Things to leave behind in 2015 – VPL

VPL…

It’s like…the biggest faux pas ever.

Seriously…let’s consider:

Visible bra straps? Hell…showing your whole bra is a hot trend now.

Free the nipple? It was a movement on social media at one point and side boob is a thing to behold. 

Underwear as outerwear inspired entire designer collections back in 2014.

But one thing no one has EVER found even an iota of couture in…is the visible panty line.

Since the dawn of time, women have been saddled with the burden of finding the appropriate under garment for every outfit.

The most elusive of these has been, no doubt, that drop dead sexy slinky dress that hugs every crevice, cranny and valley of your body. You know…those dresses that look painted on, but the material isn’t sturdy enough to keep your underwear from printing through.

And with these dresses…it’s not just the panty line around the derriere that we have to contend with…it’s the straps of the underwear that create that less than flattering indentation in the hip and gives you that dreaded muffin-top-like illusion on even the fittest of females.

So what have we done? Well to date…women have fallen into one of three camps:

Camp 1: Those who don’t wear that kind of thing at all. They’re the boring bunch.

Camp 2. Those who rock the look AND the visible panty, and don’t really give a damn. They’re the nonchalant crew.

Camp 3: The commando cadets. These ladies are the devil-may-care bunch who rather spend an evening sans draws than subject themselves to panty-line scrutiny.

However…there’s a fourth camp emerging. It’s a little radical…and some may say even a little bit of a fad. But from personal experience I can say there’s something to it.

I first came across Shibue strapless panties in the run up to Carnival 2015. I bought a pair and used it beneath my costume on Carnival Tuesday and let me tell you…God send.

It wasn’t until I was approached by the rep for Shibue to write a review of the underwear that I began to consider its other applications – much like the scenario I presented above.

I own a lot of close-fitting, body con dresses that are made of a stretch cotton or jersey material.

I wore one of the aforementioned dresses for my birthday dinner back in October and it was a real relief not to have to worry about any unsightly visible panty line, with the security of coverage you’d enjoy from a regular pair of underwear.

The Shibue strapless panty has a strip of silicone on the front, as well as on the rear end of the underwear.

You have to ensure your skin is clean and free of moisture and press the front part of the underwear to your lower abdomen (basically where you’d expect your underwear to rest normally) and then pull the other end through your legs and attach the back end just above your butt. Make sure it’s snug…you don’t want to be all loosey goosey down there.

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When you’re ready to remove it, just unstick both ends from your skin, hand wash your Shibue and leave to air dry.

Turns out Shibue was also the official underwear for the Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Week (2TFW) 2015 and is used by Claudia Pegus in her runway shows.

Babes like Chrissy Teigen and Jennifer Lopez also use Shibue.

If it’s good enough for Chrissy…it’s good enough for me.

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Before (yikes) and after

Persons interested in retail or wholesale purchases can email shibuecouturetnt@gmail.com

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I was, however, given a Shibue strapless panty for my consideration. 

#ShopLocal // Christmas Gift Guide

Hide yo wallets! Hide yo ATM cards!

The recession is here y’all and so is Christmas!!!

I’ve always seen Christmas time as my own personal recession anyway…since it’s the time of year I spend with reckless abandon…both on my loved ones and myself.

Anyhoo! In my humble, completely unprofessional opinion, there’s no better way to stimulate a country’s ailing economy by spending more money…locally.

So tell Amazon to go suck an egg (most of the Skybox companies have passed their Christmas shipping deadlines anyyyywaaayyyy) and check out these great gift options for your peeps…or….yourself.

$800 and under

So if I’m even bothering to get you a gift, and you’re not Mombert or Dadbert or Brobert, you probably fall into this category. You ma top tier peeps so I’m gonna shell a little more on you than I would other folks in my life.

Rebel Swimwear – $700-$800 at The Shop

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Woven Baskets – $576 – $684 at The Shop

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Meiling Tunic – $650 at The Shop

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Shop Shari Necklace – $600 at Exhibit A

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Delia Alleyne Wrap Jumper – $600 at The Shop

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Lisa See Tai Fringe Kimono – $558 at The Shop

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$500 and under

Cocoa Vintage Necklace – $475 at The Shop

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Toni Crockett Design Throw Pillows – $400 each at Exhibit A

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Lend & Borough Tote – $351 at The Shop

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The Urban Factory Bracelet – $380 at Exhibit A

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Colouriot Jewelry for Bene Caribe Necklace – $280 each at Akimbo

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Zidelle Crop Top – $360 at The Shop

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Island Bags Pouch – $320 at Exhibit A

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Aya Made Necklace – $250 at Akimbo

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Wholesome You Body Care Gift Set – $225 at Akimbo

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JoVew by Makisa Bag – $315 at Akimbo

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Drevait Clutch – $360 at Akimbo

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Bay Leaf Tunic – $350 at Akimbo

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Sanianitos Sunnies – $250 at The Shop

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Greta Michelle Tea Cups – $245 each at The Shop

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$200 and under

Yes this category exists!

Cocoa Vintage Cocoa Pod Studs – $125 (gold) and $100 (brown/yellow) at The Shop

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Nikki Biedes Bracelet – $175 at Exhibit A

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Immortelle Beauty Gift Set – $150 at The Shop

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Wholesome You Hair Care Gift Set – $140 at Akimbo

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Turtle Warriors Tassel Bracelets – $150 each at The Shop

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Immortelle Beauty Ambré Candle – $125 at Exhibit A

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Nola Daniels Coconut Tea Cup – $72 at The Shop

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Classy Gents Beard Oil and Balm – $130 and $60 at Akimbo

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I still have to hit up Exhibit A and Blue Basin to see what they have on offer, so this guide will probably get updated on the weekend.

This list is by no means exhaustive – there’s no way I could document every single item at these stores, so I just selected the items I liked the most 🙂

Please pay a visit to either The Shop at the Normandie Hotel or Akimbo on Pro Queen Street, Arima, to grab some locally made goodies for the loves in your life.

Happy shopping!

Treasure Hunting // Akimbo

East people…our time has come!

Finally there’s a shopping resource in the east for people who want to put their money where their mouth is and buy locally (and regionally) made clothing, accessories and beauty products.

Akimbo, located on Pro Queen Street, Arima (obliquely opposite the tennis courts near the Arima market) is a newly opened boutique which carries products from Trinbagonian artisans, as well as a few folks from other islands.

I missed the opening on November 7th but was able to pop in today.

They carry a variety of designers and makers, with products ranging from clothing to jewellery to handbags to toiletries to furniture to art.

Prices are reasonable IMO – ie, you don’t get the impression you’re paying a heavily inflated price for purchasing from a retail outlet as opposed to directly from a designer.

The store itself is spacious and comfortable. You don’t feel cramped while browsing the items. I didn’t get to check out the changing rooms but they seemed to have quite a bit of space in the area behind the register, so I’m optimistic those also give you enough room to wiggle into some of the pretty dresses on offer.

If you’re still stuck for Christmas shopping, and not able to make it to any of the local markets, consider Akimbo as a shopping destination “past the lighthouse” (eye roll, eye roll, eye roll).

Please note that Akimbo doesn’t currently have a LINX machine. They’re working on it, but for now it’s cash only. Luckily there’s an RBC a stone’s throw away.

Check out my pics from Akimbo:

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AYA Made necklace (custom order)

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William McIntosh

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JoVew by Makisa

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KisKiddies by Xala Ramesar

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Bay Leaf

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Ai Naturals soap

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All Things Pallet

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Tizik

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Affrillance Haiti

Subscription Addiction // diemBox

Subscription boxes have become my latest guilty pleasure.

Somehow I managed to convince myself that it’s not really shopping if you get it routinely deducted from your credit card, without you actually having to go back in and click ‘Make Payment’ each time.

Right.

Anyway, right now I’m subscribed to a few foreign-based boxes, but have long ruminated on the feasibility of a locally-based subscription box, specifically one that carried locally-made items.

I was happy then, to receive an invitation to the launch of diemBox, a subscription service which positions itself as the Caribbean’s premiere subscription box service.

The launch was originally carded for July 24, which, if your memory is sharp, you’ll recall is the day POS thought it was going to burn…but then didn’t. Ie, POS Prison jailbreak day. So everyone cancelled all their evening plans, save for the usual Avenue rats who fear nothing, not even gun-toting prison escapees.

ANY. WAY.

The launch got postponed to the following Sunday and I was unable to attend because I went to CPL finals instead *record scratch*. More on that another day.

Elena of diemBox was kind enough to deliver my box to me at work, so I could bask in the glory of the first of the ‘Caribbean-inspired’ monthly offerings.

DiemBox

Hello gorgeous

According to the description, each box is carefully curated based on a monthly theme, which embodies life in the Caribbean.

Cost: $60USD per month; with free shipping for addresses within T&T. Regional/International subscribers will incur an additional shipping cost.

Note however that there are different costs depending on the length of subscription you take.

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Promotional Image of diemBox contents

The information card I received with the box listed the items and their retail value:

MIKASA Stemless Wine Glass – $163TTD

MG Oolong Tea – $138TTD (Wasn’t included in the box I received)

Immortelle Beauty Esscentials Shower Gel – $69TTD

Bottega Mini Black 200ml – $59TTD

Anigram Ring Holder – $95TTD (Mine was a whale. I saw others got giraffes and rabbits)

Porcelain Ramekin – $45TTD

Stonewall Kitchen Raspberry Peach Champagne Jam 3.75 oz – $45TTD

MACO – $44TTD

Total Retail Value of items: $658TTD

Note: I received a Cailyn Nailpolish – which I priced in Starlite Pharmacy at $20TTD (This was not listed on the info card, so I presume it was a last minute replacement for the Oolong Tea).

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I think the assumption most people made/are making (myself included) is that this box was supposed to be a box of locally-made products.

Not so…as diemBox clearly states on their website and all social media profiles…it’s a Caribbean-inspired box.

Inspired.

Verdict:

I think this is a good first attempt at a Caribbean-based subscription service.

I’m not unreasonable…I know a service like this is expensive to curate, especially since we here in the Caribbean don’t have the benefit of mass-produced items to pop into subscription boxes.

However, that’s not the consumer’s concern. The consumer’s concern is whether they’re getting value for money.

Value is a pretty abstract concept. It’s not just dollars and cents; it’s the intrinsic benefit added to your life by a product or service, and that’s very subjective.

Would I pay $60USD per month for this box? Not based on the contents of the first box. And that’s not a dig at the quality of the items…they’re very good quality, tastefully designed products. Would I use all of them? Sure!

Like…I love me some prosecco any day of the week, and Bottega is the bomb…that ring holder is adorable…I never realised I needed a ramekin until I got this box (not even kidding)…Immortelle Beauty body wash went straight into my gym bag.

My real issue is that I want more locally made products. If this box included even two or three more locally made items, I would happily pay the asking price.

I must note that I have seen a concerted effort on the part of Elena and her team to get more local artisans on board with the project.

Hopefully this will encourage more local artisans to actually produce more of their goods in sample sizes, so it can be economically feasible for them to contribute to the box.

I could easily see an Amara Organics, Koko Karibi, Peta Odini, Shop Shari, Turtle Warrior TT, etc fitting in with this box, based on the type of products they make.

I’ll be monitoring the contents of the next few months’ boxes to see how the curation progresses.

Let me emphasize again – in terms of product quality and retail value…this box is worth the money. But if you’re looking for something you truly can’t get from a foreign subscription box, it’s not all the way there yet.

I encourage you to check out diemBox for yourself though, and decide whether this is a box you’re willing to try.

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Thoughts // On being ‘alone’

I’m what you’d call a serial monogamist.

I love being in a relationship.

I’ve been involved in some degree of a relationship since I was around 14 years old. My longest period of singledom was probably in 2011…when I was single for about 7 months. Then commenced a three-year-long relationship.

I’m single now. And trying to stay that way indefinitely.

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I figured out that I do this thing where I throw myself into relationships in a big way, very fast. I don’t really give myself proper time to assess the situation, or the person I’m embarking on this journey with. I love being in love, and sometimes I do it foolishly.

Add to that the fact that I actually don’t date. I don’t think I’ve ever just gone out with someone for the purpose of assessing their personality. Maybe that’s silly of me but I don’t think we have a very robust dating culture in Trinidad anyway, so I’m sure I’m not alone. Perhaps that’s part of the problem…but dating presents a whole heap of other problems for me, which I’ll discuss some other time, maybe.

Anyway, 2015 will be the year that I focus all my energy on myself. No men, no distractions. (And of course now that I’ve said that out loud, Mr. Right will come strolling into my life tomorrow self)

I told myself I needed to take the time to really evaluate what I want out of myself, and out of a partner in a relationship. Not in a ‘make a checklist’ type way, but rather, really firm up in my mind what I should be willing to give, and expect in return. I think, if I look back on my past relationships, I almost always end up giving far more than I take. It’s always an emotionally and mentally exhausting experience for me, but I stick around because I really love the idea of adding to someone else’s life. But it always ends because imbalance does that to people.

I’m just tired I suppose, of allowing myself to be taken for granted…and somehow training myself to be okay with it. Not only will people take you for granted…they will betray your trust in ways unimaginable, until the darkness comes to light and your meagre imagination pales in comparison to reality (woah Ceola, heavy much?).

I never considered myself as being afraid of being alone…but maybe I was? I don’t feel scared now though…this is easily the most exciting thing I’ve done in a very long time. Having zero obligations to anyone but yourself is a very liberating thing. That and the fact that people cannot disappoint you because you do not allow yourself to have expectations of them. I am trying now to take everything people say at face value. I’m trying to live in a black and white world instead of the shades of grey I’m constantly colouring my life with.

My friend Veesha told me the other day, ‘you are bae’ (no I’m not leaving it in 2014, language police, you and your high horse could miss meh) today, and she’s right. I am bae. For all of 2015, I will give myself as much as I am always prepared to give someone else.

In 2015, I will travel. I may not travel by myself, because I know a lot of good people walking a similar road as I right now, but I will travel for me. For the last 6 years I have put off travelling, one of my favourite things to do, because I’ve been involved with people who just didn’t enjoy it or prioritise it like I did. This year I go where I want to because I have no good reason not to. I never had a good reason not to.

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I’ll concentrate on developing and expanding my career and my blog. I need to start diversifying, trying new things, adding different media to this space. I need to write more, for more publications on a wider variety of topics. I want to start new projects with new people.

I want to focus on improving my health and my fitness and get my body where I want it to be. I want to have stamina and endurance. I want to be able to lift heavier and heavier things, and do more push ups, more sit ups, maybe even a pull up! Lol. I want to run new trails (maybe even without stopping) and try new exercises and new sports. I want to get into the habit of feeding myself better.

I’m not saying I can’t do all these things if I was in a relationship…but again…this way means less distractions, less obligations and more time for myself, ie, less excuses.

It’s important to do these things for yourself. For me it might be travel or fitness or work but for someone else it might be studying, it might be starting a business or pursuing a hobby or a past time that you just never made time for before. They say sometimes your boundaries are just a matter of perception, and they’re right.

I have no kids, no mortgage, no loans, no overheads…there is quite literally never going to be a better time than now to dedicate my life to self-improvement, and making memories for myself…by myself…maybe.

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I owe it to myself…this time to be by myself and be all about me. I deserve to be happy, and that happiness should never be contingent on anyone else. People should only add to my happiness by being in my life, never diminish it with their absence.

And even after saying all that…I say this. I have never been, nor will I ever be alone. This period in my life has taught me a lot of things, but the one thing that brings me an immense amount of comfort is the knowledge that I have a wealth of people in my life who support and care for me. People who were always there and some who came out of the woodwork just when I needed them most. People who understand. People who love me and want me to be happy. People to spend time with. People to talk to every minute of every day if I wanted to. I am surrounded.

So there it is…all my business in the road (not really) for the world to see. I hope this speaks to anyone in a similar place right now. We’re some boss ass bitches with some boss ass lives and it can only get better once your head is on straight and you flip the shit upside down and start appreciating all the perks of having no one to consider but yourself.

Thoughts // On Moving On

I’ve decided to add a new segment to the blog.

I noticed that my On 2014 post got a lot of positive feedback both on and off the blog…so I thought maybe people actually might be interested in reading a bit more about my personal perspective on certain things…like…life and such.

I mean you could also not want to read that, which is cool as well. Just ignore this post and wait for my next restaurant review or market trip.

Ok! Let’s begin thinking…about moving on…specifically from hurtful situations…presumably with people and love and all that stuff.

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There’s a running joke between me and anyone who will listen, that it takes me approximately four working days to get over ‘heartbreak’.

One might argue that maybe I don’t feel that much to begin with…so there’s that, and that’s debatable, but then there’s also the fact that I’ve learned a few secrets over the last few months.

(Really…I blame/thank the book Eat, Pray, Love. It’s cliche as all hell but I strongly recommend that book to anyone who is going through any measure of a ‘broken heart’).

Meditation is an exercise I try to do on a daily basis now. It’s a real struggle but I feel like my mind is so much clearer and so much calmer since I started. I don’t give in to anxiety the way I used to, and when I feel particularly out of control, I can put on one of my guided sessions (I HIGHLY recommend the Headspace app as an introduction to meditation) and immediately feel better.

Breathing is such an essential part of stress relief. It’s amazing, but not surprising, how we take the positive effects of controlled, concentrated breathing for granted.

It was after a yoga class one day, a while ago, that I told my yoga instructor that I found myself holding my breath through some of the more painful positions. She told me ‘That means you probably hold your breath when you experience difficulties or challenges in your day to day life as well. You have to breathe through it.’

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Gat dayum these yogis are brilliant.

I always remember her words when I find myself holding my breath, and I remember to breathe. Slow, counting down from ten and starting again if I need to.

So meditating is the first thing. It’s also, to me, the most important thing, because in order to start the process of effectively dealing with pain, you first have to stop your mind from spinning out of control, as it tends to when we’re in the midst of sorrow or anger.

Right, so you have your head straight.

The next thing I recommend you do is research oxytocin. Oxytocin is this pesky little hormone that our brain produces…otherwise known as the ‘love drug’. It’s that chemical that makes you feel the butterflies, the lightheadedness, the general dotishness that one experiences when ‘in love’, and particularly when you’re engaged in a sexual relationship with someone.

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Research it well and understand that that feeling of love…the actual feeling, is not unique. Everyone feels it. And you will feel it again, have no fear.

Now this isn’t to say I don’t think love is more than just a chemical reaction in your brain…there is always context to consider.

I’m sure situations attribute a lot to the overall experience of being ‘in love’ with someone but it’s important to remember that you’re not going crazy, you’re just having a normal human response to certain stimuli.

And here’s the kicker – women produce more of it than men. That’s nice and fair isn’t it? Oh well…we have to learn to operate with the hand we’re dealt kids.

Another valuable lesson I’ve learned…and it actually only came to me today…when you allow yourself to be optimistic, or look forward to something, it becomes considerably more difficult to hold on to bitterness and sadness. Sometimes this is easier said than done, I know.

I was very fortunate to have been given a new job opportunity literally the day after a breakup last year…so I had this immense feeling of optimism and gratefulness that kind of overpowered my misery. I am constantly reminded that I am blessed. And when you are as blessed as I perceive myself to be, I find it kind of petty and ungrateful to spend even a minute more than necessary wallowing in self-pity.

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Shit happens, yes, but so do amazing, wonderful things.

It’s important too, to note that sometimes when you’re doing said wallowing, and you’re up to your neck in self-prescribed despair, you can sometimes block opportunities or good things that are trying to enter your life.

Yes…you need to feel what you need to feel (I always tell people it’s important to feel what they need to…but just don’t drown in it) but you also need to acknowledge that life has not stopped. Allow good things to happen to you. Let them in. Allow yourself to be optimistic. Plan a trip, go hang out with your bestie, update your resume, laugh. Laughter helps a lot. You have to let the good in to work out the bad…and that’s SUPER abstract I know, but you’re smart…you get what I’m saying.

I’m constantly reminding myself to let good things happen to me even when I feel sad.

It’s ok to feel happy or hopeful when you’re getting over heart break.

Connected to this point, loosely, is perspective. I remember waking up one morning a few days after that same break up, feeling like complete crap and totally prepared to spend the day under the covers, listening to sad music, when I saw the news online that a school, which was serving as a UN shelter in Palestine had been shelled that night.

15 were dead and over 100 injured, mostly women and children. Palestinian boy scouts were reported to be sifting through the debris, trying to collect body parts for burial.

That was the slap in the face – I know nothing about suffering.

Whatever I was experiencing…it was a drop in the bucket compared to the sadness in the world. I had so much more to be grateful for than to be sad about. Losing someone sucks…yeah…ok. I hear you. But this life is too short to spend it not living for yourself and for the opportunities you still have.

Dammit I sound like a proper self-help book, and I hate pontificating, but I truly believe everything I just wrote, and I think about it constantly. Focus on the good. Focus on what you DO have, and focus on the people who choose to stay.

That is the sum of your life, that is the sum of your experiences in this world. You’ll get over it. You’ll find someone new. Someone who can love you how you deserve to be loved.

Or…maybe you won’t. Not for a while anyway. And that’s okay too. It is okay if someone chooses to continue their journey without you. That is their choice. And all it means is that you need to continue your journey as well. What they do from here on out is no longer your problem, and it’s no longer your business.

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Believe and embrace that quickly and darling you’ll be just fine. Oh also don’t let that shit lower your self esteem…that’s whack and we too old for those teenage habits. Cut that shit out.

Out & About // More Vino & Carnival Pop Up Shop

I’m desperately unprepared for Carnival.

Maybe it was the short season that left me thinking I had more time to get my shit together…but I’m 21 days out and still haven’t even been to Samaroo’s! I don’t even know who I am anymore guys.

I’ve been working out 6 days a week and I’ve been doing Slimdown 360 meals (more out of convenience than anything else) but when the weekend comes, I go H.A.M. on the carbs (kinda). I don’t know…I just haven’t stopped eating…and to prove it to you…here are some pics from my More Vino (or as I like to say Mas Vino) dinner date with my besties on Friday night.

My beautiful best friend Sandi perusing Vino's fancy schmancy menu

My beautiful best friend Sandi perusing Vino’s fancy schmancy menu

Hiyashi Wakame Salad

Hiyashi Wakame Salad

Crab Dip with Tsum Tsum Bread

Crab Dip with Tsum Tsum Bread and some next bread no one touched

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Tone Up Roll and Riceless Roll in the backround. To our credit, it was a riceless night.

Noting my significant lack of preparedness for Carnival, on Saturday I decided to check out the Carnival Pop Up Shop, which took place at Fluid Bar on the avenue. I’ve been meaning to grab some items like the Shibue strapless panty (more on that later) and check out the Carnivalista fishnet tights, and they were both going to be at the Pop Up so I figured I’d kill birds with stones and whatnot.

Shop Shari shell down the place with her amazing statement necklaces

Shop Shari shelling down the place with her amazing statement necklaces

Could totally picture a nude body suit & a Shop Shari Carnival piece for Monday wear.

Could totally picture a nude body suit & a Shop Shari Carnival piece for Monday wear.

Ear cuffs by Kimi See Tai

Ear cuffs by Kimi See Tai. Call her at 377-2557 to order your own. She does custom pieces as well. 

I've seen these Shibue strapless panties being touted on Facebook so I did a little research. Seems like a pretty nifty solution to the issue of what to wear between your stockings and your privates on the road for Carnival. God knows panty lines do us no good.

I’ve seen these Shibue strapless panties being touted on Facebook so I did a little research. Seems like a pretty nifty solution to the issue of what to wear between your stockings and your privates on the road for Carnival. God knows panty liners do us no good. May do a review of these before the big day. 

Grabbed me a pair of Carnivalista Naked fishnets in shade Toffee (because I'm getting a tan for Carnival and anticipating a shade darker). May just wear these on Monday though...we'll see.

Grabbed me a pair of Carnivalista Naked fishnets in shade Toffee (because I’m getting a tan for Carnival and anticipating a shade darker). May just wear these on Monday though…we’ll see.

BONUS PIC!

Went a smidge overboard on Zara over the holidays and ended up with apparently enough new items that I can wear an entire outfit comprised entirely of Zara. Wore this to my friend Nick's birthday lime on Saturday night. Only non-Zara item is of course my Lend & Borough bag.

Went a smidge overboard on Zara over the holidays and ended up with apparently enough new items that I can wear an entire outfit comprised entirely of Zara. Wore this to my friend Nick’s birthday lime on Saturday night. Only non-Zara item is of course my Lend & Borough bag.