January 31, 2011

Dine In.

Hello, lovelies.  I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend.  I wish I could say I did, but it was mostly full of working and studying.  But I have only three weeks left... which means only three weeks and one day until we're in New Orleans, so that's even better!

Luckily my weekend wasn't all work and no play.  I did have time to check out the latest issue of Rue Magazine and it was, of course, filled with all sorts of gorgeous things.  I am particularly smitten with this dining room because Jimmy and I just purchased a glass dining room table back in November.  

Now it's three months later and we're still searching for chairs because our first attempt went rather badly.  (We had to return them twice.  Long story.)  I'm thinking that's going to turn out to be a good thing though, because this inspiration is totally different than what I had picked out before (black leather).  Plus, in the meantime, we got a sideboard from Ikea which is a dark brown wood, so I wouldn't want black chairs anyway.  Last night I did some quick searing for similar (i.e. cheaper) options, and I figured out pretty quickly that fabric chairs are out of our price range.  But I did find some options that stay true to the midcentury aesthetic as well as our budget.  This is what I came up with:

1. Birch Sapling White Plastic Dining Chair - $199.00 via Amazon (Set of 2)
2. CB2 Orbit Arm Chair - $119.00
3. Target Truss Chair - $89.99
4. Retro Classic White Accent Chairs - $179.99 via Overstock (Set of 2)

I like the second option the best.  (Of course I do, it's the most expensive.)  But our table came from CB2 as well, and we have been very impressed with the quality, so maybe it's worth a bit of a splurge.  What do y'all think?

January 28, 2011

Old Hollywood, New Adventures.

Have you seen this gorgeousness yet? 

The February J.Crew catalogue is just killing it.  I actually said "Oooohhh" out loud (to myself... and the dogs) when I first opened up these images.  

The styling is perfect - aspirational but totally wearable.  I can see myself in any of these outfits, and if I could, I'd buy them all.  What do y'all think?

January 27, 2011

Copycat: Selena Gomez

I hesitated at first do a Copycat post about someone who is almost 10 years younger than me, but Selena does not look like a typical teenager here.  Her outfit is young but polished and sophisticated.  I love the pretty print on her blouse.  A tie-front blouse like this is a great staple - it looks great with jeans, as Selena proves, but it would also look just a great with slacks or a pencil skirt for work.  

*Image via People.

I'm not sure who makes Selena's version, but I rounded up four that are (approximately) $200 or less.

1. Milly Fantasy Print Silk Blouse - $202.58 via MyTheresa
2. Paul Smith Red Interior Floral Bow Shirt - $115.50 via MyWardrobe
3. Topshop Purple Print Pussy Bow Blouse - $70.00 
4. Twenty8Twelve Caitlin Printed Silk Blouse - $85.50 via The Outnet

Thirsty Thursday: Tibi Isabelle Ballet Flat

These shoes make me so happy.  The color is gorgeous and really makes these stand out from crowd of ballet flats for Spring.  All you'd need is a pair of skinnies, a flowy white top, and these babies.  Done.

{Tibi Isabelle Ballet Flats - $208.97 via Endless}

January 26, 2011

Book Report, Vol. 3.

It's been a while since I did a Book Report, and I had a lot of time to read this fall/winter, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.  I am super excited to have time for pleasure reading again after the bar so make sure you leave your suggestions for me in the comments as well.

*All images via Amazon.

1. Room by Emma Donoghue: Room is narrated by Jack, a five-year old who lives in an 11 x 11 foot room with his Ma - both of whom are held captive by Old Nick the man who kidnapped her when she was 19.  Ma realizes that she and Jack cannot continue to live in this world, and formulates a plan to escape.  The whole premise of the book is incredibly disturbing, especially given its parallels to the Jaycee Dugard story (news of which broke around the time the book came out), but the relationship between Ma and Jack is so sweet and hopeful, and the story is incredibly creative and well-written that I didn't want to stop reading.

2. Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandarsekaran:  I decided to read this after J and I watched "The Green Zone".  As usual, the book is so much better than the movie.  The author was formerly the Washington Post's bureau chief in Baghdad, and the book focuses on his time living in the Green Zone during viceroyship of L. Paul Bremmer from May 2003 to June 2004.  To say that he characterizes Bremmer's tenure as total disaster is an understatement.  I was stunned and angered to learn of many of missteps made by the Bremmer/Bush CPA, but this book really filled a gap in my knowledge about America's role in Iraq and what went wrong.   And it is to Chandarsekaran's great credit that he manages to tell this story with a complete lack of partiality and judgment.  It's a book anyone with an interest in politics can read, regardless of what side of the aisle you're on.

3.  The Confession by John Grisham:  This novel is set in 2007 a few days before the execution of Donte Drumm, an African-American football star, convicted in Texas of the murder of a white high cheerleader whose body has never been found.  Keith Schroeder, a Kansas pastor, receives a visit from Travis Boyette, a creepy, dying sex offender who confesses to the crime.  As Drumm's time and options run out, Schroder tries to convince Boyette to go public with his confession and to reveal the location of the body.  While it is a good story, and sadly, a fairly accurate portrait of the criminal justice system in our country, it's not my favorite Grisham work and has a pretty predictable ending.  If you're an ardent supporter of the death penalty, this one isn't for you, but then you probably already know not to read Grisham anyway.

4. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin:  First of all, yes, it is written by that Steve Martin.  And second of all, this was my favorite of the bunch.  It is the story of Lacey Yeager, a beautiful young art dealer working for Soetheby's in the late '90s boom years before 9/11.  Her story is interconnected with that of her friend Daniel, the narrator, an art writer working in New York at the same time.  I found it interesting that I didn't particularly like either Daniel or Lacey, who is completely amoral, and yet I didn't want to put this book down.  You don't need to know anything about art to get into it, and actually, Martin includes mini tutorials on several paintings that play a key role in the action.  (He is also a well-known art collector.)  I was reading on my Kindle, but I can imagine this would be even cooler with a hard copy because the reproductions are apparently really good quality.  

5. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff:  I picked this book because I liked the idea of reading a biography of a woman written by a woman.  I really knew very little about Cleopatra except that she was involved with both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, and as it turns out, there's a lot more to her story than that.  She was an incredibly smart and powerful woman who ruled over one of Egypt's most peaceful and successful periods.  While I did enjoy learning more about her, I wouldn't exactly call this book a page turner.  It's definitely one that you can put down and come back to a chapter at a time.

6. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore: This novel alternates between two different eras, 1890s/1900s and 2010, and it is loosely based on real life events.  In 1900, the story follows Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as he engages in a little sleuthing of his own and attempts to find a serial killer for The Scotland Yard.  The years covered in these chapters are known as "The Great Hiatus," i.e. the seven years in which there were no new Holmes stories.  In 2010, the story follows Harold White, the newest inductee into The Baker Street Irregulars, an elite group of Holmes scholars and enthusiasts.  A prominent Holmes scholar has been murdered just after he announced his discovery of Conan Doyle's long lost diary, which covers the crucial months of 1900 before Conan Doyle resurrects Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Harold discovers his body, which means that Harold must solve the case, of course.  I'm not a Sherlock Holmes fan, but I really liked this book, and I didn't feel that I was missing anything by not being familiar with the subject matter already.  If you like mysteries, definitely give this a try.

Polka, Polka, Polka.

The Kenosha Kickers?  No?  (Sorry.  I love Home Alone.)  And I love polka dots, because they remind me of summer and wearing them an easy way to get a retro, ladylike vibe without being over-the-top about it.  Since it has been relentlessly gray and dreary around here lately, I need a little something summery and cheery in my life this morning.

1. Mini For Many Polka Dot Crepe Dress - $43.75 via The Outnet
2. Alice by Temperley Polka Dot Buckle Skirt - $126.00 via The Outnet
3. Sheer Beauty Top - $89.99 via ModCloth
4. Delia's Polka Dot Dress - $44.50
5. Bing Bang & TIMO WEILAND Polka Dot Multi Way Necklace - $187.92 via ASOS
6. Mossimo Mix & Match Polka Dot Top and Bottom - $14.99 (each) via Target

PS - Book Report, Vol. 3 coming up this afternoon!

January 25, 2011

Multiple Coats.

Alright y'all, this is a first here on Penny Loves Charlie... my first ever outfit photos.  Last week Christy of Slow Southern Style asked if I would be interested in participating in a group post.  She recruited a few other Southern fashion bloggers and everyone is posting about their favorite winter coats today.

My go-to coat is this gray one from BB Dakota.  I love, love, love BB Dakota because it's a quality line that never costs as much as I think it's going to.  Plus, they're often featured on Gilt and you can get an even better deal.  (That's where I got this.)  

I wore this outfit on Sunday for a study break running around with the dogs in the back yard.  The boots were necessary in case of landmines, if you know what I mean.  And no, I don't normally wear a my flower pin on the coat, but I thought it looked cute with my outfit.

Coat: BB Dakota; Tee: Banana Republic; Jeans: Old Navy; Boots: Hunter; Flower Pin: Emerson Made

Make sure you check out how all the other girls wore their favorite coats too!

January 24, 2011

Hair Raising.

I am not one of those girls who has naturally great hair.  It's thick, but it's fine, and it has a natural wave that has taken me close to 10 years to learn how to control.  I finally feel like I have it tamed, and I'm comfortable wearing it straight or curly, so I thought I'd share some of my miracle products with you.  (And if you've ever seen any pictures of me in 9th grade, you know I don't use the word "miracle" lightly.)

1. Morrocan Oil - $33.77 (3.4 oz) via Amazon.  I use a small amount on damp hair before blow drying.  It leaves my hair super soft and shiny and really helps with fly aways.  It seems expensive but the bottle will easily last  a year.

2. Goody Spin Pins - $5.99 (for 2) via Target or any drugstore.  These things are awesome.  You just spin one through a bun or updo and it holds.  It's like having 20 bobby pins in one.  I keep one in my purse and it's a life saver on bad hair days.

3. Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Dry Shampoo - $23.00 (5 oz) via Sephora.  One of my big hair issues is that my hair goes flat and gets greasy after one day, which means I used to have to straighten it every day.  This is terrible for my hair and way too time consuming.  This stuff gives me volume, soaks up oil, and doesn't leave any gross white residue.  It's expensive and it does go pretty fast, but it's completely worth the 30 mins of sleep it saves me every other morning.

4. Chi Ceramic 1 inch Flat Iron - $86.99 via Amazon.  Of all the products on this list, this is the ultimate life changer.  I can not tell you how much better I felt about myself when I discovered flat irons in high school.  Seriously.  I had walked around looking like Hermione (in the first book) for all of 9th and 10th grade.  And the Chi is the ultimate in flat irons.  It gets super hot and saves a lot of time over a cheaper version.  Plus this price from Amazon is ridiculously good.  

5. Living Proof Straight Making No Frizz Styling Cream - $24.00 (4 oz) via Sephora.  It took me a long time to find a straightening cream that actually seemed to make a difference.  This one was recommended by the lovely D, and I'm sticking with it.  It doesn't take much and it makes a noticeable difference in frizziness.  I use it on damp hair before blow drying and then I put a tiny amount on my dry hair after I flat iron it, just smooth down any really rebellious pieces.

6. Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray - $23.00.  For the longest time, I never wore my hair naturally (i.e. wavy).  Like ever.  Then I realized how much time I could save in the morning by embracing my natural wave.  All I do is towel dry, comb my hair out straight, spritz this a few times, and I'm good to go.  I let it air dry and I get nice beachy waves.  If your hair has a hard time holding waves/curls, try this.  If it still needs help, try it in conjunction with the Remington Airwave, if you can get your hands on one.  (They're sold out on Amazon and at Walmart - but that's because it really works.)

Do you have any miracle hair products in your medicine cabinet?  Please share!

PS - Weekend Warrior will be back next week.  My photography skills this weekend were used up on tomorrow's post, which I am super excited about, so make sure you check back for that.

January 21, 2011

Slow and Steady.

Tortoise shell is really just a toned-down version of leopard print, and I do love me some leopard.  I am dying to have these highball glasses for the little bar I'm planning to set up in the dining room.  (We finally have a sideboard. Progress!)

1. Alviero Martini Bracelet - $76.00 via Forzieri
2. Horchow Tortoise Drinkware - $34.90 (sets of 4) 
3. Electric Tonnette Round Sunglasses - $69.95 via Endless
4. Kenneth Jay Lane Tortoise Bangle Bracelet - $50.00 via Endless

PS - I know some of y'all bought that Living Social Amazon.com deal earlier this week.  I didn't realize when I bought mine because Amazon is enough motivation, but it's also good at Endless.

PPS - Slow and Steady is also my current personal motto.  Studying for the bar is not a sprint, unfortunately.  And when this post goes up I will be at about hour 5 of a 200 question practice test.  What a way to start the weekend, huh?

Thirsty Thursday: Paul & Joe Blush Dress

**I'm not sure why this post didn't go up yesterday afternoon like I had planned, but it seems a shame to waste it even if it is no longer Thursday.  Check back for another post later today.**

After I did the Golden Globes recap on Monday, I decided to poke around online and see how those trends were translating into actual merchandise for spring.  My favorite thing I found is this sweet Paul & Joe dress.  I love the pale pink with a fun pop of orange in the belt, and I think this would be so cute as an Easter dress or for a spring bridal shower or wedding.

{Paul & Joe for The Outnet Dress - $198.74}

January 20, 2011

Navajo Nation.

Najavo and Southwest-inspired prints are another trend I will be all over for Spring and Summer.  I especially love them done in neon colors (surprise, surprise), like these to-die-for Loeffler Randall sandals.

1. Tory Burch Kara Tunic - $119.00 via MyTheresa
2. Lucky Brand Navajo Enamel Bangle - $29.99 
3. Vintage Salt Creek Duffle Bag - $210.00 via Spool No. 72
4. Loeffler Randall Idris Sandal - $158.00 via Footcandy

Those sandals just might have to become a little yay-the-bar-and-flood-nightmare-is-over present for myself come February 23.  I think I deserve it.

January 19, 2011

Pop of Pink.

Loving that great pop of pink through the doorway in this living room.  

*Image via House of Turquoise.

Jimmy and I are signing up to get HGTV'd this weekend.  Maybe if we win our living room will finally look this cool.

Accessory After the Fact.

Coco Chanel's famous advice on accessories was that when you think you're finished getting dressed, you should take one thing off.  Now, I don't doubt that the lady knows her stuff, but I kind of have the opposite problem.  Accessories tend to be an after thought for me, but they really can make a so-so outfit into something special.  Lately I've been trying to make an effort to use my accessories to step my outfits up a notch and show off my personality.  These three women really illustrate the point... none of these outfits would be quite the same without the fedora, the glasses, or the scarf, respectively.

*Images via Vanessa Jackman.

I would love to hear how y'all use accessories to spice up your looks.  Do you have a go-to piece?

PS - Sorry for the lame lawyer-y title.  Sometimes I just can't help myself.

January 18, 2011

Watch Yourself.

I used to wear a watch every day, but after I got engaged, I didn't like having anything else on that hand because I felt like it took away from my pretty ring, and the watch I have didn't "go" anyway. (Plus, I can just look at my Blackberry since it basically never leaves my sight.) But then a few days ago, Emily wore a really cool, chunky, gold watch with her (also pretty) ring, and of course, the world did not end. So now everywhere I go I've been noticing cool watches.

Sporty and bright...

1. Michael Michael Kors Silicone Watch - $160
2. Nixon The Time Teller P Watch - $59.99 via Tilly's
3. Timex Digital Watch - $29.90 via Nordstrom
4. Timex80 Two-Tone Digital Watch - $27.50 via The Outnet
5. Cerentino Crystal Bezel Boyfriend Watch - $14.99 via Endless


1. Badgley Mischka Flower-Shaped Bangle Watch - $225.00 via Endless
2. AK Anne Klein X Link Dress Watch - $125.00
3. AK Anne Klein Chain Bracelet Watch - $46.90 via Nordstrom
4. Fossil Dress Collection White Mother-of-Pearl Watch - $79.00 via Blue Nile
5. DKNY Rose Gold Watch - $104.90 via Nordstrom

Borrowed from the boys... 

1. D&G "Anchor" Bracelet Watch - $275.00 via Nordstrom
2. Emporio Armani Large Round Stainless Steel Watch - $245.00 via Nordstrom
3. Casio Analog Stainless Steel Fashion Watch - $78.00 via American Apparel
4. Seiko Men's Rectangular-Dial Black Leather Watch - $131.50 via Lord & Taylor

January 17, 2011

Weekend Warrior: Golden Globes Edition.

I'm interrupting our regular Weekend Warrior post to do a Golden Globes recap, because honestly, all I did this weekend was study and watch the award show,* and I don't think you want to see pictures of me studying. It's not cute, trust me. *Ok, I did take a little study break on Saturday night for a pimento cheeseburger from Rockaway's and to finally see Black Swan.

Anyway, I was pretty impressed with the red carpet. There really weren't too many total disasters, especially if you don't count the usual crazy/awesomeness from the likes of HBC and SWINTON. (If you don't read the Fug Girls already, get on that.) I've highlighted a few "trends" I've noticed (as far as award show red carpets can be an indicator of trends) and picked a Best and Worst from each one, and I'll pick an overall Best and Worst at the end.

Let's start with the obvious: black dresses. People think black is safe, but some of these ladies prove that you can look just as bad in an LBD as in any other color LD:

Best: Olivia Wilde. She looks like a galaxy in the best possible way.
Worst: Christina Aguilera. On someone else, this could be gorgeous, but it really does not flatter her at all, and it came across as borderline tacky.

One trend that made me super happy was green! We know how I feel about that.

Best: Angelina Jolie. I love the long sleeves and her makeup was flawless.
Worst: Elisabeth Moss, but it's really like a "least good" because I don't think any of them look bad.

Navy was also big, on guys as well as girls.  If the sparkle vamp is wearing it, it must be hot, right?

Best: Amy Adams. Navy is perfect for her hair/complexion, and the silhouette is amazing.
Worst: Jenna Ushkowitz. She plays a high schooler, yes, but it was too "prom dress" for me.

Next up, brights! This is one trend that I really do think we'll see throughout Spring/Summer 2011, and I've already expressed my excitement about it here and here.

Best: Claire Danes. If you saw the telecast, you know that her dress was a much brighter neon pink than it appears in the picture, and it was gorgeous. Kyra Sedgwick is a close second though.
Worst: Julianne Moore, because of the wrinkles.

On to the two biggest trends of the night: nude and blush. Both are incredibly pretty when done right, but both can also seriously wash you out if done wrong.

Best: Heather Morris. Great color, it fits her perfectly, and it has sequins. Done.
Worst: Kelly McDonald, which pains me because I love Boardwalk Empire, but the whole thing reminds me too much of a dirty sheet.  Plus it's SO BORING.  At least Michelle Williams gave us flowers.

Best: Maria Menounos, because it's girly and sweet without being princess-y.
Worst: Natalie Portman. The flower. Ugh.

Ok, so the Best of the Best? Claire Danes. I love, love, loved the color and cut of her dress. She was perfection in it.

And the Worst of the Worst? Christina Aguilera. Because this is the South, and "tacky" is about as bad as it gets.

Now I want to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with my picks? Who was your Best and Worst dressed?

January 14, 2011

Budget Control.

Ok y'all, the Bar exam is officially frying my brain.  I didn't even realize that I hadn't created a post for yesterday until about 3:30, and by then I was at work and couldn't do anything about it.  I've also been having some crazy dreams.  It's like my brain has no room for anything except Bar stuff.  And this exam is cramping my style in more ways that one.  Since I had to put off taking it because of the flood last July, I've only been able to work part time, which means my shopping budget has taken a serious hit.  Sadly, this is has done nothing to curb my shopping appetite.  So since I have approximately $27.00 in my "fun money" fund at the moment, I decided to see what I could buy with that.  And because I like themes, I decided to go for all stripes.
1. Yellow and White Striped 24" x 36" Rug - $9.95 via Crate & Barrel
2. Chain Pocket Striped Tee - $9.97 via Old Navy
3. Leatherette Diagonal Stripe Clutch - $12.80 via Forever21
4. Blue Stripe Scarf - $19.95 via Delia's
5. Stripe Placket Ladypant - $8.00 via Topshop*

*"Ladypant."  Enough said.

January 12, 2011

Geology Rocks.

See what I did with the title there?  It works on two levels.  I'm very clever.  

Anyway, you don't have to be a geologist (hey Dad!) to get excited about these babies because these aren't just any rocks.  In fact, the ones on the right aren't rocks at all; they're soap.  And those on the left are trays.  How cool is that?

*Crystal Trays by RabLabs discovered via DesignLoveFest; Soap Rocks by Furbish discovered via The Love List

January 11, 2011

Copycat:Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde is one of those actresses whose name and face I recognize, but I don't actually know what she does.  Thanks to Wikipedia, I have been informed that she has been on The O.C., House, and is currently starring in Tron.  Also, she's in Cowboys v. Aliens, the preview for which I saw before Harry Potter, and I was 100% convinced that it was a spoof to tell me to turn off my cell phone or something, but it is apparently a real movie.  Get to the point you say?  Oh.  I like her dress.

*Image via InStyle.

Her version is by Opening Ceremony and at $290.00, it's actually one of the cheaper options out there already.  However,  I managed to find three others that come in under $200.  To me, the cobalt color is one of the things that makes this dress interesting, but if you are willing to go black, there are many more options to be had.

1. French Connection Sarah Dress- $77.58 via ASOS
2. Charlotte Russe Fitted Peplum Knit Dress - $24.50
3. Karen Miller Graphic Print Strapless Dress - $129.30 via ASOS

January 10, 2011

Food for Thought (Redux).

This post that I wrote a few weeks ago was so much fun that I decided to make it a regular thing.  And by "regular" I mean whenever I feel like I have enough cool pictures that go together.  

(In case you're wondering, that's Sting's daughter, Coco Sumner, who is also a musician, and my new favorite cool girl.)

(If you really want to be literal about it, try this outfit from Stella McCartney.)

January 7, 2011

French Twist.

For whatever reason, I feel like a silk scarf is a very French accessory.  Probably because it's elegant and sophisticated, and I always think of Paris when I think of those ideas.  Also, the French gave us Hermes, which is pretty much the end-all-be-all of the scarf world, non?  I have two gorgeous silk scarves in my closet, and yet I never wear them because I don't know how to style them other than tying them awkwardly in a triangle like a midshipman or someone's grandma.  Well, now I've got no excuse, and neither do you, my friend, because here are five super stylish ways to wear a silk scarf.

I mean, hello, knotted scarf necklace.  I can totally do that!  Some of these other styles are perhaps a little more advanced, but luckily Hermes has put together a super cute website with tons of inspirational looks and instructions for tying different knots.  And if you need a pretty little scarf of your own, check out these colorful beauties made by my friend Brinley and her dad.

January 6, 2011

Eleven for '11.

Since all of this New Year stuff has a shelf life, let's get on with it.  So here we go, eleven things that I can't live without this year.  

1. Chance Day Tote - $125.00.  A classic from a great brand.
2. Ikea Expedit Bookcase - $69.99.  Bookcase, room divider, or (in my case) dining room sideboard.
3. Moleskine Weekly Planner - $9.47 (on sale).  My last old school hang up.  I like to write things down.
4. EmersonMade Poppy -$54.00.  An accessory for any season and when you wear it you can dance around singing, "I love it when you call me Big Poppy" like Notorious B.I.G.  Err... no, nevermind.
5. Canon Rebel XS - $499.00.  Incredible photographs, even if you have no idea what you're doing.
6. Sephora by OPI Nailpolish in "Special Request" - $9.00.  Orangey coral is my fave for summer pedicures.
7. Gap Cap Toe Flats - $49.50.  Chanel style on a mall budget.
8. Apple Macbook - $999.00.  I love you, Steve Jobs.
9. J.Crew Sailor Stripe Sweater - $88.00.  So soft, so slouchy, so pretty.
10. Owl Vase/Pitcher - $15.00.  For putting fresh flowers in on my desk.
11. Amazon Kindle - $139.00.  So easy to travel with, whether you're going cross-country or just across town.