Fashion Trends

Magpie Mail: What to Wear to the Theatre, Summer Dresses for Girls, and Evening Makeup.

By: Jen Shoop

Q: I have a fashion question for you–this summer I am going to Chicago to attend a Friday evening Broadway show.  Of course, I’m from a rural area and this is slightly out of my realm of expertise–what should I wear?  It’ll be June, so not the absolute hottest month, but of course…Chicago in the summer!

A: A show in Chicago!  So fun!  Sadly (in my opinion), you will see folks wearing any manner of clothing at the theatre nowadays, including jeans and a t-shirt.  Even at the Metropolitan Opera, we were shocked to see folks dressed way, way down — while others were wearing black tie (swoon)!  Such a confusing time.  Personally, I’d aim for a feminine summer dress that makes me feel pretty and special.  That’s the vibe I went for when my father in law took me to the theatre last summer! 

I loveeee everything Loveshackfancy has put out recently, and so my mind immediately went to this gorgeous floral number, which you could pair with of-the-moment mule slides like theseor dress down a bit more with simple flat leather sandals.  (You can get the look for less with this dress.)
If that’s wayyyy too frou-frou for your taste, a pretty white eyelet dress has never steered me wrong (and is one of the easiest styles to dress up or down: the eyelet makes it appropriate for day with sandals but easy to gussy up with fun heels in the evening).  

I also love this similar style in the pink and white stripe.  Again, something easy to convert into day-time wear with a pair of simple leather sandals — but throw on a pair of statement earringsand some heels, and you’re ready for downtown Chicago 🙂

If all of these are too girly for your taste, I love this slinky Rixo or this structured LBD.

Q: Looking for some special dresses for the girls for beach pictures next month. I’ve checked all my usual spots and can’t find anything I love. Any recs for places to check?

A: This was a fun challenge and actually dovetailed nicely with some of my reveries about a dreamy summer family portrait. I could look for childrens’ clothing all the live long day. I tend towards the traditional/formal, so my mind immediately went to one of the heirloom-worthy dresses from Pepa & Co, like this or this — or this slightly less expensive style from new-to-me brand Question Everything (I love a smocked floral…). But, I’m sharing a couple of different dresses at different levels of playfulness/casualness/formality:

+Sal E Pimenta.  I just ordered this for mini, which feels like the sweetest summer dress I ever did see. (Cecil & Lou has a somewhat similar style for less here.)

+Proper Peony. I love the petal collar style in particular. Cecil & Lou has a similar style, and Luli & Me also does a similar neckline, and I love everything they do — the quality is insane for the price, in my opinion. (Not that Luli & Me is cheap! But, for an outfit around $60, you get quality that feels well north of what retails elsewhere for $100.)

+Bella Bliss.  I always end up buying a ton of stuff from here every season.  The prices are reasonable and clothing holds up well — and feels a little less fussy / more day-to-day appropriate.  Something like this or this?

+Beaufort Bonnet Company.  I feel like some people are allergic to this brand…but something like this?

+For more of an ethereal moment — I love these linen ruffled rompers and pinafores. I like that they can read either boho or super traditional, depending on accessories/styling.

+Spendy, but I am obsessed with everything La Coqueta does.  Love this or this.

+Crimson Carousel for lovely smocking.

Q: Would love to hear about your beauty/makeup routine for a big night out or weddings. I have a few weddings coming up this summer and need inspiration for a stepped up, glam look!

A: For me, it’s all about dialing up either the lip or the eye, and I tend to prefer the latter. My favorite products are:

1) This Laura Mercier eye palette. I love the colors and find that the smoky browns and purples are really great for evening (without being full-on BLACK or GRAY, which I find very intense and scary to apply). I apply a softer/lighter shade all over the lid and then use the darker color in my crease, especially towards the outer corner. Then I use a super light color in the innermost corner of the eye. I love this particular LM palette because you can use the lighter shades for daytime by themselves (I use them nearly daily).

2) These Bobbi Brown gel eyeshadows, especially the ones with a little shimmer to them. I have one in a bronze/brown color and another in a purple quartz color. I like these because you can build drama by applying more gradually and they’re basically fool-proof (I just use my finger to apply!)

3) Stila Liquid eyeliner. I loveeee this for a more dramatic evening eye. Very easy to apply in a thin line, and you can go back over to add thickness/drama. It really stays put and is the easiest liner I’ve ever used.

4) It Cosmetics Superhero mascara. I use this every day because I love a dramatic lash line no matter the situation, but if you’re a little more averse to that kind of intensity for the everyday, this is the perfect pick for evening. Super inky and dramatic. Love love love. This is my current favorite mascara.

I always apply highlighter for evening, and especially like Nars’ Copacabana. I apply a tiny bit under my brows, on the tip of my nose, on my cupid’s bow, and of course on my cheekbones. I also apply on my collarbone! It’s super glam.

If I go for a bold lip, I keep the eyes a little more neutral (maybe a sand/gold/cream color) and go for a red or hot pink lip. I like Mac Cosmetics’ red colors and for pink, either YSL or Stila All-Day lipstick. The latter really stays put and is easy to apply in my opinion. For any of these bold lip looks, I’d strongly recommend exfoliating your lips first with a lip scrub and then applying a ton of balm; my favorite is Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream. This will ensure that you don’t end up with yucky cakey dry lips…

Q: What dresses would you pick from Rent the Runway for a late June black-tie wedding in a city? I LOVE your style and have loved all your wedding picks you’ve suggested to readers so I know I can’t go wrong with a Magpie-approved choice. I lean towards renting for black-tie events since I’m not invited to many and embarrassingly, due to Instagram/social media, don’t love rewearing statement dresses (as much as I hate to admit that).

A: I loved this challenge because a black-tie evening wedding in New York means you can literally wear the dress of your wildest dreams — not too many occasions where you can truly pull out all the stops. My favorite finds at RTR:

+This tiered red number. Cha cha cha! I’d wear with a bold red lip and a coordinated red earrings like this or this and then finish with a nude sandal.

+This hi-lo pink dress. I’m not normally huge into hi-lo hemlines these days, but this gives me all the Jackie O. vibes. I’d pair with pearl accessories like these drops (swoon), these cluster earrings, these Oscars, and/or this clutch. Loving these heels with it. TO DIE.

+This midnight lace gown. I’d do this with a smoky eye and these navy bow earrings or these floral white hoops.

+This is probably the safest bet of the bunch — the cut, the style, the color feel accessible yet party-ready. I would wear this with my favorite “mohawk” earrings and an updo.

Note: these heavily discounted earrings in gold or white would go with pretty much any of the above styles!

Q: Any ideas for cool/interesting but affordable tops to wear out at night? I am always trying to keep up with my stylish friends but can’t afford the high end labels.

A: Yes! I love this puff-sleeved white tee ($40), especially tucked into high-waist denim; this red floral/bandana print peplum top ($30); this floral OTS ($49); this ruffled cotton blouse (looks like a Doen, costs less than $40); this ruched top ($65); and this lace-trimmed top ($98, but currently 40% off).

Also: never forget the power of a well-placed, on-trend accessory, which can often cost far less than a new blouse. Pair your favorite white tee with a statement headband (<<love this floral, and only $22!) or a fun pair of earrings and be on your way.

P.S. No one asked this go around, but one of the most common emails I receive is: what shoe should I wear to my wedding? I shared some of my favorite picks in this Q+A (third question down), but OMG HOW AMAZING ARE THESE IN THE WHITE FOR A HIGH-FASHION MOMENT. I also think my new Newbark slides would be a great pick (available on sale in select sizes here and gently used for under $100 here).

P.P.S. Ralph is running its friends-and-family sale now through the 21st with (big bonus) free, fast shipping. For some reason I always balk at the $8+ shipping rates. I am using the occasion to stock up on basics for micro: a couple of these cable-knit sweaters, one of these terry sweatshirts, and a few of these long-sleeved tees. Also, this sweet pullover for mini and one of these gift sets for a friend who just had a baby.

P.P.P.S. You are enough.

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4 thoughts on “Magpie Mail: What to Wear to the Theatre, Summer Dresses for Girls, and Evening Makeup.

  1. Hi Jenn,

    For an upcoming Magpie Mail, I was wondering if you could talk a little about how you find good/better quality pieces at H&M? I haven’t shopped there in a few years, but seeing you link to items from there from time to time has inspired me to dip my toes in to update some tanks/sleeveless shirts for summer.

    1. Hi Annie! Great question. Truthfully, the quality is hit or miss. I find that the pieces from the “conscious” collection tend to be a bit better made, so I might start there if I were there. As for the rest — it’s trial and error and I return the pieces that just don’t look up to snuff. I wonder if other Magpies have other rules of thumb / notes on this?


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