Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes: Dad Sandals + Balance, Encore.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: Gucci Dad Sandals.

I treated myself to these fabulous, trendy sandals and am surprised by how much I enjoy them. Just a fun exclamation point! Sometimes it feels good to step outside my fashion comfort zone to try something new. You can see how I styled them a few different ways below…

Left: Naghedi tote, Pistola jeans (TTS), Staud Hampton sweater. Right: Naghedi tote, Anthropologie Somerset dress, Bernadette cardigan.

Before I ordered these babies, I played around with styling a $50 pair of dad sandals I found on Amazon (seen below) and realized I had the chops/confidence to make this trendy style work in my wardrobe. I really liked the vibe of pairing them with a long white breezy dress — the tension between ethereal dress and heavy footwear felt fun. The dress seen here is Hunter Bell from last season, but voluminous, dramatic shapes/silhouettes are sort of her calling card. Her Jenkins dress is sort of her signature; she’s released it in lots of patterns/colors over the years, and I always think Megan Stokes looks gorgeous in them. Anyhow, these are the kinds of dresses that appeal to me when styling dad sandals: dramatic, boho, floaty, and feminine to balance out the heft of the sole. A few similar options: this Ulla, this Anthro, this Staud. And! I just noticed Rent the Runway has a bunch of Hunter Bell styles, including the Jenkins, if you are iffy on the investment/staying power. Rent and wear for a few weeks!

More trendy sandals along these lines here.

This Week’s Most Popular: Spring Finds.


Weekend Musings: Flotsam.

Do you ever feel especially receptive? Your antennae up, your attention easily-grabbed? That was me this week: hungry, curious. I read widely and indiscriminately, and I’ve been a tumbleweed of thoughts since. A few of the pieces I’ve been carrying around with me:

+This gorgeous essay on motherhood and the ways our children offer us grace by Molly Flintwood. The essay is worth a thoughtful read, but the part that has been sitting with me:

“Months later, our sweet boy who cried so many tears about pain and pinches during that hospital stay tells us he wants to go back. “They had the best food there,” he says. “And I got to spend a lot of time with you.” 

That is how he remembers the story. 

A couple weeks ago, I shared a rather painful experience navigating mom guilt and the elusive “balance” of work life with motherhood. I wrote:

“We have reached the saltings. The sticky, swampy parts that nearly all of us footslog into and out of over the course of our motherhoods, unsure of footing, prey to unknown tides. There are no patterns here. No formulas; no bright lines. The inputs for each family are complex, individualized, and mutative. Particularly maddening: sometimes I feel I’ve struck a good, or workable balance, and then my son tells me, in twenty-two different ways, that all he wants is for me to pick him up from school once in awhile, and I feel like I’ve been yammering into a phone with a cut cord.”

There were so many lovely comments on that post, and many side chats, too, but Ana, I have re-visited your response at least five or six times: “Will my son remember that I was gone on a Saturday (insert any day of the week) for a hour or so doing the thing I love, probably not. He will remember that I came home and read books with him in the silly voices he likes. I think your son will remember you as the whole, not that you could not always do school pick up.”

The words came like a hug. Both Molly and Ana leave me weepy with hope as a mother often haunted by her own perceived shortcomings. Perhaps, after all, my children will think of me as a loving whole versus a smattering of uneven parts.

But, on the balance bit. As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, and I spent the first half of this week writing a little piece that will soon be published elsewhere (on a different blog! — stay tuned) on the subject. In it, I write that “It dawned on me embarrassingly late in these musings that balance is the wrong mascot for working motherhood. It is — for me, at least — the incorrect paradigm; it feels nearly catachrestic. I hear “balance” and I see the goddess Dice with her scales: if I just add a few more hours of playtime here, or snip a couple of work hours there, then everything will net out. In reality, there is nothing arithmetic about motherhood, and there is no equation in which my hours at my desk are in perfect harmony with my hours actively nurturing my children.” I’ll share a link to the full essay once it’s published, but a few days after I had sent it off, I discovered a fascinating interview between Leslie Stephens and Katherine Morgan Schafler, Licensed Professional Counselor and author The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control titled: “Why Balance is Impossible (And What to Seek Instead).” The interview is behind a paywall (for good reason — Leslie Stephens’ blog is a delight and worth paying for; I am now a proud subscriber), so it doesn’t feel appropriate sharing too much of it, but Schafler makes the point:

“Balance in its original, curative definition describes finding the sweet spot of your energetic equilibrium. The way we currently use balance, however, describes being good at being busy. When you say a woman balances her life well, you mean that she can do a million things without dropping the ball. This is dangerous because being good at being busy has nothing to do with health.”

Wow. She so quickly gets to the heart of things here: the social norms and expectations, the subtle and ultimately nefarious equation of “balance” with “healthfulness,” the obsession with business. I am cycling this perspective through my earlier writings on intentionally trying to be not busy. One element that jumped out at me is the aetiological bent of the conversation. What does it mean that we equate “balance” with “wellness”? Because so few of us feel we have balance, are we all subconsciously telling ourselves we’re “unwell”? What does that metaphor mean to us? I think it has profound implications.

I’m on board with shuttling the word “balance” right off the table. It’s a myth, and the language around it troubles me. Let’s find alternatives?

Shopping Break.

+The shoe brand Patricia Green is offering us 20% off with code MAGPIE (!) I recently shared these ultra-elegant sandals and then afterward discovered that they also offer Hermes-inspired flat sandals. I love this pair in lavender!

+Really cheerful sweater to tide us over until summer.

+Currently reading this book on writing.

+This facial cleansing oil is one of my longtime favorite beauty products. I just switched back to using it after a brief hiatus because my skin as been so, so dry lately. I am basically washing my face as sparingly as possible. More beauty products I can’t quit here.

+This dramatic little top just arrived — I’m going to tuck into ecru wide-leg cropped pants today for a little Easter train ride with my family!

+Really into the funky yellow of those wide-legs so many of you bought (in the bestsellers list above) — it reminds me of this similar chartreuse-hued dress by CO that turned my head a week or two ago. Everything by the brand CO is #goals. They are serious investments but the kinds of pieces you will wear for years and years and years and re-style a million ways. Yes to this and yes to this in particular.

+Love the style of these Mansur Gavriel flats. I’ve heard they are CRAZY comfortable. Love the high vamp! I have been getting a ton of wear out of my neutral/textured ballet flats this spring — they go with everything, just like the MGs.

+The only under-eye concealer that really goes toe to toe with dark circles. A little goes a long way. I use in color 02.

+My daughter has finally hit the age where she is pushing back on a lot of my fashion choices for her. She wants shorts and t-shirts, “comfy clothes,” and (dreaded!) athletic wear. I am trying to honor her personality but sometimes I just have to put my foot down. One piece one which we can both agree are these soft cotton play dresses from TBBC. She loves their ease and comfort and I love the sweet prints. I just found a few styles in their clearance section for $15/apiece and ordered!

+Found a little trove of Juliet Dunn dresses on super sale here.

+H&M jumping in on the sandal trends with these $36 Chanel-inspired dad sandals and these Hermes-inspired slides for under $20.

+GORGEOUS white LWD, extra 30% off!

+Sweetest cherry swimsuit. Speaking of swimwear, Sun House just launched a collab with Dillard’s, and you can get the classic Sun House look for around $30 apiece. I have absolutely treasured the suits of mini’s from there — unusual prints with such darling details. I am buying these trunks for my son and this one-piece for my daughter.

+I was obsessed with madras in high school / college, and one of my favorite outfits of Mr. Magpie’s when I first met him was a pair of pastel madras shorts he used to wear with a white polo shirt. I feel like this 50s-era prepster pattern is returning? I just saw these adorable shorts for little ones (these are REALLY good if you prefer a short inseam — my son has had at least 1-2 pairs per summer since he was 1!) and then Maxwell and Geraldine just released an easy sundress in a pink madras print, too!

+This raffia bag is major.

+I wore this dramatic floral top in fabulous fall colors SO much this past fall. It looked so fabulous with burgundy, marigold, dark denim, forest green, etc. It’s currently on sale for under $100. Highly recommend buying now and putting away as a surprise to your future self next September.

+Fun hair clips in spring colors.

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4 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes: Dad Sandals + Balance, Encore.

  1. Those H&M sandals are a Chanel stunt double! Such a terrific find.

    Thank you too for the Smythson passport cover suggestion. It arrived and is even more beautiful in person. The rose pink is just so pretty especially with the gold monogram. Love!!

      1. Thank you. I ordered my mom the Etsy passport find in the blue lavender color way and she loves as well and is impressed with the quality. We plan to go on a mother-daughter trip this fall. Thank you again for the great recommendations! Happy Easter!!

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