Weekend Vibes

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 88: The One on Advice for Young Women.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: Tory Burch Clara Flats.

I’ve eyed these gorgeous flats for over a year (seen above on Daily Cup of Couture in chic black), but when they came out in an elegant sand color and were MARKED DOWN (!!!), I had to take the plunge.  I have way too many pairs of black flats; these are such a fantastic staple at the opposite end of the spectrum to pair with lighter colorways and — especially! — camels, beiges, and the like with winter white jeans.  (How chic?!  Exact outfit I’m wearing today: a heathered camel sweater, white distressed denim, and my new bow-toed beauties.

You’re Sooooo Popular: Les Tweed Flats.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+The most darling Jackie O.-esque tweed flats and the coolest Scandi-clean boots.

+This dress (I bought it in the shorter format) arrived this week and it is TO DIE FOR.

+Chic winter white jeans.

+High fashion look for under $160.

+A perfect wreath.

+Super chic blazer.

+Must-have toy for your kiddo.  (The new troll?)

+My new favorite pantry organization tool.  THIS REALLY WORKS.

+My new favorite addition to my beauty regimen.  (If you have Rouge status at Sephora, these are 20% off this weekend!)

+An affordable teddy coat so you can channel these street style starlets.

#Turbothot: Is This the Advice All Young Women Need to Hear?

I came across an article with an ultra-catchy title the other day: The One Piece of Advice Young Women Need.  (Um, you had me at “the one piece.”  CLICK.  And I’m not even a young woman anymore.)  But I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the piece, whose central thesis is that the most important factor in a woman’s longterm professional success is the supportiveness of her partner.  The author contends that “women are better off staying single than marrying an unsupportive partner.  It’s harsh, but in a country where the default assumption is that a man’s work should take priority over that of his female partner’s, women taking a hardline approach to who they marry is not such a terrible idea.”

Of course I agree with her premise on principle: we should all marry people who value our ambitions as much as they value their own.  I probably suffer from (or, rather ENJOY) myopia in this regard, as I have only ever been married to an ultra-supportive husband who has long championed my career success better than I have.  (“My wife writes an awesome blog,” he’ll beam as I squirm.  Thank you for this.)

But there was something clinical and presumptuous about the author’s tone, as if it’s as easy as de-pilling a sweater on a Saturday to determine whether or not a boyfriend or girlfriend will be on board with an equal division of parenting responsibilities ten years down the road, when, in the present, babies aren’t even a twinkling in our eyes, and our judgements are clouded anyway by love and youth and the headiness of the promise of marriage.  And how narrowly are we defining “success” here?  What of women who, for example, want to pursue a career as a stay-at-home?  Or who don’t see their careers as a calling?  Or who work because they feel they should but not because they need to?  I’m calling a spade a spade here: I have a number of friends who readily admit that their jobs pay the bills and give them a sense of structure, but they aren’t exactly passion-inducing or financially requisite for their lifestyles — and they certainly aren’t tethered to their identities on a deep level.  I wrote loosely around this topic some time ago, but some of us view jobs as jobs, not vocations, as counter-cultural as this sounds nowadays.   The article presumes consensus around a different outlook on personal success.  And — well — perhaps this is a bit fraught, but sometimes relationships are about sacrifice, too.  I have friends whose loved ones are doctors, and FBI agents, and members of the military, and there are certain logistical requirements for those jobs that can require a spouse to, say, move on a dime and relegate his or her career to “second in command.”  None of these friends begrudge their spouses.  In other words: there are many permutations of happiness and balance when it comes to decisions around career and marriage, even when “traditional” roles are being filled.

Take my family as an example.  Mr. Magpie is a feminist in the sense that he views us on the same plane when it comes to professional capacity and worth.  But we also hold conventional roles when it comes to parenthood, and not because Mr. Magpie assumes I’ll handle things like mini’s bath and mealtimes and gear purchasing, but rather because it’s the role I’ve carved for myself, and it’s felt natural to us, and it fits well with my pursuit of writing as a career.  I remember clambering to give mini her baths after she was first born.  I saw it as a rite of passage as a mother, as something I needed to figure out.  And now, two years in, I am still the bath-giver in our home.  I order the groceries to stock the pantry and plan mini’s meals.  I keep tabs on the diaper supply.  I select and wash and iron her clothing.  Etc.  Etc.  The point is this: there is an unequal division of labor when it comes to caring for mini in our home, but it’s a known entity.  We acknowledge it.  I like it this way.  And I don’t see it as in any way punitive.

But — why I am sitting here playing strawman, quibbling over something that I fully agree with?  YES, every woman deserves a supportive spouse who is willing to view her career as commensurate with his own.  Yes.  Yes to that.  Yes times 1290982309283.  Amen and full-stop.   I simply find myself thinking about the author’s hard-line statements in shades of gray, wondering if we are in fact doing young women a favor by painting relationships in this reductive way (i.e., implicitly pitting career against marriage/family).

Still, there is this: probably better to plant a seed that promotes personal-empowerment and self-worth than to say nothing at all.   What harm can it do, except for imply that ferreting out The Right Partner is easy?

What do you think?

#Shopaholic: The Python Dress.

+We talked about how much we love all things python and croc earlier this week — how incredible is this (maternity-friendly!) trapeze dress?  Would actually look incredible with the Clara flats in black!

+A fantastic plaid blouse for any occasion from work to drinks.

+I bought these in stark white last winter, but I’m loving them in this cream color, too.

+This little faux fur bag is amazing.  Such a fun little pop of fur against an all black outfit.

+These fur and sherpa trim boots are AMAZING.

+Love these jammies for mini — the snowmen remind me of Olaf from Frozen.

+I routinely receive inquiries from brides-to-be asking for rehearsal dinner / bridal shower / bridal lunch options and I feel like this little white dress would flatter so many different body types and work  well with a range of statement shoes, from pearl-encrusted mules to nude pumps to — yes, my new Clara flats in the beige.

+Love these Hermes-vibe pillows!

+These canvas-and-leather cosmetics bags are so chic.

+This dark floral dress is incredible.

+Ordering a few of these for mini.

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12 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 88: The One on Advice for Young Women.

  1. I came across that article at one point, but it didn’t seem that revolutionary because it’s similar to Sheryl Sandberg’s in Lean In, about how one of your most significant professional decisions is who you marry. (Advice that I’ve definitely taken to heart, along with Nora Ephron’s advice about always marry someone you would want to be divorced from.)
    I take your points that women want different things, and relationships change, and how do you know … But I also think that the advice is solid. In the same way that marrying someone is a financial undertaking — you are on the line for their debt, their credit — I am, to be honest, all for the ways in which we can re-frame marriage not as something starry-eyed swept away but as a commitment that impacts not just your romantic life, but your whole life. Sure, people surprise you, and frankly, I didn’t realize when I began dating my now-husband that his perspective on parenthood would be such a significant factor in my professional life. However: One of the first times he slept over, I had to go to a meeting in the morning, and I came home, and he was cleaning my kitchen. Early in our relationship, I moved to a different country, and he stopped by my apartment the first night and dropped off a home-baked dinner. I didn’t know that he would be ready to leave his job to be a stay at home father in order to privilege my job, and I didn’t know his willingness to take on the many duties of parenthood would allow me to have a career (as my job requires significant and constant international travel). Yet I also knew his guiding belief in feminism, and I knew that he wanted to take care of me from the beginning in ways that extended to the domestic sphere.
    My work matters deeply to me, and my ability to do my work as well as be a mother is incredibly important to me. Even though our own relationship to work changes, and motherhood can play a role in changing our relationships to work, even though relationships change, and all of it, it is hard to underplay the importance of my relationship for the logistics of my professional life. The advice isn’t for every woman, because not all women want the same thing. But it seems to me that for women who do want family and a significant career, the advice to step back, even to bring a slightly clinical perspective to this enormous life-altering choice, bears repeating.

    1. Hi Holly — Sounds like you have a lovely husband and an incredible arrangement that works for everyone. YES! Bravo! You are right. The advice bears repeating because it plants a good seed and suggests that we should be forward-thinking and practical about our relationships.

      Thanks for writing in with this perspective. I had your voice and sentiment tapping me on my shoulder as I wrote this piece; I re-read it at least a dozen times, still feeling uncomfortable with my words. I think that you’ve helped me see why: the advice is not “right” for everyone. Perhaps that’s what left me with a weird taste in my mouth — the click-bait-y title about “advice ALL young women must hear.” Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, but it felt that the subtext was that there is one kind of “success” to which all women should aspire — a notion that is not realistic or productive and even hurtful.

      Anyway, thank you for taking the time to share these thoughts. If only all young women had role models from all different walks of life and work arrangements so that they could get an honest view on what options are out there and what they might feel like.


  2. I think about this topic a lot as I moved across the country for my boyfriend’s dream job last year, and have since been floundering a little in my own career. The thing that I think is missing from most conversations is the inevitability of change and the necessity for adaptation. I think a truly supportive partner knows that sometimes you have to sacrifice a little of your own success for the success of your partner, and know that they will do the same in a season down the road. My boyfriend is my #1 fan and ultimate supporter, and it was my conscious choice to move with him after a long discussion about what was best for us. When I’m frustrated with my so-so job it can be easy to fall into this “I’m failing as a woman because I gave up my career ambitions for this job I hate for the sake of my boyfriend’s career…” and just feel so terrible about myself. But then I pause, and think of how deeply happy and successful my boyfriend is in his work right now, and how much I love the life we’ve built here and of course I know I made the right choice. A few years down the road, I know he’ll be willing to make a sacrifice for me when the opportunity comes up. It’s a constant recalibration. I know you know you’ve chose right not when neither party has to make sacrifices, but when you proudly and lovingly stand behind the sacrifices you make. Thanks for the discussion!

    1. Hi Katherine! First, I applaud you for your (brave, difficult!) decisions and having faith that time will present new opportunities for you. A reader said this at the dawn of 2018: “let us go boldy into our decisions.” You have done this!

      Anyway, you’ve hit the nail on the head by demonstrating how rare it is for things to be black and white in the career-and-relationships department, and how many shades of gray there are.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!


  3. I read the article on the train this morning and it set somewhat uncomfortably with me throughout the day. I’ve heard it’s message to “choose wisely” repeatedly whenever I attended an event for young (female) professionals (I’m about to qualify as a lawyer). In our proficiency, the pressure on both men and women to stay on 100 % (at least) remains the same – with and without children. If both partners in a relationship are lawyers, the decision on who has to step back almost always coincides with the question of whose career will be put on hold. And as supportive my partner is (and he is one of a kind in that department) – how can I demand him to take a step back and not pursue a career that is deeply fulfilling to him as for me, just to prove that I did in fact “chose wisely”? I think this is what sat uncomfortably with me when reading the article or hearing the advise from other women in my profession: to chose a supportive partner does not mean that one is allowed to demand something of the other that one would not “sacrifice” oneself. Because that would be simply unfair in my opinion.

    So, thank you once again for this piece of your mind on a sensitive subject!

    1. This is such a good point, Charlotte — relationships are give-and-take and over time I have put my career second to Mr. Magpie’s and vice versa, knowing that circumstances will change and necessitate new arrangements.

      Anyway, thanks for writing in! This is indeed a sensitive subject; after hitting publish, I was nervous I might have inadvertently stepped on toes or put my foot in my mouth.


  4. Yes, totally agree with your “But how do you know?” point above. Plus, people change! My husband was not initially on board with my plan to stay home with any potential future babies, but it was super important to me. By the time we got engaged we were on the same page, and now that we have an actual baby, he is incredibly supportive. Additionally, I’d like to give a shout out to all the single ladies (ha) who are successful on their own without a partner, supportive or otherwise!

    1. Such a good point, Stephanie — people do change! And with age comes perspective and wisdom and grounding (most of the time, ha!) I was just thinking along these lines the other day. I crossed paths with a lovely young woman who is twenty five and I couldn’t help but feel the gap between our ages and a vague sense of “knowing-ness” settling over me as she talked about her career and her plans for marriage and children. There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Ah, my child. You have many years ahead of you.” But it dawned on me that when I was her age, I WAS MARRIED (!), and feeling very sophisticated and mature. And how much wiser (and humbler) I am today owing to the intervening years of experience. Anyway, not much to add to your comment, but just to say: I agree.

      AND YES, shoutout to women in all kinds of relationships or permutations of singleness who have achieved success! That was the other portion of the advice that gave me pause: even the framing of the advice makes it seem as though the success of a woman is contingent upon the roles that men in her life play. Hm.


  5. Someone got that monkey toy for my daughter as a gift last year. Maybe your tolerance for noisy toys is higher than mine, but it makes me crazy! Every once in awhile it resurfaces in her toybox and it kind of has a life of its own. I sincerely recommend listening to it before buying!

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