November 19, 2019 – Coffee Breaks (OOTD #582)

Starting around early November, I became a coffee break person.

I think it stemmed from the way that starting around early November, I became a fun person again. Once I became more comfortable in the city and with my internship at Brookings, I became more willing to explore the city on my own, and so I started spending more time checking out different coffee shops.

I actually became friends with two of the girls I met in DC through coffee shop outings — I think every weekend starting in early November, we’d choose a random new coffee shop to visit for the afternoon to study. Since I was getting paid, I didn’t mind the expense of buying coffee so much, and it felt really good to get away from my stuffy windowless apartment and my cubicle at work.

I think my favorite coffee shop in DC was Tryst, in the Adams Morgan area. I’ll admit, I didn’t go terribly often because it was about a 30 minute walk away and there were no metro lines that ran in that direction, but the two times I did go, I loved it. And the thing was, the coffee and the food weren’t even necessarily all that spectacular. What I loved was the atmosphere. It was open late (1AM on weekends) and located in an area with a lot of bars, so you’d get all sorts of colorful people coming in that you could watch while you worked. They didn’t have Wifi on the weekends (boo), but if I used my mobile hotspot, I was fine.

The other two places I really liked were The Coffee Bar, which was in walking distance of my workplace, and Pitango Gelato, also in Adams Morgan. The Coffee Bar had one of the best iced lattés I’ve ever had (seriously — it was life-changing), and Pitango Gelato had an amazing leek soup (didn’t end up trying the gelato though, so I can’t speak to that).

I think trying different coffee shops ended up being my favorite part about living in DC for the semester. I don’t know, I don’t tend to do a lot of restaurant exploration when I’m traveling otherwise — especially if I don’t speak the language of the country I’m in — and so it was nice being in a city in the US were I was completely comfortable just walking into any random café or restaurant by myself. It was also nice because I didn’t have to go by myself since my friends and I made it into a weekly thing. It made me feel more like someone who actually lived there rather than just a visitor.

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: The LOFT (thrift, Clothes Mentor)

Dress: The LOFT (thrift, Clothes Mentor)

October 31, 2019 – Boo (OOTD #573)

I think Halloween may be my second-favorite holiday.

As a kid, that was not really the case. I never disliked Halloween — it was always up there in the top 5 list of Meilin’s favorite holidays — but I wasn’t really enamored by it. I was never a fan of sweets and candy, I was afraid of a lot of the decorations and scary movies, and I thought trying to come up with a costume was stressful.

I much preferred Christmas and Easter and my birthday (yes, I’m going to be a narcissist and call that a holiday) because I got actual presents on those holidays. Halloween, I just got a bunch of candy that I wouldn’t even eat anyway.

Then, as a teenager, when I became too old for trick-or-treating, I got bored with Halloween. Around that time, I also moved cities and schools, and so I had none of my old friends to go to costume parties or haunted houses with. I did eventually make friends by high school, but by then, I was so busy with school and work that I didn’t have time to go to people’s costume parties and haunted houses. And besides, I wasn’t really invited to them anyway. So mostly, I just sat at home and did homework while my parents handed out candy to the neighborhood kids — making Halloween a kind of lame holiday.

As I’ve grown older, though, I’m beginning to learn to appreciate Halloween. For one, the other holidays that I used to really love, like Easter or Valentine’s Day, have become less exciting as I’ve grown older and so are no longer there to compete with Halloween for the top spot.

Secondly, even though I still don’t really go out for parties or get dressed up (and that’s really not because I don’t want to, the timing just doesn’t work out during school), I like to see all the decorations. I like carving pumpkins. I like putting together Halloween-themed outfits.

And that’s what you see here. Unfortunately, I had class Halloween night, so I didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to go for Halloween itself. I didn’t even put together a costume. But my 21st birthday was the following day, so I knew I just had to be patient.

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: Vintage (thrift, Foxhouse Vintage)

Top: The LOFT (thrift, Goodwill)

Skirt: Vintage (thrift, Street Scene Vintage)

 

October 21, 2019 – Cultured (OOTD #568)

Do you remember that trend back in like, 2011 where people would wear fake nerd glasses in an attempt to look “nerdy” and “smart?”

Yeah, I definitely did that.

For a long time, before I actually needed glasses, I wanted them. I thought they looked so intelligent. My friend, Emma, once gave me an old pair of her glasses in a little pink plastic Barbie case with a pink plastic handle, and I’d take them out when I was alone in my room and just stare at myself in the mirror. I could barely see out of them, since they weren’t, you know, my prescription, but I was pretty sure I looked great.

Flash forward 15 years, and nothing has changed. I still get dressed without seriously considering whether or not what I’m wearing actually looks good, but I feel pretty confident that it does anyway. Except, now I do need glasses.

Naturally, though, I’m not wearing them in this set of photos, which makes this transition rather awkward. Oh well. Where would we be without awkward transitions in this blog?

The point of me bringing up the story about fake glasses is because I thought this outfit/background combination was reminiscent of my fake glasses days. I may not be wearing fake glasses here, but I am in spirit. I’m also wearing a fake handlebar mustache in spirit, perfect for twirling like a silent movie villain.

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!


Coat: Vintage (thrifted, Ecseri Bazaar in Budapest)

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Vintage (thrifted, Street Scene Vintage)

October 14, 2019 – Pumpkin Spice (OOTD #565)

I know spooky season is long over, but I still have spooky season outfits to post about.

That’s the eternal drawback of my strategy of posting OOTD blogs well after the day they were worn. It gives me space to reflect on the outfit — and by extension, the day — and deliver a more thought-out blog post, but it means that holiday-themed outfits, like this one, will always be posted late.

Better late to the Halloween party than never though, right? It would be such a shame if the world never got to see me pair a navy shirt with a plaid jacket and orange pants in the name of spooky season.

On my Instagram page, I can always play around with the post dates — I don’t feel like I have to go in chronologal order. If it’s October and I want to post pictures that create an autumnal theme, I can select any photos from my library that fit that theme and only post them. It doesn’t matter when they were taken — yesterday or two years ago, they’re all fair game.

On my blog, though, I do my best to keep the chronology consistent and clear. It makes it easier for me writing, and I think it makes it easier on the readers as well. Not that anyone here really is all that interested in my overall character arc or whatever, but I like to think that if you compared one of my posts from today to one of my posts from high school, you could at least tell a slight difference in my writing and sense of style.

Maybe not in my face though. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t changed since I was 12.

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: Vintage (Foxhouse Vintage)

Shirt: Banana Republic

Trousers: The LOFT

October 7, 2019 – Hitting the Books (OOTD #561)

Here’s another blog title I can’t believe I’ve never used for any of my many, many library photo shoots. 

It seems so obvious, right? Take pictures surrounded by books, come up with a book-related blog title. How many book-themed idioms are there anyway?

Apparently, not enough for my stupid idiot brain to remember them — hence, the need to “hit” the books so hard. Gotta study to make up for my general lack of brain cells.

But if this is a library photo shoot, what library is this? It’s not the familiar Club Hes or architecture library. I’m miles and miles from those. This is the library at my workplace — much smaller than any of the libraries back on campus, but honestly, maybe I like that. It’s almost never crowded, and I never have to fight someone to get a table like I do around midterms and finals at Notre Dame.

The downside, though, is there are a lot fewer places to take photos given the smaller location. I have 24 hour card access to the Brookings building (yay!) but there aren’t a lot of places that make for good photography backgrounds. There’s a nice lobby, but there’s always a security guard there, so it’s not a good place for photos. Otherwise, there’s the small library featured here and then just a bunch of offices.

What do you think — should I do a cubicle photo shoot? Pose with my landline telephone that I don’t know how to use? My broken roller chair? The leftover bag of trail mix that the last intern who had my desk left in the drawer?

Actually, maybe there’s a way I could make it work — kind of like the trendy unconventional photo shoots in laundry rooms or Hobby Lobby floral departments. Let me think on that.

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

Turtleneck: Thrifted (Goodwill)

Skirt: Forever21

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 12, 2019 – Order in the Court (OOTD #561)

I almost titled this “Supreme” in reference to the overpriced fast fashion company that everyone was super into for a hot minute in 2018, but I ultimately decided I disliked Supreme so much that I didn’t even want to give it a reference in a blog title.

After our class visit to the Capitol, our next stop was the Supreme Court. We’re making the rounds to the three branches of government, meaning the White House will get a post later in the semester.

If I had to choose one of the three main government buildings in DC to work in (the Capitol, the Supreme Court, or the White House) based on design alone, I think the Supreme Court would be my pick. The Capitol is huge and rather lacking in windows, and the White House just feels too much like a rich person’s house than an office building. I feel like the Supreme Court strikes a nice balance of austerity and beauty, though it too could use some more natural light.

I know these big important government buildings have to be secure so that no one can just shoot a Supreme Court Justice through a window or something, but there must be some way for them to not be so dark and cold. Maybe they could get some of those natural light bulbs that they use on plants.

To their credit though, at least they’re not in the brutalist style of some of the government agency headquarters here in DC, like the State Department or the FBI. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a building as ugly and sad-looking as the FBI — to be honest, I think that was the designer’s intent. Sure, the Capitol building could use more plants and windows, but I would say that about every structure that’s not an actual greenhouse, and those are nitpicks in comparison to some of the buildings that look like they come straight out of 1984 (the novel, not the year — in terms of years, they look more like 1964).

The Supreme Court tour my class went on was fairly short — as is the case with a lot of these tours of functioning government buildings, they won’t let you see a whole lot. We went before the court season began, so we didn’t get to see any proceedings, but they let us into the main courtroom to sit and look around for a minute. While it’s not a picture sitting in Justice Ginsberg’s chair while wearing a powdered wig, I did get this shot from the doorway, which is more than most people can say.

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: The LOFT

Skirt: River Island

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 2, 2019 – Fashion, Fascism, and the Blue Danube Waltz (OOTD #524)

I’m a big fan of walking bridges.

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could you tell me the abridged version?

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And I think the Margaret Bridge in Budapest may be favorite yet. It connects Buda and Pest, the two halves of Budapest (clever naming, right?) across the Danube from each other. Walking, I’d say it takes maybe 15 or 20 minutes to cross.

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i see why johann strauss ii wrote a waltz

A post shared by Meilin || L'ensemble du jour (@lensembledujour) on

The view either way is gorgeous, though I would personally say that looking out at the Pest side from Buda is a particular treat, as you can see both the Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica across the water.

In addition to a lovely walking bridge that stretches the Danube River, Budapest also has the oldest Metro line in mainland Europe (the award for oldest Metro in all of Europe goes to the London Underground), with Line M1 dating all the way back in 1896.

I actually had the pleasure of riding Line M1 for a brief commute with my friend Bilal, as he needed to go from his university in the downtown area to a neighborhood a ways away. Maybe is a quirk specific to me, but I love testing public transportation systems in new cities. I grew up in a city without one (well, I suppose they had city buses, but there were no stops near where I lived so it was irrelevant to me), and so visiting places that have a metro or a train system is super exciting to me.

Budapest’s M1 had such a vibe. It looked more like it came out of the 1960’s rather than the 1890’s, but I can’t pretend that I know exactly what 1890’s public transit design looks like. I feel like most rail systems feel like walking into a time capsule, but this one had an especially strong aesthetic.

The final stop of the day was a monument to the former communist (note the lowercase “c”) Hungarian Prime Minister and leader of the failed Hungarian Revolution, Imre Nagy.

Let me tell you a little about this monument, which I think may have been up there in the list of my favorite things I saw in all of Europe this summer: it’s some spectacularly subtle design. Or at least it was, until it was moved to its current location.

Originally, this statue was located in Liberty Square, a plaza with some highly-political, highly-contested statues and monuments. Among other, less debated pieces, one can find controversial (depending, of course, on your opinion of the subject matter) monuments to the Red Army, to Ronald Reagan, and to the victims of German occupation (which features a makeshift protest installation right next to it) there.

Up until January of this year, Imre Nagy was right alongside the others. He was near the monument to the Soviet Red Army, which is a controversial monument in and of itself. It is the only Soviet monument in Budapest that has been allowed to remain in its original location; all of the others were moved to a park well outside of the city after the fall of the USSR.

Nagy’s original placement near the monument to the Red Army was very intentional. His gaze was fixed on Parliament, with his back to the Red Army. As a leader of the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which attempted to drive out Soviet control following its establishment during the liberation of Hungary from Nazi occupation, this is of course rather symbolic. He looked away from fascism and totalitarianism and towards democratic governance. With his relaxed and non-confrontational but defiant stance, he made a clear political statement through a few purposeful, subtle design choices.

However, Nagy’s statue has been moved to a new location near Margaret Bridge next to the Danube. He still looks towards Parliament, but he no longer has his back directly to the Red Army, and he is no longer so centrally located.

Was his relocation a political statement as well? Did Viktor Orbán himself order the monument’s movement, as one of his many attempts at historical revisionism? I don’t know. I can only say that I don’t like that the statue was moved, as it takes away from its original meaning and artistic intent. It’s an offense to Imre Nagy, to Hungarian history, and to good design.

Anyway, that was more than I meant to say today about historical revisionism and Hungarian politics. In summary: more fashion, less fascism. 

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: The LOFT

Skirt: Forever21