Red Dresses and Love Stories

Photo credit: Mary Pingel

Next week on the 14th, in addition to celebrating Valentine’s Day, I’ll also be celebrating my one year blogiversary! I have lots of fun content planned for this whole month, starting off with today’s Valentine’s themed blog post—from my favorite love stories, to gift ideas, to festive outfit inspo!

My Favorite Love Stories

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite love stories to read (coincidentally enough, all of these also have movie adaptations–though in my opinion not all measure up to their book).

I find it very difficult to rank books, especially when it comes to my personal favorites. I can easily name my top 10 or 20 (and it’s even easier when I can divide them into genres or subcategories of some kind), but I prefer not to number them. However, as far as love stories go, I can say with absolute certainty that my all-time favorite in this category is Audrey Niffenegger’s debut novel The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Not only do I adore the epic love story between the protagonists Henry and Clare–a love that truly transcends time and space–I also enjoy the way the novel is written. It doesn’t progress chronologically from one year to the next, but instead skips around much the same way that Henry (the time traveler) moves forward and backward to different moments in time. From a storytelling standpoint, I very much admire how the structure of the novel reflects its overarching theme of time. (Sidenote: how many times can I use the word “time” in a single paragraph? 😉)

I’m going to try to keep it brief with the others on my list (or else this post will get veryyyyy long).

  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Atonement is a historical fiction novel set during World War II and follows a young couple who is tragically torn apart as a result of the misplaced blame of a crime. McEwan is a brilliant writer who always captures the delicate nuances of love and loss. The film version is one of those rare adaptations that truly lives up to the book. A beautiful score, dramatic cinematography, and a stellar cast led by James McAvoy and Keira Knightley makes it a modern masterpiece.

Nights in Rodanthe is one of those stories that came into my life when I needed it most. The novel’s protagonists are both single parents who fall in love with each other at a coastal inn in North Carolina during a storm. This novel helped me process my parents’ divorce during my early teens because it helped me begin to grasp that my parents aren’t just my parents–they’re complex human beings that want to find love, companionship, and fulfillment too.

Possession (not a horror movie, I swear!) is a novel that follows relationships in the past and present: between two modern-day academics and two fictitious English poets who lived during the Victorian era. It has one of my all-time favorite passages about love and time:

“And every day we shall have less. And then none.”

“Would you rather, therefore, have had nothing at all?”

“No. This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run. But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere.”

I love this quote because it reminds me to be grateful for the moment and to fully live in it, for “those other times” (the past, the future) are neither here, nor now. They’re “running elsewhere.”

Pride and Prejudice is the ultimate classic love story between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. It has timeless themes such as familial expectations, social status, and love overcoming adversity. It’s been retold and adapted over and over, but the original novel is always worth a read.

Sidenote: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen (pictured above) is such a fun little book that I purchased at the British Library in London two years ago. It’s a compilation of Austen quotes (edited by Joelle Herr) from her novels and personal letters, and is divided into different sections based on theme (such as marriage, family, love, and so on). Definitely the perfect gift for any Jane Austen fan!

Gift Ideas

Gifts for the Fashionista

  • Naked Eyeshadow Palette by Urban Decay: these high quality palettes (the Naked2 option is shown above) are immensely popular and for good reason. Each palette comes with 12 neutral eyeshadows in mattes and metallics that mix and match with ease. Also comes with a double ended application brush!
  • Gorjana jewelry: pictured above are two of their adjustable bracelets and one of my most worn rings. I love the high quality of their pieces, the price point, and how effortlessly they layer and mix and match! (Bracelets linked here and here, and the Elea ring linked here)
  • Perfume: one of my faves is Tom Ford’s Black Orchid (shown above)
  • A classic Burberry scarf: these are on the pricier side, but the quality of fabric and iconic print make it a long term investment that can be worn for years to come.

Gifts for the Traveler

    Hard-shell luggage: Ever since a mishap a few years ago when my soft suitcase was nearly destroyed after a flight, I have been using the Delsey brand’s Helium Aero line of suitcases. The 19-inch international size is shown above, but I also own the 25-inch for longer trips (both in the “Brushed Charcoal” color). My husband bought one for himself as well (from Amazon!), and we are still thrilled with these suitcases, as they are lightweight, durable, and stylish.
    A unique luggage tag: my adorable little Minion tag was a birthday gift from my BFF last year. I always appreciate being able to quickly spot my suitcase at baggage claim and a fun luggage tag is the perfect gift that comes in handy whilst traveling.
    Guide books: my husband and I have been fans of Rick Steves since we started researching for our honeymoon in Italy about five years ago. At that point, neither of us had ever been to Europe, and we instantly liked Rick’s writing style, humor, and practical advice.

Style Inspiration: All Dressed Up in Red

Wearing red in February isn’t exactly ground-breaking or unexpected, but I always find this vibrant color makes me feel strong and confident. This tweed dress by Shein gave me such Chanel vibes that I knew I had to have it!

Tweed dress: Shein Sock boots: Mia (similar here and here) Purse: Chanel Classic Flap (similar styles here and here)

At under $30 it’s a fabulous deal, and the fabric is thick and has a great texture. I love the classic collar and black tie details (and that the pockets are real!). It is a little bit more of a boxy fit, so I’m glad I went down a size.

To complete this look, I paired it with opaque tights, black sock boots, Chanel earrings, and the Chanel classic flap bag.

I also wanted to show how to style this dress with a coat, and I think a bright red trench coat is the perfect outerwear to complement this look. A red coat is such a festive item to wear during the holiday season and for Valentine’s, but it’s also a great piece to throw on over a neutral look for a fun pop of color.

Red trench coat: Michael Kors (similar here and here)

This particular trench I’ve had for several years. I love that its hood is detachable and that it also has an extra lining that can be removed as the weather grows milder in the spring (these are functional details to keep in mind whenever you’re in the market for a new coat!).

Photo credit: Mary Pingel

This red Topshop dress is one of my all-time favorites because I wore it for our engagement photos almost 5 years ago. I’m still very fond of the classic silhouette and floral print. And every time I see a red floral dress, I think of that special day and the kind, hardworking man next to me–the man who makes me laugh everyday, and waits patiently when I change my outfit again (and again 😋), and always loves me just as I am ❤️

Photo credit: Mary Pingel

I also wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for following along this past year–I’m so excited to share more blogiversary posts with you all this month! I so appreciate your kindness, your comments, and your support.

And a special shout out to my brother, who takes most of my blog photos, and my best friend, for encouraging me to take that leap and do this blogging thing 😉

Do you have a favorite love story (a book or movie)? An item, jewelry, or piece of clothing that reminds you of a special time in your life? Let me know in the comments!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

5 thoughts on “Red Dresses and Love Stories

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