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 23, 2019 – English Schoolgirl Style (OOTD #557)

Like…I definitely don’t wish I had been forced to wear a school uniform in high school, but it’s definitely an aesthetic.

I was obsessed with the fashion of Gossip Girl when I was in sixth grade. I never even watched the show or read the books, I just loved how they were able to make school uniforms look cool and fashion forward. I used to Google images of Gossip Girl outfits, screenshot them on my iPod Touch, and then try to create outfits that replicated what Blair Waldorf and Selina Van der Woodsen would wear on the show.

And it amazes me how a lot of those outfits still look really good in 2019! For a show that premiered back in 2007, a good deal of the styling still looks modern. Sure, some of the outfits are pretty dated (all of those loose neckties and newsboy caps are definitely very 2007), but I feel like the majority of it is still wearable today.

This outfit reminded me a lot of some of my attempts at recreating Gossip Girl outfits back in middle school. Honestly, this is probably a better recreation than any of my middle school attempts.

Alternatively, I also feel like this outfit could lean rather flight attendant-ish. I feel like that’s often the case with neck scarves though. The flight attendant community has really taken ownership of the neck scarf look; I think it’s time the rest of us reclaim it. It’s not fair that they have a monopoly on 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!


Jacket: Chaps (thrifted, Goodwill)

Blouse: Abercrombie

Skirt: J. Crew (thrifted, Clothes Mentor)

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

September 9, 2019 – Brooking It (OOTD #560)

First days of anything are scary.

It’s strange: in one sense, you generally don’t have much to do at all, and you’re certainly not given any responsibilities that you’re able to screw up. But it feels like you are. It feels like someone’s waiting to catch you in a mistake, so they can tell you that just kidding, they don’t actually want you to work there after all. Is that just my imposter syndrome showing?

In actuality, though, my first day at Brookings was fairly uneventful. I didn’t get fired, regardless of what my anxiety kept trying to warn me, so I count that as a win.

I spent most of the day in orientation, which I mostly don’t remember, save for random bits of trivia that won’t help me in my actual work. How to compile a literature review or compose a policy memo? I’m clueless. If you need to know where the emergency backpacks are located or where to go in the event of a fire, though, I got you.

Eventually, though, once all of the orientations are over, I’d like to learn what it like working in research on a daily basis. I’ve done short-term or semester-long research projects for my various classes, but I have never devoted myself to a single, in-depth project for such a lengthy duration. I’ve been considering academia as a potential career path, and so the opportunity to intern at a think tank will be an exciting prospect to see what political research looks like in practice.

Additionally, I’d like to get comfortable working in a professional environment and gain the respect of my coworkers. I’ve worked some short internships before, but usually just for the summer and usually for only a few days a week. I’ve never made this kind of time commitment to an internship before, and I’m looking forward to getting to know people and establishing a regular routine. I hope I’ll be able to help the people at the Brookings Institution in a legitimate and worthwhile way — also not to get fired.

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: J. Crew (thrifted, Goodwill)

Jacket: Lelarose (thrifted, Clothes Mentor)

June 24, 2019 – Vatican Vibes (OOTD #521)

Technically, I can now say I’ve walked across an entire country.

It took me a month and a half to make it to Vatican City. I was in Rome for a month and a half, and up until my final week there, I didn’t visit the Vatican. Several times, I made it to the outside walls or walked around the Vatican, but I never went in. Blasphemous, I know.

Well, I wasn’t about to spend a month and a half in Rome and never visit the Vatican, especially since visiting the Vatican would mean that I could technically claim to have been to yet another country. And that I could technically claim that I’d walked across an entire country. How’s that for an icebreaker fun fact?

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it’s not a tour, it’s a church search

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

So one early morning before work, my friend, Yvette, and I decided to visit the Vatican and more specifically, St. Peter’s Basilica. She’d already been on a visit with one of her study abroad classes, but she wanted to visit again, and like I mentioned, I’d never been.

We got there early enough (maybe like, 7:30AM?) that we were able to avoid the crowds. If you can manage, I highly recommend you do the same — busy churches are the worst. Part of the allure of churches is that they’re quiet and peaceful; you can’t really get that experience if it’s crawling with visitors with cameras and selfie sticks. Not that there’s anything wrong with visitors with cameras and selfie sticks — I think people should be able to enjoy a place in any way that makes them happy, as long as they’re respectful of the people around them. I mean, I myself often am a tourist with a camera.

I didn’t bother to wait for an audience with the Pope, I didn’t tour the Gardens of Vatican City, and I didn’t go to see the Archives. Because I went in the morning before work, I didn’t have time to do anything other than visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Square.

Just as I didn’t spend as much time in the Vatican as I would have wanted, I realized towards the end of my time in Rome that I hadn’t spent as much time in Rome as I probably should have. I only had six weeks — so, six weekends to spend doing fun things and exploring the city. Three out of those six weeks, I spent outside of Rome, in Florence, Naples, and Copenhagen. I’m so grateful to have been able to explore these cities in other parts of Italy and Europe, but I also realized that maybe I hadn’t devoted as much time to Rome itself as it deserved. I also realized that I hadn’t spent nearly as much time as I should have with the friends whom I’d made from the international student housing complex where I was living  — something I’ll definitely expand upon in my next blog.

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

Trousers: The LOFT

June 20, 2019 – Lost and Found (OOTD #520)

This was not where I was supposed to wind up.

I was supposed to go on a tour of Italian Parliament with a group of Notre Dame students. We’d been learning about Italian politics as a part of our “cultural enrichment” activities, and the culmination of that lesson was supposed to be to see the actual seat of Italian politics.

Well, like I said, I was supposed to. Turns out, my phone bill reset on June 20, and I forgot to pay for another month of data and service. Naturally, my SIM card contract was in Italian, so it’s not like I could actually read it to know this information. It took me days to finally find someone at Vodafone who spoke English and could explain to me that the reason I suddenly couldn’t use my phone was that I hadn’t paid for another month of data.

Naturally, my Parliament tour was supposed to take place during this time when I had no service. And naturally, when I left my house, I forgot that my phone was in an unusable state, and so I headed to the Metro in the general direction of Parliament, thinking I could just use Google Maps to get me to Parliament after I got off at Piazza di Spagna.

Nope. After a few unsuccessful attempts to find a place with Wifi where I could download a map and hopefully then still make it on time for my tour, I decided to give up. I was too late, and besides, I still hadn’t figured out what direction to walk in.

So what does one do when their plans to visit Parliament are ruined?

My answer was a pity McDonalds trip. McDonalds in other countries are magical places; they’re a little slice of American culture lifted straight out of the US and deposited in a foreign land. They have free public toilets, free Wifi, and often, outlets to charge your phone — which, if you’ve been to Europe before, you know are all rare finds. They’re the real US Embassies.

But before I bought my pity milkshake and fries, I stopped into a church that happened to be open. I’ve discussed this already, but Rome is littered with old, beautiful churches — so many that honestly, they all kind of run together in my memory. It really is the Catholic Disneyworld.

Even if I sometimes tire of seeing old European churches, that doesn’t mean I won’t still pop my head in for a moment. Just like McDonalds, they can be a great way to get a way from the craziness of the city for a respite. Churches (small ones, that is — not the big tourist ones) are normally quiet, dark, and cool, which can be a lifesaver in the summer heat. They have benches to rest your feet, and in the majority of cases, they’re free to enter and you’re welcome to stay for as long as you need. Unless you’re there during mass, there’s no pressure to pray or read the Bible or talk to a priest, and a good church wouldn’t treat you any differently for not being a follower of their particular denomination or religion.

It’s the perfect place to wander into if you’re like me, and you just need somewhere cool to sit after trying unsuccessfully for an hour to get your phone to work and to find Parliament. That’s the nice thing about churches. They’re open if you need them.

(As a side note: an astute observer may notice that I edited out the cross behind me for my Instagram post. That has nothing to do with religious censorship or a desire to distance myself from religion; rather, I felt self-conscious posting a picture of myself in a church with such a somber expression right next to a cross. It looked prayerful, like a penitent nun, and I was afraid that people might misconstrue the image as an attempt to glorify myself as some kind of righteous, devout cleric. I’m not, and I don’t pretend to be. I don’t need a “God Help the Outcasts” moment. I’m just a person who wandered into a church and thought it was pretty — that’s all. To avoid any potential for people to misinterpret the meaning of the picture, I decided to just edit out the cross, as the most definitive piece of religious symbolism in the scene. Make of that what you will.)

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!


Dress: Vintage (thrift, Brick Lane Market)

Jacket: Thrift (Clothes Mentor)

June 6, 2019 – Get to the Ponte Already (OOTD #513)

Get it? Because ponte in Italian means “bridge,” and I’m standing next to a bridge?

I’d also considered some Tiber River-related puns, but I couldn’t think of any good enough. If you know of any, leave me a comment and let me know! I’m always happy to hear suggestions from people who are cleverer than me.

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all rivers lead to rome?

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

After the insanity that was my last post that featured not one, not two, but five major tourist sites around Rome (the Colosseum, the Forum, Palatine Hill, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain), I thought it was fair for me to take a break from exploring for a while.

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get to the ponte already

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

And by “some time,” I mean one day. Regardless of how exhausted I felt after my “tourist day” I had work the next morning, so I had to be up and ready to head to work at 8:30 AM. It was a short day, though, because that afternoon, my supervisor agreed to let me out a few hours early for another one of the “cultural enrichment” events with the Notre Dame study abroad students.

This time, it was a tour of the Jewish Ghetto. I actually have no relevant photos to show from that part of my day. It’s not that there weren’t some beautiful buildings that would have made excellent fashion photography backgrounds for my blog — there were — but there was never a good moment to ask someone to a get my picture.

Also, no one else was getting pictures. That’s a big one for me. I really dislike being the only person or the first person in a group to ask someone to take my picture. I’ll do it if it’s an important location, and I’ll just die without getting a shot for Instagram or Snapchat, but otherwise, I try to get a feel for what the rest of the crowd is feeling in regards to stopping for glamour shots. Not every group of people is big into photos. I always hate to be the single narcissist in a group who is.

After the tour, though, my friends and I split off from the group and walked back along the Tiber River to the Colosseo area where we all lived. That’s when I got these pictures. I’m less concerned about being the single narcissist in a group when I’m with a group of friends.

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!


Dress: Zara (thrift)