Autumnal Evocations

The turn of the Season is coming, and the Autumn/Winter stock for 2014 is starting to appear on the racks.  This brings a special kind of excitement for me.  I love winter.  I love the clothes, the fashion, the coolness of the air and trips to even chillier Melbourne to visit family.  Where I live, in the Gold Coast Hinterland in South East Queensland, we don’t really have a ‘winter’ as such.  It is more 3 months of mild weather where the sun shines, the temperature stabilises at a pleasant 21-24 celsius during the day, and plummets to a mild 10-15c at night time.  On really cold nights, it may even get down to 8 or 9c.  We still manage to light our beautiful wood fire, which is a feature in our living area during those months, as although we have a mild winter, we still feel the chill, particularly in the woodland valley we live in.

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Brandy the Boxer enjoying the first fire of Winter 2012

Here is a picture of the first lighting of the fire in June 2012 when our beloved Boxer Dog, Brandy, was still with us.  He loved winter as much as I did.  His favourite spot was always right by the fire, bless him.  (After being a faithful and true companion to our family for over 12 years, Brandy went to explore more heavenly pastures in February 2012.  He was a Prince among Dogs and is still missed)

I digress.

This post is about the styles that are coming into store.  A couple of my picks include a staple denim jacket by Sussan.  I bought the same version of this jacket in white last September and have had so much use out of it, I wondered why I’d never bought the denim one, so it is currently on lay-by, waiting for the temps to drop a little before I get it.  Word is that ‘denim is hot’ for AW in Aus 2014….

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Denim jacket from sussan.com.au

The other staple for the wardrobe is the classic chino pant.  I have always preferred chinos to jeans, for the simple reason that they are my preference for comfort.  I have a girlfriend who has a different shaped body, with gorgeous long legs, and her staple is blue denim with her signature man-style shirt, and it looks awesome.  But for me, I think I overdid the (acid-wash) denim in the ’80s and now prefer the ‘middle path’.  These are delightful, again by Sussan.  They are a more casual fabric than some of the others on offer, and they have a very narrow ankle, which suits my shape.  They are stretchy and look terrific paired with the denim jacket.

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Chino pant from sussan.com.au

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Striped T with bling

Being a perpetual sucker for  the classic striped breton T-shirt, I also signed up for this gorgeous little number, which comes complete with it’s own bling.

If I lived in colder climes, this adorable winter parka by Country Road would be my go-to jacket of choice.  Love the navy colour and the faux fur around the hood.

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Faux Fur Trim Parka Navy from country road.com.au

And finally, I love this look which is in the new Country Road Catalogue for AWW14.  Just my style:  a cheeky stripe breton, a moto or denim jacket, a pair of slim pants/chinos and chunky soled shoe.  I’m a sucker for anything ‘mannish’ in women’s fashion. (Again with the stripes…)

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Just My Style!

Have you started planning your Autumn/Winter wardrobe yet?  Which pieces are you coveting?

Carpe Diem

Tracey

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A Lucky Find

It’s been a few weeks since I shared anything with you all.  This is mainly because I was such a busy little elf (working) over Christmas, that it has taken me a little while to recover my energies and passion for writing.

My son graduated high school last November, and he has been enjoying a new found freedom.  The week after graduation, he also obtained his drivers license and a car.  For him, the summer has been one long holiday of spending time with (ex) school-chums at the beach and the hinterland swimming creeks, bowling alleys, camping and  music festivals.  He has worn through more than one pair of shorts, ripped the bum out of his (expensive) board shorts and lost a pair of jeans.  This left his diminishing  wardrobe quite wanting, with regular cries of ‘I haven’t got anything to wear’ and ‘have you done the washing today?’.  The problems were as follows: 1.  He won’t go out and buy clothes.  He is too busy out socialising and has developed a pathological hatred of shopping.  2. At the rate he was a ruining them and wearing them out/losing them, I was reluctant to spend up to $70 per pair of shorts.  What to do?

602361_108426922656770_1617505073_nI visited my local Red Cross Op Shop.  They have just opened a new store in our village. ( And it doesn’t have that ‘op-shop smell’ that I find quite off-putting.)

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Try and wear the backside out of these, Dear

Rummaging through the men’s shorts, I gathered up anything in a 32-34 inch waist that they had.  I even grabbed a couple of the lairiest, brightest Hawaiian-style shirts, as these seem to be der rigeur for his group of friends at the moment.  I built a veritable pile of clothes on the counter.  I had the volunteer ladies frothing at the mouth as they tried to keep up with folding and sorting the vast collection  amassing in front of them.  Ralph Lauren, Gant, Super Dry, J Crew, Asos and RM Williams.  All brand-name stuff.  I was deep into ‘The Zone”.

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The ugly shirt. Nothing further needs to be said. He loved it.

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A real find: Current Retail $129.95 – Op-shop bargain $15.00

I wasn’t finished yet.  With my keen eagle eyes, I spotted a little pair of sandals on the shoe table.  Size 38.  Could it be true? I quickly slipped my sandals off to try these, with an expectation they had been surrendered due to a fault which would become apparent upon trying them on.  No fault was visible and they fitted perfectly.  They even had the box.  How much were they?  $15.  What was the retail price?  $129.95.  I had seen these sandals  in store.  In fact, I had looked at them with a client, but we decided against them, as the footbed had no support and we deemed them uncomfortable and not practical. But for a fraction of the price, I felt these anomalies could easily be overlooked.

Back to the counter where the action had calmed and the tallying began.  It turned out that ‘menswear’ was actually HALF PRICE that day.  The collection for Master L came to a grand total of $31.50.  My sandals cost $15.00.  I have worn those sandals everywhere since, they are totally adorable and add a touch of bling to a summer dress.  They aren’t even too uncomfortable either.  I’d like to sing out a big thank you to whoever the lovely lady was that donated these beauties, who had the thought that someone else might find them and appreciate them.  I did, and I do.

And how did the findings go down with Master L?  He loved everything and for the most part, it all fitted.  He now has four pairs of board shorts, 5 pairs of chino shorts, 2 Hawaiian shirts and I even got a pair of shorts and shirt for his best-friend.  No more screams about nothing to wear, and he can go all week without needing to launder.

Do you ever ‘op-shop’?  It is a revelation to me now!  And I have already donated a few bags of things from around the home that no-one uses/fits into or wants anymore, to pay back what I took.  And the lovely ladies at the Red Cross know me by name.

Carpe Diem

Tracey

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Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions or The Long Walk From “What will people think” to “I am Enough”

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

As the Shop assistant finished my sale and bid me fair well, she wished me a Happy New Year.  Then she said “one more day to be bad before we begin our resolve to be good for 2014”.  What a load of poppycock.  What could she be doing in her life that is so bad that she has to stop it on January 1 2014?

We all have things in our lives that we do that we know aren’t good for us or that we could do better.  But let me tell you that there is not one shred of empirical evidence out there in psychology-land that proves that feeling ‘bad’ about something ever made a difference to long term change.  Why?  Because feeling ‘bad’ is either one or both of two things: Guilt and/or Shame.  Say you make a ‘resolve’ based out of guilt/shame, and you can’t stick to it, where does that leave you? Feeling even more guilt and shame.  Great cycle of self-destruction there.  Let me tell you, that if either of those badboys were effective in changing behaviour, I’d be a Saint and weigh five kilos less.  Literally.  We all would.  Instead, let’s love ourselves and our families enough to decide we want to be the best version of ourselves that we can, and that we might be open to seeing ways or possibilities to do that.

In this spirit, how about this for a challenge, not a resolution, for 2014:

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Comparison kills creativity*, self esteem and joy.  And while we’re at it, let’s include not just images on the Net, but Facebook, magazines, movies and tv too.  There is not one image in a magazine that has not been digitally reenhanced.  Not one.  What you are looking at is not a real person.  Not a real person.  How can we ever live up to something that isn’t even real?  So stop kidding yourself.  You are a real person.  And if reading Facebook, blogs and magazines just ends up making you feel not-good-enough, unworthy or left out, then stop doing it.  Because you are comparing your life to someone else’s.  Live your own life.  This is a challenge our grandmother’s never had to face, but we have to.  And we need to do it for our daughter’s and our sons too.  Because they are seeing and feeling the result of our comparison.  Ever wondered why there are so many cases of juvenile anorexia appearing these days, or why little girls grow up too fast and want to look ‘sexy’?  Stop contributing to it.  Now.

If however, you use these images to inspire you or to learn to do things better, then go for it.  Some days for me it is a fine line between comparing myself and my life to what I see around me or using it as an inspiration.  On those days when I notice the balance is a little off, I close the computer (magazine etc) and get back into my own life, my own reality.  Because I only have one. One reality, one life, and it is mine, no-one else’s, and as I am learning, I am enough.  You may like to become aware of this in your own life.  I did not start this blog to hold myself up as an oracle on how to live life, I started writing it to inspire women, and there’s a big difference in that intention.  Same with hair, makeup and fashion.  It is there to enhance, for enjoyment.  When it stops being that, then it’s time to put it away for a while.  These ‘accessories’ to life are here for our enjoyment, not to make us feel shabby.

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Brene Brown

And while we are on the topic of guilt and shame, let’s add the antidote, vulnerability.  Yuck.  Who wants to talk about that one?  Well, this lady does, and she’s doing a pretty good job of it.  Go on, do yourself a favour for 5 minutes and watch this.  Personally, I have found it life changing.  And I’m not joking.  I’m being totally vulnerable here, so please don’t laugh.

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Happy New Year everyone,

go out, live your life,  you only have the one, and you ARE ENOUGH

Carpe Diem

Tracey

*Brene Brown said it first, not me.  Check out her other works on her website

Post Xmas Sales Booty or Rewarding Myself for Working Through Xmas

I’m a shopaholic.  I know.  I’m terrible.  Ok, I promise I’m going to speak to my therapist about it this year.  Truly I am.  But in the meantime, here are some gorgeous little pieces I picked up in the sales at such ridiculous prices that any self-respecting shopaholic would not – could not – pass up.  Plus I had a little help from some loyalty gifts from my favourite brands ($30 giftcard from Sportscraft and a $30 gift card from Country Road) who were also offering 20 and 25% discounts to VIP members.  If I haven’t told you gals already, it really pays to join up and carry the card for these places.  They offer some really good member discounts throughout the year, even if you don’t spend enough to earn gift cards.

Item 1:  The Mimco Jurassic Hip Bag in Seafoam.  Saw this colour and it rang bells for me as a fresh take on Summer comes through.  Less than half price, I paid $119.

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Mimco Jurassic Hip Bag

Item 2: The matching Witchery Tribal scarf in Seafoam.  Gorgeous colour.  Had to have it.  $34.95, normally $50.00

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Witchery Tribal Scarf

Item 3: My first pair of Prada sunnies.  And my biggest saving on these babies.  Normally $420, I paid just $126.  Yes.  70% off. They speak for themselves.  So cheeky.

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Prada Sunglasses

Item 4: Ralph Shield Sunglasses by Ralph Lauren.  Massive saving, these cost only $50.60.  That’s right, a pair of Ralph Lauren Sunglasses for just $50.60.  That’s kiddie’s pocket money prices.

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Ralph Lauren Shield Sunglasses

Item 5: The little black Embroidered Dress from Country Road.  With loyalty discounts and birthday loyalty voucher, I paid just shy of half price.  Normally $129, I paid $66.00

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Country Road Embroidered Dress

Item 6:  The classic DKNY Tote.  This was not on sale, but it was my birthday present from the Hubster (chosen by myself, of course).  It has classic lines, is structurally sound, and impeccably made of hard wearing Saffiano leather, which seems to be virtually indestructible.  I had to feature it here because it just looks so damn good, either dressed up or down.

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DKNY Tote

Other things I am currently dreaming about buying but trying to resist (I am trying very hard to resist):

The Mimco Clutch.  Currently on sale for less than half price at $119.  Such a classic piece, and large enough to make a statement and carry all one’s necessities.

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Mimco Clutch: Classic

The Witchery Sandals.  Currrently on sale for $69.

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Witchery Sandals

Now let’s see it all put together in one beautiful collage of gorgeousness:

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This is what I’ll be wearing to my regular hairdressing visit today.  My only dilemma: which bag?

Happy sale shopping gals!

Carpe Diem

Tracey

Why I’m a Bad Christmas Shopper

UnknownNo ‘Secret’ Santa’s Here

I can’t keep secrets.  I’m a last minute shopper. I love Christmas,  I live and work in the retail sector, I see bargains come and go throughout the year, yet my Christmas list remains unchecked til the last week before December 25.

As part of my life’s philosophy of Living in the Moment, known by some as Mindfulness, my motto is Carpe Diem, Seize the Day.  This means that I (try to) value, love and enjoy every day of my life as though it were my last.  Even the bad, sad or crappy ones.

I have this philosophy for a couple of very important reasons. One of them is inspired by my mother, whose life was cut short by a terminal and debilitating illness at the age of 56, and the other was seeing my step-father succumb to the same fate.  These people spent twenty years of their lives in reclining lounges and wheel chairs.  They didn’t get out much.  They couldn’t travel.  Shopping remained one of my mother’s few joys up until about the last 5 years of her life.

By contrast, I am healthy.  I am well.  I am active.  I have all my faculties working (my kids may dispute this fact but they’re not writing this piece, I am).  It makes me grateful.  Grateful to have choices.  Grateful for each ache or pain that tells me I’m overdoing work or that I’ve spent too long weeding the garden.  I’m grateful that at the moment I have a massive cut on my finger from manoeuvring a knife the wrong way and it hurts.  Because it’s a reminder to me that I got that cut by being out and active and in the slipstream of Life.

Buddhists say that ‘life is suffering’.  I figure that if the worst thing I have to suffer is the occasional back ache, sore finger or concern about money (and who doesn’t), then my life isn’t too bad in the ‘suffering stakes’.  I’ve seen real suffering and it’s not here.

imagesSo, getting back to Christmas.  I’m hopeless at buying gifts halfway through the year.  I can’t keep a gift from a loved one.  If I see them now, I want them to have it NOW.  Next week, next month, in six months, might be too late.  I’m a last minute shopper because I’ve already given people my gifts of myself and love and affection and things I think they’d like throughout the year, for no particular reason other than I want them to know I love them,  and I want them to enjoy my gift NOW.

It’s hard to come up with new and exciting gifts for December 25 when you live like this.  The whole gift giving thing on one day of the year is kind of against my philosophy, it doesn’t sit easy with me. The Hubster is no better.  Birthdays when our children were young was murder for us.  We were as bad as each other.  We’d take turns saying “Go on, give it to him now”.. One of us had to be strong, so we’d take turns at that too.  Somehow we got through it!

Is there a gift under your tree for someone special?  Ever considered breaking with tradition and giving it early? To me,  Christmas is every day of the year (especially when my Strawberry Net order arrives).  Now I’d better get down to making that list…

images-2Carpe Diem and Merry Christmas!

Tracey xxx

ps, some eco-friendly advice:

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Crazy for: new Scensibilities

Mr Armani: Why oh why?

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The inimitable Cate

Have you seen the new scent by Giorgio Armani?  It is called Si.  It is being marketed using that beautiful and unworldly creature Cate Blanchette.

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Flower Bomb by Viktor & Rolfe

I’ve been a fan of Viktor & Rolfe’s universally gorgeous and uplifting Flower Bomb for 3 years now.  This new fragrance Si, has some very similar notes, but it is also subtly different.  In a good way.  It has some deeper, darker muskier after tones that linger and last so elegantly.

I change my fragrance with the season, the day, my mood, my hormones, the occasion. A veritable ‘wardrobe’ of fragrances. (oh what luxury!)

Our body is basically a sack of chemicals and our skin is the largest excretory organ of the body.  So the chemical reaction of the fragrances we wear will vary depending on what that chemical cocktail is affected by, and the ambient temperature in which we live.

For winter, I go for mossy greens such as Chanel  or woody amber warms like Bottega Veneta which, when used on the cleavage, is like giving yourself a big warm bosomy hug from a mother.  It keeps you warm.

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DKNY Pure with a hint of Vanilla

For summer, it has to be fresh: florals, citrus, a hint of vanilla but not too much.

And then sometimes, out of the blue, a new aroma will hit you and you will know.  You will know, you MUST have it.  Si?  Yes please, Mr Armani, yes please.

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Things I’m Crazy for Right Now

I recently took a client shopping and we fell in love with the maxi dress offerings from Witchery.

Easy to wear,  it suits most body shapes, and it feels so elegant as it swishes around your ankles and allows your shoulders to feel the air.

Turquoise is a divine colour for summer.  You can easily (and inexpensively) add this gorgeous summery feel to your existing wardrobe with jewellery and accessories.  If you have a Lovisa store near you, you can go crazy in there and get some amazing pieces at very low prices.

Beach or Special Occasion? Here’s my suggestion:

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The Witchery Maxi in Navy: One Dress, 2 looks

Something Old Something New

Something Old, Something New

Dear Friends,

It’s been a while since my last post, I’ve had some pressing family matters to attend to, but I’m pleased to say that things now seem to be settling down and my energy can once again focus on sharing with you my thoughts on style.

I have picked up a new ‘hobby’ since I last wrote.  It may not be new to you dear readers, but it is to me.  In America, they call it ‘thrifting’.  Here, I call it ‘eBaying’.  I have discovered there is an abundance of pre-loved designer treasures to be snavelled up for a fraction of their original cost on the wonderful world of eBay.

Recent purchases include a Boo Radley black linen short sleeve jacket delivered for $30, a Wallis white linen jacket delivered for $25, a David Lawrence linen jacket delivered for $28 and the most wonderful bargain of all: a George Gross silk dress, brand new, never worn, with original tags marked at $299.95 for only $65 delivered.  And it fit perfectly.

Fit is one of the risks of buying online.  However, to minimise the risk of the item not fitting, consider the following:

Ask the seller for measurements

Look for styles that you know already suit you

Budget for potential alterations by a dressmaker

Designer pieces seem to have a timeless quality about their style and creation.  As popular fads come and go, a designer piece should hold it’s own in the fashion stakes.

The beauty of searching online for these pre-loved items is that you can look for things that are slightly different to what is being offered in the shops, and enhance your own creative style by adding pieces that are not stock standard off the rack.

So now I wear a ‘vintage’ piece here or there and am delighted with my bargains as I have carefully chosen items that will go with my existing wardrobe.  I bought 4 pieces for the same cost as one linen jacket would have cost me ‘off the rack’.  And I have saved all these beautiful pieces being thrown into landfill.  Quite a satisfying feeling all round.

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There are a few things to consider when bidding on eBay.  To secure the bargain you desire, you really need to be either online or on your mobile when the item auction ends because that is when the bidding really hots up.  But it is a bit of fun and excitement, especially when you win! Happy bidding as they say!

I’d love to hear about your thoughts or experiences with buying from Thrift Shops or eBay, so please share!

Carpe Diem

Tracey

What I’m In Love With Right Now: Spring 2013

Have I mentioned I LOVE shopping and clothes, and shoes, and handbags….

While the weather is cooling down in the Northern Hemisphere, things here are definitely warming up!  Today in Queensland, we are expecting a top in Brisbane of 34 degrees c.  That’s a bit warm for this time of year, but definitely inspiring one to get rid of the winter fur and show some leg.  Here are my picks for some delightful summer sandals:

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Elega by NineWest

What I love about all of these styles is their elegant simplicity with a simple toe and ankle strap, plus a slight wedge heel that adds height yet is still easy to walk in.  They can be worn with dresses, skirts or shorts, and the neutral colours are great for summer.

These sandals by Midas come in 4 shades: Mustard and Navy (as shown), Black and Coral.

The suede is very sleek.

No outfit is complete without a bag, so here are a couple of my suggestions for a summer handbag:

Fossil have brought out a Summer range in beautiful bright colours, as well as delicious tan leather.  This range is a bit more ‘polished’ than their traditional rugged look.  I love light colours for summer:

Oh, and while you are getting rid of the winter fuzz, don’t forget to give your toenails some loving too with a slick of shiny nail polish or better still, take yourself for a relaxing pedicure and polish.  Remember: Style is in the Detail

Happy Summer Gathering!

Tracey xxx

Love Your Life, Love Your Style

Out And About – Real Gals from Real Life

Congratulations for being a Woman

I met this beautiful young woman today in one of my favorite boutiques.  I overheard a conversation she was having with the shop assistant and being nosy, couldn’t resist joining in.  It was about shoes.  Sandals to be exact.  These divine little flat leather thong style sandals with jewelled accents.  We got talking.

Thing is ladies, this blog is about real women in real life.  Not airbrushed imitations of women in magazines, not celebrities who hold up a standard that is impossible for most women to achieve, but real everyday honest to goodness women who very often don’t see their beauty, only their flaws and imperfections.

So I’m here to celebrate the beauty.  In all women.  Everywhere.

I looked into this young woman’s face and I saw her heart, her spirit.  I saw that she was trying her best to be her best.  To all you women out there who do the same, I congratulate you.  I am not about perfection.  I am about helping women be the best they can by giving them some of the tools to make their appearance the best it can be.  And that’s all we can ask from ourselves isn’t it?  That we at least try to be our best.  So let’s stop judging ourselves by other’s standards, or worse, by the standards imposed on us by a multi billion dollar fashion and cosmetics industry, and let’s just start being ok with who we are and celebrating that.  We are all so different, it amazes me that we are expected to be able to pick clothes off a standardised rack and have it fit.  And don’t get me started on the lack of sizing standardisation in the fashion industry, or even across a single brand.

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Courtney: A million dollar smile and a beautiful spirit

Let me congratulate Courtney.  Who I think is beautiful, remarkable and delightful.  I hope you do too.  But then, my opinion, and yours come to that, is neither here nor there.  I hope Courtney sees herself that way, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

By the way Courtney, I hope you bought that dress because Baby, you rock it.

Thanks for being part of my blog.

Love your life, Love your style xxxxx

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The bejewelled sandals. Made for Goddesses