Casual Matters

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When it comes to your capsule wardrobe, what are some essentials that are in heavy rotation? A dark pair of skinnies that you resort to, instantaneously making you look 5 pounds lighter? Or a nifty puffer jacket with down-filled inserts that warmly grace you through winter? As for moi, I have a predilection for pieces that are not only perpetually stylish but also appease the “time is of the essence” concern. Especially days when the ticking hand is not on good terms with me.

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Say it’s casual Friday morning and you woke up to your alarm clock setting off, only to realize that you slept through the other two (and they say 3rd time’s the charm…how amusing). With no time to berate yourself for indulging in happy hours (plural) the night before, you’re now battling with the dilemma of “how to prep yourself in 10 minutes”. So what items do you take refuge in? An item that I always seek solace in is a textured shawl.

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And here’s why – not only will it compliment a few of your favorite outfits and stretch your budget further for your Christmas shopping needs, the wearing options are also endless. Say you can 1.) Perch atop your shoulder, 2.) Wind it around your neck to create a natural drape, or 3.) Tie the ends together to create a baggy cardigan. And when you have 2 minutes and counting to pick an add-on that would keep you shiver-free during your commute (option 2) and ward off the chills at the office (option 1), the shawl is a stylish option for all your fashion-conscious folks!

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In my outfit today I brought out a new find, a tri-colored shawl with seamlessly executed textural spots scattered across the board. To stay in tandem with the colors, I wore a pink button-down shirt and black skinnies. A stylish way to add some color to the ensemble? A tribal gold-toned necklace placed under the collar, one whose color scheme is not askew from the main outfit, and a hands-free tote like this Marc Jacobs one. Also my pony hair boots gave all the ease of edge and flair as the buckles and folded texture at the ankle makes it truly a unique pair.

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So tell me, have you jumped on the shawl bandwagon yet, and if so, how do you wear yours? 🙂

XO~ Lena

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Top: Banana Republic // Shawl: H&M// Pants: Paige// Shoes: Via Spiga// Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

Photos: Jason J Photography

Dust It Off

h-6There’s something about a longline camel coat that’s perennially stylish, lending a well-polished flair to coveted snaps on Instagram from street style mavens to runway muses. And no matter what styles you favor – the glossy Wall street look with crisp collars and nifty pant suits, or the androgynous vibe that blurs gender divides with distressed denims and oversized jumpers, there’s a look for everyone.h-2V-21And when it comes to the oversized drapey version (a.k.a The Duster Coat) gracing major headlines from Refinery29 to WhoWhatWear (this one is a major steal!), I knew right off the bat that it’s a fashionable force to be reckoned with. And can you blame the legion of devoted followers from Karlie Kloss to Chiara Ferragni? The perks are endless – perch atop the shoulder for that cool, nonchalant look, or seamlessly execute a work-appropriate ensemble by wearing it over a jersey panelled dress with ruched asymmetrical panels like this Derek Lam number.

Choose longer styles with sneakers if you are tall, or aim for knee length with high-heeled ankle boots if you are petite. Wardrobe staple to augment seasonal pieces? Definitely so. Evolved for the sole purpose of polish and practice? You bet!V-1V-40V-47In my outfit today I channeled the downtown cool girl look by donning this L.A.M.B duster coat with a speck of feline fun (anything gave that away?) Paying homage to Kate Moss, Queen of the minimalistic trend, I turned retro on its ear by choosing an outfit replete with collared shirt, Rag and Bone denims with leather patching (now on sale for 40% off), cat-eyes and red lips. Lastly to add some jazz to this streamlined and clean ensemble I took out these sequined slip-ons for a wanderlust-inducing spin!

V-22V-26It’s no secret that the camel duster coat has taken the fashion world by storm. What’s your favorite way of wearing this highly coveted, loose-fitting number?

Xo~ Lena

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Photos: Jason J Photography

Jacket: L.A.M.B// Top: Banana Republic// Sweater: H&M// Pants: Rag & Bone// Shoes: Sperry// Bag: Steve Madden

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Star Light Star Bright

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“Star light, star bright. The first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might. Have the wish I wish tonight”

Pinocchio delivered that famous line when one day he looked upon the glazing star, so luminously fixed in the night sky, and wished that one day he’d become a human boy. Flash forward 120 years later after Carlo Collodi brought his children’s novel to life, the very thought of wishing upon a star for a desire, a dream so far-fetched and improbable, remain naive and vacuous to most people. Image

However, many great inventions and enterprises trading equities around the globe do not achieve their monumental success without, at one point in time, a wish…a desire…a minuscule dream so small and insignificant that many deem preposterous. However, without igniting a dream, believing in its existence, and nurturing its growth, we wouldn’t be moving forward with our existence; rather, we would remain complacent in our current state of affairs and be bounded by the confining “can dos, can’t dos” of our daily grind.

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Like those of Evan Spiegel (who developed Snapchat as a project for one of his product design classes at Stanford) and Michael Dell (who founded his namesake company from his dorm room by selling computers built from stock components), they believed the trail of success starts with a solid foundation. In my outfit today I chose this black and white outfit with this star-spangled cardi (which reminds me of what Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wore; similar one HERE) because this color combo reminds me of the fundamental bearings of a stable core – one that is “tried and tested”; one that retains its value and withstands passing trends and time. 

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Thus I believe our lives should be led by a well-rooted foundation and our dreams catapulted with a strong mind, a tactful plan, and a bucket full of faith. Like a glazing star whose life begins with traces of hydrogen fuel and helium, ideas are like chemical infusions that, in due time, creates newer elements that propel our expansion, leaps and bounds, into newer and more fulfilling areas!

Shine on starlets!

Xo~ Lena

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Photos: Jason J Photography

Dress: Forever 21// Cardi: TopShop// Tights: Hue// Shoes: Vince Camuto// Accessories: H&M/Urban Outfitters

 

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Bold Essentials

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Either you’re in New York or halfway across the globe in Paris, it’s no secret that during Fashion Week the swanning cobbled streets outside the main panoplies are usually filled with models, bloggers and editors donned in the season’s trendiest pieces. A mishmash array of bold colors and jazzy prints framed in unrestrained luxury? No doubt. A style-setting pictorial display of “who wore what and how” that millions of social media savvy girls follow suit? Totally.

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So here’s the roundup. While New York brought us the utilitarian Alexander Wang-clad MOD look, London introduced us to normcore (which was coined by a trend forecasting group to resonate with the laid-back chill vibe). Milan, as heavily influenced by steamroller designers like D&G and Valentino, bestowed upon us the ethereal Victorian goddess semblance. And Paris, the enigmatic la Ville-Lumière, shed its light on the perennially chic look of head-to-toe noir.

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With Fashion Week on a respite as a spawning list of leggy models and socialites prepare for the Tokyo show commencing October 13, we can take a breath to absorb in all the novel trends we’ve seen so far on our Bloglovin feed. As we rewind the sensory overload reel that Fashion Week showed us on the runway screen, there’s a well-curated selection of avant-garde trends to emulate. Guipure lace, jacquard patterns, jersey-paneled dresses, and sleeveless capes. The list goes on.

  

Of all the spiffy coils and fans on the runway, my favorite style for Fall is the cozy sweater + midi skirt look. And not just any pairing really. But a tonal shrug towards a neutral ensemble that plays up different fabrics and texture. One that emphasizes on the classic streamlined look with a zest of edge.

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So to emulate this Parisienne style right off the bat from Carrousel du Louvre, I went with a black & white outfit where I paired my duo-toned crop sweater with a lace midi skirt. I love the sheer lace detail where you see the star patterns transpire the further south you go, leaving much to the proverbial line of “leaving some to the imagination”. To add an extra pep to the outfit, I went with these black suede wedges (classic Lena) with an oscillating pattern that makes the outfit fun while keeping the color scheme in check (find HERE). A duffel bag in neutral shades of brown and black kept all my knick knacks in place.

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Who said monotonous black and white is boring? Take it from the Parisian ladies walking down the avenues donned in timeless and trendy pieces in ways that appear effortless. Keep the color neutral. Play up the texture. That’s the “sais” de “je ne sais quoi”, ma chérie 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Photos: Jason J Photography

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Midi Is My Hobby

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Maxi skirts long have had their heyday when floor-grazing patterned sheaths dominated the runway, from a Valentino macramé lace number to a Cavalli beaded ruffled dress with glamorous boho movement. And mini trends were just as prevalent during the fashion week extravaganza, turning the summer staple to a showgoer uniform worn with striped orange jumpers and coveted heels.

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Then there’s the midi skirt trend that graced the street style playground in various shapes and form. Full, pleated, patterned, lace. A style so versatile that it’s evolved for the sole purpose of style and practice with a hint of Parisienne chic. Stumped on how to integrate a style favored by leggy models into your ensembles? Sky-high heels aside, here are two of my favorite midi styles for work and play (happy hour salute!)

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1.) Patterned: whether floral, baroque or jacquard lace, a printed midi will flatter your silhouette. Teamed with crop tops and dainty heels, the outfit is great for a cocktail party or an evening soirée. A friendly reminder — to emphasize a feature, choose large prints; to downplay one, go for smaller prints.

2.) Pencil Cut: a great office staple, it’s a surefire way to take your 9-5 wardrobe up a notch. Choose a high-waisted version and tuck in your crop top (belts optional) and add on bold accessories like chic eyewear and bejeweled necklaces.

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In my outfit today I played up the 2 iconic styles with this midi skirt from Milly by saturating my ensemble with bright colors. Because the effervescent floral number held the spotlight, I paired it with a black crop top and kitten heels. Sensory overload. Under tab. Want to add extra pep to your look?  Make sure your accessories pick up a color on your skirt, like the demure orange earrings that matched the coral hue on my dress.

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Whether you want to pull off this season’s ladylike trends with a pleated midi, or add an offbeat edge with a leather skirt, there’s an option for everyone. What’s your favorite midi style of the moment?

Xo~ Lena

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Top: H&M// Skirt: Milly// Shoes: 14th Union// Bag: Zara// Shades: Prada// Choker: Forever 21

Photos: Jason J

The Fall Sartorialist

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Now that Fall is in full swing, there are many seasonal bearings to embrace that were absent in the beach-frollicking season prior. Pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks for some, watching leaves falling on the wayside for others.

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For most of us either in school or a 9-5 gig, we’d like to think of Fall as the bold resurgence of mix-match pairing. Sometimes all it takes is a new silhouette, layering technique, or a wardrobe staple to help you bring your oldies back into rotation. So don’t pack up your summer outfits yet, here are some tips on rekindling the old flame:

1.)  In-Vest: Cheesy as this sounds, you can up the fashion ante by investing in a solid vest. Whether it’s wool blend with satin lapels or faux fur with toggles, it gives your ensemble an edged up look.

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2.) Mix prints: Sartorial street style can a visceral instinct for some (or a styling entourage to get it down pat), but it’s not rocket science to master the MOD look. Geometric prints look awesome with plaid flannel, and black and white stripes goes well with bright colors. To avoid being drafted by InStyle as a fashion faux paus, make sure neither prints are too boisterous.

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3.) Accessories: Layered bracelets, chunky necklaces, or tribal earrings. On untamed mane days, give your confection a makeover with a wide-brimmed fedora.

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So create an exciting new look with the layering effect without forking out the greenbacks for a new wardrobe. Mix and match your wardrobe staples, and have fun styling the model YOU!

Xo~ Lena

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Top: Urban Outfitters// Vest: H&M// Jeans: Hudson// Shoes: Vince Camuto// Fedora: H&M// Bag: TopShop// Bracelet: Forever 21 + J Crew// Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs

Photos: Jason J

 

Borrowed From The Boys

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London Fashion Week has long been considered the “kooky aunt” of fashion weeks, as The New York Times deftly stated in its recap. After a 7-day iteration of fashion-forward catwalk shows and street style panoplies at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, the style-setters quickly jetted over to the Swinging City for the British fashion extravaganza.

Unlike the brazen, digitally-consumed summation of its predecessor (think Rebecca Minkoff’s high-tech glasses and Ralph Lauren’s Godzilla-like holograms of models on his runway), London Fashion Week’s normcore styles were, well quite frankly, normal. Modest and understated, to say the least (with the lack of a 10-feet tall inflatable pink elephant).

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A Burberry blanket coat perhaps (hefty on the market at $1300) or a copious dose of feminine pleats. My favorite style? Haute-androgyny. Menswear designs. Think bomber jacket dress from Christopher Raeburn, rucksack from Preen, and denim jacket from Burberry.

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I loved how models worked the dandy look, from Cara Delevingne’s satin 2-piece navy suit (no bra intended) to Kate Moss’s fitted suede trench coat that worked seamlessly into her all-black ensemble. This feminine spin on a typically male trend is no stranger to the fashion world. Flash back to the early ’20s, Chanel introduced sailor pants as a trend-setting alternative to trousers worn by women in traditionally male jobs. Soon a slew of designers emulated her fashion-forward concoctions with collarless boxy wool jackets and jersey pants. Want to work this trend into your office wardrobe?

Try these 3 trends: 1.) Sleek cropped pants with a nifty button-down shirt 2.) Patterned oversize blazer like houndstooth or tweed over satin shorts, or 3,) Chambray shirt, leather skinnies and chelsea boots.

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As to my take on androgynous haute couture, I worked in a boxy beaded sweatshirt over a crisp white button down shirt. I really like the round neckline, stand-up collar, and colorful embroidery as this played up my usual run of the mill shirt.

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Staging in a pop of color with the blood orange clutch was tricky but the color well illuminated the beaded embroidery when framed together in a shot so I thought why not? The brighter the outfit, the happier this OL (office lady). To finish this look, I kept my pants and accessories to a minimum with these Paige denim jeans and black ankle boots.

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Of course if you’re opting for that seventies swagger of Mick Jagger, turn to Miu Miu’s clashing striped collar and Valentino’s shiny slip-ons. After all, every good tomboy has a throwback rock ‘n roll feminine side 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Sweater: H&M// Shirt: Banana Republic// Jeans: Paige Denim// Boots: BP Shoes// Clutch: Tory Burch// Shades: Prada

Photos: Jason J

 

Earn Wings And Sky Out

“For me, time is the greatest mystery of all. The fact is that we’re dreaming all the time. That’s what really gets me. We have a fathomless lake of unconsciousness just beneath our skulls.” – Anthony Hopkins

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They often say dreaming is the foreground to imagination that’s free, unhampered, and limitless. As a child, we often use our wandering mind to dream the unthinkable, gather concrete mortar for our supporting blocks, and build castles in the air. Not ones that we live lavishly in complacency, but those that house our solid character and drive our pursuit. Our passion. Who we want to be, and what we want to achieve.

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To ponder is one, to chase after is another. Though dreams and ambitions steer our journey to new grounds, oftentimes we get so wrapped up in modern mayhem and digital conundrums (4G LTE where art thou?) that we forget our initial bearings and saunter our way to aggravated terrains. We forget our objective, we cede our motive. So to regroup my thoughts when they are scattered along four miles of Lake Shore Drive, I would take a breather by the lakeside and enjoy the view across the horizon.

Invigorating. Unruffled. Free.

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To tribute this journey of revitalizing self (and rendering positive impact on my surrounding), I picked out this embroidered A-line dress from Mata Traders. I love the hand block prints and craft designs as much as the company’s motive in making fashion an impactful metric for fair trade and creating a sphere of meaningful work opportunities for women in India and Nepal. Thus this statement piece coincides with the idea of educating and empowering self and others as the company’s mantra spans a long latitude with a socially-gratifying impact. Mata means “mother” in Hindi, and their clothing is a tribute to the female shakti power in each and every one of us! To find out more about this Shore Club Dress and learn about how their quality handiwork makes fair trade products fashion-forward and unique, check them out HERE!

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Fresh air. Breezy and potent by nature. Unhampered sight. Untampered mind. That’s the shakti power of Mother Nature 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Dress: Mata Traders// Sweater: Abercrombie & Fitch// Belt: H&M// Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs// Shoes: Vince Camuto// Shades: Prada// Bracelet: Topshop// Earrings: Anne Haywood

In collaboration with Mata Traders; thoughts and opinions are my own.

Blurred Lines

Sunday. Funday. OOTD.

Blurred Lines. Dark sheath. Tribal accessories.

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When it comes to styling an LBD (little black dress), the sky and its orbits are the limit. We oftentimes gravitate towards dark-colored outfits because we think that they elicit a slimming and contouring effect. Though I undoubtedly agree with that fashionable idea (the “I lost 5 pound” theory), I also believe that color spectrums of black, navy and grey are great foundations for the layering effect.

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Much like an embellished mural yet to be painted, a little black dress is like a blank canvas that’s achromatic and void. With a bit of stippling, blending and a dash of color, one can make it vibrant and fun. Whether it’d be an embellished jewelry to add a bit of jazz to a cocktail dress, or a fitted tribal print blazer to add definition to a maxi gown, there are countless ways to express your individuality by adding on baubles and trinkets that define your unique style.

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Along that note I paired a floor-grazing dress with a black and white labyrinth jacket. I adored this number when I saw it at H&M given how these simple colors create such intricate designs. So to complete this Oriental-style outfit, I layered on a tribal necklace that matched the red lining of my jacket and crisscross stilettos that dramatized this jagged effect. Does the bauble look familiar? That’s because the sister pair was featured on my NYC giveaway, by which the lovely Ms. Jacqueline won! Check out her awesome blog Avibrantday which features spectacular beauty hauls and makeup reviews.

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Who said that neutrals of black, navy and grey paved the way for fashion doldrums? Look far and trust your instincts…you just might get yourself out of that maze 🙂

Xo~ Lena

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Photos: Jason J

Hit Rock Bottom. Bounce Back Up

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together” – Marilyn Monroe

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Life can be a tumultuous ride; oftentimes we get caught up in the whirlwind where we are at our highest highs at one moment only to be dropped down next to our lowest lows. At that moment we experience an instant adrenaline rush that puts us in the fight or flight mode where we ask ourselves “should I pursue this or should I just let it go?”

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The feeling of perseverance resonated with me as I came by River North, which is a scintillating and upbeat neighborhood north of Chicago’s Loop. Despite its livelihood and crowd, this is one of the places where I encountered many fond memories and where down the road had to turn a “blind eye” to a few. This is the foreground to where friendships were born and nourished, and where the last goodbyes were bid adieu.

Yes despite all these perpetual changes in sentiment, I know one thing stays constant, and that is my character. I became Better. I moved Faster. I endured Stronger. And hopefully became more fun 🙂

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In my outfit today I paired tribal-print cropped pants with a fitted black blazer because I wanted to resonate with the idea of BALANCE. The colors are multi-toned and if looked closely can have a dizzying effect–this is like the dilemmas in life that catch us off guard.

In order to maintain equilibrium, we have to counter it with stable matters (much like the neutrality of this classic blazer) — a hobby that hones our creativity, a mentor that gives us sound advice, a blog to muse about frivolous yet enlightening thoughts without pause. These are the little trinkets of life that help us endure difficult times and build our character to counter new ones in a more resilient manner than before.

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So when you hit bottom next time, bounce back up. You know it’s in you to be a fighter and a survivor. And if you’re in River North, make sure to stop by Rock Bottom Brewery on Grand Avenue. A beer or two might help too 🙂

Xoxo ~ Lena

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Phots: Jason J 

Tank Top: Banana Republic// Blazer: H&M// Pants: H&M// Pouch: Zara// Shoes: 14th Union// Watch: Marc Jacobs// Necklace: Forever 21