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!

This Is the New Year

We are eight days into 2019! It’s been great to hear what everyone is aspiring to accomplish this year, and I find that writing a specific, manageable list is helpful for me.

I was channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw for the above New Years look in my fabulous tulle skirt by Portland-based fashion brand Tulle on Lace. I had the pleasure of meeting the designer Harriet at FashioNXT in October, and she is so sweet and incredibly talented. You will definitely see me styling this skirt for more occasions and blog posts this year!

Today, I’m rounding up eight of my favorite looks from 2018, and also sharing some goals for 2019–from my booklist, to travel plans, to blog goals and personal resolutions.

8 Favorite Looks from 2018

Gray Blazer: Zara Scarf: Burberry (similar) Boots: Blondo Waterproof

Classic chic attire with a statement scarf (see original post here)

Yellow Gown: Eliza J (similar)

A bright floral gown for our friends’ wedding in Miami (see original post here)

Striped Jumpsuit: Monteau (similar here and here)

A striped jumpsuit that was perfect for dinner on our Caribbean cruise (see original post here)

Chambray shirt: Calvin Klein Jeans (similar) Striped tank: H&M (similar) Leggings: Nike (similar) Hat: Portland Gear

A comfy athleisure look for a date night at our local drive-in theater (see original post here)

White Blazer: J.O.A. (similar) Graphic tee: Eleven Paris Jeans: Topshop Boots: Sam Edelman (similar) Purse: Prada

A fun weekend look featuring my fave Kate Moss graphic tee and a windowpane-print blazer (see original post here)

Beanie: Kyi Kyi Faux suede vest: Bebe (similar) Belt: Gucci Striped shirt: Romy (similar) Boots: Blondo Waterproof

A layered look for crisp fall days with a faux suede vest and a versatile striped tee (see original post here)

Camel coat: Calvin Klein Gray sweater: TJ Maxx (similar) Boots: Blondo Waterproof Purse: Chanel

Cozy neutrals and a camel coat for fall/winter (see original post here)

Faux suede jacket: (similar here and here) Cable-knit sweater: H&M (similar here and here) Black jeans: Topshop Boots: Blondo Waterproof Purse: Louis Vuitton

A faux suede jacket layered with a cable-knit sweater and black skinny jeans (see original post here)

Booklist

This list isn’t complete yet, but here’s what I have so far:

  • Finish a series: I really enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians, and I plan to read the sequels.
  • A Young Adult novel: I haven’t chosen one yet, any suggestions??? (I loved both The Hunger Games and Divergent series, so I definitely enjoy dystopias.)
  • A classic that I’ve never read before: Either Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion or Emma (maybe both).
  • Re-read some old favorites: The Stranger, The Bell Jar, and Great Expectations are some of my all-time faves.
  • A short story collection: To be determined
  • A poetry collection: I’m thinking about revisiting Shakespeare’s sonnets (I read a lot of them in college), but would also like to read some modern poetry as well.
  • A contemporary bestseller: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple years, so I figure it’s about time I finally read it).
  • Nonfiction: Dirt Is Good (I’m a bit of a germaphobe, and I was gifted this book awhile back.)

Travel Plans

  • Paris: traveling to the City of Lights later this year to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday (this has been on her bucket list for a long time!).
  • Italy: traveling to the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre with my husband (we honeymooned in Italy, and we’re so excited to go back for more of a coastal vibe this time around).
  • California: attending the wedding of my husband’s cousin. We don’t get to see his extended family often so we’re really looking forward to this!
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival: I enjoyed this so much for my birthday last year and would love to go again this summer!

Goals for the Blog & Social Media

  • On Instagram I’ve decided to start doing Workwear Wednesdays. I always get a lot of positive feedback on my posts about business attire, so I want to make this a more regular feature.
  • I also get a lot of great feedback on my posts that illustrate how to style an item multiple ways (these have been some of my favorite posts to put together!).
  • Reach 10k Instagram followers. Right now I’m not far from 6k, but the 10k goal is a blogger milestone on Instagram because of the swipe up feature you gain access to in Stories!
  • Be consistently active on Pinterest
  • Collaborate and build relationships with local designers, boutiques, and bloggers
  • Attend New York Fashion Week as a blogger (this one is more of a long term goal, but definitely something I want on the list!)

Personal Goals, Big and Small

  • Go ice skating at least once a month: Skating over the holidays always makes me realize how much I miss my skating days and that being on the ice still brings me a lot of joy. For years I’ve been telling myself that I’ll skate more frequently, and I want this to be the year I finally do it!
  • Work on my strength and endurance: I wish I was one of those people like my husband who absolutely loves going to the gym (and believe me, I’ve tried). Instead, I’m going to start with small changes like taking the stairs at work and going for a walk during lunch. I’m also looking into purchasing a stationary bike to use at home.
  • Save more $$$: In all honesty, I’ve always been more of a spender than a saver, and I’m currently reading up on strategies to save more consistently. My husband and I have been working hard at paying off his student loans.
  • Improve on organization: I’ve heard rave reviews about the Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and I could definitely use some more organization in my life.
  • Weekly journal: I received a really thoughtful Christmas gift from my cousin’s girlfriend called 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal, which has weekly writing prompts for the entire year. Super excited about this one!
  • Host afternoon tea: Tea, mini sandwiches, and decadent pastries make for the perfect get-together! Macarons from St. Honore Boulangerie would be a sweet dessert option for an afternoon tea.

What are your goals for this year, personally and professionally? Any travels or adventures planned?

I also would love to know: which of these looks from 2018 is your favorite? Share in the comments below! ❤️

I hope you have a wonderful week, and thanks so much for stopping by!

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I took a little break from the blog last week to celebrate Christmas with my family, but I’m back with some winter outfit inspiration and a few thoughts on the coming New Year! (FYI: My high-waist plaid skirt that I wore for Christmas Eve is still available on Zara’s website.)

Olive Coat: Trina Turk (similar here and here) Striped Top: TJ Maxx (similar here and here) Black Jeans: Topshop Pointed-Toe Boots: Blondo Waterproof Purse: Louis Vuitton

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I love outerwear that’s both functional and fashionable because of the climate here in the Pacific Northwest. Though, we don’t usually get as much ice and snow as other parts of the country, the chilly weather usually lasts from October through April.

This olive coat by Trina Turk was a Nordstrom Rack find from several months ago, and the oversized collar and asymmetrical zipper are details that initially caught my eye. The wool blend is cozy and warm (and definitely not itchy, which is something I always look out for when purchasing wool items!).

Since this coat is more of a statement piece, I paired it with classic staples like a striped tee, black skinny jeans, and pointed-toe boots. I’ve been wearing these Blondo Waterproof boots nonstop lately (they’re super comfortable and the stylish pointed-toe doesn’t pinch my toes at all!).

I linked coats in similar olive tones above, and also in the LIKEtoKNOW.it app.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes… Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life…”

–British author Neil Gaiman

This time of year we look back on what we’ve accomplished and move forward to what’s next. It’s easy to get fixated on resolutions and goals and becoming some sort of ideal version of ourselves. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have goals and to grow and evolve, but we can’t obsess over perfection or be afraid to make mistakes.

In February of 2018, I finally started this blog, and it’s been a real joy to connect with other bloggers, bookworms, fashion-lovers, and brands. There are so many inspiring people out there, sharing their passions and working towards their dreams, and I’m just glad to play a small part in that here in my little corner of the internet.

I’m striving to grow Shakespeare Loves Chanel even more in 2019 and share more fashion and style, stories and poems, and travel and adventures.

What are your goals for 2019? What’s on your travel itinerary or reading list? (Sharing mine in next week’s post!)

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for following along, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Festive Lights and Winter Ice

Happy Holidays, everyone! I absolutely love this time of year–from the beautiful lights to the festive attire to the special times with family and friends.

In this post, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite holiday activities in the Portland area and, of course, winter outfit ideas that keep you both warm and stylish! Pictured above is the giant tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland at sunset.

When I was growing up, we went to Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo here in Portland almost every year during the holidays. It’s such a festive activity that is perfect for all ages, from families with kids to a romantic date night for two.

From left to right: my brother, my mom, my step-dad, me, and my husband ❤️

It was a crisp evening in the 30’s when we went to Zoo Lights, so I knew layers would be key to staying warm!

I love all the festive colors during the holidays, but I also love shades of gray for a classic winter look.

Gray Coat: Zara (similar here and here) Gray Sweater: TJ Maxx (similar here and here) Black Jeans: Topshop Leather Boots: (similar here and here) Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs (very similar) Beanie: H&M (similar here)

My gray wool-blend coat I purchased at Zara last fall, but I linked two similar options both under $100. A great pair of leather riding boots is a timeless investment (I’ve had mine for several years), so I linked comparable styles above!

You can also shop this look on the LIKEtoKNOW.it app!

Another favorite activity of mine is skating at the outdoor rink at Winter Village, which is located at Orenco Station in Hillsboro (less than half hour’s drive from Portland). This is the fourth year this little rink is open during the holiday season. The above picture of my husband and me is from a few years ago, the first Christmas after we got married.

This particular activity is near and dear to my heart because I was a competitive figure skater for 11 years of my childhood (more on that in this post back from February). Unfortunately, I had to quit at age 15 due to injuries and health issues, but I do try to get back on the ice during the holidays every year!

Despite the many years I spent skating, this was also only the second time my mom came out on the ice with me! We had a blast, and I highly recommend going later in the evening if you can–we went to the last session at 8pm on a Sunday, and the last half hour we almost had the rink completely to ourselves.

Puffy Vest: Nike (similar here and here) Sherpa Pullover: Elodie (similar here and here) Legwarmers: TJ Maxx (similar) Earmuffs: J. Crew (similar here and here)

Leg-warmers, earmuffs, and a fuzzy sweater are the perfect athleisure look for nighttime skating! ⛸⛸ Cozy sherpa pullovers are really on trend this fall and winter, and I linked two similar styles above–both on sale for under $50. I love how fun and classic earmuffs are (this well loved pair from J. Crew I’ve had since college!), and I linked some comparable options above.

Whether you’re local or visiting Portland, here are a few more ideas for holiday fun:

  • Winter Wonderland lights show at Portland International Raceway (you get to stay in your car for this one and drive through to see all the light displays)
  • Holiday Lights at Peacock Lane (this one is pedestrian only on certain nights so be sure to check out their website for more details)
  • View the Christmas Ships from the Columbia River or Willamette River (be sure to check their website for exact locations, dates, and weather conditions)
  • Holiday river cruises on the Portland Spirit

In next week’s post, I’ll be sharing more holiday outfit attire–from festive workwear for the office, to Ugly Sweater Parties, to Christmas Eve glam!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! ❤️

Thankful Always

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

This is one of my favorite quotes about thankfulness and feels very fitting as we head into the week of Thanksgiving.

This time of year, it’s so easy to get swept up in shopping lists and party-planning: from Black Friday madness to decorating the tree to finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a great sale just as much as the next person (I’m listing a few of my favorites at the bottom of this post). However, what I’m saying is this quote illustrates how thankfulness and contentment are all about perspective–we choose what to focus on, whether it’s all the things we do have, or the things we don’t.

The older I get, the more I truly cherish the time I have with my family, and I’m so grateful to spend the holidays with them. I’m also very thankful to call the great Pacific Northwest home (if you scroll through these pictures, you’ll get a glimpse of just how beautiful it is here).

Today, I’m also sharing more Thanksgiving outfit inspiration. This poncho I purchased last winter and wore it on a day trip up to Mt. Hood in January (pictured above). Ponchos feel like wearing cozy, fashionable blankets and, as such, would also be perfect for travels this holiday season.

Poncho: B.P. (similar here and here) Faux Leather Leggings: Spanx Boots: Blondo Waterproof Belt: Gucci

For Thanksgiving dinner, I like to dress casual chic. I definitely reach for items that aren’t constricting–my step-mom goes all out with the cooking, and my sister and I always make the pumpkin pie, so it is definitely not the day to wear something tight!

I wanted to dress up the poncho a bit, and the Gucci belt and faux-leather leggings elevated the overall look. The belt also helped give the poncho some definition and shape.

These particular leggings are really popular (I bought mine during the Nordstrom Anniversary sale last year!), and there’s a reason for that: they’re so stretchy and comfy, without compromising the least bit on style.

My brother Mikey takes the majority of my blog photos, and I appreciate him so much for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this (he works two jobs and is also finishing up his last college credits!).

This is what happened when we were taking pics yesterday:

“Is that a cape you’re wearing?” Mikey asked.

“It’s a poncho, but yeah, pretty similar to a cape.”

“And you’ve got the belt and the tall boots with it.”

“Yes…” (By then I was wondering: where is he going with this?)

“So you’re basically dressed like a Jedi. Where’s your lightsaber?” He joked.

At that point, I burst out laughing. “I never would’ve thought of that!”

So there you have it. This is a great Thanksgiving outfit option, but also a modern-day Jedi look. 😂

I’m thankful for my brother, who always knows how to make me laugh (plus, we’re both big Star Wars fans, so this joke was not lost on me)!

A few notes on current and upcoming holiday sales:

  • The Kate Spade Surprise Sale is going on currently and ends on 11/24/18 at 11:59 PM (Pacific Time). All sales are final but the savings are HUGE (up to 75% off). If you or a loved one has a purse on their Christmas wish list, this is definitely the perfect sale to check out!
  • I love Target’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals–in my family, we always do matching pajamas on Christmas morning, and they have family pajamas starting as low as $10 (it is a Doorbuster deal, so it’s while supplies last). I’ve also gotten great savings on their cozy throw blankets in past years, so that’s something I often keep my eye out for.
  • The weekend of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, a lot of big shopping websites offer free shipping with no minimum purchase amount, so that is definitely something to watch out for.
  • My mom and I are obsessed with the 3-wick candles from Bath and Body Works (right now they’re discounted to $12.95 each, whereas full price they’re $24.50 each). I’ll probably wait ’til Friday to see if they add any further discounts or coupon codes.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🦃 I would love to hear what you’re thankful for in the comments below. ❤️