Mainland Europe

Pest

DSC_0303I am so happy I went to Budapest. At the time, I felt like exams should take precedent and that I was wasting valuable study time. Now, as I write this, I still feel in awe of that beautiful city. We began the morning at the Szépmûvészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts) in Pest. However, before we got to adventure over to the Varosliget Castle, we whisked ourselves away to the marketplace. Before my trip, the only thing I had heard about Budapest was the quality of the marketplace. As it closed at 3:00 (and we had a late start), I didn’t want to take any chances. It was well worth the talk. It had all the groceries, souvenirs, and traditional food I could have wanted in one place (I tried langos- the nearest fried thing, like a good Southerner). Because we were so close to the bridge, we went ahead and walked over it, visited the fascinating cave church (a quick Hungarian history lesson), and then climbed up to the liberty statue. Once back down the hill, we went over to get a daylight look at Parliament (sadly missing the last tour by minutes). DSC_0239

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Between Friday and Saturday, I spent so long walking around and were so cold that I decided to take a nice long coffee break and watch the sun go down over Parliament. Then, rejuvenated, I decided we should go to see at least one bath while in Budapest. Budapest is famous for its baths since hot springs flow through the rocks under the city. The waters are said to be very medicinal (though they looked quite normal to me. Next time I will probably pony up the money to swim at Szechenyi, but since I didn’t even have my swimsuit, the bath included in the Budapest city card did the trick. From there, I went to back to Varosliget Castle (which offered an ice skating rink beside it for the season) and explored it by night. It reminded me of the beginning music of Beauty and the Beast. On that account, I made sure not to get too close to any windows, as who knew what might lay inside…DSC_0366

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Outfit Details: Hat: Brixton | Shirt: Chloe | Blazer: H&M | Skirt: made myself with my sewing machine | Socks: Primark | Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger | Kate Spade

Two quick things:

1. Neon orange stuck out like a sore thumb in Budapest. It worked well in that my friend could find me, but I did not look like a local.

2. For anyone travelling to Budapest in November, regardless of the fact Hungary looks like it is southern of England on a map, you can expect similar weather. In other words, a blazer on its own is not going to cut it. Bring a scarf! gloves! heavy coat!

Buda

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The cheapest flight you can find in Europe to Hungary is most likely Hungarian-based Wizz Air. This was my second time flying Wizz Air, and I haven’t had any complaints either time about the flight itself, but this time, as I was perusing the baggage page (cheaper flights are always crafty in how the term things, so as to charge the unwary), I realized that a regular piece of cabin baggage would cost me an extra 14 pounds (both ways). Challenge accepted. I decided I would fit all of my clothes (and laptop) for my 2 and a half day trip into this Kate Spade bag, which would fit neatly under the seat.

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St. Stephen’s Basilica* was absolutely stunning. I would definitely count it among the top 5 churches I’ve ever visited. An added easter egg is the trek to the top, a journey well worth the roughly two dollars I paid. Turns out, the sun sets at like 3:30/ 4:00 at this time of year in Hungary, so about the time we went up, the entire city donned a dusky glow that made this gothic city even more Romantic-looking.DSC_0042

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I think that I almost had a heart attack when I crossed the Chain Bridge and saw a real live funicular. Clearly after seeing the Grand Budapest Hotel, I had some silent expectations I couldn’t begin to hope were real (probably beginning with a funicular). Our compartment was named Margit and she was a gem!DSC_0146

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DSC_0188Outfit Details: Bowler Hat: Brixton | Tunic: Zara | Blazer: H&M | Pants: MSGM | Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger | Purse: Kate Spade

*Even though this post is named Buda, St. Stephen’s is actually in Pest. Shared to The Fashion Canvas.

Then We Open Again, Where?

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As I’ve mentioned, I’m a few weeks behind on updates from my trips (look out for Budapest and Morocco). I got lucky on my outfit here, despite the delay, since cheetah print is booming right now. I’ll try to be better about upcoming Christmas posts!

I arrived in Venice the night before Halloween. When I made the booking, I didn’t mean to plan it that way, and to be honest, I completely forgot (although people in England celebrated way more than I anticipated, adopting it as a veritable week-long festival rather than a single night). But in this case, fate interceded on my behalf. For as Romantic and dreamy as the canals and bridges are in Venice, the ambience of the night could have invented the meaning of phantasmagoric. It is no accident that Poe set “The Assignation,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Masque of Red Death”* here. Walking through the darkened alleys at night they seem to grow narrower and deeper. You pass the same bridges, walking in a circle fueled by the frenetic energy of despair, suspicion, and above all fear. Meanwhile, in glass windows all around hang ominous masks in a variety of shapes, their darkened eyes glaring eerily in the moonlight. With this collection of photos, I’ve tried to capture a bit more of the creepy vibes, but I also included just some of the general beauty of the change to Autumn which November brings. DSC_0350

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DSC_0343Outfit Details: Jacket: bought on a LadyBirdLikes Instagram sale (vintage) | Lipstick: Chanel | Shirt: American Apparel | Necklace: thrifting find | Leggings: The Row | Shoes: Primark (and on sale now for 3 pounds in leopard print and black) | Purse: Kate Spade

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DSC_0324The title of this post is taken from the song “We Open In Venice” from the musical Kiss Me, Kate. Here’s the Rat Pack’s rendition of the song. Also, while I was in Venice, I had the pleasure of meeting Louise, the amazing mind behind Pandora. To see her interpretation of Thomas Mann and the Marchesa Casati, see here.

*The exact setting of “The Masque of Red Death” is in a castle and nothing else is described specifically, but as it doesn’t disclude Venice, and the story has a Venice-esque feel to it, I included it (possibly erroneously) in the list.

It Happens to Hepburn – It Happens in Venice!

Our second day in Venice was quite eventful. Between St. Mark’s square and a tour of the Basilica, wandering through the Doge’s Palace, witnessing a full-on bread attack by itinerant pigeons, falling in love with the Marchesa Casati exhibit, and a dreamy never-ending walk that ended in a candlelit dinner, it was very full but equally fulfilling! Personally, I could have taken a few more coffee breaks, soaking in the city, basking in the sun, languorous in little cafes, but I have no regrets. There is only so much you can do in a weekend away from school!

One of my biggest inspirations on this trip was Katherine Hepburn’s performance in David Lean’s Summertime. The movie itself is rather drab, as she walks around Venice sad and single, looking for love, finds love, drags it out, and is still sad. Luckily, her wardrobe doesn’t share the same fate, making her scarves, knee-length skirts, and button-ups on point. You’ll have to see if you feel the same way about mine.

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I do not own the rights to these pictures.

Here’s my interpretation: Hat: picked up at a street vintage sale while roaming around the city! | Glasses: Chloe | Earrings: vintage | Scarf: vintage (found in the attic) | Shirt: H&M | Blazer: DKNY | Skirt: Joy (there’s one near my apartment and it’s a constant struggle to avoid going in and buying everything) | Purse: Kate Spade | Shoes: Lanvin

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DSC_0449     Doge’s Palace IMG_0620

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For more pictures of Katherine Hepburn in Summertime, see this old Hollywood Reporter set.

Venice (A Vision in Three Parts)

DSC_0496When you are in Venice, there is nowhere else on earth you could be– the mysterious passages, romantically gloomy water around every corner, picturesque bridges, burly, striped gondoliers, and creepy masque shops (coupled with the overall abundance of leather goods). It’s not the destination for the claustrophobic or the penny pincher, but to the dreamer of unrealized visions? Venice is bliss. Venice is the nearest scratch with reality.

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No visit to Venice is complete without a trip to the fabulous Rialto market. While it’s not a prime location for the vintage-seeker, there may be no better place for fresh fruits and vegetables. I was particularly pleased to get three large bags of sun dried tomatoes for 5 euro. In the US, you always pay the same amount for a small jar! Also, if you’re in need of an eel for dinner, this is the place to come (namely because they sell them). While generally I try to err on the side of adventure, on this occasion, I must report a timely abstention.

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In the afternoon, we went over to the Jewish area. A little known and sad fact: in 1516, Venice was the first place to ever instate a Jewish “ghetto” (the English appropriation of the word stemming from the Venetian “ghèto”). Today the area remains Jewish, though less than 500 Jews live there. However, as of 2009, the population of Venice dipped under 60,000, meaning that it may be a higher percentage of Jews in the city than you would expect at first blush. DSC_0490

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Where in the world is Rebecca Santiago?

What I Wore:

Hat: Vintage | Dress: Vintage (and if you like bubbly effect of the bottom, I literally safety pinned the extra fabric up, so it’s not hard to achieve) | Earrings: Israeli market! Shades: Urban Outfitters | Necklace: Anthropologie | Belt: Thrifted | Tights: Gap | Shoes: Primark (still there, I believe!) | Purse: Kate Spade

Stay tuned for more soon, although I may be a bit delinquent over the next few days as the reality of exams sets in– wish me luck!

 Shared to Hat Attack and Trend Spin

Ich bin euer, Je suis votre compère, I am your host.

“I used to pretend I was someone quite mysterious and fascinating. Then I grew up and realized I was mysterious and fascinating'” –Sally Bowles

If it wasn’t clear from my last post, I tend to relate to new places, people, and things from familiar characters and stories. Berlin, of course, would be no different, and yet, with all the mystery and legend surrounding the wall, it’s become almost a character in itself. Still, I don’t think any self-respecting musical theatre enthusiast can approach Berlin without hearing in their head that whispered beckoning from the back of a seedy dance hall (or outdoor brick structure): Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome. 

DSC_0703After accidentally booking a hostel for the wrong date twice, I ended up staying on what I later realized was the East Side of Berlin, about a fourth of a mile from the East Side Gallery. The location was great and convenient for our purposes, but the whole time I was there, I couldn’t help but feel a bit displaced by the fact that a mere 25 years ago, the place I was staying would have been completely inaccessible to me. While I realize that my impressions don’t add anything fresh to long discussion; overall I was just impressed by how arbitrary the divide seemed, watching as cyclists streamed down what would have been an abruptly ending road (Fremde, etranger, stranger).DSC_0676

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DSC_0717 2Moreso than other cities, it is difficult to escape history in Berlin. With every tattered building, it stares you in the face, but the city’s vibrance almost subdues the ghosts. The art scene is tremendous, and it seems like start-ups are blooming around every corner. I’m not sure whether it’s a joke, but I heard that all you need to move to Berlin as a young person is a camera. They offer a special visa for artists. Bliebe, reste, stay. Like I said, I don’t know if it’s true, but we certainly saw a lot of art, but of all the displays, I liked none better than the china room in the Charlottenburg Palace. This room was fabulous. The attention to detail was extraordinary, and for some reason the designer felt the need to play with the border between the wall and ceiling to the point that a deer was sticking out of the wall (I kid you not!).

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DSC_0750What I wore:
Hat: Brixton
Dress: French Connection
Tights: old (I can’t remember the brand)
Socks: stolen from my Dad ❤
Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger
Clutch/ Wallet: Fossil
and introducing… my new coat (which I bought there on a splurge): TALLY WEiJL

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Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante, Happy to see you!

Shared to What I Wore

Oh the Posh Posh Traveling Life, The Traveling Life for Me!

Say it with me: Newsh-von-schteen. You might want to try again, and a third time. To be honest, you might want to give up altogether and just gaze at the Bavarian view, or you could adopt my all-too-American approach and call it the “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang castle” (after being corrected by about a hundred Germans).

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See those familiar headlights peaking into the picture?

Well, considering the fact that I couldn’t dress like a doll on a music box to visit, I decided to channel the Baron and Baroness Bomburst (of Vulgaria) and  Ludwig II’s outlook on glamour and drama, generally in epic proportion.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 3.07.21 PMHowever, there’s a limit to personal pizazz when a 40-minute walk up a mountain is involved with a very full suitcase (the consequence of back-to-back overnight train/ bus rides). Still, the view surpassed any struggle involved. Bavaria is like the fantasy backdrop of any pastoral landscape. Blue skies, fields of green, mountain silhouettes, endearing chapels, and little red roofs dotting the area next to the water. It’s easy to see why land prices are so high. It’s a veritable paradise.

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DSC_0814And at the top of the hill? A fairy tale castle surrounded by the terrible legend of the eccentric and reclusive prince who could not face the reality of his diminishing power. In its stead, he built himself an edifice, a makeshift temple to his majesty, ready to receive his subjects when they should come (or it would have been, to this day it remains unfinished). Unfortunately, we were strictly prohibited from taking any pictures of the actual inside of the castle, but here’s a promotional photo of the reception area:

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Check out the view!DSC_0785Once outside, there was a path to a wooden bridge. Word to the wise, if you want a picture of the castle as a whole, this is the place to get it (you’ll just have to fight the rest of the tourists for it). I’ve included a helpful mapDSC_0819DSC_0840

What I wore:
Headband: Primark (old)
Sunglasses: Chloe
Earrings: Vintage
Fur: estate sale boon (shown here)
Blazer: DKNY
Blouse: Yves Saint Laurent- Rive Gauche
Skirt: New Look
Tights: Wolford
Heels: Chloe
DSC_0802      For more information on Ludwig and Neuschwanstein, you can go here (or of course wikipedia). However, the more involved your research gets, be sure to look out for this guy:
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–Shared to the lovely Patti’s Visible Monday (it’s good to be back).

Fall of the Habsburgs

DSC_0689Important piece of information: for those of you travelling to Vienna, if by chance you are taking a bus from the Bratislava airport, “Vienna” in English is “Wien” in German. Give up on a sign that looks like Vienna, and hasten to “Wien”-er land! Once there, get ready for delightful food. To start, Viennese coffee and Vienna stew at Cafe Schwarzenberg, as fancy as it was overpriced, and even though my meal screamed tourist, an unexpected bread charge for 6 euros is positively excessive (especially for two pieces). And yet it looks so unassuming…DSC_0699DSC_0701Vienna marked my first stop on a 5 day trip, ending in Berlin. Necessarily, by only bringing a carry on, my fashion options were a bit limited, so more so than usual, cool comfort won the day, and it’s probably a good thing considering how much we walked. I knew almost nothing about the city before I arrived, save its particularly musical upbringing. I have a habit of wearing fashionable shoes walking, only to lose feeling in my smaller toes for over a week. This time my trusty travel Bass shoes kept me supported to see this:DSC_0770 and these:DSC_0717DSC_0707DSC_0744And I walked until I was positively inspired…10807518_10204551773807933_1117419402_oeven if Chanel is known to make people a bit mooney and swoony….DSC_0787We never figured out what this next thing was, but it looked cool. With the Latin writing, I like to think of it as a Roman temple re-incarnate. DSC_0681What I wore:
Bowler: Brixton
Scarf: estate sale find
Sweater: H&M
Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Bass

DAY 2DSC_0696DSC_0702 2DSC_0700DSC_0688The second day in Vienna, I toned the walking down and actually did a few things, starting with the Habsburg Palace. I could tell I would be new money when I was surprised at how sparse the inside of the Habsburg Palace. However, what they might have saved on wall hangings, the certainly lost on cutlery. Every successive ruler had to have a travel set of cutlery, one for each house, and even one solely reserved for Easter Day. Accompanying this display, before the advent of the lightbulb, one had to be well stocked with ornate candlesticks. The Habsburgs have an entire room.DSC_0683

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Less than expected, but very red

Next, I headed up towards the University of Vienna (and its surrounding area)  to pay homage to one of the great Austrian economists (Von Hayek) alma maters. While we were there, they were having an impromptu book sale, and I managed to snag a few English vintage Penguin editions. Subsequently, I decided my daughter will attend the University of Vienna; now to have the daughter…DSC_0713DSC_0719DSC_0723 2DSC_0731For the rest of the afternoon I wondered a bit taking pictures of things I liked and getting lost. Somewhere along the way, I decided I would try to see if there were standing room tickets to whatever opera was playing. The opera was about 10 minutes from my hostel, so I thought I could run back and change if I stood in line for a ticket at 6:30 for a 7:30 production. As it turned out when I got there, the opera started at 7:00! Thank goodness, I was early. They also only asked three euros to get into the opera. DSC_0791DSC_0736In our lives we all need personal rituals (whether buying scones on Saturdays or keeping an involved makeup routine). Personally, I maintain a ritual of always drinking champagne when I go to the opera. I thought they sold it by the glass, only to receive a small personal bottle to add to my personal routine. What could be nicer than standing on the balcony of an opera house drinking champagne?IMG_0368IMG_0363What I wore:
Hat: Brixton (see above)
Scarf: thrifty find
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters
Shirt: GAP
Pants: Antonio Melani
Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger

Stockholm (Set to Roam): Day 2

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It was difficult to pack for Sweden in September for two reasons:

1. All I know about Scandanavia is that it is supposed to be bitterly cold and near the Arctic (making it a perfect environment for the Northern lights). However, since it wasn’t freezing in London (also notoriously chilly), how cold could it really be?

2. All my knowledge as to what people wear in Stockholm comes from the blog (wait for it…) Stockholm Street Style, in which everyone seems to be engulfed by black quilts and wearing heels.

Well, as it turns out, I should have brought only black clothes that were quilted. Not only was it super cold, everyone did (as the stereotype goes) look like supermodels. Although when the average person is tall, thin, blond, and wearing exclusively black, this should really come as no surprise. Looking back, when I think of Stockholm Style Blog, it always struck me as a bit darker. Now, I know. Henry Ford and the Swedes get along (you can have it in any color, as long as it’s black). Also, everyone who looked remotely local seemed to be wearing some variation on the Chelsea boot. The moral of the story is: don’t wear tuxedo shoes in Stockholm. Bring boots.

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After sorting out the wardrobe, I set out to see the Vasa, Sweden’s very own marine archeological feat, brought to you fresh from 1626. The ship, which originally embarrassingly sank in the Stockholm harbor stands as the world’s only full scale model of a meticulously preserved 17th century ship to date. Taking 10 years just to remove it from the harbor, this ship represents a labor of historical love, and to great avail. When I looked at the Captain’s Quarter’s I couldn’t help but reminisce about old Nemo and his underwater exploits. Though not exactly the same time period, the point is that the Vasa is a marvel of modern preservation methods, and very worth visiting.IMG_0231

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After a long museum morning, I headed over to “Salu Hall.” While I don’t have a direct translation, it should be something roughly like “a pantheon of ridiculously good food in a building with a fake steeple.” I ordered some sundried tomato lasagne (it looked too good to resist) and a few pastries. I have to say, Sweden can do some lemon pastries. For whatever reason, you could by them in bulk from the 7-11s on the corner, but they were worth it.

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Not lemon, but equally good,

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Early morning light over Stockholm

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I admit this wasn’t my best pairing, but for what it’s worth:
Jacket: Burberry
Shirt: Estate Sale Find
Pseudo-PJ Pants: H&M
Shoes: Lanvin

 

Hej Stokholm: Part I

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I bought my tickets to Sweden after checking the Ryanair prices for all of Scananavia. I ended up in Stockholm rather than Copenhagen or Oslo due not to my overwhelming longing for St. Lucia’s Day and love for Ikea, but really my overall greed (or thrift, as the boy scouts say) and ignorance. I was even more excited to find out that for every American Dollar, I would get a whopping 7 Swedish Kronor. Get that? SEVEN!!

Well, fate played a cruel joke.

That remarkable 7 wouldn’t buy a candy bar, much less a coke, and 7 kronor is about the equivalent of 25 cents. As it turns out, Sweden is one of the richest, and most expensive countries in Europe. While it’s not, you know, Zurich, Priceoftravel.com lists it as the second most expensive city on its backpacker index. Do note that Monaco does not figure in the rankings, but honestly, when you are competing with Monaco, doesn’t that concede the point?

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Nevertheless, unlike Paris, with the price tag came a new standard of cleanliness. Stockholm proper was cleaner than Disney on a given morning, and some of the views could seriously compete for one of those two remaining spots on the world showcase. Virtually everywhere in the city is surrounded by the river (Norrstrom), and it makes for some truly breathtaking scenery. With such a pristine city, I can only imagine what the fabled countryside of the rest of Stockholm looks like (though Ryanair is always quite in coming complete with an hour- long sightseeing tour as you try to find civilization relative to the remote airport where it has dumped you- this was no exception).

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20140926_143849Once I finally reached the city, I immediately bought a map and some “toast” which turned out to be none other than a well-timed panini. After planning out the day, I decided I would go to the hostel and drop off my luggage bag. Unfortunately, it was then I realized (bereft of wifi and data) that I had no idea, except for a general direction, where the hostel was. With that, I started walking in the direction of the island area (there are 4 major ones that compose Stockholm) that I thought it was on. The Hostel’s name was “Lodge 52,” so I decided to keep walking until I came to the address numbered “52” (which was much further away than it sounds). My father likes to say “even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then,” while I cannot speak for hogs, I can say I had an incredible stroke of dumb luck, because apartment 52 and Lodge 52 of this random road happened to be the same place.

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Master of Directions

From there, I went to see the Royal Palace (which looks more like another feat of seventies architecture than anything old and regal), the town, and the Nobel Museum.

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What I Wore:
As a preface, I would advise anyone travelling to Stockholm to bring almost exclusively black clothing if you are visiting after September 1st. I was the only breath of pastel on most streets I was in. But more on that in the next post…
Hat: British Vintage (from charity shop)
Dress: Anthropologie
Scarf: BCBG
Tights: Wolford (ebay)
Shoes: Clarks

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