It’s that time of year again! Time to fill the space below that pretty tree with pretty gifts for all your pretty peeps! Personally, I get a little gift-obsessed every December (ok: even earlier in the year..), I just love that quest for the perfect gift for all of my favorite people! <3 However, I don’t necessarily feel like leaving the house for that quest… It’s so warm and cozy inside! There’s twinkly lights! And Christmas sweaters! And hot chocolate! Anyway: if, like me, you prefer to score those awesome Christmas presents from the cozy comfort of your own couch, here are 10 great gifts you don’t have to leave the house for:online christmas shopping cropped



1.For your best friend: nothing is as good a gift as those fun/beautiful/sad/silly moments you share together. But a little Instagram photo booklet of those moments might just be the next best thing ;) I had one printed at Hema a little while ago and was really happy with the result!

2. For that lovely crazy cat lady: we all have at least one of them in our friend/family circle, don’t we? You just know that nothing will make her happier than goodies picturing her furry little friends (except for an actual cat that is, obvs). One of my favorite crazy cat ladies introduced me to the brand cat vs human, and I’m sure they will have the purrrfect gift for any of your feline-loving friends!

3. For your favorite happy crazy girl: if she has the right brand of craziness, she will surely LOVE the designs of Eva Mouton! Head over to Eva’s webshop and assemble a fun package, especially selected for this special girl! (Tote bag: Yes! Pins: yes!! Nail tattoos yes!!! Neuters gonna neut print: YEZZ!!!)

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4.For every girly girl:  As a true girly girl, I do indulge in a little beauty splurge from time to time. I have to say: the best beauty investment I ever made was my Urban Decay Naked3 palette. At the time, I still had to get it abroad (thanks again for bringing it Kattebel <3) but today you can also get it in Belgium, hurray! Even better: you can order it online via ici Paris XL: double hurray! Easy success-proof gift for every girly girl: check!

 5. For your bon vivant dad/uncle/brother: not always easy to find this one an original present, is it? Basically he just wants to enjoy the good things in life, and those aren’t that easily wrapped… However, I recently got one of my favorite bon vivants Luc Hoornaert’s “Must Eat”, a beautiful book full of original resto addresses, all selected because of their originality and focus on a “house specialty” (their “must eat” :p ), and it was a big hit!

6. For your sweetest softie: why not reward her softness with even more softness? Whether it’s your mom, grandma, sister, girlfriend or best friend: get this softie wrapped in the dreamy cloud that is an EllePaca scarf. My favorite? The Nightingale! In minty fairy, of course (of only because that color name is just the sweetest ever).

7. For your digitally savvy little brother/sister/niece/nephew: I recently got overwhelmed with social ads from Osmo, a game system combining iPad games with hands-on play (this movie explains it better than I ever could) and I have to admit: those sneaky stalkers got to me! My little brother is also part of that iPad-loving-speedily-sweeping generation and I think he would love it!

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8. For the girl who deserves something special: Want to show someone you have been thinking about their gift a little longer than right before Santa’s big night? Nothing screams not-last-minute like a personalized gift! One of my favorites is still personalized jewelry (I am a child of the Carrie Bradshaw generation, after all). Two of my go-to web spots for this: Onecklace (Carrie-style necklaces) and Ijcandie (name-stamp arm candy!)

9.For your amazing crafty friend: Sure, she will most likely get you a totally pinteresty handmade gift (no biggie), but if you’re not feeling too DIY-ish yourself, go for the next best thing: something she can get crafty with! I recently discovered one of my favorite web shops, Wander & Co, offers a selection of super stylish DIY packages, and they seem like a great gift! My personal favorite: this Cactus cushion package!

 10. For your hipster lover: You really want to find something nice for this one, don’t you? Not always easy though! But if he’s a bit of a hipster, a little Komono around his wrist will definitely be a winner! A little arm candy for your eye candy ;)

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Merry shopping!

<3 C.

It takes quite a bit to shut me up. Ask anyone who knows/has met me. But I have to say: nothing like a glance at some of Mother Nature’s miracles, to render even this girl speechless. Those moments you can’t do anything but stare in wonder, and thank the lucky stars that led you to this place, this moment. So if you’d ask me what I did the most while traveling the Garden Route, the answer’s pretty simple. I stared. I marveled. I thanked.

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The highlights

After a stop for lunch and an afternoon lounge on the beach in Jeffrey’s Bay, we headed towards Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, our home base in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park (Waves, rocks & water falls!). Next, we drove further West towards Wilderness National park (kayak!), with a stopover in Knysna for a yummy Cray Fish lunch. Final stop before going down to the Cape: Hermanus, for some epic whale watching!

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the tips

Pad stalls! On the road towards Port Elizabeth, make sure to keep your eyes open for pad stalls beside the road! In these little shops you can find all sorts of pretty/yummy regional and handmade goodies. Guess where 70% of my souvenir gifts came from…

Tasty Table is definitely a solid lunch tip in Jeffrey’s Bay. Fresh yumminess (try the calamari!), beach views (hello pretty surfer boys) and super sweet service.

Surfers (Shopping) Paradise. After you’re fueled up on all that that tastiness, you might want to put that energy to use and visit some of the Jeffrey’s Bay Factory stores. Top surfer brands (O’Neil, Billabong, …) at outlet prices: score!

Kayaking in Wilderness. Wilderness appears to be a stop a lot of SA travelers skip. But if you have the time, definitely consider a detour to this beautiful piece of greenery. And while you’re at it, get yourself a kayak and your ass into that water.

Hermanus Backpacker. This was definitely one of the nicest backpackers we’ve stayed at during our journey. Beautiful pool, cosy rooms, friendly people and a nice braaj dinner. The perfect home base for your whale watching adventures.

Wild pass. If you think of doing several of the San Parks National Parks, consider buying a Wild Card. It will give you unlimited access to the parks at a very reasonable price. (Yups, we were dumb enough to pay for each park separately. But at least you can learn from our mistake ;) )

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The memories

Tsitsikamma Love. One of the most breathtaking sights of our entire trip must be the beautiful waterfall we saw in Tsitsikamma. Talk about a rewarding hike! (Or should I say rock crawl :p ). Overall, Tsitikamma National Park was definitely one of my favorite stops on our trip and one of the first things I would recommend someone to visit in South Africa (after the Bush of course <3). We stayed in the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, which is built along the Wild Coast, with cozy, comfortable wooden huts looking out on all that rough gorgeousness. We caught some beautiful sunsets and I spent one afternoon just reading on our deck, basking in the soft sun and looking out on the crashing waves. Bliss.

Dassies! These soft and furry cuties were literally ALL around in Tsitsikamma! They’re a little shy but if you’re very very carefull (and have a top notch 200mm lens <3 Katrien) you’ll be able to approach them enough to (figuratively!!) catch them in all their melt-worthy cuteness

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GO Springboks! During our time in South Africa, the Rugby World cup was taking place, and even for a sports-noob like myself, it was hard to not get infected with the „Bokke-fever” In Wilderness we were lucky enough to catch the semi-finals in the company of some lovely South Africans. We got totally into it! (Yes, there was yelling). The fact that the Bokke didn’t win did spoil the fun a little bit (by then we felt like they were „our team”, you know), but we got to meet and chat with some very interesting people, so I guess we did win in some way…

Whale Watching Wonders. The timing of our trip was perfect for whale watching (excellent planning skills, Katrien! <3) and we got so spoiled with sightings! Can you imagine, just having lunch (Sexy Hoender burger x Hermanus brewed beer = yumz), while spotting those magical creatures right from your terrace on the shore! Crazy. On our whale watching boat tour we even came across an albino baby whale. Such a big little miracle!

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 Pics by me, Katrien and Lore

I can’t hide from it any longer. I can’t pretend anymore. It’s there, and I will have to deal with it. Winter really IS coming. I got a bit of an extension on enjoying my Summer wardrobe during our South African days, but this weekend the cold hard Belgian truth really (and quite literally) hit me. However, saying goodbye to colorful dresses and floaty tops means welcoming cosy knits and snuggly sweaters. Silver lining? I think so!

Since I am taking a page out of my dear friend Mara’s book, and trying to cut down on the shopping the following months (year?), I want to be very deliberate about my winter purchases. Nothing like a cold night to do some pre-shopping homework (on my couch, with a warm blanket and some tea, obviously) and assemble my Winter Wish List.

Winter wishlist

The stars of this story: a calf length grey wool coat (got my eye on this Marco Polo one. Pretty hefty price tag though, so saving up a bit, or waiting till I spot a similar, more budget friendly one :) ) and a minty fairy (<3 that color name!) EllePaca Nightingale scarf, to add some happy punch to that grey silhouette

Also starring: a winter version of my beloved Stan Smiths, some cosy cashmere (love the ones & Other Stories has in its winter collection!), a super soft cardigan (this June one is sooooo soft! I touched it, so I’m not making this up ;) ), happy headwear (not sure if I can pull this Esprit one off, but thinking about giving it a try), this burgundy Komono wrist candy and last but not least: a little reminder of summer in my pocket, with this Moonloft phone cover from Wander & Co!

What’s on your Winter Wish List? <3 C.

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the treesHenry David Thoreau

As much as we loved our stay in the animal kingdom, when it was time to continue our journey we were all excited to stretch our legs. Enough (spotting) excursions on wheels! We got out our hiking boots and hit some of the many beautiful paths, trails and hills this land has to offer. I’m far from the active-Dora-the-explorer type. But you know what? I LOVED it! (Yes, I was almost as surprised as you are). Granted: there were some tomato-faced-out-of-breath moments. Hiking up yet another hill, wondering how the hell I was going to make it to the end of this trail. But the sights. Oh those beautiful sights… They make it all worthwhile. Catching your breath while having it taken away.

On another (yet related) note: don’t expect any outfits from this trip. Besides our days in Cape Town I basically spent three weeks in shorts and T-shirts, with messy hair and no make-up. That felt like vacation all by itself! But all this sartorial practicality aside, my hiking boots did have coral-colored accents. You cannot expect a girly girl to totally dismiss her sensibilities, now can you? :)

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The highlights

After saying goodbye to the bush, we headed towards the Amphitheater area, where we spent a day hiking the Drakensberg and another visiting Lesotho, a teeny tiny country, completely enclosed by South Africa.

After that, we set off towards the coast, which we were to follow for the rest of our journey. First stop: Coffee Bay, perfect home base for a hike along the coastline to the beautiful “Hole in the wall”.

to coffee bay

 

the tips

The Amfitheater Backpackers Lodge, is definitely a fun location to stay while visiting the Drakensberg area. (From basic camping to en-suite deluxe rooms, whatever floats your boat ;) ). Nice braaj area, beautiful pool and chill jaccuzzi: check! They organize guided tours to different locations, which (if our Lesotho experience was a representative sample) are definitely worth trying!

Lesotho Love. We took the Lesotho tour organized by the backpackers and were fortunate enough to find ourselves with an amazing guide (<3 Sila!), who didn’t only showed us its beautiful landscapes and rock paintings, but introduced us to some local people and told us fascinating stories about both Lesotho and South Africa. Stories are the best kind of history lessons, aren’t they? <3 Nice plus: the backpackers has a collaboration with a local school in Lesotho, which offers a little history lesson and a taste of local cuisine (and the locally brewed “Maluti” beer) for their visitors, in exchange for help buying teaching materials and food for the kids. Top!

Be Sweet! When visiting/walking by the local villages, make sure to stock up on some candy. Something to fill the cute little hands of those cute little ones that will be running up the hills to meet you (I know, SO not good for them, but those happy faces <3)

Friends Café. On our way back from a particularly exerting hike in Coffee Bay, we found safe haven, a yummy lunch and a beautiful view in this lovely place owned by a charming South African-Texan couple. Delicious fresh food, made with <3 It was so yummy we went back for dinner the same night. And we were not disappointed :)

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The memories

Pajama Party. After our days in the bush, as amazing as they were, we have to admit that a night at Aberdeen House ordering in food, lounging on our luscious bed and watching Coach Carter felt like the best pajama party ever.

Back to basics. So we booked this stay in a traditional round hut through Airbnb. Sounds cool, we thought. Because no: we didn’t mind a bit basic, and yes: we definitely wanted to try a unique traditional experience. Ahum. Let’s say our interpretation of a bit basic slightly differed from what we found upon arrival. And that the sanitary traditions were a little more than we bargained for. There was a small “let’s-get-out-of-here-NOW” moment… But we put on our big girl pants and decided to tough it out. We’re badass like that. Ahum. Ok, it really wasn’t THAT bad… You get used to that “solar powered aka plastic bag” shower. Plus: there is something to be said for that wonderful view and the friendly reception <3

Doggie! When leaving for our walk from Coffee Bay to the “Hole in the wall”, this beautiful sheep dog just walked up to us and decided to tag along. She was so sweet! For some mysterious reason she felt called upon to take care of this group of stupid tourists and stayed with us the whole way. Like a real pro, she was running from the head to the tail of the group and back again, all the while fiercely protecting her newfound flock against the “Transkei Big Five” (mostly cows ;) ). We baptized her Doggie and felt like the biggest a*holes in the world when we had to leave her behind to take the bus back :’(

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 Pics by me, Katrien and Lore

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We can all use a little closet cleanse from time to time, now can’t we? Decluttered closet, decluttered life! So when Liesbeth & Jessie, the lovely duo behind the Clean Closet events, contacted me for the third edition of their sale, I thought: “C: Time to get your act together, and the clutter out of that closet!” No sooner said than done, I got myself a spot and immediately dove into my closet to start the selection process. (You know, while I was still in the decisive cleansing spirit, the volume of items selected being directly correlated with that particular state of mind).

I have to say: I was particularly rigorous and some very nice pieces found their way into those “Clean Closet” labeled boxes. If I may say so myself. And no, I will not be opening those boxes again until this weekend. For fear of changing my mind :) Feel like a sneak peek? Here’s a small selection of some of the pieces that are looking for a new home:

So: if you see something you like or just feel like a fun afternoon (because those Clean Closet ladies sure now how to plan a cozy fashionable event with lots of lovely people  <3) – come by this Sunday between 2 and 6 PM for a chat, a drink and a little rummage!

Hope to see you there! <3 C.

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I’m back! Three weeks of wandering from Johannesburg down to Cape Town left me mesmerized, sun burnt and with a full-on country crush. And out of the abundance of the heart… Because boy, does my heart have stories to tell! But instead of writing a novel-sized blogpost with all of the things I want to share, I’d thought I’d break it down and start by the beginning. The first (and if you ask me: most magical) part of our journey: our days in the South African Bush.

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The highlights

We started our bush adventures the moment we drove through the Polaborwa gate into Kruger National Park (and spotted our very first impalas!). And yes: we were very tourist-cheesy about it, playing The Lion King theme song while doing so. (No shame!) We spent our time in this beautiful Park driving around (in the rented 4×4 we lovingly baptized Feisty Fonz <3), peering out of our car windows and trying to spot animals (with every sighting being accompanied by a big STOP scream and a test of dear Fonz’s breaks). The first night we slept in Olifants Restcamp and the next we laid our heads to rest in Lower Sabie Rest Camp. After these days of DIY animal tracking (guided and coached by our very own ranger Katrien <3), we headed to the beautiful nThambo Tree Camp in Klasserie. We took a little detour through the Blyde River Canyon, to check out the “potholes”, admire the three “rondavels“ and gaze out of “God’s window”. 

the bushthe tips

Plan ahead! Tempted to try your own Kruger experience? Make sure to book it (WAY) in advance! We started planning our trip about a year beforehand (this was the first thing we booked) and even then we snatched some of the last lodges in our preferred rest camps. Do splurge just a little: the bit extra you pay for a lodge with a view is REALLY worth it!

Find your perfect game combo. We found that the combination of the “DIY” stay in Kruger Park and the more “guided” days in nThambo was a perfect cocktail. You have your first “bush discoveries” at your own pace, trying your hand at tracking and spotting the animals yourself, after which your wildlife experience gets kicked into a higher gear with the help of experienced trackers and rangers. And yes: you’re more likely to spot those Big 5 with their guidance :)

The Bush Pub and Inn, where we stayed for a night between Kruger and nThambo. We had some difficulty finding the place (as it is located at the crossing of 3 private parks, so rather deep into the bush) but were delighted with the friendly reception. We originally booked a backpackers room, but they were nice enough to upgrade us to one of the Inn rooms, score! The place has a really chill atmosphere and very cozy rooms.

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The memories

Bad Baboon Behavior. We had rather comical (but also a tiny bit scary) experience in Lower Sabie, where a Baboon stole our breakfast rusks (South African specialty! Look it up :) ). Smart little bastards…

(Bogus) Ranger stories. In the Bush Pub we ended up having some drinks with 2 rangers, who told us fascinating tales about their days dedicated to wildlife…and about all the bogus stories and nature facts they make particularly annoying tourists believe :) (Oh yes, giraffes’ necks are this long because they sleep with their heads stuck between two high branches…)

Sweet Savannah. NThambo’s domesticated African Wild Cat honored me with her friendship and cuddles one day after morning drive. I was assured “she does not do that with everyone” and felt very privileged!

nThambo Love. To me, our stay in this Tree Camp was nothing short of amazing. Contrary to the rest camps in Kruger, nThambo is not fenced, so you sleep in pile huts smack in the middle of animal kingdom. Granted: I was a tiny bit chicken-shit. But what an experience! On the game drives we got to see the animals from (really!) up close. (Definitely NOT DIY, and only possible when accompanied by a trained ranger). Again: a bit chicken shit. But wow. I mean WOW. I started this trip with an open mind, curious about how the experience would affect me. Witnessing the wildlife in this way (especially all the baby animals we were lucky enough to see): the awe… Oh, and sipping GT’s and watching the sunset in the heart of the bush (while stretching our legs in the middle of a night game drive), wasn’t bad either :)

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Pics by me, Katrien and Lore

It might be a tad quiet here over the next few weeks! Heading for an African adventure with a few of my all-time favorite peeps <3 I can’t believe after all these months of planning and counting down, the moment is finally here… So psyched I can’t even. You know, that so-excited-you-can’t-sleep-eat-think pre-travel state of mind? Yup: that’s where I’m at! Might be doing some gramming from the road if I get the chance, so keep an eye on my IG account if you’d like the occasional update ;)

Anyway, time to stuff some last items in my suitcase and say goodbye to my little Nalu… (A big shout-out to one very special friend who is coming to stay with her while I’m away!)

Sien jou later! <3 C.

person-beach-holiday-vacation-large by Ed Gregory

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So yes, I’m a girly girl. I have a love affair with dresses, love me some pastels and created quite the girly happy place for myself. But don’t be fooled :) As the only girl amidst a band of brothers, I’m not averse to stepping out of my girly zone. You’ll never hear me refer to myself as a tom boy (cause let’s face it, I’d be lying), but I do love a look with a dash of androgyny. Somehow, when you’re dressed comme les garçons, you feel even more aware of the feminine fire within. Those fiery red lips help, of course ;)

Fitting with the lovely days of Indian Summer we’ve had these past weeks, one last bright colored look before switching to an Autumn color palette? I got this color blocked top at a ZOOT sale a few months ago and even though I was a bit hesitant before buying it (it’s not the most flattering model ever for the feminine form..) I’m so glad I caved because it has turned out to be one of my go-to pieces these last few months. Light, comfortable and super easy to style (I feel that it’s enough of a statement on its own, and doesn’t need much to create an outfit). And what can I say: its bold brightness just lifts my mood :)  Nothing beats a happy look!

Happy Days! <3 C.

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French Connection top – Vintage blazer – American Eagle jeans – Adidas Stan Smith Sneakers

Pics by Mara

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Nothing like a little getaway to recharge that mental battery, am I right? We kicked off September with a week of wandering the Dalmatian Coast, and it was just what the doctor ordered! Besides the obvious joys of traveling, discovering new places and experiencing new things, it’s the little things which I secretly look forward to just as much and which trigger that state of total holiday bliss…

Reading Reading Reading! Yup, I’m a closet bookworm! My everyday routine rarely allows me time to read as much as I would want to. So selecting which books to pack and stretching out in the sun with a good read is one of my favorite parts of going on holiday. In the relaxed holiday state of mind I also feel like I’m more receptive for what’s written between the lines, more inclined to think about what a story really means. I usually end up with a book that will forever be the symbol of that specific holiday, one storyline that lingers in my mind. This year, that title definitely goes to the tragically beautiful “All the lights we cannot see

Disconnecting. As a natural part of my digital job, I’m ALWAYS connected. Yes, a slight social media addiction might play a role here to :) Taking a break from all of this is an important part of really getting into the chill-vacation-spirit. Granted, the social media disconnect is often largely due to a lack of mobile data abroad, rather than an actual choice… But it’s the result that counts, right? :)

Contemplating the big and little things. Disconnecting from both your real and virtual life opens up quite a bit of space to let your mind wander, now doesn’t it? After a few hectic months it feels so wonderfully luxurious to just gaze at a beautiful view and take stock. It tends to clarify what matters most, and energize for challenges ahead.

Getting inspired. When you give your mind the room to wander, it might end up in magical places. Nothing like a relaxed and open mind in a stimulating environment to get those creative juices flowing. I often return from holiday with plenty of new ideas, plans and stories in my luggage.

Enjoying the moment. You don’t need to be any specific place at any specific time. Just enjoy where you are and what you are doing there. Cherishing that moment while it lasts = total bliss.

Enjoying the company. Whether you’re traveling with friends or that special someone, I love how holidays give you the opportunity to really spend time together. To talk about everything and nothing. To discover that little thing you never knew about each other.

What could I find on your holiday bliss list?

<3 C.

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Tondelier20150517_083The Man Repeller. My fellow fans of the fashion blogosphere will probably be familiar with this concept, conceived by the wonderfully witty Leandra Medine, founder of the Man Repeller blog. On this “humorous website for serious fashion” (seriously, you must check it out, the writing is so clever and snappy, I love it!), she describes it as follows:

man·re·pell·er1 [mahn-ree-peller]

–noun

she who outfits herself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex.

I’ve always felt like there are definitely trends and styles that are strictly “a girls thing” (or even a “fashion girls thing”). Outfits we put on to please no one but ourself or our fellow girls, because we just know most guys will hate them (or just don’t get them, you know ;) ) So when I stumbled upon this blog in one of my online wanderings I was like YES! THIS GIRL GETS IT!

Meanwhile, the term has become somewhat of a common phrase amongst me and my girlfriends. When out shopping or giving each other outfit advice something in the sense of “Love it! A bit man repeller though” is standard conversation. (I realize we’re not using the term 100% accurately – more as an adjective than a noun – but I’m sure Leandra won’t mind).

Now: which pieces or styles, you ask, are commonly known to deserve this title? A little field research amongst my girls (and some of our boys – thanks for the input guys!) resulted in the following (probably non-exhaustive) list of garments which will most likely inspire a degree of aversion in the male specimen:

Dungarees / Platform shoes / Boyfriend jeans / Harem pants / Wool sweaters / Floral prints / Maxi skirts / Retro patterns / Ballerina flats / Flared pants / Christmas jumpers / Everything oversized or baggy

As a true #girlboss evangelist I’m all for dressing for nobody but yourself. Who cares what any guy, even your significant other, thinks? As long as you feel great wearing it, nothing else really matters. But you know what? If you feel like wearing something you know he’ll love, that’s perfectly fine to. There is no shame in wanting to dress up for your man every once in a while (and feeling hot as hell doing so). There is girl power in that to, isn’t there? Whatever makes you feel confident and beautiful. That being said, if he’s the right kinda guy, you’ll sweep him of his feet wearing your most man-repelling look. (Oh yes, we’ve been known to put a guy to the dungaree-test on early dates). Something about the book and its cover, right? ;)

<3 C.

Man Repeller

Man Repeller

Man Repeller

Lee dungarees – Zara top  – Nike Sneakers