I love SF

I love SF

In honor of my approaching five year anniversary as a San Francisco resident, I’ve decided to write about how living here has been so far. As you can tell by the title, I truly love this city, at least I do right now, we have had our ups and downs as in any love relationship, we have had good times and bad.

Today we went looking at an apartment for rent in the Castro and it got me thinking of what living in San Francisco really is like and how each neighborhood has its own identity and charm. Having lived in Noe Valley for a little more than three years, the thought of living in the Castro is both exciting and a little terrifying. I’m excited by the idea of living in the historic Castro, the symbol of everything we San Franciscans stand for, the home of Harvey Milk and iconic Mission Dolores Park. I’m terrified by the thought of giving up my current neighborhood and my neighbors but also by the thought of walking my kids in the stroller and not being met by the understanding eyes of other Noe Valley parents.

Well let’s start at the beginning, I will try to be brief, as my toddler is sittning in my lap and my little one is dragging at my feet, at this very moment.

Our first apartment in SF, was located on Polk and Clay, (Polk Gulch area, Nob Hill), centrally located among bars, restaurants and cute little shops. A couple of times a week, we would go out to eat at our neighborhood restaurants, like Co Nam, the more upscale 1760 Polk, or one of favorite Italian places, like Milano, Nob Hill Café or Frescati. Whenever we had friends visiting from Sweden, we would take them for drinks at Top of the Mark, so they could see the view. I found a wonderful little yoga studio in Russian Hill and I used to take long walks along Crissy Field so I could see the Golden Gate Bridge every day. I had walking distance to downtown, to Chinatown, the Marina, Pacific Heights and one time I walked all the way to Leighton of Honor, just because.

Our little one bedroom, despite its many flaws, was wonderful. We weren’t planning to move until one summer, when brown water started dripping from the ceiling in our bathroom. This was also around the same time we found out I was pregnant and it made most sense to live closer to my husbands job in order for him to spend more time with the baby. So we looked south. And we found Noe Valley.

At this point, I had limited familiarity with most of San Franciscos residential neighborhoods and was only familiar with places that hosted either good food or good shopping. Having that said, Noe Valley was quite the adventure, we even had to take the bus to get here, as it’s not walking distance from Nob Hill.

During one Sunday, we saw three different places, all 2 bedroom and priced fairly equally. Our Noe Valley adventure started out with some very disappointing viewings which continued mold, stains, smelly carpets and DIY kitchen projects, in general, homes that would fit perfectly as the “Before” in a fixer upper TV show. What someone who hasn’t been apartment hunting in SF might not know, is that there is a tremendous demand for rentals and that the quality of them varies a lot, all from luxury new construction buildings, to beautifully maintained Victorians, to basement in-law units with no windows. Rental prices however don’t vary as much and regardless of quality, they are always and by all measurements outrageous. If you’re reading my blog, because you’re into fashion, I can describe SF rentals like this: quality is Zara, but price tag is Chanel.

We had nearly decided to live with the brown water dripping, when we saw the third place, which by no standards was a two bedroom, although listed and priced as such. It had been renovated somewhat ten years ago and was well maintained by a sickly meticulous landlord, who’s obsession for details has, since we moved in, almost driven us crazy. Beautiful and with a view of downtown, it was love at first sight and we had to take it. Over these three and a half years, we have grown to love our neighborhood more and more but our apartment less and less. What was once plenty of space for a couple is now not enough space for a family of four. With two little girls and a steadily increasing number of toys, it’s obvious that we need to move.

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This is me in September 2015, right after we moved into our current place

 

 

 

 

This was the view from our current place when we moved in, before the Sales force tower and additions to CPMC St Lukes.

So we’re back at the house hunting adventure. This time around, we feel more confident and know exactly what we’re looking for. Since we also considered buying a house about a year ago, we have seen quite a share of San Francisco homes. But it seams rather impossible to find a home that has everything we’re looking for and a compromise is inevitable. Safe neighborhood and a nice standard are on top of my list, but closeness to playgrounds, grocery stores and walkability are also good to have. Then there are the other two requirements that really limit our scope radius; easy to commute to my husbands job in South Bay and our budget. After reading this far, you might think, are there really no good places in SF? Well of course there are. A city that is home to some of the worlds wealthiest people; startup founders and CEOs, all so well known to most people, that it is therefore redundant for me to mention them, you’re sure to find palace like houses, that would make the houses in the MTV Crib show (if you’re my age and used to watch that) seam like little play houses.

But as a renter, even if you’re budget is reasonable for this area, you’re bound to compromise either on neighborhood, square footage or quality. And if you want your rental home to have it all, you have to spend quite a lot of money, see some adds below.

When looking for a home to rent in San Francisco (and this goes to some extent for the whole Bay Area) on Craigslist or other websites, you shouldn’t be surprised by awful pictures. It’s totally normal to see photos of kitchens full of dirty dishes, stained carpets and moldy bathrooms. Places are often described as “Charming”, “Cozy”, “Great Location”. and “High walking score”. So when one must compromise, be sure to not compromise on the walking score, since you’re going to run, not walk away from places like these.  Here are some pictures of a few ads on Craigslist right now:

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How about this Russian Hill Gem? You need to have some vivid imagination and excellent cleaning skills to imagine yourself living here.

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Or how about these places? Hefty price tag on that view.

 

 

 

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These are great ads, nice pictures, fair prices for the good neighborhoods. They will typically rent out the same day as the viewing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the difficult housing market, I cannot express the many ways that I love San Francisco. And after almost five years here, I can without doubt say that I would feel at home in almost any neighborhood. Imagine having the fresh air and smell of pine trees of the Presidio outside your door. If I would live in the Richmond, this is where I’d take my morning walk. I would love the easy beach access and the closeness to Golden Gate Park from the Sunset. I would eat myself happy in the Mission or even happier in the Italian food Mecca of San Francisco, North Beach. I would feel very much at home in Pacific Heights and the shopping in the Fillmore area. I would wear Lululemon yoga pants all day and pretend to be a young and fit Marina girl in the Marina and Cow Hallow. I would enjoy the view of the bay from a Russian Hill Victorian home and the view of everything from a twin peaks mid-century home. I might finally start going to the gym if I had it at home and as in one of those luxury buildings in SOMA, that have more amenities than one could possibly need. I would love to go outside my house and be greeted by the hippies in the Haight or the hipsters in the Hayes. These are only a fraction of all the neighborhoods that this city has to offer and going through them all in one blog post is impossible. The longer I live here, the more I love and appreciate the diversity and hub cultures in this city and I truly believe that what sets San Francisco apart, is its modest and unpretentious attitude.

So where will we find our next home or should we just stay put? There are tons of little things that bother me about our current place, but there are tons of big things that I love. I love that we have forgotten to lock our car outside, on a few occasions, and no-one tried to break in. And in a city with a very high number of car break ins, this makes me feel pretty safe. I love that my neighbors mobilized and organized a list and mail-thread after the last election, in order to support each other. And I love that my 70 year old next door neighbor, lives in the same house that her grandfather bought for her grandmother, who also happened to be named the same as my daughter. I love that every house on our street has a sign that says:

In this house we believe: Black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, kindness is everything.

But mostly I love it because this is the home where I became a mother and it is by far the happiest and most memorable time in my life.

It remains to see where our next home will be but I’m very happy knowing that it will be somewhere within this wonderful city. And I find it very comforting knowing that most residents in this city truly believe in the sign outside their door and spirit of San Francisco prevails across neighborhood borders, across our backgrounds and throughout government changes.

I moved to San Francisco for love, for at the time boyfriend, then husband, now father of my children. And as much as I miss my family in Sweden, I’m still here for love. For the love of my little family who really thrives here, the love of my wonderful friends who live here and for the love of this amazing city San Francisco.

A tourist might think San Francisco is beautiful because of its many iconic landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge. A resident knows it’s beautiful because of the genuine and heartfelt people that live here.

Traveling long haul with a baby or toddler

Traveling long haul with a baby or toddler

Living in SF with all our family in Sweden means quite a lot of transatlantic flights per year. We just arrived in Sweden for the Christmas holidays and this was Adeline’s 5th long haul trip (and more than her 10th airplane trip, including Hawaii and Miami, approx 6hour flights each and a number of shorter flights within Europe). I’ve asked friends and read a lot online and wanted to share my gathered knowledge and experience for other parents looking for ways to make travel with kids easier.

As a disclaimer I must add that each age provides new challenges, hence the advice provided here might now apply as your child grows. When we travel back and forth to Sweden, me and Adeline always travel alone which is an added dimension of difficulty. So if you are two adults traveling together you might find these tips to be quite trivial (unless you have more than one child than I believe you will find some use of these). Mostly I hope parents traveling with their baby for the first time will find these tips useful.

1. The magic number of diapers

I read somewhere that you need one diaper per hour you’re away. I disagree with this and think this only adds to your already overpacked carry on. For ages 0-1years I would say 1diaper/2 hours and for 1-2 years you will need 1 diaper/3 hours of time you will be away (door to door). Infants can react to the air pressure and have blowouts and I have found this to be true only when Adeline was 0-9 months old.

I always bring a couple of extra diapers and also pack 3-4 diapers in my luggage for arrival and buy diapers when we land.

And one pack of wipes, some small plastic waste bags and hand sanitizer are also enough on the flight.

I know a lot of people fear delays and they do occur. Delays are aweful and stressful especially when traveling with kids. First of all, they almost always happen at an airport, where there usually are shops available to purchase diapers, wipes or food. Meaning you will most likely not end up without any access to modern world necessities. Secondly, the less layovers the less likely for you to be delayed. So if you have several stops of layovers, take this into account and calculate your need for things to bring. Traveling in the winter time usually means bad weather, more likely canceled flights and delays. Traveling in the summer on the other hand usually means vacation time and a lot of people traveling, meaning more lines.

2. The fear of the crying baby

Every parents nightmare, what if our baby cries for the duration of the flight? You don’t want to be “that family”. Yes, the baby might cry. But let me tell you what else the baby might do, that could take your mind of the crying (all by personal experience). It might have an enormous blow out just as the flight starts ascending/descending and the fasten seatbelt sign is on and you might be forced to sit there with a crying, pooped baby and the smell for 20 minutes. It might kick the table and throw down the food and all things to the floor. It might vomit on your last spare t-shirt and in your hair, and you will have to smell like vomit for the next 10 hours. The older baby might want to run around the isle an unreasonable number of times and hit her head on the seats one too many times, making people give you that “are you really a good parent” eye. Your baby might lick the walls, or anything inside the restroom when you’re forced to bring the baby to the restroom for just a quick pee (traveling alone with baby) and then you spend the duration of the flight worrying about possible germs a baby can catch in a public bathroom and the worst thing of all, no WiFi so you can’t even google it.

So yes the baby might cry, and yes it will be awful if she does but it will be most awful for you and not everyone else. A majority of people today have noice canceling headphones and the ones that don’t will just have to accept the fact that babies do fly on planes too. And that’s it. Out of all the things I worry about, the crying is the last one really!

3. Keep your hands free

You get the backpack, you minimize the number of items and yet somehow you will still find yourself holding something; a bottle, a doll, your passport or your phone. If your child is small the carrier is a must have. It will save you through security and make it easier for you to use the restroom. Its easy to run with if you’re almost missing your connecting flight (I’ve missed flights, it actually does happen). As your child grows I suggest a travel stroller, we love the Yo-Yo since we always have a connecting flight in Copenhagen. Any umbrella stroller will do the job, but you will need to check it in at the gate and also make sure the airline offers that option. The yo-yo is a carry on approved stroller and you will be able to bring it onto the plane.

pack baby food in plastic ziplock bags at home and have them ready to show the security. Pack also all other liquids in small ziplock bags at home.

– have your computer easily available since you will need to bring that out for security. Empty all water bottles before you reach the security line.

– wear shoes that go on and off easily and remove any heavy jewelry, your watch, belt and so on before you reach the line at the security and put them inside your bag.

4. Entertainment is Everything

For a older child, 1 year up, entertainment can save your flight. Bored toddlers are the worst toddlers. Here are some of my favorites (not including the iPad which I assume you already know about, personally I try to avoid it and save it for the worst situations).

– wrap a new toy into a present and let the kid see it for the first time on the flight

– get a new toy with many buttons and options (like a playphone or similar)

– print photos of things and people your child likes into little cards and play and talk about them on the plane

– get a new set of stickers, they can entertain for quite a while

– crayons and papers seam to work quite well for 1 year and up

For the younger babies, 1 year and under, a musical mobile worked quite well for putting baby to sleep. Books especially with music or with different animal noises have proven successful.

5. Now is the time to splurge

I’m sorry to say this but yes, this makes it easier. As if traveling wasn’t expensive already… If you can swing the cost for that extra seat, it will make traveling much more comfortable. I see parents who bring a car seat and have purchased a seat for their child and the child sleeps through the flight. Me on the other hand have often times been too cheep and mostly flown with Adeline in my lap. I mostly fly of season and I’ve been so lucky to be on flights where there are available seats. I ask to be seated where there are empty seats and the flight attendants on SAS are always very accommodating. My luck turned on our last flight, flying home ten days before Christmas the flight was fully booked. And I quickly realized that neither me nor my now (quite large) 20month old toddler would enjoy sitting in the same seat. I used my points for an upgrade and we both slept comfortably for a couple of hours (she slept 6h yeeey). If you’re traveling with a small baby (9months and under) you should try to get the bassinet. Airlines usually have a first come first serve policy for them meaning that if you get to the airport early you might get a seat there. If you are traveling together with another adult, one of you could buy the seat with extra leg room ( or both depending if they allow the one with infant in lap to select that seat), which on some planes are the same seats as the bassinet, then you know for sure that one of you will be able to have the baby in the bassinet.

Another way to make your traveling more comfortable by spending more money is booking the best flight. Minimize the number of lay overs and the waiting time. For long haul flights, I love night flights. I also avoid low cost airlines for long haul flights with small babies as I imagine they are more likely to have delays and less likely to accommodate you with things you might need on the plane and incase of delays. They also tend to have limited refund policies and rebooking options if the delays occur, but you could do the research and still find low cost airlines with great policies. I imagine this will be me once we have more children and need to buy more tickets.

6. You will not be bored, I promise

The days of gracious and delightful traveling are gone once you decide to have kids. Without referring to those lucky to be traveling with a nanny or an aupair of course, for the rest of us this seams to be quite true (seeing myself and other struggling parents on my flights). But once you realize that, it’s easier to take action. I’ve given up on bringing fashion magazines, my makeup, a moisturizing spray for my dry face and special hand cream for my hands on my flights. Somehow my body magically knows not get dry on those 12 hour flights anymore. Lesson to be learned: there is no time for the unnecessary luxuries and also no need, minimize your carry on.

– this is worth emphasizing so I’ll say it again: Minimize your carry on by only brining the things you really must. Be hard on your self here, it takes some training and a few flights to learn but I can assure you, you won’t have time to read a book on the plane I promise.

7. Choose your luggage wisely

Choose your carry on wisely. Give in for the backpack. I’ve refused until this last trip when I realized there is no other way. The roller bags are unpractical with kids (especially if you also have the yo-yo, could work with a small baby in carrier) and the large duffels/weekend bags are a nightmare to carry once you stuff them full. I’ve tried both, both fail! I usually bring an empty foldable longchamp bag in my carry on. I use this in case of overweight at check in but mostly I use this to put extra things in through the trip. Somehow once you take things out of your bag, they never seam to fit back in there, the toys, the baby bottles, the water you purchased and so on. I hate having loose items to carry, not only does it make you look like a mess but there’s a huge risk of loosing things along the way. Any foldable small bag that doesn’t take much space will do really.

– divide your carry on into two bags; the things most needed through the flight to have by your feet. The extra diapers, extra set of clothes and your documents and that magazine you decided to bring any way, to put in the overhead compartment.

– as for checking in strollers and car seats; make sure to have special bags to put them in for check in as it might save on the wear and tear especially if you travel frequently

8. Let kids be kids

Lastly, my advise for traveling with a toddler, if possible let them run around as much as possible before you’re on the plane. I let Adeline run around at the gate, climb chairs and look through the windows (and lick them a little). Play with her doll and just be a child. This usually means she has less energy on the plane and will be happier to be drawing or playing with stickers.

9. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary actions

I cannot finish this post without mentioning the family that practiced sleep training on their ~ 6 months old baby, on one of my flights. I’m all for parents choosing whatever method they find appropriate for their child, however if your child is screaming their lungs out and refusing to fall asleep in the airplane bassinet, please pick it up, offer it the boob/bottle again or take a walk. Do not practice your normal routine of waiting a certain amount of minutes before you pick your child up, like you might be doing at home. The lesson I learned from this is that, as a parent, sometimes you must bend the rules in order to make things flow. In my brief life as a mother I’ve learned that parenthood seams to be as much about being pragmatic as it is about sticking to your principles and the key is to know when to do which. This is also true on airplanes as much as anywhere else.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Both the staff or a fellow passengers are often times very helpful and will gladly bring something down from the overhead compartment if your stuck with a sleeping baby or they will help carry your bags off the plane if you have all your hands full with the kids. I find this great when traveling alone with a baby. On my last flight, a gentleman offered help and he took my yo-yo stroller off the plane since I had to carry a sleeping toddler and my bags. He left it right outside the plane and had also opened it for me so I could just place her in it. I cannot tell you enough how much this meant to me after 15 hours of traveling.

Happy traveling and hope you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on this topic.

Keep an eye on – Bat Gio

Keep an eye on – Bat Gio

Ever since I discovered the amazing Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert I’ve been rethinking the importance of fashion. I adore her style! It’s fresh, it’s fun and always sophisticated but it’s never ever boring. When one has access to the complete world of fashion, the choices one makes bear significant weight and must utterly come from a place of love. And it’s easy to see that Bat Gio loves everything she wears! And so do we! 

Out of the many fashion lessons to be learned from the fashion legend, the most important one, in my opinion, is to love what you wear and to dear to express yourself.

Now you and I can wear a little bit of Bat Gio too. Her T-shirt collection just launched at Bergdorf Goodman and some of them are already sold out! I’m dying for the white one with the text ‘Being cool is a bore, being fun is glamore’. Honestly, it’s my second choice after the ‘fashion emergency’ one, but that one is sold out already.

Although she has a long and prominent career already, I’m positive that this T-shirt collection is only the beginning of something much greater. 



And I also love that she seams to have the best relationship with here sister Sara (fashion designer)! Since I too consider my sister my soulmate, I feel that we have this in common.

And look at Victoria Beckham rocking this t-shirt.

Happy shopping!

AW 17/18 Trends – Rouge amour

AW 17/18 Trends – Rouge amour
Gucci Dress

Isn’t is wonderful when fall arrives and you get to wear layers and coats and real shoes again? Yes summer is lovely, but when it comes to clothing, fall is definitely my favourite. I love wearing dresses and skirts with boots and tights and thin coats and cozy sweater.  Although I love the warm San Francisco fall, I miss the distinct shift in seasons that we have in Sweden.

The fall trends are starting to hit the stores right now and here are my favourite fall trends and what I will be wearing this coming fall.

  1. Think red.

Red is never really out of style, being such a feminine and classic color, but this autumn I think we will see more red than usual. I love the thought of mixing of different shades of red as well as textures. Personally I own very few red items, but I am definitely open to explore the red world. And since I usually don’t wear red, I will buy a few items that can easily be added to may current wardrobe. I definitely want a red bag and a pair of red or burgundy shoes. I think a red jumpsuit would be fun for going out and creating an all red outfit as well as a coat. A red midi skirt is something I can see myself wearing this fall, since I’m so in love with midi skirts.

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Here are some of my favourite picks from Zara

 

Here is how I’ve been wearing a little red as we transition to fall.

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Hermes Scarf / DvF Dress / Chloe Bag / Chanel sunglasses
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H&M Sweater / Filippa K jeans / Acne Studios Boots / Gucci Bag

 

 

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H&M T-shirt  / Iro Jenas / Louboutin Shoes / Chloe Bag

My Style Philosophy

My Style Philosophy

I love clothes and I’ve done so as long as I can remember. Growing up, my next door neighbour was a seamstress and sewed dresses and gowns using what I remember being the most beautiful fabrics. I can still remember the vibrant colours and patterns of the fabrics. She would let me have the leftover bits and pieces that were not used and I would gladly take these and make dresses and other clothes for my barbie dolls. This was my absolute favourite activity growing up and my sister and I played with barbies until I was 14 years old. Yes, I know that is outrageously old for barbie dolls, but it’s true.

Vintage shopping is one of my favorite ways of shopping. It is time consuming and you have to put in a lot of work in order to find that one special piece you’ve been dreaming of, but when you do, it will be so worth it. I have a Chanel silk scarf I bought at the swedish store Myrorna (Goodwill here in US) for 50kr (6$) when I was around 18 years old, and it is one of my most treasured pieces. Now days you don’t have to run around the city to find those rare shops, there is so much online.

Shopping on sale. I am always on the search for the perfect clothes at the perfect prices. I love sales and I buy a lot of my clothes on sale. I’m not sitting front row at any runway shows and I’m not being judged by the worlds fashion elite, therefore it doesn’t matter if my clothes are one, two or ten seasons old. The only important thing is that I love them and how they make me feel.

Following the fashion trends. I don’t follow all trends. I follow trends that I like and that I think fit well with what I already own. I am hoping to build a wardrobe that is timeless and that will feel fun to wear season after season. This is of course very difficult and most clothes can feel old and boring after a while. I buy trendy clothes if I can see that I will use them for more than one season.

Mixing high end with low price brands is inevitable for most of us. There are some wardrobe items that are worth investing and then there are some you can easily buy at H&M or similar. There is a lot on this topic online, but shortly put, invest in the classics and the things you will use the most and items that have to fit properly. Spend less on trendy items and items you will only wear ones or twice.

Accessories. You have probably heard it before, the importance of accesorizing and how they can make an outfit. Personally I believe less is more when it comes to accessories. It a fine line between when the accessory is complementing your outfit and when it’s taking over the whole show. Therefore I’d rather have less accessories than too much. I mostly love smaller jewelries but do occasionally wear large earrings or a statement necklace. I adore silk scarfs and use them all the time.

Sustainable fashion is a term you probably have heard before and something rapidly growing. I believe this is the future in the fashion industry and something definitely worth exploring. You don’t have to be an expert to know which brands are the good ones and which are the bad ones. I think it’s more important to have some general knowledge and common sense about the way we consume.

Taking ownership of my style is something I’ve been working on my whole life and still struggle with from time to time. It’s very easy to be influenced and inspired by others and that’s a way to grow and to see things with new perspectives. But at the same time, staying true to your personal style is also important. The goal when dressing isn’t to become someone else, but rather to empower yourself and feel confident that you can accomplish whatever it is that you are aiming for, if it’s a job interview or a cute date or a tough work out. Most importantly I think it is to wear clothes that you love and that make you feel beautiful.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this!

xoxo

Aferdita 

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Summer essentials: The bright coloured dress

Summer essentials: The bright coloured dress

I’m a huge lover of my (many)  little black dresses. They work for all seasons, they work with most accessories and I can always count on them. And then each spring and summer, the florals enter the stores and brighten things up. But there is one thing I especially enjoy in the summer and that is a beautiful and bright coloured dress. I prefer this over a floral dress for many reasons.

Having lived in Sweden most my life, summer is the time of year when I can go bear legged and wear light coloured bottoms. However, now that I live in San Francisco, this is no longer the case and I can wear whatever I want most of the year.

To me it’s pink, it has always been a favourite, especially hot pink or fuchsia. So for this summer, I suggest you add one more dress to all the florals. Choose your favourite color and find a well fitted dress in that color. Match it with neutral shoes and accessories and keep the make up light. Then proudly accept the many compliments you will get when you enter a summer party.

 

 

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Some of my pink dresses over these past years

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Summer essentials: The white blazer

Summer essentials: The white blazer

The cold evenings, the ladies lunches and perhaps the date night, all could use a good blazer or jacket you can casually through on. Summer means travel, and to me it is  important to pack versatile pieces that allow me to travel light. And especially if you travel with kids, then you probably already know that you need to make each piece count.

Each summer, I like to have a white, off white or cream coloured blazer in a fitted cut. However this year, the blazers are looking more maskuline and the cut is looser. So if you have a white favourite blazer, go for it. But if you’re looking to update your summer wardrobe, look for a looser fit, longer hem line and softer fabric. Wear your white blazer with denim and heels, or with a floral dress and a pair of comfy slides. Or dress up your favourite shorts by throwing on the blazer. fullsizeoutput_9f0a.jpeg

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