Fashion for Men

Dear Mr. Magpie.

By: Jen Shoop

Dear Mr. Magpie,

It occurred to me, after writing a little note to our soon-to-be-born daughter, that I owe you a letter, too, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.  I owe you much more than a letter, come to think of it, but, today, a note will have to do.

The Fashion Magpie Mr Magpie

{Us on our wedding day.  My cousin took this of us, and I love your ecstatic fist pump.}

I will try to be sparing on the emotional histrionics.  In fact, you’ll be happy to know that I just re-read William Carlos Williams’ famous “This Is Just to Say” in the hopes of channeling his knack for understatement.  Because Lord knows that I could write a very long, painfully over-wrought letter outlining the million and ten ways you make me a better person and our life a better life just by being your conscientious, curious, huge-hearted, fiercely loyal self–in other words, just by being you.

So, Mr. Magpie:

Thank you for taking out the trash twenty times per week without being asked.  (And I’m sorry for filling it up with record speed.)

Thank you for soliciting–and genuinely listening to–my opinion on everything from the latest movie we’ve seen (Edge of Seventeen, liked it — would give it a 4/5 rating — solid acting except for Kyra Sedgewick, but it felt a little trite overall) to what kind of jeans you should buy (we ended up with these) to the latest news in TechCrunch (Zenefits still doesn’t have a CEO?).  I love that you care.

Thank you for telling me that I’m pretty ten times a day, especially when I feel like an overinflated balloon.

Thank you for doing the lion’s share of the cooking.  (I would be grateful even if you weren’t the incredible chef you are, but your culinary skills are beyond.  And that blessing is not lost on me.)

the fashion magpie mr magpie grilling

{Grilling for a crowd — and in a suit no less.}

Thank you for always making space for me at the table in our business ambitions together.  You have made me feel like a true equal, even when (loud, rude, almost 100% male) investors, partners, and customers have made me feel less than.  You will cringe at this label, but you are a true feminist in the purest sense of the word: in your every thought and action, you demonstrate your deep belief in our parity as business partners and your conviction that I deserve to be sitting at the table right next to you.  (Even while belch-y old investors insist on directing their inquiries to you and you alone.)  When I think back on the travails of the last year building our business together, I often think about the time you intercepted one particularly ornery investor’s line of inquiry by saying: “I’ll let Jen answer that.  She’s the expert in product.”  The way it made me feel–the way you make me feel–well, it’s a testament to the generous and fair kind of man you are, and it gives me the biggest sense of hope for the strong little spitfire of a chickadee we will soon be raising together.

Thank you for telling me when I have lipstick on my teeth.

Thank you for your groundedness, your sense of perspective, your ever-even keel.

Thank you for shrugging off the 100+ shirts I have ruined with mascara stains.

Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder, in your arms, more times than I care to admit.  (…Weekly.)

Thank you for that look you make before you call me “pretty wife.”

mr magpie

{So tan, so happy — on our honeymoon.}

Thank you for waking up in the middle of the night to inspect miscellaneous noises downstairs, sometimes with a bat in hand.

Thank you for your good-natured-ness.  You are unflappable, but not in a stoic kind of way–in a gorgeous “onward and upward!,” “aint-nobody-gonna-get-me-down” kind of way.  I’ve had occasion to answer the question: “What’s Landon like?” a few times lately, and the first phrase that comes to mind is: “perennial optimist.”  You keep us moving forward.

Thank you for that adorable look of glee you get when you are eating something delicious.  I freaking love how much you love good food.  Your passion is contagious.

Thank you for telling me, the other day, out of the blue, after we’d just tried to watch a horrible movie (The Accountant, barf), that you love me more than I will ever know.

the fashion magpie mr magpie rooftop

{Serious Mr. Magpie.}

Thank you for your attention to detail.  There are few men that boast this trait, but you notice–and care–about everything.  It’s made us better business owners.  It’s spawned countless spreadsheets comparing options, purchases, life decisions.  It’s led us to have a better-appointed house with higher-quality products.  But it mainly showcases the mindful kind of person you are: the kind of person who would rather take the time to do something the right way or not do it at all.  That kind of ethical rigor inspires me, and everyone around us.  I’m reminded of a time early in our marriage when my father asked you to sell a few items for him on eBay.  Your methodical approach to the task–carefully researching each item, presenting my father with a detailed spreadsheet, and tracking each purchase meticulously–left a deep impression on him; he talks about it routinely, as a testament to the incredibly organized, conscientious person you are.

Thank you for taking care of “adult” things in our life, like taxes and utilities.  I can’t believe you spent weeks ironing out our Comcast bill.  (I would have given up weeks ago.)

Thank you for your convictedness.  One of the greatest paradoxes in your personality is that, despite your laudable sense of perspective, once you’ve formed an opinion, you are exceptionally passionate about it. I have often told friends that “there is no black or white with Landon.”  You are vehement (borderline evangelistic) about the things you like, and equally emotive about the things you don’t.  Ten times out of ten, I would prefer someone with conviction over someone who waffles through life.

Thank you for offering your seat to the old woman on the bus.  It makes me proud to be your wife.

the fashion magpie mr magpie wedding 2

{I love you in a tux.}

Thank you for bringing me that mango smoothie the other day, just because you’d heard me talk about wanting one.

Thank you for accommodating my ridiculous competitiveness when it comes to board games.  (And sorry for throwing the Scrabble pieces all over the floor in a fit of rage.)

Thank you for late night, wine-fueled “dream talks,” mapping out our aspirations for ourselves and our family.

Thank you for dreaming big, for your Gatsby-like belief in the promise of the future.  Your star-gazing, enterprising spirit emboldens me.  Standing next to you, I feel like we can do anything we put our minds to.

the fashion magpie mr magpie aspen

{This looks like an Edward Hopper painting to me.  And I love it.}

Thank you for always taking the time to exchange pleasantries with salesclerks, servers, busboys, cashiers, tollbooth employees–you treat everyone you encounter with genuine kindness and humanity.  You are the anti-snob.  As I write this, I am eavesdropping on a conversation you are having with a Comcast technician.  You hate Comcast.  (See above.)  And yet, there you are, asking about the technician’s son–not out of feigned politeness but out of authentic, true-blue goodness.  It reminds me of my maternal grandfather.  At his funeral, we were moved to learn that a gas station attendant had come to pay his respects–like you, my grandfather was the type of man who left a deep impression on all those with whom he had casual, quotidian interactions.  People remember the way you make them feel.

Thank you for being authentically you all the time.  You never put on airs.  You never change your colors.  There is nothing artful or feigned about you.  You are you, through and through, no matter where you are or who you are with.

Thank you for being the kind of man who will run after someone to let him know his glove has fallen on the ground.  Who will grab a toddler before she runs into the street.  Who will offer to open a door for a woman with her hands full.  Who will give a teen a talking-to for flying down Wisp mountain recklessly out of control while on skis because it’s not safe for anyone else.

the fashion magpie mr magpie black and white

{Happy as clams together.}

Thank you for (this is hard to write) that time I saw you clench your jaw, holding back tears, when you thought I wasn’t looking as we sat in the emergency room, neither of us knowing what was going on with me.  You had been holding my hand, telling me everything was going to be fine–as always, my rock.  But seeing you well up like this reminded me how much you love me, of how insanely blessed I am to have someone who cares so deeply about me.  And the fact that you were trying to put on a brave face for my sake made me love you all the more.

As I read back this list to myself, it feels woefully inadequate, pathetically incomplete–as if I’ve just tried to capture a delicious wine by pouring it through cheesecloth.  But know that there are a million other ways, big and small, that you make me want to be a better daughter, wife, mother (soon), and woman.

You are The Real McCoy, my love.

Thank you, in short, for being you.



P.S.  You are also a total and complete smoke show.  So thank you for that, too.


In honor of Mr. Magpie, I’m sharing 10 items that he truly loves.  Some of them might make for good gifts for your men–and some are just as well-suited for us ladies.

As mentioned above, Mr. Magpie is an incredibly talented cook, and he spends a lot of time reading cookbooks (and has quite the library to show for it).  Before taking on a new project (like curing his own bacon, or cultivating his own yeast for his own bread, or cooking a huge pan of paella over the grill) he’ll typically consult with 5-10 different recipes.  One of our latest favorite cookbooks has been The Southerner’s Cookbook by Garden + Gun.  The recipes are incredible!  We’ve made everything from their chicken-fried short ribs (ZOMG) to their moonpies with great results.

the fashion magpie southerners cookbook

When I think about Mr. Magpie in his element, I imagine him standing over his beloved Weber kettle grill ($99), beer in hand, music blasting, bare feet, his dog at his side.  He’s a grilling enthusiast and will argue with you until he is blue in the face over the merits of a charcoal grill (vs. a gas one).

the fashion magpie weber kettle grill

When we moved into our new home, he upgraded to this deluxe version, which gives him a little space for prep.  If you or your man are new to grilling with charcoal, note that you’ll need a chimney starter.  And this is his grilling bible.  He had it back in college, when he was first taking an interest in the art of grilled food, and he still refers to it now on occasion, even though its pages are stained, dog-eared, spilling out of the book’s spine.

BTW — when I think of Mr. Magpie, I also think about all of the kitchen gear he’s researched and purchased over the years.  I listed many of our favorites here and included a specific list of his grilling must-haves here (scroll down to pick no. 3), but one essential for grilling is the Thermapen ($109), so you can accurately measure the temperature of your meat!

Mr. Magpie likes a good technology set-up at home–we have all kinds of gadgets and systems in place.  A few of his favorite tech obsessions:

+The Nest home thermostat ($248) — the design is amazing, and you can control the temp of your home using an app.  It also knows when you’re home or not, so it will adjust the temperature to conserve energy for ya.

+Apple TV ($149).  We have two–one in our bedroom, one in our basement.  We use a Roku for the TV in our breakfast nook because the TV is mounted to the wall and we couldn’t find a good spot to lodge the Apple TV in there.  The Roku is easy to plug into the back of a TV, and we’ve honestly been really impressed with its capabilities, too.  (BTW, we rely on all of these systems because we recently cut the cable cord!  We’d been talking about doing it forever because we so rarely watch cable but were paying a ridiculously amount each month for access–and, Mr. Magpie has a deep-seated hatred for Comcast, and he was dying to “stick it to them.”)

+Apple AirPort Time Capsule ($299 — automatically, wirelessly backs up your computers–this has saved my ass more than once…).

+Hue lightbulb system ($69 for starter kit).  We have these in our living room area–you can set them up so that they turn on/off at specific times, and can control them with your phone.  These gave me peace of mind when we were traveling a lot (makes it look like someone’s home!), and there is something nice about having them turn on by themselves when it’s just getting dark at night.  They also have crazy colors/”mood settings” you can turn on that Mr. Magpie occasionally plays around with when we have guests over.  (Late night dance parties, wut wut.)

+We also have a Sonos audio system wired throughout our house and use it CONSTANTLY.  I cannot say enough good things about this system.  You control your music from your phone, can turn music on and off in different rooms and separately control the volume, and the quality is insane.  We listen to music all day long when we work from home, and, of course, what is entertaining without a great music list?  Sonos also makes it easy to invite guests to contribute to the playlist–they just download the app and can stream whatever music they have on their phones over the sound system (or, you can obviously use any of a trillion third party apps — Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc) to play stations and so forth.  BTW none of these products are sponsored in any way–we just seriously obsess over them!

the fashion magpie nest home thermostat


the fashion magpie apple tv

the fashion magpie apple time capsule

the fashion magpie philips hue lightbulbs


I am very spoiled: Mr. Magpie makes me pour-over coffee every single morning.  When you’re pregnant, you need to limit your caffeine intake so trust me when I say that I savor my morning cup like it’s nobody’s business.  I’ve already shared Mr. Magpie’s coffee ritual essentials (scroll down to pick #9), but thought I’d highlight today some of our favorite coffee beans, from Intelligentsia ($59 for set of 3 bags — you can also sign up for a subscription here), a Chicago-based coffee roaster and coffee shop.

the fashion magpie intelligentsia coffee

Mr. Magpie enjoys all spirits (he uses this Kevin Zraly book, $14, to guide our wine-purchasing decisions — it’s great for understanding what to pair with what), and, while I think he’s a beer guy to his core, he loves a well-made cocktail, and his go-to is an old-fashioned.  I’ve learned how to perfect this for him over time.

Mr. Magpie’s Old-Fashioned

+Place 1 sphere of ice in a glass.  I use this mold ($7 for 2) to make his.

+Add 2 shots bourbon or rye — he likes Michter’s at the moment.  I use this measuring jigger by OXO ($7).

+Add 2 tsp simple syrup (very easy to make: bring equal parts sugar and water to boil; stir until sugar dissolves; cool.  We make this in big batches and then store in a mason jar or kitchen supply squeeze bottle — $7 for 3, very handy — to have on hand).

+A few dashes Angostura bitters ($22) — Mr. Magpie likes a lot of bitters in his, so I’m heavy-handed with this.  Give these ingredients a swift stir with this cocktail stirrer ($5).

+Squeeze 1 orange peel over the glass and run around the rim of the glass before dropping it into the cocktail. (I use these cheap little guys for this peel, which are THE BEST — they are small and thus easy to control.)

+Add a Luxardo maraschino cherry ($2o/jar).

Et voila.  Mr. Magpie prefers his old-fashioned in this fish glass I got him a few months ago ($12.95).

the fashion magpie reef double old fashioned glass

He also likes to make obscure cocktails using this cocktail book, which my brother gave him, but most of those are out of my depth.

As you may have gathered from the above pics, Mr. Magpie is one stylish dude.  One staple, regardless of season?  His Persol sunglasses ($350).  I’ve mentioned these before, but they are the exact pair that Steve McQueen wore back in the day.  (I like them on girls, too.)

the fashion magpie persol sunglasses

We like to get dressed up around here, and Mr. Magpie gets a lot of compliments on his tuxedo sleepers, which we found at Stubbs + Wootton.  His was a limited edition pair with a cool crest embroidered on the toe, but these Jolly Rogers ($495) are pretty epic.  He wears his dress watch when he’s in formal wear, a vintage Montblanc watch I found for him that looks very similar to this style.  (For every day, he wears a Tag Heuer aquaracer.)

the fashion magpie stubbs wootton

I spend a lot of time thinking critically about whether or not Mr. Magpie will like the home decor pieces I bring into the house.  When I found a reproduction of Andy Warhol’s General Custer on a canvas, I knew it was right up his alley.  And every time I walk by it, I think of him.  You can see a little snap I took of it in our home below (and another little peak at our house here):

the fashion magpie home decor

the fashion magpie andy warhol canvas general custer

I managed to find a small reproduction on eBay for $16.  The whole shelfie situation above reminds me of Mr. Magpie, though–from the horse-head book ends ($41) to the vintage Audubon book set (scored on Etsy — you can get your hands on a set here for $28!) to the framed butterfly ($44 — love all of the pieces from Etsy store Bug Under Glass) to the steer horns (also scored on Etsy, find similar here for $65).

P.S.  That 18 plaque is actually a vintage enamel Parisian house number.  18 is Mr. Magpie’s lucky number — he always wore that number when he played baseball (he was an incredibly gifted first baseman).  You can score your own vintage plaque for interior design purposes here for $36.

P.P.S.  I love decorating with dried plants — you can see a little bit of dried hydrangea in the corner of the pic above. Get your own bunch here for $29.

Mr. Magpie lives in his Barbour waxed Bedale coat ($379).  I’ve been trying to convince him to invest in a true winter coat for these intense Chicago winters (I wanted to get him this one), but he’s been pretty adamant about sticking to his country boy in the city look with his Barbour.  I did finally convince him to get a proper pair of snowboots, however, so…baby steps.

the fashion magpie barbour waxed coat

Mr. Magpie is a sock guy.  He always has interesting statement socks going on, and they generate a lot of conversation.  I buy him a few pairs each Christmas, typically from Polo or J. Crew — like these reindeer ones ($22, plus 40% off!).  (I also like these lobster ones.)

the fashion magpie polo reindeer socks

There we are, Magpies.  Have the best weekend!

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4 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Magpie.

  1. My boyfriend has an insulated version of the classic waxed Barbour jacket — it’s hooded, too! — which makes it a great winter alternative to his Bedale. I’m trying to find a link for you and having trouble, but he got it at Steven Alan (I believe they have a Chicago outpost!)

    P.S. Such a touching post!

    1. Thanks, MK!! This is actually a genius suggestion since his Barbour is looking a little worse for the wear these days. Maybe I can convince him to buy a new one, but with the insulation…GREAT tip. xxx

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