Wars that haven’t quite healed, but I got the sense that behind the picturesque imagery, Zagreb had more of a story to tell.

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once upon a time

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Unfortunately, though, I was only there for part of a day, and so I did not get to uncover it. Maybe I’ll get to go back one day and try, though.

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!


Coat: Vintage (thrifted, Ecseri Bazaar in Budapest)

Top: H&M

Skirt: Pull&Bear