why the creator of fashion blog 'Magnolia Charles' loves the south

We’re about halfway through July’s all-Southern content on the blog and I’ve shared plenty of reasons why I love my home region. But, it’s always good to get an outside perspective, so I enlisted the help of Sally, creator of the truly swoon-worthy blog Magnolia Charles, who may not be from the South originally but whose passion for the region makes me so happy! I first became acquainted with Sally on Instagram after seeing her featured on the Gal Meets Glam story wearing one of their dresses while on a trip to Winter Park, which is nearby me and somewhere I spend a lot of time.

I was so glad to be able to chat with her about the reasons she loves the South, some of her local favorites, and what’s next for her when it comes to her exploration of the region.

Can you start by telling us where you’re from and where you are currently based now?

I’m originally from a very small town in the North of Germany and grew up in the country. I always wanted to venture out and moved to Hamburg for university and after finishing up to the capital of Germany, Berlin, for my first job. That’s where I’m based now for the last three years working in the fashion industry. Still I do have the feeling this is not where I belong. The big city is too big for me and the life here is hectic - comparable to New York City. My heart is definitely somewhere else.

I relate to that so much after living in New York City and feeling so strongly about coming back home to the South. So, what is it that you love most about the South?

The first thing coming to my mind while thinking about the South are oak trees, the ocean and waterways and the architecture. I have this painting in my head of those serene trees and a colonial style house with of front porch and colored window shutters. Next to the fairytale aesthetics of the South, I love the more relaxed lifestyle and friendly people. They really enjoy life in all its glory. It’s such a different life to one in a big city and much more appealing to me. And the weather is wonderful and sunny year round. It’s its own special world that I’d love to be a part of.

Being from Europe, what is it that sparked your initial interest in the South?

Sadly, I can’t remember what exactly, but it must be at least 6-8 years ago that I saw something, a book or a picture of the Lowcountry that sparked something in me and from that day on, I consumed everything I could find from books, to blogs, to movies, to documentations to fictions. It was as if I have found the place I have dreamed of and only thought would exist in fairytales. Luckily, it’s very easy these days to find inspiration and dream.

Whether it’s restaurants, shopping, or sightseeing, can you share a few of your favorite spots in the region?

I’ve only been in Charleston and Savannah yet.

Restaurants: For me as a vegetarian the Southern kitchen is not the easiest to find something in. That’s the only thing I really don’t like. Luckily, there are wonderful alternative restaurants to the traditional kitchen. Basic Kitchen in Charleston was my favorite and Public Kitchen in Savannah.

Shopping: Lake Pajamas, Beckett Boutique, Candyshop Vintage, Amanda Lindroth, all in Charleston.

Stay: Montage Palmetto Bluff (the most amazing special place that embodies all the Lowcountry has to offer), The Kehoe House in Savannah (an old inn with the friendliest atmosphere and amazing classic interior design), The Inns Charleston (stylish Airbnbs in Downtown Charleston).

Sightseeing: Magnolia Plantation, Boone Hall, Sullivans Beach

You’re so right about it being a bit of a struggle to find good plant-based food here, but thankfully I see that starting to change. Overall, what is your favorite southern city you’ve visited so far and what makes it so special?

As I said I’ve only been to two, but Charleston was my favorite place in the whole world the first time I saw pictures of it. Traveling there has confirmed all of my dreams. It combines the aesthetics of the South and a relaxing Lowcountry lifestyle with a city that has tons of culture, history and a wonderful restaurant scenery to offer. Just walking through the streets around South of Broad at sunset finishing up at the Battery overlooking the ocean and having a glass of wine in a sweet bar is the perfect evening.

The next day you can venture out to the plantations with their wonderful oak trees or the beach within 15 minutes. Everything is really close so even on a normal working day, I imagine myself biking home and sitting on the porch reading a good book. The city is so friendly and really embodies the Southern lifestyle to me.

That all sounds so perfect! What’s up next on your southern travel bucket list?

What’s actually next is hopefully moving to Charleston within the next few years and make my Lowcountry living dream a reality. Sadly, it will be a very long and difficult visa process since I’m from Europe. From that day on I want to explore all that the South has to offer. Returning to Savannah and stopping in Beaufort on the way would be great.

Also I’d love to get to know all the islands on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia: Seabrook Island, Tybee Island, Hilton Head Island, Cumberland Island and so on. Next I’d love to get to know Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana more. I’m sure there are a lot of places I don’t even know of yet and I’m keen to find them.

pretty things no. 43

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This week, I’m loving neutrals for summer. Although, is there really ever a time when I don’t? It seems like this season, there are so many beautiful pieces that make me happy.

I’m absolutely loving so many of Tory Burch’s recent pieces, starting with this linen shift dress, with its gold buttons and patch pockets. It’s such a classic piece that I could picture being worn by Jackie Kennedy during the summer or even Audrey Hepburn. Pair it with gold jewelry like an oversized cuff, a pair of great leather sandals, and of course, big sunglasses.

My favorite accessory trend this summer has been the resurgence of the headband, particularly Kate Middleton’s hatbands. They’re super practical in the heat and are an easy piece to add interest to any outfit. I love this one from J.Crew which combines straw with a Liberty print.

One of my summer fashion icons is Donna from Mamma Mia 2 with her bohemian, Greek island vibes and this Elizabeth & James top would fit right into her wardrobe. Pair it with denim shorts and a basket bag or go all out Mamma Mia style and wear it with some cute navy overalls.

Another gorgeous piece from Tory Burch is this silk crepe de chine mini dress. The fabric tells a story in the brand’s ‘poetry of things’ print, complete with wildflowers, pottery, and bees and beautiful design details throughout. You could dress this up with a simple block heel or dress it down with wrap sandals for any summer occasion.

Most of us have plans this summer to go to some sort of concert or sporting event and thus, we need a cute, clear stadium bag to carry our things. I love this one from Gigi New York (in collaboration with Collins Tuohy) which comes in a beautiful, neutral leather and is a super chic, classic option.

This pair of embroidered slides from Anniel are so pretty! I don’t often find statement shoes that I love, but this pair works because of the neutral color palette. You can pair them with everything from a white dress to a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, but I especially love them with darker pieces to add a little summer element. They’d look beautiful with a pair of dark wash skinny jeans.

ten things every southern girl has at home

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This month’s theme on the blog has been all things southern and I love a good list, so I put together a list of ten things I believe every southern girl keeps at home, or at the very least aspires to. Let me know which items on the list you have and which you’re in the market for!

a family heirloom
This could be anything passed down from an older member of the family, from china collections and tea services to a string of pearls or a great piece of furniture. In addition to some china and pottery, my favorite family heirloom is a framed collection of jewelry from family members dating back to the early 1800s.

custom monogram
You’ll find it on hand towels, cocktail napkins, pillowcases, shot glasses, weekender bags, note cards, slippers, and anything else that doesn’t move.

mason jars
They work well for so many different things. Use them for a flower arrangement, to drink sweet tea, or to store your homemade preserves.

cast iron skillet
A well-seasoned one to cook everything from cornbread and greens to biscuit peach cobbler and frittatas.

special thank-you notes
A southern woman always has a stack of thank-you notes in her desk to send out after lunch with a friend or receiving a gift. I love what they have to offer at Smythson, Rifle Paper Co., Mark and Graham, Paperchase, and even Target.

something wicker
This could be a chair, a side table, a tray, or even a light fixture, but wicker is a quintessentially southern texture you’ll find somewhere in any southern woman’s home.

old bay seasoning
This classic spice mix is great for chicken and seafood, but it’s also really good on oven fries, deviled eggs, popcorn, and corn-on-the-cob.

china passed down from grandma
Whether it’s something she picked up at an antique store herself or bought new for her wedding, grandma’s china is a southern decor staple. I have my paternal grandma’s tea service and a few pieces from my maternal grandma’s collection of Delft pottery.

bar accessories
No southern home is complete without a cocktail kit, no? Be sure to have some shakers, corkscrews, strainers, muddlers, and mixing spoons on your bar cart to whip up whatever your guests have in mind.

something gingham
This is a super versatile category, but I can almost guarantee you’ll find something gingham in every southern home whether it’s a picnic blanket/tablecloth, cloth napkins, a throw pillow, or even a piece of statement furniture.

field notes from savannah, georgia

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Late last month, we went to Savannah for a quick two-day trip and had the best time which is not hard to do because it’s a town that has so much charm. I’ve been saying that Savannah is what would happen if someone took everything I love about other cities and put it all together to make a perfect city.

We drove from Jacksonville, which would usually take only about two hours but it took us a bit longer because of some major traffic on I-95. But, that’s okay because we had BTS playing and everything was all good! We stopped halfway through the trip and got caught in a downpour of rain at this random gas station in Georgia that had a full-on food court inside, where we got some fries and headed back out on the road.

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By the time we arrived in Savannah, the skies were clear blue and all of the rain had disappeared. We made it to our hotel, the Marriott Savannah Riverfront, which has a huge atrium overlooking the river and gorgeous furniture in the lobby. I kept taking photos of different chairs because they were giving me so much decor inspiration. We checked into our suite, which was massive and had both a view of the river and of the atrium which was unique. We were so close to the river that it honestly felt like being on a cruise as you couldn’t see the ground unless you were right up close to the window.

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We got freshened up and then headed downtown to have a picnic in Forsyth Park, which I’ll talk about more in a later post. After that, we walked around admiring all of the beautiful architecture. We walked down Bull Street through several squares and stopped in at Alex Raskin Antiques where we fell in love with a blue-and-white Dutch tile oven and lots of cool old art books.

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Our destination in mind was E. Shaver Booksellers which has now become my favorite bookstore for so many reasons. As if the exterior isn’t charming enough, the inside has several different rooms with winding bookcases, comfortable chairs, and old typewriter and best of all, three cats who wander around quite a bit but mostly nap. The ginger cat was genuinely one of the biggest cats I’ve ever seen. He was huge! Also attached to the bookstore is a little tea shop where you can sit and study or hang out.

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After the bookstore, we went up to Broughton Street to explore The Paris Market, one of my all-time favorite spots in Savannah. The upstairs has beautiful books, hats, stationary, and other things for sale as well as the cutest little café where we ordered two cups of delicious rosé, which was exactly what we needed in such scorching weather. Downstairs, they sell tons of home goods that are seriously right up my alley. It was like someone crawled into my brain and designed a store around it. I ended up leaving with a book of matches and a notebook.

That night, we got ice-cream from Ben & Jerrys, walked around the riverfront where Jason Bateman was there shooting an episode of “Ozark”, then headed back to the room to get cozy and watch the second night of the Democratic debates. Our room had two TVs, so we had the debate on one and a virtual fireplace on the other. 😇

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The next day, we headed out in the morning to tour the campus of Savannah College of Art & Design, where I am looking to go for my Master’s degree (🤞🤞🤞). This was my first time touring the campus and while I expected to love it, I did not expect how much I would love it. I thought I was spoiled doing my undergrad at Flagler on a historic campus, which was amazing, but wow, these SCAD students have it made. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous their facilities are and how they've seemed to think of everything to make students’ lives easier logistically.

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After the tour, we went back to E. Shaver to pick up a book and then walked up the street to have lunch. Before lunch, we stopped into The Emporium, a beautiful wine market inside the Perry Lane Hotel and then hopped across the street to Parker’s. Okay, so Parker’s is amazing. It’s a gas station but unlike any gas station you’ve ever seen. Inside is beautifully done and the food is just good, classic southern stuff. The mac and cheese is phenomenal and so is the lemonade! We ate outside in the shade at their picnic tables on the sidewalk and the whole scenario just had such good vibes.

Have you been to Savannah before?

periwinkle gingham dress in georgia

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So, the story is that I bought this cute gingham dress from English Factory back in April before my trip to London with the intentions of wearing it to Kensington Palace but it ended up being much colder than expected, so I wore a coat everyday! In the end, it was actually the perfect dress for Savannah because it has such a similar vibe. It’s sweet and classic but with a little twist in the drop waist and ruffle details. I bought this piece from an online boutique called Object Rare and was so impressed by how fast it arrived and how beautifully packaged it was. The store is currently under construction, but definitely check out their new website when it launches on August 1st.

I paired this dress with my favorite Soludos tall wedges and a vintage basket bag given to me as a gift. I can’t seem to find the dress for sale online anywhere, but I’ve rounded up a few pieces from English Factory that have a similar look.

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