Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes: Jen’s Weekly Drafts.

By: Jen Shoop

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What I Loved This Week.

Continuing to play with the format of this post — it’s evolving into an intimate space for me to share little drafts and details of things I’m unpacking from the week.

Listening: The Definitive Sidney Bechet Collection. I listened to this while writing and editing the short fictional piece I shared yesterday. Perfect cocktail hour or dinner party music — makes you want to throw open the windows, dot the table with low-burning candles, and fare la scarpetta. (Another dinner party playlist I love here.)

Watching: Thank you, deeply and truly, for your romantic comedy recommendations. We re-watched Chocolat (delight) and “Before Sunrise” (another slam dunk). I don’t know how we hadn’t heard of the Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy “Before Sunrise” trilogy, but we watched the first (100% Rotten Tomato score, and from well before the ratings started skewing generously high) and fell hard, and I can’t wait to devour the sequels. When I told my movie buff girlfriend we’d tuned in, she responded: “OMG find you a man who will watch “Before Sunrise” with you! I’ve got heart eyes for Landon watching and enjoying that Linklater classic by your side.” Which made me think of how much I take for granted in my life (!) On Valentine’s Day, Mr. Magpie trained home early from New York and whipped up my favorite meal (I have previously designated it as my preferred final meal on earth): bucatini a l’amatriciana with broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic and calabrian chili oil and tossed with parmesan. But first, he presented the broccoli rabe to me as if a bouquet of flowers — he knows the way to my heart. (I am borderline insane about broccoli rabe — I love it. My favorite vegetable.)

Reading: I read sections 1-6 of bell hooks’s “Appalachian Elegy” this week and found it interesting in dialogue with Demon Copperhead. The way she handles the turn in season — its violence, beauty, multivalence — is spectacular. I love the couplets “earth that is all at once a grave // a resting place a bed of new beginnings // avalanche of splendor” and “wild roses // come by fierce wind and hard rain.” But I’m stripping these words of their mordancy, and social awareness; the poem is well worth a read. These six sections will take you ten minutes or less, and will sit with you all week. In my pursuit of yutori this year, I am inviting more poetry into my life. It is such a demanding art form. It asks for patience, and slow reading. I ordered this anthology — a reputable mix of greats from the 20th century, edited by Rita Dove. (You may remember her from this fabulous poem — a great read when you need a little “get up and go.”)

Reflecting on: Self-compassion. I shared some approaches to practicing it here (most of the concepts plucked straight from Magpie reader comments), and have also been thinking about a quote from Dr. Pooja Laksmin in her recent book, Real Self-Care. “It’s less about ‘going easy on myself,’ and more about paying attention to how I talk to myself and slowly learning a new language.”

Shopping: For my daughter’s seventh birthday (!). We bought her a karaoke set (Wirecutter “runner up” rec for children), the American Girl pup spa she desperately wanted, Nike high tops “in a cool color” (also her request), some Barbie clothes, and a bunch of books. We were also invited to a 90s-themed party next weekend, and the invitation was epic. My girlfriend had details printed on what looked like a piece of torn out loose leaf paper, and it was folded into a dream catcher shape in the envelope. “Costumes required,” and I am delivering, friends. I hate the wide openness of Halloween, but give me something focused and I will show up. I’m going for a Clueless-meets-Britney-Spears moment, and ordered furry scrunchies (hair will be in pigtails), this skirt, these knee-high socks, and this phone case. In reality, in the mid-90s, I was wearing those Steve Madden black platform shoes with the stretchy band over the top, striped baby tees, a Tamagotchi around my neck, and frosted lip gloss, and towards the late 90s, I was easing into my preppy years, with lots of madras, A&F “skirts” (basically frayed and tattered, 4″ long scraps of fabric), anything Ralph Lauren. But neither of those looks felt as translatable or iconic as Cher Horowitz / Britney Spears. I think this may be sold out by the time this post goes live, but I also treated myself to this lace Zara jacket. So beautiful and feminine for spring. Other dainty, feminine options in a similar vein: J. Crew, Sezane, Self-Portrait, and of course iconic Oscar de la Renta. I’m also loving this lace-inset jacket from Veronica Beard. Zara has a crochet-inset jacket that presents a fun twist on the look, and under $100!

Looking forward to: Aforementioned 90s party, scheduled dinners with friends at Petite Cerise and Daru, and tickets to see the new Bonnard exhibit at the Phillips in a few weeks.

Inspired by: Kelly Rutherford. One of you Magpies once referred to her as “a low key fashion icon” and I totally agree. She sources fantastic, under-the-radar designers and has nailed “the wrong shoe rule,” which is a styling principle in which you get dressed and think “what would the perfect shoe for this outfit be?” and then run in the opposite direction, substituting a sneaker for a heel, or a loafer for a Mary Jane. The effect is meaningful fashion dissonance. I am too millennial (?) or just too much my mother’s daughter to do this well — but I am learning, and Kelly nails it, always. I also love the elevator selfies she shares of herself, often with her dog in frame. They remind me of my New York days, when I routinely did the same thing. I also love all the ivory she wears! How good is her chunky ivory knit?! For something a little more scaled back, try this dreamy Doen.

What You Loved This Week.

It turns out that we all love parts of winter in spite of, or because of, its austerities. There were so many beautiful responses to my provocation “What is your favorite part of winter?” I compiled them into a set of slides here because they deserved a more prominent place in this world. The replies were pure poetry: “The specific beauty of a low winter sun”; “a sneaky flask of Jameson”; “watching the birds at our bird feeders”; “honoring the call to hibernate and simplify routines”; “flushed rosy cheeks.” Thank you for helping me find the beauty in this moment, and reminding me to live where my feet are.

This week, I received a lot of compliments on my new Altuzzara Watermill bag, which is currently 20% off at Saks! Still a splurge but the colors means it will go with everything, and I personally think the leather makes it seasonless. I’ve been wearing in 30-40 degree February! (Rest of outfit seen below linked here.)

On the shopping front, this week’s bestsellers:

01. This beautiful striped shirtdress for spring. This has sold out many times in the past!

02. Lake Pajamas Relax kimono set. I’m not sure if the sale will still be going on as of today, but these were on sale in several compelling colors earlier this week, and if you missed the boat on the discount, I must convince you to take the plunge nonetheless. I am obsessed with this set. More flattering than the Relax set (which I also love) and just so soft and dreamy to wear.

03. The perfect vase. In constant use in my home.

04. Rosemary hair oil — I’m also using this! Hoping for stronger, healthier hair as I grow out my mane.

05. This jersey popover. I also have been wearing mine constantly. A perfect alternative to a white tee. Works with athleisure (I love it as a mid-layer with leggings), jeans, black pants, etc.

06. Free People knit set.

07. Paris tee.

08. Old Navy’s answer to the Highsport kick flare.

09. Alex Mill ribbed shirtdress.

10. Dorsey Clemence necklace. My fav.

11. My current favorite pants, recently restocked in my colorway — so glad many of you are enjoying, too. Run TTS; work great on petites.

12. Smocked waist dress.

13. Dyson AirWrap. I think this was a bestseller because it was 20% off at BM last weekend!

14. Lacoste long sleeved boy polos. I bought in several colors — 50% off! My son lives in these. They run small / short.

15. Lunchbox pop-open notes. I’ve been sending these in with my children — such a sweet way to say “I love you.”

P.S. When was the last time you felt truly happy?

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10 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes: Jen’s Weekly Drafts.

  1. Hi Jen! Along with your Appalachian reads, may I recommend the music of Rhiannon Giddens? This article gave me such an appreciation for her:
    Kaia Kater is also great. And my very favorite Barbara Kingsolver is Prodigal Summer.

    I love the nudge towards poetry. I ordered that Penguin anthology! The little slim black penguin volumes make incredible gifts. I’ve given this Kate Chopin often.

    1. What a beautiful little gift! Pocketing that idea. I can think of several friends who would love to receive that. I will absolutely look about Giddens and Kater – thank you!

      I am so tickled by the fact that you ordered the anthology; will be interesting to compare notes as we make our ways through.


  2. Thank you for reminding me to listen to Sidney Bechet! I love his music; it transports me to New Orleans or Paris immediately.

    So glad you enjoyed the first Before Sunrise film! I hope you enjoy the others too.

    About 15 years ago, I made it a habit to read a poem each day. That anthology you bought is great.

    Please post pictures from your 90s party!!

    1. I love your habit — so beautiful! How do you source the ones you read? I am finding the anthology approach (only a few days in) wonderful, especially as the poems are arranged chronologically and I imagine I will observe the slow transmission and evolution of styles over the century, and I like the experience of reading 2-3 poems per poet, so you get more than just a random stab of their style. I do wish Dove had provided a bit more detail on the poets themselves in the headnotes, and find myself googling to learn more at each turn.


      1. I have a good collection of poetry books and revisit old favorites regulary (Mary Oliver, Eavan Boland, Sharon Olds are a few). I also look at, poets. org and the Library of Congress poetry page. Treasure troves! and will email you a new poem-a-day as well.xx

  3. Yay! Glad you loved Chocolat. I cannot wait to watch The Taste of Things (also Juliette Binoche, clearly I’m a fan!).

    So funny, I was JUST thinking of asking you about this “wrong shoe rule”. I tried it out last weekend with a floral midi dress and my Blundstone Chelsea boots and I did not feel like myself! (First instinct would have been to wear my more feminine suede booties). But maybe it takes some getting used to? Or maybe that’s the point, to go beyond our comfort zones?

    1. The one thing I like about the wrong shoe rule is getting to put something comfy on if I’m pushing my double stroller. But I’m not cool enough to reliably tell what’s a statement vs lazy. I regularly text my little brother in law (21) for his fashion opinion of my footwear! He usually has me go even more orthopedic/chunky/mismatched. I don’t pretend to understand it but when in doubt, ask the yutes

      1. This is amazing! I believe it. I should ask my 14 year old next door neighbor for her perspective more often too!


    2. I love that you’re testing this formula! I do think it takes awhile to adjust – keep at it. I felt that way about wearing socks that showed (with sneakers) — it felt so wrong at first! But now I don’t give it a second thought and it no longer stands out to my eye. Keep going!!


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