Test Drive - 2017 Kia Cadenza

With summer time right around the corner, there is so much to do and see!  As many of you may know, I love to travel.  If I'm not flying to an exotic island or freezing my tail off in Iceland, I'm always down for a road trip! 

In partnership with Kia Motors, I had the chance to experience an exclusive at-home test drive in the all-new 2017 Kia Cadenza and let me tell you, I was immediately impressed!

Our driver Joseph arrived at my place at 3pm, ready to start our trip around Washington, DC. I was greeted with a friendly smile and the opening of my car door.  But I have to admit, I was distracted.   The sleek exterior with chrome details was the last thing I expected from a Kia!  

Ok now on to the ride.  The interior was just as chic as the exterior.  The black quilted Nappa leather seating provided so much comfort and all the more reasons to go for a drive. Throughout the ride, I learned so much about the functionality and features of the car.  One of the features that stood out to me was the Smart Blind-Spot Detection (SBSD). It's function is to help locate vehicles in your blind spot. It also warns you when it detects your vehicle switching lanes unintentionally, and, in some cases, will apply localized braking pressure to help guide your vehicle back into its lane.  How cool is that?!!

During the entire ride, I listened to my favorite tunes with the windows rolled down and the lofty panoramic sunroof open that offered a full sunny sky view.  Needless to say, I was not ready for this test drive to end.

Check out some of the highlights below...

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The wide, wraparound dash and clean interior lines give the cabin an open, inviting atmosphere. There is great deal of space for both the front and rear passengers to have their own room to relax.

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Another one of my favorite features of the 2017 Kia Cadenza is the Apple CarPlay.  You can make calls, use Siri, send and receive text messages, and listen to your own playlists while staying focused on the road.  

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Sleek aerodynamic shape, LED lighting and a freshly-sculpted grille, it’s no wonder why Motor Trend calls this year's Kia Cadenza “still the best-looking car in its class."

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Test driving this sedan completely surpassed my expectations. The 2017 Kia Cadenza provided an overall sophisticated and exceptional driving experience.  From the smart technology to it's superior control,  I would recommend anyone to test drive it.

But guess what?! You get a chance to have the same experience too! 

Sign up for your own at-home test drive HERE!  It's a complete one-on-one experience where you can sign up to have the vehicle delivered to your home or office, learn about the vehicle and take it for a short drive. 

You also get a sweet prize for participating! It’s something a little more than you think – Kia Motors is all about lux life.

Participating cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas , Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC

A huge thanks to Kia Motors for such a wonderful driving experience!

xo,

Mel

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored; however, all thoughts an opinions expressed are my own.

Photography: MalekNaz Freidouni Sedehi

Sterna Tours - Iceland

I was super excited to take a tour. Yes, our rental car gave us the freedom to come and go but I was looking forward to the full experience of each location and the history. Sterna travel offers a variety of tours around Iceland.  We decided to tour “The Beautiful South Coast.” Our trip started with an 8:30am pick up at our hotel and about an hour ride to our first location.

The first stop was massive Skógafoss said by many to be one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls.

Second stop: Lunch! We ate in the small village of Vík.  FYI: Hot dogs are a huge deal out here.  Kind of like what pizza is to NY.

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Reynisfjara beach: I had the chance to walk along this beautiful black sand beach. It was full of columnar basalt formations and ocean carved caves. It was breathtaking!!

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My favorite part of the tour was being up close to the fast melting Sólheimajökull glacier...

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Last stop: The Seljalandsfoss waterfall where you can walk behind in mild weather.  I decided to be brave because YOLO and I got about half way because the spray of the water was frigid, LOL!

My hat and jacket were SOAKED but so worth it!

I wanted share some info with you all that will be useful when planning your trip to Iceland.

Tips:

  • Bring an extra set of clothing (including underwear and socks). While I was on this tour, it rained the ENTIRE time.  So needless to say, I was soaked throughout the whole trip.  But besides that, like I’ve mentioned before the weather in Iceland is very unpredictable so you have to be prepared.
  • You can drink the water out of the tap!  It’s good *think Smart Water*. Just bring an empty water bottle and fill it up in the bathroom.  And no need the worry about the cleanliness of the bathrooms, they are all super clean.
  • Pack snacks!  There was at least 45 minutes to an hour to reach a destination and the worst feeling is to be hungry on the road. I would suggest bringing something easy like trail mix or dried fruit.

To sum up, I was able to stand in front of two waterfalls, touch a glacier and walk on a black sand beach. And you can too! For more pricing and info on other tours, click here.

THANKS to Sterna Travel for such a wonderful experience!

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Sterna Travel however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Travel: Driving in Iceland with Lagoon Car Rental

I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to drive all over the world but I honestly had no idea what to expect in Iceland. I just imagined being surrounded by glaciers lol, just kidding. From what I researched, I knew Iceland was cold and had some breathtaking landscapes but had no idea how my friend Carla and I were going to get around.  Thankfully, we partnered up with Lagoon Car Rental to make getting around the island easier.  I chose the Mitsubishi Outlander because it’s a great car for traveling out of the city in all road conditions. Like I mentioned before, the weather in Iceland is very unpredictable and this car had four wheel drive and great ground clearance which definitely came in handy during the winter weather conditions we experienced. 

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So here are some tips you should know about renting a car and driving in Iceland:

1.  To rent/drive a car from Lagoon Car rental, the driver needs to be at least 20 years old. The driver also needs to have held a driver license for at least one year.

2. If you are picking up a car in Keflavik Airport, a representative from Lagoon Car Rental will be waiting in the arrivals for you with a sign with the Lagoon Car Rental logo and your name.  This was a life saver for us and THANK GOD the airport has great wifi.

3.  When you pick up your car, you will be required to provide your normal driving license, issued by your country of residence and your passport.

4.  PURCHASE THE EXTRA INSURANCE!!  I repeat, PURCHASE THE EXTRA INSURANCE!

Ok, let me explain. The rental fee includes mandatory vehicle insurance, including liability insurance and accident insurance for the driver and the owner as well as a collision damage waiver. The self risk cost is 2980€ (about $3,200), self risk meaning what you would pay in cost for an accident on top of other damages. 

Additional insurance that can be added:

  • Super collision damage waiver (SCDW) lowers the deductible of the standard collision damages waiver from 2980€ (about $3,200) down to 600€ (about $635) Cost : 13€ a day. 

This was confusing for me because in the US if you purchase full coverage insurance for a rental car, you are covered but in Iceland it just lowers the deductible. So if you were to get into a wreck and did not purchase this insurance, you would have to pay the full amount of 2980€ plus the cost of any additional damages.

Other additional insurance for purchase:

  • The Gravel protection (GP) covers the windscreen, headlights and the body of the car from damages resulting from gravel or stones that can hit the vehicle by another car. The self risk is 98€ (about $103). Cost 11€ (about $12) a day.
  • Theft protection (TP) covers the theft of rental vehicle. The self risk is 0€. Cost 5€ (about $5) a day.
  • Sand and ash protection (SAAP) offers insurance against damage due to ash and sandstorm damages to the paint of the car, windows, lights and plastic. The self risk is 600€ (about $633). Cost 9€ ($9.50) a day.
  • Insurance bundle:  includes all the insurance coverage offered at a discount. It includes the SCDW, SAAP, GP and TP for the cost of 32€ (about $34) per day.

** We went with the most common issues and purchased the super collision damage waiver and the gravel protection.

5.  If you have a great data plan on your phone, use you Google maps to for directions.  We ended up getting an Icelandic GPS but it was kind of confusing for me to understand and to type in certain Icelandic letters.

6. Beware of speed traps!  I could not understand what some of the signs said but if you see a blue sign with a white camera – follow the speed limit!  Speeding tickets are extremely expensive and the last thing you would want to spend your money on is a ticket.

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During our road trip, we came across an Icelandic horse farm!  They totally look like ponies but they are just that small.  

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We took full advantage of the beautiful landscapes to take some pictures like most bloggers do :-)

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All in all, I’m so glad we were able to drive around Iceland and just explore.  It gave us the freedom to enjoy everything at our own pace without an itinerary.  A HUGE thanks to Lagoon Car Rental for providing us with such a great vehicle to make this road trip worthwhile and special.

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Lagoon Car Rental however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Travel: Hotel Reykjavik Natura - Iceland

If you have followed me on Instagram, I'm sure you noticed that I LOVE to travel.  I really enjoy just getting on a plane and waking up somewhere sunny and warm but I decided to do something different this year and check Iceland off my bucket list.

I had the wonderful opportunity to stay at the Hotel Reykjavik Natura located in central Reykjavik. After driving for about an hour from the airport, I was excited to see what the hotel had to offer. The first thing that stood out to me was how clean it was! I have to admit, I am very particular about this.  We had a little bit of a wait to check into our room since we arrived three hours earlier than check-in time but that was fine because the lobby was cozy enough to relax until our room was ready.

A cool detail about the hotel is that it's dedicated to Icelandic artists.  The lobby displays sculptures by native Adalheidur S. Eysteinsdóttir in all of their properties.  Each sculpture tells a different story on what they represent about Iceland and its culture.

Sculptures made by Adalheidur S. Eysteinsdótti

Sculptures made by Adalheidur S. Eysteinsdótti

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Now on to the important part - the Room!  You will notice upon check-in that the rooms here are small but that was the intention.  They were specifically designed so visitors would go out and explore and not stay in the room. I was fine with that since we only had six hours of daylight.

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Flora Deluxe Rooms (pictured above) are more spacious.  Guests staying in Flora Deluxe Rooms get access to Lounge on the 4th floor between 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm, with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. They also enjoy free admission to the Soley Natura Spa.

Pictured: 4th floor Lounge with a view of Icelandic Air private jet airport where celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber have landed.

Pictured: 4th floor Lounge with a view of Icelandic Air private jet airport where celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber have landed.

Speaking of the Soley Natura Spa, this was the highlight during my stay at the Hotel Reykjavik Natura hotel.  Even though we had a short amount of time to enjoy it (since we were exploring and taking pictures all day), I made sure to maximize every second.  It was definitely the perfect way to unwind and it's conveniently located on the ground floor.

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There is an entrance fee. The regular price for one time access to the spa is ISK 4.900 (about $43.00) but for hotel guests the price is ISK 3.000 (about $26.00)

Here are the list of services offered at Sóley Natura Spa:

  • Massages
  • Facials
  • Body Scrubs
  • Spa with a relaxing warm pool, steam bath, sauna and hot tub

The spa is open from:

10:00am - 8:00pm (Mon - Friday) , 10:00 AM - 9:00pm (Sat) , and 12:00pm - 5:00pm (Sun)

NOTE: If you forget your swimsuit, you can rent one at the Spa for ISK 500 (about $4.40).

To book your appointment, click here .

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On our last night, we decided to just have dinner at Satt Restaurant which was also conveniently located at the hotel. From the menu, I noticed the food is locally sourced from the best available farmers and fishermen. The meals are all prepared from scratch which is common in a lot of the restaurants in Iceland but to my surprise they are known for their PIZZA!!  I ordered the Shellfish pizza which was absolutely delicious.  Now this pizza cost me about 2690 Kr (about $30.00).  Yes, I know it's pretty expensive but everything in Iceland is. (I'll talk more about that in upcoming posts)

Pictured: Shellfish Pizza (Marinated shellfish, avocado, and herb salad)

Pictured: Shellfish Pizza (Marinated shellfish, avocado, and herb salad)

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Pictured: Buffet Breakfast.  Cost: ISK 3000 per person = about $26.00

Pictured: Buffet Breakfast.  Cost: ISK 3000 per person = about $26.00

I really enjoyed my stay at the Hotel Reykjavik Natura.   I would highly recommend during your trip to Iceland staying here. The staff was very helpful and friendly, it is conveniently located to local cultural attractions, and the food/bar scene were well worth every penny.  Stay tuned for more posts about tips on how to get around Iceland.  

Góða ferð! (Safe travels)

XO,

Mel

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Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Hotel Reykjavik Natura; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 

The Golden Hour

I just love that time, right before sunset, when everything just seems to glow.  Those few minutes when the sun is low in the sky and creates such a beautiful warm light.  

Soooo perfect for pics (no filters needed.)

 

Photos: Emma McAlary

Jacket: Gap

Sunglasses: Ray-Ban  (thanks Emma for letting me borrow them!)

Top:  All Saints

Jeans: Rag & Bone

Boots:  Steve Madden

Tourist in my own city

Ok so, how many of you have been born and raised or lived in a state/country for a long time and have yet to visit any of the known tourist attractions?  I know, I'm guilty too.  I mean I am originally from New York City (The Bronx to be specific) and I haven't been to the Statue of Liberty yet! *insert surprised emoji face* 

So I started this ritual of taking myself on dates to the Smithsonian museums here in Washington, DC.  Not only because they are free (yes, free!) but I've lived here for almost five years and if someone asked me about them, I couldn't even respond without googling. So I wanted to learn more about my city than just the restaurants and bars.  

Here is what I found out during my visit to The National Gallery of Art:

  • The museum has an East and West building.
  • The National Gallery of Art owns the only painting by Leonardo Da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere.
  • They have a sculpture garden and the garden's centered on a circular pool, which is transformed into an ice skating rink during the winter.

 

Photos: Malek Naz Freidouni

    Coat and scarf: Zara

    Boots: Rag and Bone

    Three stripes

    I have always had this "thing" for Adidas.  Fron one, they are super comfortable but I totally associate them with growing up in the Boogie Down Bronx.  I will never forget when I saw my first pair on a girl on MTV back in the day when they used to show music videos. I just knew I needed a pair and that's when my love affair began.  I mean, I remember when I used to save my allowance to go to B Boy (breakdancing) competitions but mainly to see what everyone was wearing and how they were rocking their shell toes.

    Man, those were the days!

    I really love these Adidas Superstar Up's because they've maintained their signature style but added a subtle 1.5" hidden inner wedge for us short girls.  Yaaaaas! Like if I needed another reason to love them.

     

    Photos: Ari Melenciano

    Top and Bottom: Zara

    Sneakers: Adidas

    Faux Fab Find

    Confession:  

    I have been looking for the perfect faux fur jacket since the beginning of the winter.  The ones I found, I thought they were ALL too expensive and just weren't the right color.  I didn't want buy the typical black or anything with patterns because I felt it would be too overwhelming for my small frame.  But I got lucky! I found this olive green beauty at Zara on sale for 60 bucks!! Wooo Hooo ! I think I have about a good two weeks to rock it before the weather changes * fingers crossed*

    What fab finds have you guys found?  (geez, try saying that three times, lol)

     

    Photos: Ari Melenciano

    Ready for Spring

    Hey guys!

    I know, I know.  I have been slacking on my posts (my bad).  I have been extremely busy and I am just trying to balance it all but I'm BACK!  I don't know about you guys but I am super excited for spring time to come.  You know, like when the weather is warm enough to just rock a simple tee and a pair of distressed jeans.  It's my favorite outfit to wear any day.

    What is your "go-to" outfit?

    Photos: Emma McAlary

    T-shirt: Gap

    Jeans:  Levi's 

    Dr. Martens X Rock Yo Rizos

    Remember a couple of weeks ago I posted on Instagram a sneak peek of my collab with Dr. Martens?  

    Here's why.  I was selected by SCDC Agency and Neuprofile as the ambassador for the iconic brand during Georgetown Blogger Crawl!  Ok, so I don't leave some of you wondering what #GTBloggerCrawl is all about - it's a day comprised of a group of local (DC, MD and VA) bloggers learning about the area and some of its top stores.  I must say I was super excited to work with Dr. Martens because not only do I loooove their boots but I wanted to know the history behind it.  While doing some research on the brand, here are some of the fun facts I discovered:

    • Inspired by a ski injury, Dr. Martens and his friend Dr. Funck invented an air-cushioned sole and were looking for investors.
    • In the late 1950, boot maker Bill Griggs was scrolling through an issue of Shoe and Leather News magazine to find the duo looking for overseas partners for their new air-cushioned sole.
    •  Griggs contacted Dr. Marten and the first boot was created on April 1, 1960.
    • Turning point for the brand and youth culture was when Peter Townshend of The Who wore the classic 1460 black boot on stage during a concert.  

    For more info, click here

    A huge thank you to the staff of Dr. Martens of Georgetown for the warm welcome and the lovely ladies of SDCD agency and Neuprofile for the wonderful opportunity with an American classic brand that has been around for over 50 years!

    Xo,

    Mel

     

    My new Hogarth Pascal boots

    With brand ambassador Jessica Hoy

    How cute are these for the babies?!?!!

    Ever wondered how these boots are made?  Check out this video!



    SuperCream By DevaCurl

    SuperCream is finally available to purchase!!! This a new product that has been launched by DevaCurl and it's been a couple of years since their last product hit the market, so I knew it was special.

    A few weeks ago, I attended the DevaCurl SuperCream Product Testing Event where a group of fellow bloggers and vloggers sampled the product before its official launch and boy, it was a blast! There was a  delicious spread of food and drinks (a priority for someone who is always hungry) and we were given our own hair stations with a sample of the product and hair tools to create whatever style we wanted.  I decided to apply SuperCream to my hair dry- specifically my dry ends on the right side and compared it with my left side (sorry, I don't have before & after pics).  I have noticed since I colored my hair from blonde back to brown, my hair really lacks moisture and shine.  The texture of my hair after I used the product was so soft, had noticeable shine, and it also smelled delicious.  It would normally take me two or three products combined to achieve what I did with a little bit of SuperCream.  It will definitely be a staple in my wash and go routine!  

    Check out some of the great moments captured that day.  

    You're in luck! DevaCurl is going to be giving away tons of SuperCream to consumers. 

    You can win a bottle of Super Cream from DevaCurl! To enter, head to @mydevacurl, give them a follow on Instagram, and repost the SuperCream image on your account. Be sure you leave a comment about why you love being #supercurly! They will be choosing people with the random number generator all week, and giving away, full size Super Cream prizes.

    Good luck!

    Xo,

    Mel

    Solid Gold - Dubai and Abu Dhabi

    I love jewelry so if I see anything gold it catches my eye.  While waiting for our coach from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, I wandered off and bumped into The Gold ATM.  Oh yeah, you read it right.  I was immediately intimidated by how much the prices were so I didn't even look and just took a picture.  Then I turned to walk back to my friends and saw a gold car in the same lobby.  I immediately thought to myself "I don't think I brought enough spending money."  To my surprise, I was ok!  The conversion at the time I went was 3.67 Dirham to 1 USD.  Phew!  

    I was a little nervous because on my "must see" list was the Gold Souk in Deira which is known for beautiful gold jewelry.  Prior to visiting the souk. I asked some of the locals what they thought of it and where I should go to buy certain pieces and I was told ANYWHERE! I didn't understand until they explained that you can haggle at the gold shops and it's cheaper than the US.  It was like music to my ears.  I was able to score three pairs of 18K gold earrings and a custom made bracelet with "Mel" in Arabic for an equivalent of $390.  Not bad!

    For those who would like to visit:

    Gold Souk in Deira (Dubai)

    Gold Souk  (Abu Dhabi)

    This was the first thing I saw leaving the airport!

    This was the first thing I saw leaving the airport!

    24k gold Porsche

    24k gold Porsche

    Wash and Go routine: New Hydra Steam Moisturizing System by SoftSheen-Carson

    Hey guys,

    This is my first "How To" video!  I finally got the courage to stand in front of the camera to record my wash and go routine. Woooo Hooooo!

    The awesome team of SoftSheen-Carson sent me the New Hydra Steam Moisturizing System, exclusively designed for use with steam treatments, which I try to do every time I wash my hair.  Infused with aloe vera, the system promotes frizz control and curl definition plus provides vital moisture to dry hair.  I really needed all the help I could get.  My hair has been really unmanageable because of this cold winter weather and my traveling schedule has not helped either.  Well, you'll see...

    I hope you all enjoy my routine.  Feel free to leave comments and ask questions.

    xo,

    Mel

    VERDICT:  I looooved the way it made my hair feel!  My hair felt super soft with minimal shrinkage and the scent is light and pleasant.

    I totally RECOMMEND the Hydra Steam Moisturizing System!

    Products I used:

    Hydra Steam sulfate-free cleanser

    Hydra Steam masque

    Hydra Steam curl designing cream

    Hydra Steam finishing oil

    EcoStyler gel (max hold)

    Tropic Isle Living Jamaican black castor oil

    DeNada - fine alpaca handmade knitwear

    This weather has been crazy!  From 30 to 60 degrees in a span of a week - well at least here in Washington, DC.  Thankfully, I came across this ahhhhmazing accessory line DeNada that concentrates exclusively on handmade knitwear for men and women.  I discovered it by scrolling through Instagram (of course) and noticed these intricate scarves and gorgeous shawls.  My immediate reaction was to flood their timeline with tons of heart emojis and exclamation points. 

    Weeks later to my surprise, founder and fellow Latina Virginia Arruesueño contacted me to visit her studio.   Not only that, she's a local artisan!  I was elated and when I did, I was like a kid in a candy store- I wanted EVERYTHING.  Watch below to see why...

    Special thanks to Virginia for allowing me to share your craft- you are truly an inspiration!

    XO,

    Mel

     

    P.S. : Check out www.denadadesign.com for these lovely pieces and take advantage of the free standard U.S. shipping through December 25th!  These would be perfect Xmas gifts.

    2014 Washingtonian Style Setters

    I was floored when I was informed that I was selected as one of the Washingtonian's  Style Setters of the year.  It was definitely a humbling honor to have been recognized for my fashion sense.  This was the lovely photo that graced the pages of the September issue.  

    *Keep scrolling down*

    Photo by:  Dean Alexander

    Photo by: Dean Alexander

    While on set, I noticed a young lady and she was taking some footage during the shoot.  I was introduced to Jocelyn and was informed that she was going to create a behind the scenes video.  Guys, check out this awesome video created by the coolest 14 year old I know.   

    Xo,

    Mel

    District Closets Recap

    I was really happy to be a part of District Closets shopping event at Secondi.   Guests were able to shop the personal closets of some of DC's fellow top style bloggers and exclusive Secondi picks.  It was great to mix and mingle with everyone, even the store owner.  Check it out!

    (l to r) : Style Smiths, A Loyal Love, My Fair Vanity, The Fashionably Broke  Not Pictured: Anchyi @ work

    (l to r) : Style Smiths, A Loyal Love, My Fair Vanity, The Fashionably Broke

    Not Pictured: Anchyi @ work

    With Anchyi @ work

    With Anchyi @ work

    Secondi owner Caitrine Callison

    Secondi owner Caitrine Callison

    Photos by: Vaughn Dabney and Johnica Reed

     

    Dress and blazer: lucky find from a street market in Japan (it was $3)

    Shoes: Zara

    D/CITY No. 6 Issue Outtakes

    Location: American Ice Co. Washington, DC

    I'm so happy I got chance to be a part of D/City "The Secret Issue" street style section.  What a blast!

    Here are some of the outtakes...

    Jacket: Barneys

    Shirt, Pants and Shoes: Zara

     

    Photos: Sebastian Marin

    Follow @dcitystyle on Instagram to see What's New, What's Now, What's next in Washington, DC