Monday, 31 October 2016

Screw 'Modest Style'!

modest fashion

What the Hell is Modest Style???

A while back I received an email by a company suggesting a collaboration on modest style. I actually had to google what the term meant, and I quickly decided it was not for me.

I'm not going to try and define 'modest style' here. Instead, I want to talk about why I find the concept at best irrelevant, and at worst offensive. But first, I would like to point out that it's not my intention to offend anyone, and I realise there might be women out there who, for whatever reason, subscribe to such concepts and perhaps even find them helpful. However, I do want to point out that 'modest style' is one of those concepts that is very much tied to cultural background and societal norms. And it is this context I wish to discuss here. Because 'modest style' as a cultural concept does NOT apply to me.

So, since we're talking about cultural background, I should start by defining mine. Yes, I'm a Finn, and as such I very much subscribe to the whole Nordic / Scandinavian egalitarian view of the world. What exactly does that mean? Well, for starters, I find the whole discussion on how women should and shouldn't dress somewhat obsolete. I mean, who cares? Does anyone ask what men should or shouldn't wear?

As I said, I'm the product of my cultural framework as much as any other woman, or man, for that matter. And yes, as a Nordic woman I'm probably rather naive about gender roles in other societies, and certainly privileged in many respects. I do realise that I take a lot of things for granted: that I expect to be seen as an equal to any man; that I'm seen as a human being instead of just a pretty face or a hot body; and that I'm judged on my professional competence, not on my looks.

What does this have to do with 'modest style', you might ask. Isn't modest style simply covering up, refusing to wear 'sexy' clothes? And isn't that more or less the way I dress?

I don't like the term 'modest style' any more than I like terms such as 'sexy' or 'slutty'. All of these terms are offensive because they reduce a woman to an objectified, sexualised 'other', defined by her value in relation to a man. These definitions have nothing to do with her skills and aspirations, or her value as a human being who is free to live her life as she sees fit, without being constrained by gender roles and societal expectations.

And then there's something that I actually didn't even want to mention, simply because it's so depressing. But hey, what the hell, so here goes:

'SEXY' OR 'MODEST', SERIOUSLY?!? ARE THOSE THE ONLY TWO CHOICES?!? 
MADONNA OR WHORE, IS THAT WHAT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO??? AGAIN?!?

I'm NOT a 'modest dresser'

And my own style? No, I absolutely refuse to call it 'modest'. And I will not allow anyone else to call my style 'modest', either. Yes, I often cover my arms in summer. I wear maxi dresses. I do this because I want to protect my skin from the sun, and I hate sunblock. 'Modesty'  has nothing to do with it. And I'm certainly not a prude. I'm a Finn, for heaven's sake! We Nordics tend to have less body hangups, in general. And we do not equate nudity with sex. I'm perfectly OK taking my clothes off in public, in the appropriate setting (no, not a sexual setting), such as in the sauna (and no, mixed saunas with strangers are not the norm) or a spa. But no, you will not see any photos of me in swimwear, for two reasons: 1) I can't swim and 2) I never sunbathe (because I burn). As you can see, I have absolutely no use for swimwear...

So, I'm not a prude, and I definitely don't want to call my style 'modest'. Yet, you won't see me wearing mini skirts or low necklines. I have nothing against either, really, just that they're not the best looks for me. Let's take mini skirts, for example. I'm a strong believer in accentuating your best features. And wearing a mini skirt... Well, I could just hang a sign around my thighs with 'DID YOU NOTICE THAT THIS IS THE THICKEST PART OF MY BODY?' printed on it, the effect would be the same... You don't see me wearing midi skirts, either (too frumpy). Let's just say that a knee-length or a maxi skirt work best with my proportions.

But what about my rejection of low necklines, then? Nothing to do with modesty, either, and everything to do with my Nordic roots again. Low necklines are just impractical. Do I really want my boobs hanging out every time I lean forward? I mean, sure, having your boobs pop out 'accidentally' in social situations may work as a shortcut to 'fame' for women whose idea of a career highlight is ending up on a tabloid cover with a footballer or other brainless male 'celebrity'... But it's just such a cliché.

Don't Force Your Cultural Concepts on Me

No, Nordic women just don't usually dress in an overtly sexy way. We're too cool for anything so tacky. And nobody would call us prudes, quite the contrary. After all, Scandinavian women have (a somewhat well-deserved) reputation as being sexually liberated. However, to avoid the typical misconception, let me emphasize that this does not mean catering to male fantasies; we are sexually liberated on our own terms. It means we're in control, and we do whatever we want, if / whenever we want, and with whomever we want. As any Nordic woman knows, if she's after sex, all she has to do is show up in a bar and take her pick; what she wears is totally irrelevant.

So no, I don't like the term 'modest style'. I don't like the term 'sexy style', either. As a Nordic woman, I want to make a point that these terms are not relevant to all women, and some women might find them deeply offensive. And I really, really resent it when I, a Nordic woman, am seen through cultural concepts that are not mine.

Nobody else has the right to define me, my values, or even my style, and certainly not by using criteria I had no part in drafting. And no, I don't have to fit into a patriarchal idea of what a woman should and shouldn't be like, or what she should or shouldn't wear.

Maybe there is some merit to this naive Scandinavian ideal of looking at people as human beings, irrespective of gender, and let them be whoever they want to be, without trying to stick a label on them, or put them into a safe little box. And maybe we could find other terms to describe personal style instead of reducing it to an extension of female sexuality constrained by patriarchy. I'll start: I'm cool and modern, classic and chic.

What about you, what's your style?

Tiina
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Friday, 28 October 2016

What to Wear in Madrid in October

smart casual over 40

 Packing light vs complicated travel plans 

I was in Madrid in mid-October for a couple of days. That's not a long time, so packing should be easy, right? Well, as it happens, it was a bit more complicated than you might think...

OK, let me explain: So, I flew in from Finland, with a stopover in Manchester. Now, changing planes is never a good idea, and changing planes in Manchester is a terrible idea. Especially if your starting point (Helsinki) and your final destination (Madrid) are both within the Schengen area  but your stopover isn't... So, to simplify matters and to speed up the process (and to make sure my luggage would not get lost in transit) I decided to travel with cabin luggage only.

Only, this isn't the end of the story... You see, After Madrid, Professor M and I would be spending a day in London before we could get back (to our second) home in England. And then, after 2 nights in England, we would be going to Germany for the weekend. And back to England again, for one night. And then I would fly back to Finland on Monday evening...

A bit of a packing challenge, then...

Right, let's start with the weather. So, it was quite cold in Helsinki, quite warm in Madrid, and something in between in London. And in Germany it was almost as cold as in Finland. What this means is that I would need two coats: one for cooler weather and  one for Madrid.

OK, my cabin luggage can fit clothes for 4 days, sure. That's Madrid and London sorted, then. And I can repack (for Germany) when we get back home (our second home in England, that is). I must have a coat suitable for cooler weather there... No? OK, it seems all my autumn clothes have mysteriously relocated to our home in Finland... Better pack a light-weight down jacket, then.

So, I would be wearing one coat, of course, and the other one would be packed. But still, this trip would require not just one but two coats that travel well... OK, if you want to see the other coat (i.e. the one I was wearing in cooler temperatures, see HERE).

Basically, what I packed (for Madrid) was just a variation of  the minimalist travel wardrobe, built around (this time) two coats, two bags (one of them a folded canvas bag), and two pairs of shoes. Yes, it all fit very nicely into my cabin luggage and there was some room for shopping, too.

But what to wear in Madrid in October?

It's important to dress in a way that is seasonally appropriate. In Madrid, the weather was fine, around 20 °C / 68 °F by day, a bit cooler by night. Well, for me, as a Finn, these are summer temperatures, more or less... 

The locals were wearing their autumn coats and heavier shoes, of course, and I didn't want to stand out too much,  i.e. wear anything that screams tourist. Easier said than done when the weather reminds you of early summer... Anyway, I thought I should at least wear a coat. But I just can't make myself wear a puffa jacket / wool coat when the temperature is still in double digits, so I needed to pack a trench coat. And I must confess, for the most part I ended up carrying the trench folded over my arm instead of wearing it. It was just way too warm...

As I've been wearing  autumn coats and warmer clothes for weeks in Finland already, flirting with a bit more summery attire was actually quite nice. I also thought this trip would be the perfect opportunity to wear my red suede ballerinas one last time before I store them for winter.

Hmm, I think I said my goal was to avoid looking like a tourist... 

Anyway, this is the first of the two outfits built around the blue trench coat, the red tote bag, the leopard print sunglasses and the red shoes. You'll see the other one next week.

travel wardrobe
smart casual over 40

Outfit details:
trench: Hobbs (old) / jeans: Next (old) / shirt: Marks and Spencer / 
bag: Furla / shoes: Clarks / sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana

Do you find it difficult to adjust your style to different climates?

Tiina

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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Currently...

currently

So, I was on holiday last week... 

Well, I took a week off from work, it being mid-term and all... And if you've been following me on Instagram, you know that I've been travelling a bit. OK, that was a bit of an understatement... I was 'on the road' (i.e. on the plane / train) most of the week. And no, this is not a full report of my travels, just a quick post on what I've been up to. 

Madrid Barajas airport
Anyway, I left Helsinki for Madrid on Saturday (note to self: always book a direct flight within the EU. But if you must change planes, avoid Manchester, or any British airport for that matter, at any cost...). Let's just say I was glad to travel with cabin luggage only, and no, everything did not go to plan...

But about Madrid... it was again one of those quick trips: Professor M was attending a conference for a couple of days, and I went sightseeing shopping. There will be a bit more about Madrid a bit later, once I find time to organise my photos.

So, after Madrid, we spent Wednesday in London (again, hubby had meetings to attend; I was on holiday, i.e. shopping...)

the view from the hotel room window, London
And then we had a chance to spend a day at home in Canterbury before taking the Eurostar to Brussels and heading to Germany for the weekend.

koln
the view from the hotel room window, Cologne
Germany is where Professor M is from, and every time we visit, we are busy seeing his family. Which is absolutely wonderful, of course, but it also means that in the past 20+ years I've seen very little of Germany...

weekend style

After Germany it was back to the U.K on Sunday evening. And on Monday morning Professor M went to work, and in the afternoon I left for the airport (yes, again) to return to Finland. I arrived just before midnight, just in time to be back to work on Tuesday morning.

So, was it a relaxing holiday? Hell no! My idea of relaxing is to actually stop the rat race that is life and stay put for a moment. That never happens in our household, though. I wonder why...

Anyway, now it's back to normal life, and I have about 30 hours of teaching in 4 days and a pile of student essays to look forward to. This is the time of year when things get really crazy busy at work for a few weeks, and all my friends complain that they're starting to forget what I look like.

So, that was my week. How's life treating you?

Tiina
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Saturday, 22 October 2016

What is luxury?

cashmere cardigan over 50

I like luxury

Yes, I said it: I like luxury. And I make no compromises as far as that is concerned: only the best will do.

Of course, what is considered luxury varies from person to person. So, let me explain what it means to me. Luxury means quality and attention to detail. And luxury means being comfortable and at ease with yourself and the world, without having to conform to someone else's idea of beauty or style.

Or, as one of my role models, Coco Chanel said: "Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury". Can't beat that as far as a definition of luxury is concerned, huh?

In my opinion, luxury is less about looks; it is something that feels good. Like this old cashmere cardigan (which has been featured on the blog many, many times...). It may look very basic, bland even, but I wouldn't exchange it for a dozen new, trendy cardigans (unless they were cashmere, too, of course).

So, what is it that makes cashmere so luxurious in my opinion? For starters, cashmere is soft and gentle on sensitive skin. It's also warm. Which is why all my jumpers and (winter) cardigans are made of cashmere.

So, luxury for me is something timeless, durable, and comfortable. It may not draw attention to itself, but it makes you feel pampered and special. And you can wear it with anything.

But what about trends? 

Sure, it's great to have classic, quality pieces, but isn't that just a bit boring? Isn't fashion, and style, supposed to be fun? And shouldn't my style also reflect my personality?

cashmere cardigan

Add cool accessories

That's what accessories are for: to add interest to an otherwise boring outfit. And to elevate this rather basic outfit from bland to cool, I added some leopard print and stripes.

I also wanted my accessories to contrast with the autumnal, somewhat monochromatic colour scheme of the outfit. I often use a rather simple outfit as a backdrop for statement accessories. I find it gives me more styling options and allows me to get more wear out of my clothes. And who doesn't love statement accessories?

fall style
stripy tote
over 50 blogger

Outfit details:
cashmere cardigan: Brora (old) / trousers: Marks and Spencer / bag: Marimekko /  shoes: Clarks (old)
white shirt: Sand / belt: el Corte Ingles / sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana (old) / 

How do you wear your accessories?

Tiina
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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Inspiration: Nature's Own Colour Palette

fall colors

Don't you just love autumn colours?

When we talk about 'autumn colours', most of us think of warm, slightly muted colours: rusty reds, mustard yellows and rich burgundy and plum shades. But there's more to autumn colours than that.

Mother Nature has more than one colour palette up her sleeve: from the most subtle pastels to dark and deep. Nor are we restricted to warm colours; autumn also has a few cooler tones to offer. But the best thing is that  Mother Nature does not hesitate to combine warm colours with cold colours. If you look around, you see that pretty much anything goes; no color combination is out of bounds. And yet, everything blends in harmoniously. I think we could learn a thing or two about colour harmony by observing what is around us.

Take a look at these soft shades:

fall leaves
autumn colours
autumn

What about something with a bit more contrast? 

fall
autumn colours
fall colors

I wonder how these colour palettes would translate into outfits...

Tiina
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PS: I used one of these pictures as inspiration for the latest Dilettante Artist post. In other words, I used a few of Photoshop filters, fiddled with the colours a bit etc...

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Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Minimalist Travel Wardrobe

minimalist travel wardrobe

Two nights in Aberdeen...

So, this is the travel wardrobe post you've probably been looking forward to. Remember, I spent a couple of days in Aberdeen a few weeks ago... Time flies, right? But, better late than never...  

Anyway,  everybody kept telling me it always rains in Scotland and it's going to be cold. But the weather forecast was sunny and pleasant, around 14 /  57℉. Conflicting messages, for sure, but more importantly, how does that translate into a travel wardrobe? Especially one that fits into cabin luggage?


over 50 blogger

Key Pieces

First, the key pieces: outerwear, shoes, and a bag. For a couple of days, I only needed one pair of shoes and one bag. In this case I decided on good walking shoes (with thick soles in case it rains) and a tote bag. Of course, I was wearing the shoes on the plane, too. And the bag is just the right size to toss all my in-flight essential into.

I decided to wear my red poncho because it's warm, and I can wrap it around me on the plane. It's also my favourite piece to take with me when I travel because it goes with anything.

But just in case, I also packed a parka.

cashmere
poncho

Packing

I often start packing about 30 minutes before I'm due to leave for the airport. No, there's not much advance planning, other than checking the latest weather forecast. But since weather forecasts are not always reliable, I usually pack something that works even if the weather changes.

This time I packed an umbrella, a couple of long sleeved tops, one t-shirt, two pairs of sunglasses, a couple of scarves, some jewellery, a cashmere cardigan and a pair of trousers (in addition to the jeans I was wearing on the plane). All of this fits into cabin luggage and can be mixed and matched into several outfits. And more importantly, everything works with my key pieces: either the poncho or the parka, the tote bag and the shoes.

parka

KEY PIECES:
poncho: Marja Kurki (old) / bag and sunglasses: Marimekko / 
shoes: Clarks (old) / parka; Seasalt Cornwall / scarf: Carolina Herrera

What would you pack for two nights?

Tiina
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PS: Have you seen the new Dilettante Artist post? 

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Blogs vs Fashion Magazines

smart casual over 50

The same old...

I bought this jacket a year ago, and have featured it on the blog no less than 5 times (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE). And now, in the spirit of shopping my closet, I have styled this jacket in two different ways: casual (which I'll show you in another blog post later) and smart casual.

Yes, I really like this jacket... But it's not just that. I don't want to buy multiple items for the same purpose. I mean, what's the point? I think it makes more sense to buy a jacket that you can wear with any outfit than wear several more or less similar jackets to wear with different outfits. That's just smart budgeting. Buy less but buy better, that's my motto.

Blogs vs Fashion Magazines

I also resent the current trend of (some) bloggers featuring clothes they've been lent by designers, very much the same way fashion magazines borrow clothes for a photo shoot. In other words, (some) fashion bloggers seem to be copying the format, style and content of  fashion magazines: producing (no doubt high-quality) commissioned  editorial content for sponsors, styling borrowed clothes to promote the latest trends and new collections. Yet, far from democratising fashion, this simply makes bloggers cheap imitators who do the same work as fashion magazines for less money.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with getting paid to feature and review products, not at all. But there's a world of difference between a fashion magazine and a style blog, and that's a good thing. Fashion magazines are pure fantasy: the outfits are often unattainable, usually impractical, and unashamedly aspirational. Bloggers, on the other hand, live in the real world. And  when they collaborate with sponsors, they incorporate gifted or sponsored items into outfits in ways that reflect their own styles and take into account the demands of their busy lives.

Of course, every blogger is a model, stylist and editor all rolled into one. But we must ask ourselves whether we see blogs as some sort of cheapo versions of fashion magazines, with the same old agenda and content, and the same old disregard for what is relevant for the average woman. Or could blogs provide something more approachable, something more real? Perhaps bloggers should not aspire to compete with fashion magazines at all but realise that they have a completely different mission.

As far as I'm concerned, if I want to see the latest trends, I buy Vogue, InStyle etc. But I often find fashion magazines very disappointing: identikit teenage models in outfits that have nothing to do with real life. Or my life, anyway... And if bloggers start producing content similar to fashion magazines, featuring an endless parade of new clothes, then what's the point of reading blogs anymore?

No, what I want from bloggers is inspiration and fabulous outfits accessible to women of all shapes and sizes and budgets. I want to see bloggers demonstrating how they style the same items again and again in new ways, making use of their limited wardrobes and showing ingenuity in stretching their budgets. And I want to see the personality of the blogger reflected in their outfits, and how their lifestyles and surroundings affect their clothing choices. Vogue and InStyle can't give me that.

over 50 blogger
down jacket

Outfit details:
jacket: Beaumont (old) / shirt: Marks and Spencer / 
skirt /KappAhl (old) / bag and sunglasses: Chanel / shoes: Clarks
location:Katariinankatu, Helsinki

What can blogs give you that fashion magazines can't?

Tiina
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Saturday, 8 October 2016

Shop Your Closet

shop your closet

New season, old clothes...

Shops are full of new season clothes and accessories, and fashion magazines tempt us with the latest trends. Every fashionista is busy writing wish lists and test driving the IT piece of the moment. And here I am wearing an old dress and a poncho, both of which have been featured on this blog before...

Well, I like to shop my closet first, before hitting the shops, and keep the wish list as short as possible. There are two reasons for this. First, I have neither the funds nor the closet space to get a whole new wardrobe every time the season (and trends) changes, which is probably the case for most women. And second, when I do hit the shops, I look for classic, quality pieces with longevity.

I suppose I could say that I am careful with money. But that would be a lie. The truth is, I'm perfectly capable of spending a lot of money on clothes (and especially on accessories) without a second thought. But I'm also just as likely to return a €700 coat as a €5 t-shirt if it doesn't meet my expectations. I think it makes perfect sense: whatever I buy must not only fit my lifestyle but also meet my criteria for quality.

The truth is I'm a terrible snob

There, I said it. Yes, I'm a snob and I refuse to be apologetic about it. Cheap, poor quality clothes make me shudder. I don't want them anywhere near me. Besides, throw-away fashion is just as bad for the environment as it is for the soul. On the other hand, I find it ridiculous to pay thousands for a dress. And anything that needs to be dry-cleaned... Oh well, let's just keep that to the minimum. So, obviously some sort of a compromise is in order...

Most of the clothes that I buy are good quality but low-maintenance, classic in style, and in colours that I like irrespective of what the colour of the season is. This means that about 90% of my wardrobe has a very long shelf life. This includes bulky items such as coats, and simple wrap dresses. And bags... Well, bags are for ever, so I try to limit myself to buying a new one once or twice a year. Bags are also my greatest weakness, so I'm not very successful at that...

Anyway, this is my philosophy as far as clothes are concerned: I will happily spend money on whatever I think I will still love in a couple of years' time. And as far as accessories are concerned, they should last a lifetime and give me joy every time I look at them. And if I stick to these principles, I'm happy to shop my closet first (most of the time, anyway), instead of chasing trends.

The dress has been featured before HERE and HERE (and the same dress in blue HERE), the poncho HERE, and the bag... well, the bag has been featured so many times that I've lost count, but this post gives you an idea how much I like it.

poncho
wrap dress

Outfit details:
poncho: Marja Kurki (old) / dress: Baukjen (old) / bag: Furla (old) / 
shoes: Clarks (old) / sunglasses; Michael Kors / necklace: Masriera

How do you feel about shopping your closet first?

Tiina
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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Aberdeen Impressions

Bad Tourist

I went to Aberdeen for a couple of days...

I've only been to Scotland once before (in Glasgow, a long time ago), so I didn't really know what to expect. I suppose the stereotype is that it rains a lot (hardly a drop during my visit), and the people are friendly and unpretentious (that was also my impression). 

Anyway, in the best Bad Tourist tradition, I'm going to share with you some snapshots of what caught my eye, or interest (pretty much the same thing). True to myself, I didn't photograph anything that could be described as an 'attraction', 'must-see', or 'well-known'... Why? Well, because I'm more interested in the less touristy, everyday stuff: architectural details, colours and shapes. And my idea of sightseeing is walking aimlessly around, soaking in the atmosphere and admiring local design. So, I suppose we could call these pictures random impressions by a lazy observer...

And what was it that caught my attention in Aberdeen, then?

Aberdeen is grey. But not grey in the sense of boring and ugly; the grey granite is the perfect backdrop for details such as simple white window panes. This makes the facade of an ordinary building more interesting, reminiscent of a painting or an illustration.

Aberdeen
Aberdeen architecture
grey granite

But granite also suits more impressive buildings with quirky architectural details:

Aberdeen
grey granite architecture

Aberdeen colour palette

Of course, there's more to Aberdeen than massive grey buildings; there are quirky shops, excellent restaurants and green parks. But I since my intention here is to convey my impressions of Aberdeen, I'm going to end this post with a picture that for me illustrates the colour scheme of this town:

Aberdeen

I hope you enjoyed the tour. 
Next time Bad Tourist will fly south...

Tiina
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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Dear Skirt...

how to wear a leather skirt over 50

Dear skirt

I know I'm demanding. OK, fine, I'm a bit of a diva, you're right. But I have needs. 

What can I say? Women are like that: needy bitches, never happy, get over it. Besides, it 's your job to make me happy. I paid a lot of money for you, and I want to get my money's worth. So, stop whining and start delivering.

This is how it's going to be: you will work hard to make me the sexiest, most stylish diva ever, and I will see to it that you get taken out for a spin every once in a while. Sounds fair? Good!

Right, let's get down to business.

I want you to hug me. Tight. 

No, a bit higher, around my waist. Now, wrap yourself around me like you mean it. That's it, perfect!

Oh no, don't even think about it! I said no sliding down! No riding up towards my armpits, either. Listen, a girl wants to be hugged in a very special way... Yes, that's it: hold me in...

Oh yes... YES! You fit me like a glove...

leather skirt
over 40 blogger

Outfit details:
leather skirt: Jigsaw / top: Boden / cardigan: Banana Republic / 
shoes: Clarks / bag: Furla / sunglasses: Dolce and Gabbana

How do you want your skirt to hug you?

Tiina
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PS: Have you seen the latest DILETTANTE ARTIST post?
I'm merging text and image...

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