June 26, 2014

The softest top ever from Grace, a fab 1950s novelty print skirt, and the return of summer weather




Outfit details

Sparkly gold plastic sunglasses: Canadian Tire (bought the very same day these snaps were taken - perfect timing or what!!!)
1950s aqua nylon (chiffon) scarf: Gift from a dear online friend ♥
Pink sparkly bow earrings: Payless
Grey top with grey lace collar: Grace
Wide pink belt: Clothing store in Scarborough, Ontario that shut down years ago
1950s Middle Eastern scene novelty print skirt: Gift from a dear online friend ♥
White lace trimmed crinoline: Pettiskirt Style
Vintage bangle bracelets: Assorted sources
Vintage Saks Fifth Avenue black patent purse: etsy seller MK Retro
Black eyelet slingback sandal flats: Payless
Lip colour: Clinique Raspberry Glace


Photography by Tony Cangiano

























































What is Grace? How do you personally define it? If we turn to Webster's, we find that even there it has quite a multitude of meanings and possible uses in the context of applying it to a human trait and that each one fits the bill and yet feels like it still needs more. I think that grace is a certain sense of ingrained strength and composure. It is loveliness in the face of adversity and a gentle spirit when the world is mean and ugly. Grace is patient and sweet, loving and emblematic of many women over the centuries who we continue to look up to this very day.

Often the notion of grace goes hand-in-hand with a gentle demure and a quiet strength, as well as being something that a great many of us aspire to, and a percentage already embody. Grace can be amassed or lost, but never forgotten and it is an important characteristic which I personally feel the world would benefit from significantly if more people, women and men alike, strove to embody it to a greater degree.

In addition to being one of the loveliest traits a person can posses, Grace is also the name of an absolutely charming clothing brand from the UK that specializes in women's tops, camisoles, skirts and dresses in sizes ranging from 6 to 24, as well as scarves and collars. Earlier this year I was contacted by a representative from Grace and asked if I'd like to receive and review one of their beautiful offerings.

After educating myself more on the brand, I was happy to say yes and shortly thereafter, I received the strikingly lovely grey PP Jersey & Lace Shirt, which retails for £79.00. I sincerely appreciate this review gift from Grace and am delighted to share more about it all of you here today.

It is made of some of the softest, most skin friendly fabric (I have very sensitive and highly reactive skin, and therefore there's no such thing as too soft a fabric for me), which is a blend of ultra gentle organic cotton and bamboo. As well as being the gentlest feeling fabric I've ever slipped into, this long sleeved shirt has the versatility of being worn as either a top or a cardigan, thanks to the fact that it buttons all the way up the front.

This is a quality top through and through. The lace is detailed and very good quality, the garment forms well to the body, and it has the ability to be dressed up or down to your heart's content. I own relatively few blouses with none-pointy collars, so this top was also a very welcome breath of fresh air in my wardrobe. On the recent day when these photos were taken at Manitou Beach in Naramata, I opted to dress the top up a fair bit, thanks to this awesome 1950s Middle Eastern novelty print skirt (a gift from one of my dearest friends in the world), but you could just as easily partner it with jeans, shorts, overalls, or on the even more formal side of things, under a suit jacket or blazer.

I've also worn (but not yet photographed) it with my 1950s navy blue pencil skirt and that combination - to borrow, fittingly, an expression from the fine folks in the UK - works a treat in creating a very, very office/professional looking ensemble, especially when you add in stockings, pumps, and a classic, ladylike handbag.

It was at least 30 degrees out when we took these photos, but even though this Grace top has long sleeves, I wasn't swelteringly warm in it all. In addition to its fabulous qualities mentioned above, it is also gorgeously breathable and light as a feather. I would have no qualms packing this top with me if I was headed to the Sahara Desert. The fabric is supple and relatively thin, but not in a negative way at all. It's thin and sturdy at the same time, which is becoming an increasingly rare combination to find in clothing these days.

In addition, though Grace Clothing is not a dedicated vintage reproduction brand, this top, as well as some of their other offerings, has an alluringly lovely vintage appropriate look to it that would make it at home in any mid-century fashion fan's closet. When I wear it with a pencil skirt, it takes on more of a 1940s feel, whereas hear with my Aladdin worthy vintage circle skirt, it's fifties through and through. I suspect it could easily be styled in 1930s and 60s directions as well, in addition to obviously working wonderfully with more contemporary styles, too.

Grace's products are made with organic and fair trade fabrics, attention to detail, ethical manifesting processes, and an awareness of their impact on the environment. The company believes that "one happy day design integrity will become mainstream", a statement which, on top of hoping really does return to being true once more, seems to embody the word "grace" itself rather fittingly.

At £79.00, this top, especially for those like myself who do not live in the UK, is a bit of an investment piece for sure, I readily acknowledge that, but I can say with 100% sincerely that I feel its more than worth it. I've never worn a softer or more comfortable button front cotton shirt before and sense that this garment will last me for many, many years to come. I sincerely hope so, as it's a cinch to style up or down, timelessly pretty, and truly does have a certain unmistakable air of grace to it that suits the nature of my wardrobe to a tee.

66 comments:

  1. It's a lovely blouse. I just looked on their website and many of the clothes are appealing and quite well price for the UK market. Thank you for introducing them, I would certainly consider a purchase.

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  2. Ooohhh... I love these colors. Their combination is so visually interesting. I can't turn my eyes away!

    (BTW, I apologized to you on my blog yesterday...)

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  3. Wow, you look so beautiful in this outfit. I keep scrolling up to look at these awesome pictures. Right by the water too! This skirt just photographs so beautifully. This skirt and color combination is so fabulously you. Can I say I just love everything about this outfit? The belt top and accessories just match so "gracefully" (like your theme:). What a chic wardrobe staple is this blouse:) Fits so well with the skirt combination. How funny to find those awesome sunglasses the day of your photographs? Just perfect. Jessica you look so beautiful in your outfit. Super big smiles your way. You are truly what grace is about.

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  4. Every little detail of this outfit is just lovely! I am LUSTING after that skirt!

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    1. Thank you very much, sweet dear! If it wasn't hanging in my closet already, I'd be lusting after this skirt (big time!) in tandem with you, believe me! :)

      ♥ Jessica

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  5. Such beautiful colors overall, and that skirt is divine! I need to find myself a novelty skirt, everyone online right now is making me envious with their gorgeous finds! Great sunglasses too :)

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    1. Thank you very much, honey. Some gals (and guys) rock sexy, some uber chic, some minimalist, others cutting edge (and so on), but for me, it's always been all about the cute (without looking like I'm still five years old in the process), so when someone compliments me on being such, it really means a lot to me.

      ♥ Jessica

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  7. OMG, we're like novelty skirt twins! That's the same design as mine, just in a different color scheme! I totally love it, and it looks fabulous on you!
    This is the one that you told me about that I ended up getting: http://www.flashbacksummer.com/2013/10/found-at-last-found-at-last.html

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    1. It's so awesome that we're novelty print skirt twins!!! My friend surprised me with this entirely out of the blue day and I recognized the pattern on it instantly for the skirt I helped you find. It just about knocked me off my feet to receive the same skirt in a different colour palette. What a small, generous, awesome world our vintage filled one is!

      If you and I ever have the great pleasure of meeting up in person, it would be a blast to plan to wear our matching skirts at the same time! :)

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  8. Good old Canadian Tire, more then just tires as you very much proved. Great sunglasses. Novelty skirt...need to make one. Beautiful blouse... want one! I do covet your wardrobe so.

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    1. Definitely!!! This is the first pair of non-prescription sunnies (I'm nearsighted) I've had in years. I've avoided buying sunglasses because I need prescription ones and having lenses put in can cost a pretty penny, but when I saw these sparkling charmers for just $10.00, I said to heck with it and bought them simply as a prop for outfit shoots. I love them soooo much and am thinking that I may look for other similarly priced vintage-y style ones to use for the same purpose now.

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment!
      ♥ Jessica

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  9. I too lust after that skirt! I have other clothing made from bamboo and cannot believe how soft and breathable it is! This outfit is so "you"....

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    1. That is a fabulously nice compliment, dear Janna, thank you very much. I completely agree, this outfit personifies my personal style to a tee (which is no doubt part of the reason why I adore it so much :)).

      ♥ Jessica

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  10. That skirt is really awesome!!

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  11. Fantastic shoot - you look awesome at the beach! That skirt is so so gorgeous - I would probably live in it! I love the glasses too - what a great find at Canadian tyre!!

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  12. Oh cuuute! I need one of those blouses!

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    1. Thank you very much, lovely lady! You really do! They're so soft that pussywillows and cottonballs bow in their presence (or so I like to think :D).

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  13. What a ridiculously adorable outfit, and I agree, we all need more grace. ;)

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  14. What a lovely outfit! I love this novelty skirt, I have already see it in many different colors, but always in small size.... Love your pictures, it's like vacations...

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    1. Thank you very much, dear Laurence. So true! A lot of novelty print skirts (and dresses) out there have microscopic waists on them. I'm a 27/28" waist, which isn't very big, especially by modern standards, but it's still "big" (and I use that word super lightly!) enough to mean that I have to pass up a lot of 22" - 26" novelty print pieces that I come across. Try as I may, I just can't get into a 26" waist comfortably, so I have to look for those in the 27" or greater range. They're out there for sure, as you know, but not as common and there's often more competition for them when they do surface, which makes finding them even trickier. It was a true surprise and incredible treat to receive this special skirt from my friend a few months ago. It's the first vintage novelty skirt I've ever been given and love it all the more because thought of me, knew my tastes, and sent it my way.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

      *PS* I'll be sure to pass your kind compliment about the photos on to Tony. Thank you!

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  15. What a great outfit! You look lovely as always:)
    I had to comment too because of your novelty skirt...I sold some vintage fabric a while ago with an identical print and different color scheme, so between your and your friend's skirts and my fabric that makes three. Pretty neat!
    here's the listing which still has the pictures to see:
    https://www.etsy.com/transaction/82061850


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    1. That's seriously cool, Maya, thank you for sharing. I love seeing different versions of the same novelty print. They always make me wonder if there are more still in other hues out there.

      ♥ Jessica

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  16. What a beautiful outfit! And I just adore that skirt, I'd love one myself (you've also introduced me in this post to Emileigh's blog, so thank you very much :)

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    1. You're very welcome, my dear. Thank you for your wonderfully nice comment. I'm delighted to have introduced you to Em's blog. Both it and she are the bee's knees and then some!

      ♥ Jessica

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  17. I know I say this about all of you outfits but you look beyond adoable! I love the pattern on the skirt and the accessories are spot on

    retro rover

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  18. I love everything about this outfit, it has such a wonderful girlish vibe. I love how the accessories pull out the beautiful colours of the skirt, the way you accessorise is often my favourite part of your outfits ♥

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    1. That is a tremendously lovely compliment, dear gal, thank you deeply. I put a lot of thought and attention to detail and colour coordination into my accessories, so it really means a lot to me when somebody notices as much.

      ♥ Jessica

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  19. oh Jessica! how super cute this entire post is. what a day brightener this way. you, dear, look absolutely lovely and summer fresh in those jewel tones, which compliment your coloring wonderfully. my goodness, the way you put together an outfit with all it's perfect accessories and color combining is amazing to me every single time. you're incredible!
    -Abigail

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    1. Isn't it though? I just adore a good vintage riot of colour like this. Not only for its own fun merits, but because it gives you so many colours with which to pull from for the rest of the components in your outfit.

      Thank you for your lovely comment, dear Mary!
      ♥ Jessica

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  21. The sparkly sunglasses complete the outfit perfectly! What serendipitous timing. That skirt is fabulous with its multitude of colors, and the shirt sounds and looks lovely.

    Brigid
    the Middle Sister and Singer

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  22. What a great outfit! I love the color combination and what a gem that skirt is!

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    1. Thank you very much, honey. It really is a sensational skirt, I agree - and one that means all the more to because it was a gift. There's just something so amazing about when a friend "gets" your style enough to surprise you with clothing that you adore and will totally wear.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  23. I really like your new blouse, especially the touch of lace. Gray and navy blue are my neutrals so that top would get a lot of wear in my wardrobe for sure.

    I am blown away by your skirt! And you have a small waist and can really carry off a full skirt like that.

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    1. Thank you very much across the board, dear Dawn. I tend to gravitate more towards grey, navy, and brown (over black, that is) myself, too, especially when worn near my face, as I find they bring my colour to my pale complexion than black does.

      Big hugs & the happiest of Friday wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  24. Oh my goodness that skirt is FAN-FLIPPIN-TASTIC!!!! The bow earrings? The gold glasses? Okay this has got to be one of my favorite Jessica outfits of all time <3

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    1. *Blush* Thank you very much, my wonderfully sweet friend. You know, I have to say, it's one of my favourite looks in a long time, too. Plus, it feels like such a 180 from the many layers and often darker (yes, the skirt is dark here, but I mean overall) hues of winter. This outfit screams summer fun and that's precisely what I'm in the mood for until pumpkin season rolls around again! :)

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  25. What a beautiful outfit! I especially love the skirt. I have a sweet spot for novelty print skirt, dresses, top, anything really. Makes an outfit so much fun.

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  26. Yes! Obsessed with Novelty Prints now and I love it on you! You look dazzling sweet girl! Just love it all!! xox

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    1. Thank you very much, darling Daffny. Novelty prints have long been a major favourite of mine as well, but I fell even more in love with them in early 2013 (largely because I began a quest to find a 1950s Italian novelty print skirt to honour Tony's country of birth with) and know that they'll always be an important, and often adorable, part of my wardrobe.

      Tons of hugs!
      ♥ Jessica

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  27. Hello,Ciao there JESSICA...What a nice post...what a beautiful photos...what a look!...so Chic!...very Chic!...Iper Chic!...Mega Chic!
    best

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  28. What a gorgeous skirt! I love the black and pink combination and you look so oh so sweet!!!

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  29. What a clever friend to find this simply stunning skirt for you, she must know you well. The colour in the shirt is so pretty on you, my dear. Summer perfection.

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  30. You know you are a fashionista when you can start buying accessories at Canadian Tire! LOL

    LOVE the skirt and the sunglasses.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  31. Beautiful photo's and that skirt looks an-so-lutely stunning! X

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  32. What a lovely outfit! That top does look very soft!

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  33. That skirt! eeekk!! oh Jessica you look amazing! I also love that you bought you glasses at Canadian Tire. You can't get any more Canadian then that!

    Have a wonderful weekend :)

    Liz

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  34. What a striking outfit! I'm so jealous of your skirt, I've been looking for a novelty skirt like that and have not had any luck. You are absolutely beautiful, and I love your adorable style.
    xoxo

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  35. That skirt is totally fabulous. So much detail there! Such a lovely outfit.

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  36. Such a lovely blouse and a very lovely outfit. I adore the skirt.

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  37. What a "graceful" introduction to the brand -
    I had a pair of trousers made of bamboo fabric so I can imagine how soft this top must be.
    I am admiring the beautiful print on your skirt.

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  38. What a lovely colour (and collar), I have to check our their website very soon. And such a beautiful skirt, I would love to investigate your wardrobe one day. :) You look lovely, as always, dear.

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  39. eeeeek! tis skirt is absolutely fabulous! good to have friends, that gift lovely things! :)

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  40. Such a lovely outfit. The glasses, blouse and print on the skirt were my favourite parts. May I just say though, the print on that skirt...... wow. Love the colours together

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  41. Such a feminine outfit, the skirt is especially lovely xxx

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    1. Thank you very much, my lovely friend. That skirt is sooo fabulous!!! It never ceases to turn heads and garner compliments when I wear it. In fact, that night we went for frozen yogurt (as I just found at that one of our local froyo places has some GF flavours - mega happy about that, I tell yah!) and the (all of maybe 17 year old) girl working at the register even brought her (equally youthful looking) manager out just to look at my skirt. Aww!!! GF froyo and lovely compliments - talk about a great night! :)

      ♥ Jessica

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  42. Just lovely! And your portion about grace was just as lovely as your outfit. That is something that I believe needs to be more visible in the world so we can see a somewhat more beautiful world. What a wonderful post. (:

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    1. Many sweet thanks, dear Paige. It's lovely to know that you also feel that the world could, and would, benefit greatly if there was a larger abundance of grace in it.

      Big hugs & happy July wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  43. Thsi outfit is so lovely, I really like it and it suits you very well. I totally fell in love with the print on the skirt, so nice!

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    1. Thank you very much, my sweet dear. I adore this print, too. Every time I wear it, I think of Disney's classic take on Aladdin, which was one of the most popular children's movies during my youth, as well of course of what it would be like to spend time strolling around a classic Middle Eastern bazaar, full of heady scents and fabulous sights, like the one depicted here.

      ♥ Jessica

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  44. I'm running behind but had to say this is just so pretty on you—the blouse is gorgeous and really looks comfortable and classic. (Also can't believe you weren't melting in long sleeves despite the heat—that's a good thing right there!)

    Furthermore, I can't say how much I love that you picked up your shades from Canadian Tire! They're more of a sporting goods retailer than a glamazon haunt, aren't they? ;)

    Your musings on the trait of grace are interesting too. It is actually something I think about often myself. It takes some cultivating, but not too much—if we always consider how we not only treat others, but how simply having a sweet, gentle spirit in their presence can brighten their day and make them feel more at ease, though they may not be able to put their finger on why, we're probably well on our way to having that gift.

    And happy (belated) Canada Day!

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    1. Thank you very much, dear Jen. I think I have a really high tolerance to heat, as I can often wear long sleeves and/or layers in the summer without "dying" in them, in fact, I rather like the comforting feeling of being cozy and warm. I mean, I'm not going to bust out the parka in July of course, but a thin knit cardigan, say, over a sleeveless top or blouse is totally okay for me usually (good thing, because I loath my upper arms and almost never show them in public, so sleeves and/or layers are a must for me).

      Indeed, Canadian Tire is much more of a hardware, automotive, garden and outdoor retailer than a fashion hub my any stretch of the imagination, but I'm all about sourcing my wardrobe from anyplace I can avail of, so the moment I saw these charming $10 sunnies, I made a beeline for them and was thrilled when the fit (I have a small face and head, so specs and sunnies are often too big for me). They're the first fashion accessory I think I've ever bought from Canadian Tire, but I tell you, I'll be checking out their sunglasses more often from now on, especially if they keep the prices that reasonable.

      Thank you for the terrific comment and lovely Canada Day wishes! I hope you have a stellar 4th of July!

      ♥ Jessica

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  45. ohmyword!!! i just adore this sweet little ensemble of yours from your bow earrings to that fabulous skirt, which i'm quite fond of novelty skirts with ethnic inspired prints and it reminds me of afghanistan's blue mosque which is quite stunning!

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    1. Thank you, honey! Isn't this print sensational? It puts me in the mood for a journey half way across the world, but as I doubt that will be in the cards, it's a good way to create a bond with the Middle East all the same.

      ♥ Jessica

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  46. This skirt is awesome!
    (As always, I am reading many posts in once... I am so late! Sorry dear Jessica for the comments spamming!)

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