ON LEAVE WITH LOJEL

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Lojel is an innovative travel company that was birthed in Japan in 1989. Inspired by the everyday traveler, Lojel aims to continue to partner with ethical manufacturers that are certified non-toxic. Now, you may have read my previous post about an ethical fashion brand called Everlane (if not, you should catch up!) and I am becoming more aware of how some retailers are making the effort to produce their products in a more eco-friendly and ethical environment. The cool thing that I loved about this brand once I discovered it, is that it was more than just a site that you go to purchase luggage….

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It’s more of like a destination for travel inspiration. I love that Lojel has also created a travel journal series called “Paid Leave” which is a curated collection of interests for travelers broken down into an archive of issue #’s. I'm always inspired by reading about places that I’ve never been, and of course places that I’ve never seen. In the 4th Issue, I read a story titled - Wanted: Genuine Connection. This topic really resonated with me because it talks about connecting with a place in a way that feels more genuine. The photos that you see here were taken in a town called Galveston Island which is about an hour drive from Houston. Galveston isn’t the most exciting town and anyone that lives in the area can tell you that. Sorry, not sorry. I took a full day to travel there anyway to shoot some other content that was planned with my friends. Let’s just say we made the absolute BEST of it! After posting to my IG Stories where we were and what we were up to, many people that live in the areas of my town were asking: “Where in Galveston is this?” In the Paid Leave Journal - Issue #4 I read: “To connect with a place, you have to make a choice.” I used to underestimate Galveston because the beach water is not pretty and blue, but we took advantage of our visions and created some amazing content while there. The moral of the story is - open your eyes and take a city for what it is, not what you want it to be.

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The style featured here is called the “Cubo.” Lojel makes two other designs called the “Voja,” and “Alto." So far, Cubo is my favorite design. It’s made of a pure polycarbonate shell, and undoubtedly lightweight for the size. I love the sleek and sophisticated look.

It features four double-sided 360 wheels for rolling through the airport (or wherever) with ease, and a built-in TSA compatible lock system. I have the large size which is for check-in only. When I tell you I love this luggage, believe me. The compartments are so handy, and it has a deep body which is perfect for my many times when I need to..or accidentally overpack. The Cubo currently comes in 7 colors, and the color featured here is Rose. I am obsessed! Can’t wait to pack it for my next getaway.

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Where to next?

 

EVERLANE: ONE ETHICAL BRAND YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

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Hope you’re well! You guys, this is my second blog post this month and it’s only day 12. I’d say that I’m on a roll! Ha. What I plan to start doing more is focusing on creating more lifestyle content while still staying in the fashion lane. Starting with this post about this brand that I recently found out about, and now LOVE. This post is not sponsored, I just want to share with you where I’m currently shopping, and what I’m into. Everlane is a lifestyle clothing brand that focuses on quality modern basics. They partner with the best ethical factories around the world, all while sourcing the absolute best materials and fabrics. What I love about this brand, is that they aim to tell a story with a breakdown of the legitimate cost of every single product.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

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Although I was surprised to find that this cardigan was only 73% cotton, it truly is the softest and most comfortable cardigan I have ever felt. It has a slight stretch to it, slightly cropped, with 3 large tortoise buttons, and a larger ribbed knit detail. It’s very chunky but still feels lightweight enough to wear during the Spring. I paired mine with jeans, but you can totally pull this off with a skirt or shorts as well. It will definitely be a new staple in my closet as I never really wear cardigans. I might even style this over a strappy silk slip dress. This cardigan was produced in Fujian, China.

Click here to see the factory where this cardigan was made.

SHOP HERE:

 
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These jeans are super duper stretchy and fit like a glove! I went down a size in these after reading the reviews on how the fit feels with time and multiple wears. I’m a sucker for a great pair of high-rise jeans and the 4 button details just does it all for me. They are available in “ankle” or “regular” length with a form-flattering fit. Made with renewable energy resources, these jeans are 77% cotton, 17% modal, and 4% other - produced in Bien Hoa, Vietnam.

Click here to see the factory where these jeans were made.

SHOP HERE:

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Now I never, ever thought that I would be attracted to a shoe style like this one, but needless to say - I frickin’ love these. Honestly. These are like flats, but with a walkable 2-inch block/stacked heel. They are called the “Day Heel” because you can literally wear them #AllDamnDay (a hashtag they actually use) without the discomfort of wearing regular heels for hours at a time. These are 100% Italian leather and are available in 6 different colors. I was skeptical about what size to order because they are extremely buttery soft so I didn’t want them to be too tight. I got my true size and they fit perfectly. The color I’m wearing is Pecan and it’s the perfect neutral shade for my skin tone! I like the fact that you can wear these with jeans, dresses, or skirts and can be worn day or night. They also make The Day Boot, The Day Glove flat + many other styles worth checking out including the Day Heel Higher Heel (a higher heeled version.) These shoes were produced in Montopoli in Val D’Arno, Italy.

Click here to see the factory where these shoes were made.

SHOP HERE:

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3 WAYS TO STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

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Well, it’s already March 1. Who, what, when, where, why, how? Doesn’t matter because you must keep going! As we are about 90 days into the new year, many of you have more than likely stuck to your goals and a lot of us may have slipped a little bit - but that’s totally OK. Some days, weeks, or months may have not gone as planned but each day is a new day to get back on track. Anytime I feel like I’m not “doing enough” I like to write down what I have done so far, and what I want to improve. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable = GROWTH.

START SMALL:

Starting small can truly make a significant difference in your results - whatever the goal may be. I personally have fitness and health goals that I want to accomplish. I also know that drinking water is one of the most important things to do to keep your overall wellbeing on track. My “small goal” is to drink more water daily. That was out of my comfort zone. I have written down the benefits of consuming healthier things which has kept me going down the right path. Starting small can apply to literally anything you want or willing to work for. It can be as simple as purchasing a domain name of what you desire your blog or business to be, picking up a book when you lay in bed at night instead of your phone, or even as simple as signing up for that workout class you’ve been putting off. Do SOMETHING each day. You can even just start by writing down 3-5 things each day or week that you want to get done and put your plans into action. That one thing will just bring you closer and closer to the outcomes that you desire. I just started listening to books. For a while I never thought that I’d have the “interest” to listen to a book because I simply didn’t have time. SMH. Those are limiting beliefs. I shifted my mindset and started listening to Manifest Now by Idil Ahmed. Man, that book is truly mind changing. I definitely recommend listening to it on Audible or purchasing a physical copy. You’ll start to realize how much you can make positive changes in your life by simply changing the way you think.

PUSH BEYOND CONVENIENCE:

Because convenience is comfortable, right? We must think beyond this. You have to want to create a plan of action for pushing the boundaries on what you think is possible. I know that almost everyday I can choose to be a victim of convenience or I can choose to go above and beyond for myself. I wake up and read a scripture or two and then I get my day started. I choose to have a mindset that motivates me to not be mediocre for the day. You did not wake up this morning to be mediocre! You can push beyond convenience by simply waking up an hour earlier (or a few) than you normally do to get something else done before you carry on with your day. I scheduled myself for a 6:30 am workout this morning! That’s something that I have never done because I used to think - heck, I could still be getting one more hour of sleep instead of going to a workout. That was mediocre thinking. These muscles aren’t going to tone themselves though, sis! After I left my one hour workout I thought, “what else can I do to be great for myself today?” That wasn’t convenience, that was pure motivation. One simple change in your routine is way more powerful than you think. All it requires is just effort.

HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE:

I GOT THIS! YOU got this! Holding yourself accountable is another key to breaking through your comfort zone. You can tell a family member or close friend what you are trying to do and 9 times out of 10 you won’t have to remind them to hold you accountable. They just do because they love you! My mom and my friend Shay hold me accountable with the smallest things. Shay simply reminds me to email someone or simply post on social media. Having an accountability parter definitely can help, but it isn’t 100% necessary obviously because you’re your own person and can do what you want to do. Let’s say for me, I want to start a new series on my blog with styling videos called “———————-——-” boom! I put it out there! Once you share it with someone or say it out loud - make yourself DO IT. Take baby steps. Smaller steps can easily de-sensitize yourself to the feelings of anxiety. Earlier in January I wrote sticky notes on my mirror with affirmations that I repeat out loud daily. Me making sure I start my day this way is one way that I hold myself accountable. Do you see how simple stepping out of your comfort zone can be? I don’t like producing the same results, I want more and I want better! No one is going to do that but ME. YOU for you. Sometimes even changing your atmosphere can help with your results. Instead of working at home in your comfort zone, go to a public place or coffee shop to send those emails, etc. You didn’t drive over there for nothing….so get it done in a different environment. Holding myself accountable with my actions has driven to me create another source of income with my blog. And that, I am proud of. What’s holding you back from stepping out of your comfort zone? How are you going to put new actions into motion for improved success?

“GREAT THINGS NEVER CAME FROM COMFORT ZONES..” - UNKNOWN

 

THE NYFW EDIT: 3 KEYS I LEARNED FROM ATTENDING AND WHAT I WORE

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One of the most common questions I get after returning from New York Fashion Week is: “How was fashion week"?” Obviously, my answer is always “It was amazing, great, etc” I got tired of that same old boring answer so I decided to create this blog post as well as share some helpful tips in case you are an influencer who would like to start breaking into this side of the fashion industry. Not that I know all of the “hows” and everything about attending, I am just simply sharing my thoughts and what has worked for me and my girls every time we attend New York Fashion Week. Ready to take notes?


  1. GET PREPARED IN ADVANCE:

    Depending on your experience, NYFW can be a bust or a success. If you decide to go, you have two seasons to decide to attend - September for Spring fashion, or February for Fall fashion. Or both. If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram - (which I’m sure you have since you’re reading this now) then you know Shay, Nikki, and Brandy, and I recently went both seasons. I cannot explain how important it is to prep in advance. Book your flight months ahead if you can, and arrange your lodging situation as soon as you know your dates. Hotel stays can get super expensive the longer you wait, and AirBnBs can book out pretty quickly. Once you’ve booked your travel arrangements, what are you going there for? Attend shows, street style watch? Have this figured out. Getting invited to fashion shows are not easy as it takes lots of work to build your brand recognition. I’d recommend signing up for subscriptions via Fashion Week Online and GPS Radar to be alerted with the latest fashion week news, schedules, and tips. What is it that you want to takeaway from attending NYFW all together? Reach out to other bloggers or friends that may also be going and connect with them during your trip. Ask them what their schedule is and see if you can possibly be a + one to any events or shows they are going to. Do your own research as well and try to RSVP to everything that you get invited to. Of course you won’t be able to attend everything, but it’s always good to have those contacts in your email archives for later when you attend another season you can reach out directly to them.

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3. PRIORITIZE CREATING CONTENT:

My girls and I are so lucky that we have Ahmad AKA @sweenshots also AKA Shay’s husband behind the lens to travel to fashion week with us every time. He’s a real one for that and he gets things done! We plan out our content on a calendar while we’re there so we can alternate shooting schedules. Of course you’re going to overpack for fashion week so you might as well try to shoot all of the outfits that you brought for blog and Instagram content. Heads up, this may include uncomfortably changing 3-4 times a day. Welp, gotta get that shot right? If you aren’t traveling with your own photographer, research photographers on IG ahead of time to book in advance. If that doesn’t work out, bring your own camera and have a friend take photos of you. Don’t miss your chance to create that amazing New York backdrop content because you didn’t plan. I’d also recommend hanging out around Spring St, or the areas where the shows are because you could get photographed by professional well-recognized street-style photographers and end up on Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar’s best dressed street-style looks list or something. Shay and I did this and experienced it first hand! You do want to post your outfits while you’re there to have your audience engaged, and fashion week is that one time of year where I feel absolutely FREE to play with my style by trying new trends and such. It’s NYFW..that’s what you do. It’s also a major source of inspiration for me because I love seeing what colors and trends are going to be huge for the upcoming season.

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2. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK:

OK, here’s the good stuff. Speaking of keeping contacts in your email, I cannot stress enough how important it is to NETWORK if you want to develop connections and relationships with brands, PR companies, and other influencers. One of the absolute most important things to keep in mind is to always remain genuine, and be yourself. Nothing’s worse than smelling someone’s BS from a mile away who’s just looking for a quick wave to ride. It ain’t that easy sis. I’d suggest researching PR contacts through LinkedIn, (yes LinkedIn) and even Instagram. I’m talking doing some serious stalking - but in a nice way of course. Research people with the title “Social Media Manager, Influencer Relations Coordinator, Digital Marketing Manager, PR Coordinator”, etc. and reach out to them directly. Some brand contacts also reply to DMs, but I definitely recommend emailing first. These are the contacts that will send you an RSVP invite to a show, presentation, or an event. Already own pieces from a brand you want recognition from? Tag them! Use their hashtags! Mention them in your story! A lot of brands will repost you, and if they like what you are doing they might just hit you up themselves to come to an event or ask you to partner with them some way during fashion week. Nikki and Shay were asked to do an Instagram story takeover for Just Fab! That’s 553,000 new people they were exposed to just like that. You never know who’s keeping up with you on social media, so it’s best to always portray your brand how you want it to be perceived. Most importantly, DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEND THAT FIRST EMAIL.

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MY FAVORITE OUTFIT OF THE WEEK - WHAT I WORE:

Hat: Lack of Color Sierra Gold // Turtleneck: Uniqlo Merino Ribbed (almost sold out, similar here) // Trench: ASOS Design // Embossed Leather Belt Bag: Zara (similar here) // Wide-leg Corduroy Trousers: Lilla P // Lace Up Booties: Mango (sold out, similar here)

This outfit was definitely one of my favorite outfits of the week because I felt so confident and mysterious in it. Yes, mysterious because of my super stylish Lack of Color hat that did the talking for me. I got so many compliments while wearing this outfit, and I believe that it’s because I wore pieces that I felt confident in pairing together. Layering in New York was essential since it was cold out and this trench was the perfect gift from my girl Brandy. I love that the monochrome neutrals still made a statement! If you enjoyed this read, please feel free to ask me anything else you want to know about fashion week, outfits, or another blog post you’d like to me cover or elaborate on. Thanks for reading!

 

8 SEQUINS TOPS TO SHINE IN THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

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It’s so crazy to think about how soon the holidays came about and how soon we’re already talking about New Years Eve! I can honestly say that the holidays are my favorite simply because I’m a December baby, and there’s always an excuse to get extra festive and sparkly during this time of season. Holiday parties to attend, and tons of other special events to get fancy for.

In this post I wanted to highlight this sequins turtleneck top from & Other Stories. I have never had a sequins turtleneck and when I saw this one, I knew I had to have it! On the website, the model was actually wearing it with jeans and I was like YES that’s exactly how I would wear it too, so I paired it with my new favorite AGOLDE Riley jeans. I absolutely love pairing statement tops with casual bottoms because I love the casual-chic look and it gives you more freedom to wear a statement heel, or a slick ankle boot like these that I am wearing from Zara. Below, I have selected 8 different sequins statement tops that you can ring in the new year with! Try pairing your statement tops with jeans to re-create this look with your personal style! Which top caught your eye the most? Any special holiday plans? Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! <3

 

MY TOP SALE PICKS FOR CYBER WEEK

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am seriously thankful for all of you, and I hope that you all have the best and most love filled holiday season ever! Can we seriously believe that the holidays are here already? I remember just talking about Summer what seems like not too long ago. My my my how time flies. I have been eyeing deals all week long and plenty of online sites and shops have started their sales early! Below, I have gone through a few of my favorite online stores to pick some of my top picks worth shopping for this season. Whether you are shopping for yourself, or getting early Christmas shopping out of the way….or both…cus why not. Wanna know what’s even better? Sometimes discounts codes get even better throughout the week so I will also be updating this post with more stuff! So get your cards readyyyyyy!

OLD NAVY - 50% OFF EVERYTHING, DISCOUNT APPLIED AT CHECKOUT

 

STYLE EDIT: TOP PLAID PIECES TO CHECK OUT NOW

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Without a doubt, plaid is never going to go out of style. Plaid prints are so easy to incorporate into any look to make a statement - whether that’s a big or subtle statement. The good thing is that plaid comes in a variety of different types, colors and types. My favorite go-to plaid piece is definitely a plaid blazer. I feel as if blazers put the cherry on top of any look that you are going to achieve. Pictured above, I added a blazer on top of a cropped tank and jeans..boom..added the blazer and the whole looked became complete! What I love most about plaid, is that you can mix prints with it to go for a bolder look. Try mixing plaid with leopard print, something striped, or even one of fall’s biggest trends - snake print. Below are plaid pieces that you can shop + get some major fall outfit inspiration from. Be sure to tell me which plaid look (or piece) is your favorite and how you plan to style it this season!

TOPS:

A plaid top is probably one of the most easiest pieces to style because all you have to do is throw on a pair of jeans, skirt, or shorts and you’re good to go. Remember, your plaid piece is your statement so keep the rest of your outfit simple. Play with your style! Tuck it in, roll the sleeves, tie it up, do you boo!

BLAZERS:

OK, a plaid blazer is like…a classic staple. You must own a plaid blazer! If you don’t, consider this a push to buy one this fall season. I recently got one from H&M to wear during New York fashion week to wear with the matching plaid pants (below) and I am in love with the tie/wrap detail!

DRESSES:

Well of course dresses was going to be on the list because you just have to put on one piece, and your outfit is set, sis! Depending on the style of the dress, you can add accessories for some extra touches like belts, hats, knee-high boots, belt/waist bags or statement jewelry.

TROUSERS:

For all my ladies who love pants (I’m with you) I didn’t leave us out! Pants - or trousers as the UK natives call it - are forever going to be one of my main essential go-tos. If you’re wearing plaid pants, let them do the talking and pair them with a simple top or sweater for the fall. Lately, I have been seeing lots of chunky knits half tucked in trousers and skirts. Gonna try that next!

 

MEET THE GIRL GANG

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My girls. My squad. My #GirlGang. From left to right: Nikki, myself, Brandy, Shay. I’m sure you guys might have seen this post floating on Instagram of us shutting DOWN the streets of Times Square during New York Fashion Week. We were there Thursday-Monday and definitely made the most of our experiences! While we did not attend any shows, we had quite a few brand meetings set up along with many events to attend. Safe to say we were making boss moves, not just trying to get into all of the shows. While we would have love to attend a few shows, we all agreed that creating and building relationships with the people who you need to know in the industry would be more beneficial for us in the long run. When you think of it that way, they will remember who you are and will keep you in mind for future opportunities like collaborations, and personally invite you to their shows, etc. Keep in mind that you have to do the work, too. Always always always follow up and thank them for their time no matter how big or small the opportunity is.

Meet the #GIRLGANG.

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SHAY of @shaymone

Shay and I have been only been hanging out since the early summer, but we have known each other/and following each other a few months before we started hanging out. We also have closer ties because her future sister-in-law and I have known each other since middle school pretty much. It feels like we’ve been friends for a decade even though we haven’t. That’s how strong our connection is. I don’t have too many girlfriends, but I would consider the beginning of this friendship TRUE, REAL, and I can tell that it will be long-lasting. Sometimes, you just know. Out of all 4 of us, Shay is the dominant planner and the organizer. *Insert praising hands emoji here* She definitely keeps us all in line and on our toes with our to-do’s and tasks for the week. Also, she’s a petite mother of 3 and a certified BOSS in everything that she does all while being a boss at her full-time job. www.shaymone.com

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BRANDY of @authentically.b

Where do I start? Brandy’s Instagram handle is exactly what she IS! AUTHENTIC. She’s not afraid to be b o l d and fearless and her personal style reflects that as well. She has the attitude to back it up, all the while she is as nice as can be. Brandy is also the mother of her super handsome son, Grant! If you follow her on Instagram, her stories always reflect how her family brings out her soft side. I love that about her. She is also an elementary school teacher everyday and runs a kick-ass blog www.authenticallyb.com When B came into the picture, this was only in the summer time, too. We finally met in person when I agreed to be on a DIY news segment that she hosted on Houston Life TV. We clicked, and not too long after is when we all linked up!

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NIKKI of @newtexacali

Is she from New York? Nope. Is she from Cali? Nope. Her handle describes her well because she is a wanderlust and an absolute free spirit. Nikki and I met last year at a Create & Cultivate event here in Houston and have been connected ever since. Earlier this summer is when we really started to talk more and hang out. Nikki is also a mother of two gorgeous kids that I call “my fraaandsss” and knows how to balance everything so well! Not only does she talk the talk, but she walks that walk, too. She recently quit her full time job a few months ago to take on blogging full force. I’m so proud for her because all of us in the group aspire to blog full time! ha. (until then, we’re doing the work.) We recently had a conversation about aspirations, goals, and manifestation. It’s like, once she quit quit her job, things started to unfold for her. She’s featured in the LIKE.toKNOW.it book, she was nominated for Houston’s It girl of Instagram, and is/has been working on paid partnerships. www.newtexacaligal.com

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Our Driving FORCE: Each other

Considering that these friendships are new and flourishing, if you have been following along with us you can tell that we have a special bond. It’s like God had this ALL planned out. I was living in Austin with barely any friends that shared the same interest, let alone looked like me. Not saying that matters as much, but it just feels real when you can connect with likeminded people who are on the same level as you, and who just gets you. We love to celebrate each other’s WINS and accomplishments. Always rooting for each other, and helping out with anything when we can while being STRAIGHT UP HONEST. We get things DONE and take names. I’m very observant of behaviors and normally have a guard up when I sense something about someone that would turn off my interest. I don’t feel that when I’m with them. That’s how I knew that we would be the perfect #GirlGang. We all have different personalities, but at the same time we have a lot of similarities. A few of you asked about how we got to do some of the things that we did at NYFW. This is when we put all of our heads together and made those things happen. If one of us got an email from a brand, we responded and included WE and sent off one another’s names, handles, and media kits to everyone that contacted us and vice versa. Four is better than one! We always put things into perspective differently which is how we come up with “The Plan.” We did the dirty work on our own. WE contacted brands, WE contacted PR companies, WE did the following up and made it all happen. And when WE got the opportunities, WE made sure that WE created the hell out of some amazing content which got us noticed for MORE opportunities. The possibilities are truly endless when ideas are bounced around like basketballs. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have some of the connections that I currently have, and some of the knowledge that I have about the blogging game. We’re all still learning and growing in progress and WE are doing it together! I thank God for these ladies and I hope our stories inspire you all. Keep up with us on social because we have some amazing things brewing in the master pot! Thanks for reading <3

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Shop my look below: ALL looks from ASOS

Not shown above: Saint Laurent ChYc bag in black patent from REBAG

Photos by Ahmad Sweeney @sweenshots