Magpie Mail: Bedding Queries, Gifts for Husbands, + Toys for Two-Year-Olds.

By: Jen Shoop

Q: Your bed looks so fluffy on Instagram. What duvet insert do you use?

A: Thank you! Sadly, ours is an oldie from Woolrich that they’ve since discontinued. However, I’ve heard really good things about L.L. Bean’s Baffle-Box Stitch Down Comforter and Snowe’s variation, too. I also recently read about this down comforter from Feathered Friends, which has something of a cult following (and a high price tag to match).

One other note — I know I sound like a broken record, but crisp sheets make any bed more inviting. If you’re not an insane person like me and don’t feel like ironing your sheets, I can’t recommend The Laundress’ Crease Release enough as a passable alternative. (I’ve actually heard people say this Mojito-scented wrinkle releaser from Cold Iron is even better at removing wrinkles, but I’m too invested in The Laundress scent!) I regularly spritz down our pillows and sheets with it, smooth them over, and immediately want to get back in bed. Oh — and also — when you are buying pillows, make sure to buy inserts that are 2″ bigger than the pillow sham’s measurements. So if you buy a pillowcase that is, say, 14 x 14, buy a pillow insert that is 16 x 16. I know it sounds weird and you’ll be worried it won’t fit, but I promise it will and it will give your bed/couch that plush, full look you’re looking for. I bought these 28 x 28 Euro sham inserts for our Hill House Home euro shams and panicked when they arrived — they are ENORMOUS and overstuffed. But they absolutely make the bd.

Q: Are Hill House Home sheets soft? I’ve always bought on sale Frette but my latest set’s white is fading and I need something that feels good without the high price, i.e., I’m-married-now-and-raising-kids-so-have-more-to-consider-than-myself!

A: Oooh, Frette and Yves Delorme are #bedgoals for me. I would say that our HHH sheets (we have the Chancery Lane set) are more crisp and cool than “soft,” but that was intentional on my end. I wanted a bed that had a kind of polished, tidy look to it — I even use starch on my pillows! Ha. The quality of HHH sheets is clearly very high and they feel like buttah, kind of silky — but I think if you want something with a lot of plushness and give to it, you might want to either check out a different set from HHH (I believe they use different fabrics for different collections; Chancery Lane is a percale) or go into a proper bedding shop to feel the difference between vendors. I do think HHH bedding is better and softer than the other two brands I used prior: Restoration Hardware and Matouk.

Q: I love that leopard dress you featured by Mango. What does Mango sizing run like?

A: UPDATE: A reader wrote in after the initial publication of this post to let us know that this dress does in fact run large and to size down. I have found Mango runs true to size! Let me also take this occasion to share this STUNNING classic shirtdress from Mango. It gives me all the Hitchcock Heroine vibes and I want it SO BADLY.

Q: Hi! I got married in September and am trying to think of a good birthday gift for my new husband. He’s turning 31 so in his mind it’s not a big birthday, but I want to get him something special. Any ideas? I’d like to keep it under $500.

A: So sweet! I included some of Mr. Magpie’s favorite belongings here — maybe that will spark some ideas. Otherwise, a few thoughts:

  1. If he’s a tech guy, the latest edition of Apple TV, an Apple HomePod, an iPad mini, or AirPods would all be excellent gifts. I’ve given Mr. Magpie all of these items at one time or another and he’s always like a kid on Christmas, tearing into the box, eager to get his new gadget set up. The same goes for anything (!) from Nest or Philips Hue — Mr. Magpie is a huge smart home guy, and everything syncs through our HomePod. (He recently talked about wanting these as additional lighting under our cabinets in our kitchen.) It’s amazing.
  2. A really nice bottle of scotch or Bourbon that he would never buy for himself, plus appropriate glassware/bar accessories. Mr. Magpie was promoted at work recently and we bought him a bottle of Bowmore Scotch that he has been obsessing over. (It was especially appropriate since he visited Islay in Scotland not too long ago with his buddies — which is where Bowmore is produced.) I recently bought Mr. Magpie this proper cocktail pitcher and he treated himself to some new whiskey snifters so that he could fully appreciate the nicer bottles he buys for himself; he loves having all the right accoutrements. And don’t forget the fancy ice molds! Mr. Magpie uses these when he makes old fashioneds at home (and these fancy cocktail cherries).
  3. Does he need a new briefcase? I bought Mr. Magpie a Filson a few years ago. I think it’s the perfect man bag because it’s rustic and masculine thanks to the canvas but also refined enough for the office. Mr. Magpie carries his every day. I also considered getting him one of these epic J.W. Hulme briefcases, which you can have monogrammed, but they are pricier!
  4. Finally — does he wear a watch? Shinola is a super cool Detroit-based watch startup and I love their green-faced Runwell in particular. Sporty but polished.

Q: We have a black tie wedding to attend over Memorial Day weekend (at The Pierre), and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on dresses. I’m a mom to a 1 1/2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old (I’m still seemingly adjusting to life with 2, but it’s wonderful, so hang in there!), so nothing too revealing of course. I have a slim build, in case that helps. 

A. Um, what a gorgeous setting for a wedding! A true Manhattanite dream. If you’re after a black dress, check out some of the picks in the first answer in this Q+A roundup. BUT — black tie doesn’t mean you have to wear black. My first thoughts for black tie attire are always Zimmermann’s draped satin beauties (I own three or four variations on this and they’re always just STUNNING — I love this one in the nude), Self-Portrait (dying over this Grace Kelly blue stunner), Needle & Thread for an ethereal goddess vibe (love this and this), and Alice McCall for when you want to turn up the heat (how epic is this?!) A few more moderately priced picks I love: this Reformation (the back is TO DIE), this Shona Joy (which gives me major Zimmermann vibes), and this heavily-discounted Ulla Johnson beauty.

Q: Help! What to wear when meeting parents of a guy I’ve been dating? They are the country club set and I want to look classy but not spend over $100 on a dress.

A: Ooh, this is right up my alley. I love this striped dress with leather slides or pointed-toe flats, this classic wrap with a statement earring (maybe a flower?), and this striped midi. Also — the aforementioned Mango stunner would be pitch-perfect.

Q: What’s a good gift for a two-year-old?

A: Having just celebrated mini’s birthday earlier this month, I feel I can speak with authority on this one. Mini’s favorite toys right now are this Janod doctor kit (SO cute — she even brought it to her two-year check up and has been using the word “tongue depressor” around the house), this Little People dollhouse, this $5 miracle, and allll the books. Mini’s latest favorite thing is to “read in bed” (her crib), shouting every few minutes “MORE BOOKS!” I love it. Some of her favorite books right now are all of these by Mo Willems (a good box gift set!), Madeline, Knuffle Bunny (also by Mo Willems), Arlo Needs Glasses (super cute interactions — you can literally try glasses on a pop-up dog on one page), and a bunch of the Little People, Big Dreams books, like this one on Marie Curie. I personally adore the Little People series because they feature strong women doing interesting things across a range of industries and the images are — how do I say this? — sophisticated? Like, I have had the occasion to introduce her to the words “abacus,” “beaker,” “syringe,” and “corset” while reading a few of her favorites. Love these from a vocabulary acquisition standpoint.

Finally, her Maileg mice and bunnies! She’s amassed a collection over time and she adores them. Like, look at this grandma and grandpa mouse set?! Do you die?! She especially loves her dance studio set.

P.S. More Magpie Q+As here and here.

P.P.S. Currently eyeing this maternity dress (with some warmer days recently, I am dying for some new, lighter-weight clothes), this space-dye sweater, and this stunning floral midi.

P.P.P.S. A twisty-turny thriller on my list, tea service, and some musings on patience + new beauty discoveries.

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4 thoughts on “Magpie Mail: Bedding Queries, Gifts for Husbands, + Toys for Two-Year-Olds.

  1. My mind is blown about buying pillow inserts larger than the pillow. I’m now wandering around my home looking at all of the undersized and sad looking pillows. Adding to cart ASAP!

  2. I just received that Mango leopard dress! It runs HUGE and I am sadly going to return it. I’m 5’9″ and usually a size 4. The size small overwhelms my frame. In general, I find their dresses run generously but tops/jackets run TTS.

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