Musings + Essays

Jen’s Weekend Drafts: What Travel Teaches Us, the Gingham Trend, + Ampersand Thinking.

By: Jen Shoop

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A few things I loved this week:

+Travel as a concept: “Paris is for teaching you to appreciate and invest in nice things, New York is for reminding you to make them your own.” I loved this insight from fashion writer Laura Reilly in her newsletter Magasin. I have not spent enough time in Paris to fully appreciate it, but I can see how it would be true, and more generally found myself nodding at the subtext: the way place shapes and re-shapes my sense of self. Every time I travel, I see myself from the outside in. I kind of like Reilly’s formula and have been wondering how I’d fill in the blank: “Charlottesville is for teaching you ____, Bethesda is for reminding you ____.” (More on that recent trip here.)

+Gingham: Gingham has been on my mind this week because of this post from High Sport. (You might remember the label that launched a thousand kick flare copies.) If their spendy separates aren’t in budget, a few gingham finds I’m loving: this La Ligne dress (heavily discounted); this Barbour coat; this J. Crew swimsuit; this boucle jacket, which I would “rough up” with distressed denim.

+Spousal acts of service: The adorable Katie from Beach Reads and Bubbly has been sharing little snapshots of a small act of service from her husband: what he calls “TDS,” or “Turn Down Service.” Every night, he lays out a book and sleep mask for her, and folds down the sheets! Have you heard of anything sweeter? It reminded me of the way Mr. Magpie will fill my coffee mug with boiling water if I’m out for a run or in the shower when he’s making coffee. I always come down to a pre-warmed mug that I can fill with hot coffee when I’m ready. What little acts of service do your loved ones extend your way?

+Family photos: My photographer friend Claire referenced little old me in a blog post on what to wear for family portraits. Lots of great tips from photographers and stylists alike. You will not be surprised that my top rec, after the general rule of a dress with some sort of sleeve (less to fuss with, and worry about), was something from Doen.

+Spring fitness wear: I placed a large Nike order this week (in transparency, I am working on a project with them – so excited) and can’t wait for them to arrive. It included, among a few other items, these socks (I love their socks so much — I am almost always wearing them under boots / with sneakers even when I’m dressier because they’re so plush); this jacket (selling fast) in the ice blue; this sports bra (also in the ice blue); and these leggings in a few colors.

+Good socks: Speaking of socks, are Bombas worth the hype? I’ve also heard good things about these Stems ones. The colors, of course, are calling my name. I’m still digging my Target sock haul, but their quality is decidedly inferior to Nike.

+Idea of You: I’m sure you saw this, but Prime released the official preview for “The Idea of You” of you this week. I think a lot of us are uncertain about the casting, but it looks better than I expected…? Please share your thoughts/questions/concerns/re-castings in the comments. (And if you are wondering what I’m talking about, The Idea of You is a steamy modern romance that could also be qualified as Harry Styles fan fiction.)

+Spacey Kacey: Whoever is handling Kacey Musgraves’ PR in advance of her new album release deserves a raise. She’s been everywhere. I loved her curated Etsy board. The venue, the picks are all so perfectly-strummed. I love the little handmade mugs and this pretty handmaiden-chic dress.

+Everyday jewelry: It has meant so much to me to carry Tilly around on my ring finger the past week or two. I am feeling less raw: better able to smile when I think of her and talk about her without a wobble in my voice. Her talisman reassures me that she will not be forgotten. I wrote a little musing on talismans, and how they can ground us in moments of challenge, here. And on a much lighter note, these are the best trays for organizing jewelry. So easy to find everything — and keep it all untangled. One last note on everyday jewelry: I have gone back to wearing these Aureum earrings close to daily. I love the tiny bit of vintage-inspired polish they afford a t-shirt and jeans, a simple denim dress, etc.

+Everyday shoes: I’m newly obsessed with the brand Freda Salvador. I know many of you have worn and sworn by their waterproof boots in seasons past, but can we talk about their Bottega-esque woven ballet flats and chic fisherman sandals?!

+Ampersand thinking: My friend Alex wrote a beautiful little piece on “locating the shapes of joy” when feeling overwhelmed or stretched thin. She also spins a gorgeous portrait of the multiplicity of motherhood — how we are constantly feeling several, often contradictory, things at once. As she puts it: “Everything is two things emerges as the theme here; I’m aggressively, excessively, obsessively in love with my kids, and I am depleted by waking up in the night and playing referee in the endless bickering,” and then goes on to share other “ampersand thinking” moments. Everything is two (or more) things indeed. (And it’s OK if nothing resolves to a fine point: “I think a part of the wisdom earned by age is accepting that not everything resolves to a fine point. We may never get the the resolution, the explanation, the apology (or forgiveness, as the case may be). We may not find the caesura.” And that’s OK.)

+Snags this week: Towel scrunchies; my first pair of La Ligne jeans; Osea body scrub and body butter (10% off with code MAGPIE10); a new mascara from a new beauty brand that I’m VERY impressed with. I would put it up there with our team favorite $20 mascara — similar in result. Also received my new Alice Walk sweatshirt and paired with their striped tee beneath. They do the best colors, and of course the quality is unmatched. Truth be told, I could wear this and comfortable jeans every single day in my writing studio.

What You Loved This Week.

+Travel gurus: Can we pause for a moment and marvel at the treasure trove of travel philosophies and tips you shared in response to these prompts on planning a great vacation? Wow! Mr. Magpie and I were bowled over. He asked me whether I’d found any meaningful patterns across commenters. Several themes echoed (“splurge on the direct flight!” and “7-10 days is the ideal vacation length”), but the real tie that bound? Good travelers are non-dogmatic. That is, they change their perspectives on where to stay, what to do, how much to do, how long to visit, what to splurge on, depending on context. There were many comments that ran along the lines of: “Well, it depends. If I’m flying internationally…” or “If I’m with children…” or “If we’ll be spending most of our time ‘on campus’…” TL;DR: be flexible, and think carefully about your trip’s objectives and constraints.

+Magpie love: First time commenter Brittany posted a rich and compelling review of “Killers of the Flower Moon” on my Oscar Bets post, and shared its personal meaning to her as a Native American woman living in Oklahoma today. Strongly recommend you read her thoughts – I’m going to tune in!

She preceded it with: “Came back to this post to read the comments after you referenced it in the weekend drafts! As a side note, I am in constant awe by the comments section…this community, it fills my cup in ways I didn’t know I needed.”

I feel so much the same way. You all have been blowing me away me with your comments. (!)

+Must-have kitchen upgrade: From reader Ann: “Treat yourself to one of the House of Noa mats! We have had ours for over 3 years and it has been a game changer. A bit faded after multiple years but still so comfortable and withstood very heavy use in our previous dishwasher-free house (where it vastly improved the miserable exercise of handwashing dishes). We are considering purchasing a second at this point because our dog has totally abandoned her bed in favor of sleeping on this kitchen mat – and I don’t blame her at all! Truly a 10/10, leveling up the everyday sort of product.” Sold.

+Shopping: Top sellers were the Paris Jacket and this J. Crew tote! All bestsellers below.

01. DRAGON DIFFUSION BAG — Have been seeing this designer all over the place. You can get the look for less with this Madewell!

02. ALEX MILL PARIS JACKET — You loved this one as much as I do! Perfect transition to spring piece in a perfect color.

03. SCALLOPED MAGNETIC FRAME — What I use for my Tilly girl’s desktop portrait.

04. J. CREW STRIPED DRESS — The shape, the color, the stripe are perfection.

05. BEYOU CAFFEINE EYE CREAM — A fabulous $18 beauty buy. Obsessed.

06. SOLDOUT.NYC EVERYTHING SHIRT — A spectacular, high-quality staple. You can size down. The material is divine! This is selling wildly all over the Internet!

07. THE LA LIGNE MER JEAN — I mean, she really sells it herself.

08. J. CREW BASKET BAG — A logoless classic with a high end designer shape.

09. MILLE CHARLIE TOP — I own this in several colors/patterns. Easy way to zhush up jeans on a Friday night.

10. THE ALICE WALK HALF-ZIP — Still on sale in a gorgeous lilac color.

11. JOE’S JEANS UTILITY PANTS — My favorite olive green trousers! Dress up with a blazer or blouse; dress down with a tee and sneaks.

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16 thoughts on “Jen’s Weekend Drafts: What Travel Teaches Us, the Gingham Trend, + Ampersand Thinking.

  1. I have a few pairs of Bombas but don’t really love them. They’re too thick in my opinion. Prefer Feetures ultra light or Smartwool for running though the seasons.

  2. Agree that Bombas aren’t worth it but I do like my Bombas compression socks for travel. That’s very light use! As an alternative are Quince, which are the same look/feel for less.

  3. I may be an outlier, but I LOVE my Bombas socks — which I’ve had for at least 4 years now (I have the ankle socks). Granted I only wear them in fall/winter, but they have held up well for me through regular use in those seasons and washing/drying.

  4. As a new runner who lives in Florida and winds up running in the rain frequently I am obsessed OBSESSED with Smartwool socks. Worth every penny. And they wear like iron.

    1. I’m also a big Smartwool fan – thanks for the reminder that they have other weights besides their winter/snow/boot options! xx

  5. I like the feel and fit of Bombas (they are compressive but not in a bad way for me) but they do not hold up for very long. All of mine develop holes in the heel. The one exception has been their no-show pair, which is much higher quality than other no-show socks I have tried.

  6. Bombas are 100% worth it….for kids!! My
    Kids wear them and they wear so well, seamless so no complaints about how they fit on their toes. And they will replace them for free if anything goes wrong with them. Snags, holes, too small etc. my 2 yo is wearing the ones my 5 year old wore and they still look great!!

  7. My MIL has gifted different styles of Bombas socks in Christmas stockings the last few years and not a single pair is left in my sock drawer. I find they run soooo tight! Compressive! No show, crew – no matter the style I’ve had this problem. I don’t have wide or big feet and my calves are on the smaller side of average. Stick with Nike! I love a good cushioned running sock.

    I have been eyeing a House of Noa mat. Glad to hear a glowing review! I think it will be a little housewarming gift to myself when we move this summer.

  8. Bombas: not worth it. I used to swear by them but mine all developed holes after less than 2 years of light wear. Their baby socks are good! Lasted 2 non-walking babies. But not worth the price difference.

    1. Wow! This has been corroborated by a few Magpies now! Will avoid for myself but contemplating for the kids!


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