Magpie Edits

The Magpie Edit: An Early September Diary on Female Friendships.

By: Jen Shoop

I have been writing intensively about female friendships the past few weeks. I think many women fret over them once they move out of shared living spaces, couple off and/or start families, find fewer pockets of time and less interest in staying up late and going out. How much time should I be dedicating to my friendships? Do other women call one another daily? How do they find the time? How many friendships can I realistically maintain on top of family life, work, and household admin? I wonder these same things. I worry there is not enough of me to share, especially since I also have four siblings and two loving parents and I never feel I give enough of myself to them, either. But I imagine these phantom female friendships, shaped by years of observing their simulacrum on television, in which friends stop by for a cup of coffee while running errands, or pick up one another’s children at carpool, or drop in to weigh in on cocktail dress options, or stand in front of the kitchen sink, phones cradled under their ears, gabbing about the latest. I do none of these things. My University of Virginia girls and I get together every few months for a dinner, and occasionally rope in our husbands and children for excursions to local breweries and pumpkin patches. My best friend and I do our best to see one another every few months despite the fact that she still lives in New York. We find ways — through work travel, via random excursions to Baltimore, and because her and her husband’s parents still live in the D.C. area. Best of all, we have a longstanding tradition of watching “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” on Thanksgiving Eve with our husbands. We did this over Zoom during the pandemic and now it has become the harbinger of the holiday season, and I am rarely happier. I have a couple of girlfriends who are excellent at picking up the phone and calling every few months for long, sprawling catch-ups that always end with “we need to do this more often.” And one who (until she moved last month!) took long, regular walks with me along the Crescent Trail.

I think geography plays a shockingly powerful role in the intensity of a friendship, and I continue to choose to ignore this observation and persist in the fantasy that one day, I will be seeing all of my girls on a weekly basis, able to drop by with lattes and advise them out of wearing black again. Even the ones who live across the bridge from me in Virginia — it is, simply, hard to foster the intimacy and spontaneity that comes so naturally when you are young and living in close proximity, without the demands of children and work. Back then, a twenty minute jaunt across Chain Bridge was nothing. Hell, I used to drive out to Vienna to see Elizabeth for a few hours on a week night — a full 45 minutes each way! — as if it were no bother at all. Time spooled out in front of us, untrammeled. Now, it requires weeks of planning (“no, Jake has soccer on Tuesdays, and my husband is traveling the next week”) and logistical trades (“can you meet after 8:30? My youngest has been impossible to put down lately”) to put something on the calendar.

I have no answers, but I will say that 1) having talked to many women about female friendships, we all have the same worries, and 2) everything is a phase, meaning who knows what possibilities for rekindling lay five or ten years down the road, when children are older? There is also an element of “be who you wish to seem” (Socrates) that continues to flick through my mind every time I wonder about how well I’m nurturing my friendships. Which is to say: if it matters to you, do something about it. Pick up the phone. Start a text thread. Make plans for a college girlfriend reunion. I have been trying to do all of these things lately because I am finally out of the fog of young children. Mine are four and six now, and the sleepless nights and babies on hips have drifted into my rear view. I find myself with more time and energy to spare (so, mothers to young babies, take note!). My husband and I observed, with no small wonder, that I will be attending two girls’ trips this year, and he one guys’ fishing excursion–these, after a five-year hiatus from all solo travel for leisure.

There is another dimension to these musings: I am haunted, in a way, by the loss of several female friendships in my life — losses that were more dramatic than your run-of-the-mill “we drifted apart” situation. I have tried to write my way through all of them, and they still nettle and sting, despite my best efforts. I lost one to cancer, another to an abrupt caesura I still cannot understand, another because I could not bear the weight of it. I miss all of those women, one of whom was so wickedly, glamorously fun to be around, I described her in my writing this week as “the kind of girl who has every last little light in the city glow for her.”

I find myself wondering: do all women carry these scars? Or am I problematic common denominator? I don’t necessarily want to know the answer to that. But I pluck at these threads knowing there is likely no through-line. Just — how can I do this better tomorrow? How can I show up in ways the matter?

Between these meanderings, some pretty snapshots —

I’ve typically been saving my outfit photos for my Friday WILW posts, but two moments I wanted to share here:

1 // Jacey Duprie’s brand, Wyeth, sent me the most perfect fall coat earlier this week, and I noticed some sizes have already sold out. I love a field jacket (have two Barbours!) and this one is perfection because it plays with masculine/feminine tension in all the right ways — a corduroy collar, quilted pockets, and a fit that is both slightly boxy and slightly tailored. It’s a dream. I took my true size (xs) in this. I know I’ll be throwing it on over everything this fall. I didn’t photograph the jeans and tee very well, but wanted to mention that if you like the Leset ribbed tee I’ve been wearing with EVERYTHING (runs small; the XS is super super snug on me), this Madewell tee is a great look for less. It’s also ribbed and slim-fit (very 90s-Jen-Aniston), but not as compressive and a bit more generously cut. I took an XXS in this. I’m also wearing Madewell’s new 90s straight jean — it is a chic and flattering fit! I would liken it to Citizens’ Charlotte jeans, but maybe a bit less tapered at the ankle (you can see me in those here). I’ll try to get a better photo of the fit of this later this week.

2 // I broke up my Zimmermann set for my second back to school night this week and paired just the skirt with the aforementioned Leset tee, Pam Munson tote (exact style sold out, similar here), and Hermes Orans.

zimmermann paisley skirt
zimmermann paisley skirt

3 // This was what I wore when it was beastly hot outside this week and I had my first back to school night but wanted to be comfortable. It’s from my girlfriend Mackenzie’s collab with Navy Bleu. (Mackenzie is another gal I try to see every time I’m in NYC / we occasionally exchange texts and emails, but it just never feels like enough!) Anyhow, it’s the kind of dress that looks like polished but wears like a nightgown / my husband’s shirt.

Below: my current daily stack: Dorsey’s Clemence (restocked! — I have the 16″ and think it’s the absolute best buy) and engraved mini heart necklace. I’ve been wearing these around the clock together.

While in Maine, I surreptitiously snapped this photo of the Mainer footwear situation at an absurdly good bakery in Bethel, Gemini Cafe. (Above: my dream breakfast, which consists of an oat milk latte and ham and gruyere croissant.) If you’re ever out that way, you must stop in — we visited twice in less than 36 hours. The Birks/kicks situation has probably been the Maine vibe for decades but it is so deeply trendy right now everywhere. The Patagonia socks with the Vans was so unexpected and chic.

A couple of recent beauty discoveries:

WOW — my Internet friend Mary was not wrong when she pointed me in the direction of Roz shampoo and conditioner. (You can also buy the set at a discount — PLUS get an extra 15% off with code MAGPIE15. It is EXCELLENT. The best lather (!) and a really elegant, Oribe-like scent. It’s super similar to some of Oribe’s formulas and does not weigh hair down (my primary concern since I have very fine hair). I am deeply enjoying it. (More of my shower favorites here and here.)

Jo Malone sent me the cutest sampler set of two of their pear-based perfumes this week and I’ve fallen hard for the pear & freesia. You can try a small sample size here if you’d like so you don’t need to commit to the entire bottle. My girlfriend Alison Kenworthy (of Homeworthy fame!) wears this perfume daily — I didn’t know this until she mentioned it to me over the phone this week. (She’s one of those good-at-calling-and-having-a-long-sprawling-catch-up friends.) The Malone is more intensely scented than my go-to Mojave Ghost (Byredo), but it’s been a fun switch-up. (I usually feel like I need to re-apply/re-spritz Mojave Desert several times a day, but the Malone lasts alllll day.)

On my mind from a shopping standpoint:

+These are in my cart in all the colors. Which to start with?

+Halloween is not far off — have some fun finds from Minds Eye in my cart, including this ghost tassel to hang on our mantel for the kids. They LOVE these kinds of decorations. Both of my children want to be Mario for Halloween (?!) so I need to square that away, too.

+Bigger purchases on my horizon: these Emme Parsons loafers and this APC bag. I know I will get so much use out of both…

+I want so many of the fitness items from this roundup, but think I will start by ordering the Brooks thermal running hoodie, Athleta leggings (so many Magpie upvotes) and a few items from Vuori (this henley and this sherpa jacket are in my cart).

+Trying to choose whether I want this in walnut or ivory. Looks like the absolute perfect winter wardrobe workhorse. Love the neckline.

+Did you know I update my Shop section weekly? So many amazing finds here.

+I also had so much fun curating a few “shelves” over at ShopMy — including exactly what’s in my closet for fall, current beauty favorites, my current wishlist, and more.

Have a great week!

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14 thoughts on “The Magpie Edit: An Early September Diary on Female Friendships.

  1. The relief this post brought me! I have had a couple friendships end without much of an explanation and your post made me feel better. It feels so hurtful to have a friend cut things off without any explanation but knowing it happens to others makes me feel less alone. Thank you ❤️

  2. I needed this post! For some reason I’m that person who always thinks that everyone, including you!, has friends over at all times of day, doing those casual hangs at the kitchen island as you said. The rational part of my brain knows that’s simply not true for 90% of people! But that doesn’t stop me from feeling like something is wrong with me that I don’t have a dozen friends dropping in and out of my home. I think especially having grown up in DC and living here now I feel like I should have so many friends like this, but my wonderful high school friends who I still deeply cherish and maintain very close friendships with just simply don’t live here and some don’t even live in the country right now. I’m not sure why I take this as some statement about my ability to have friends?! Crazy how your brain can make you believe things.

    One thing I did this summer was book a trip to Chicago to see two of my best friends from college. Even though the idea of travel and the cost of the trip and the logistics of it all made me feel stressed, I was reminded by the 5 days we spent together how much time with your closest friends can really replenish you and make you feel like yourself again. I needed that trip and am determined to continue seeing friends in person more consistently, even if that can only be a once a year trip. Geography really does throw a wrench into things, but seeing friends again and hugging them is truly one of the greatest feelings in the world.

    1. Hi Sofia – You are not alone in these thoughts!!! I received a lot of dms/messages like this — nothing is wrong with you, or your friendships. It is, I think, a function of life stage and geography. But I agree with and admire your determination to find ways around those hurdles.


  3. I’m going to try to do better, too! Friendships definitively require intentionality at this stage of life. I’d like to focus on cultivating friendships with other parents at my daughters’ school. Since we started preschool there in 2020, I feel like the social aspect was initially discouraged and had been slow to recover. On the positive side, I feel a stronger connection to one of my college roommates since we started a weekly phone call a few years ago. We only see each other a few times a year, I am a SAHM and she works full time, has a small farm and no kids, but we’re still close. I also make a point to see a girlfriend I’ve known since 7th grade about once a month. I know some people cringe at the idea of scheduling things like friendships, but it works for me! I’d rather be businesslike about it than let too much time go by. Now…onward to schedule schedule regular hangs with a few more people!

    1. Love this, and the reminder that you have to lean into the habits/mnemonics that work for YOU and your lifestyle. Thanks for sharing this. Love the idea of scheduling check-ins!


  4. I’ve thought so much about friendships throughout the pandemic and into new parenthood. I realized that I’m a great long-distance friend and collected many throughout my 20s, but seriously lacked local friends. That’s what I’ve been trying to focus on recently. Mia Songbird’s incredible book “How We Show Up” shed some new light on building community and just being there for people. And this summer I’ve seen some incredible friendships and community emerge just by showing up for people. It’s not usually anything big, but little things like dropping off cookies randomly for a neighbor or knocking on a friend’s door when I happen to be in the neighborhood to say hi have deepened some friendships in really wonderful ways.

    Like anyone these days with a family, the labor of logistics is a slog and often prevented me from having more of the kind of friendships that I wanted in my life. Mia’s book really invited me to consider dropping the formality of logistics. It’s been kind of life changing!

    1. I love this so much! Thanks for the intel and book rec. I love the idea of shrugging aside logistics and just popping by. Thank you so much for sharing! Inspired!


    1. Hi! You will love. I would say Roz is more similar to Oribe products than Davines — very lightweight, lather-y, expensive-smelling products. I really can only comment on the Davines conditioner (I love love their Oi conditioner), and Roz’s is much lighter-weight / easier to work through hair / less like a thick cream than the Davines formula. I still love the Davines, of course, but am generally finding Roz lighterweight in all regards, which is great for my fine hair. Better for everyday care!


  5. Ive been really leaning into the olive and brown colors too. So as an FYI: I purchased these camo shoes to wear with all my olives and am especially looking forward to enjoying them with jeans and a black sweater!

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