What Are Your Favorite Substacks?

By: Jen Shoop

I’ve received this question many times from Magpies, so thought I’d share with the class. It’s interesting that so many of you have asked for my favorite Substacks (versus blogs, creatives, etc) — I think this is because Substack (a platform creatives can use to post content and then send it out to readers via email/newsletter) has become shorthand for a return to oughts-era blogging, and I believe Magpie belongs to that category, too. More thought pieces, more opinion, more long-form writing, more text. (You tell me, though! Do you like it?)

I also think the question gets at the ethos of this one: where do you find meaningful stuff on the Internet? There are a lot of sharp writers talking fashion, food, motherhood right now on Substack; it has an aura of authenticity.

I am pretty choosy with my subscriptions because I am inbox zero gal — unless I really take the time to read a newsletter each time it arrives in my inbox, I unsubscribe, but these have past the test for me:

Morning Person by Leslie Stephens. A long-time favorite focused on cultivating our best selves. Full of fascinating little blurbs on self-care and wellness; literature; psychology; etc. I am drawn to her candor, strength, and thoughtfulness. She is the kind of woman you want to be friends with!

Magasin by Laura Reilly. Ultra-sharp fashion writing, focused on runway and nascent trends, with occasional drift into op-ed. Insightful, researched, insider-y type fashion talk.

Tell Me More by Emese Gormley. The co-host of the “Lipstick on the Rim” podcast with Molly Sims — she shares fantastic, evangelical, detailed reviews of things she wears routinely, from beauty to fashion staples. Refreshingly earnest.

Hand Picked by Alex Steele. A lovely curation of quotes, short musings on motherhood, fashion and home finds, parenting thoughts, and occasional guest contributions (including one by yours truly), all written from the framework of “less is more.” Alex is a wonderful woman and talented photographer. We crossed paths on the Internet and have become text friends since — she is thoughtful and encouraging in ways I would expect of an old friend.

Ruhlman’s Newsletter by Michael Ruhlman. You might remember him from his best-selling Soul of a Chef book, but this is Ruhlman unbuttoned: loads of fascinating, opinionated rivulets of thought on food, travel, cocktails, writing, reading, theater. His admiration for his wife (a best-selling author herself) shines through in the winningest way. He has a pithy, quaint way with words (e.g., he’ll use “theater house”) that I find soothing. And I love when he goes off the rails on a subject like why he’ll never use potholders. So charming and real!

Sarah’s Retail Diary by Sarah Shapiro. A smart look at what’s going on in retail in a given week — sort of a Cliff’s Notes for brand launches, collections/collaborations to be eyeing, and other business-of-fashion details, like companies changing leadership, being bought/sold, bringing on new creative direction. To the point and highly observant.

Yolo Intel by Yolanda Edwards. Phenomenal, detailed travel writing with loads of restaurant recs and hotel reviews. I’m newer to her, but I could spend (and have spent) hefty portions of afternoons reading her posts and daydreaming. A good companion to our conversation on how to plan a fantastic vacation.

Please share your favorites in the comments section!


+Shaking hands with a blank page.

+In case you need encouragement to take a big step.

+The whole sky is yours. (Onward!)

Shopping Break.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the links below, I may receive compensation.

+As a follow on to this list: Emese Gormley shares my enthusiasm for the SoldoutNYC Everything Shirt (now available for pre-order in all sizes, shipping 4/19), and has a code we can use — EMESE15 for 15% off! It is a really, really good investment. It looks like something that could have been made by a high-end European retailer and cost north of $1,000. The most luxurious, silky handfeel. Very oversized/boxy – I would have sized down if I could. I took the XS an find myself wearing it with cuffs rolled, tucked in. I had a few requests from Magpies to show it on — seen below. Somehow makes jeans and flats look like a million bucks. Note length! I’m 5’0 and it runs south of mid-thigh. (Worn with this bag, these $10 Amazon sunnies, Margaux flats.)

+Of course I’d find the two items not included in the Shopbop 20% off sale to want to buy this week (one of my epitaphs must be: “not included in sale” — I just have a knack for it), but I can’t stop thinking about this unusual SIR dress (for dinners out) and this toweling top from Zimmermann(more sizes here and here) that Nicole Cassidy wore on vacation. She styled it with the matching shorts (again, sets are big for spring/summer) but I might break it up and pair with a denim short or white beach pants because I have a hunch the style will overwhelm my frame (I’m 5’0). I also love it in this long caftan version.

+If you like the terry set look but not the Zimmermann price tag, you might consider: this set from Araminta James or Kule’s terry separates.

+Not terry, but I just ordered myself one of these gauze two-piece sets from Amazon of all places. So easy for the pool. Comes in a ton of colors.

+One Shopbop sale find I neglected to mention yesterday (late discovery) were these popular woven flats (Bottega-esque) and fisherman sandals from Freda Salvador. I was JUST ogling at them via my post on Saturday morning, and I know many of you liked those pieces too.

+Magpie reader rec: this decorate-your-own water bottle kit. Ideal for 6-9 year old girls. I’ve tucked this away for a future gift idea myself! Also just found these cute watercolor kits as a possible Easter basket stuffer or party favor.

+Few Moda reached out to me last week and asked if I’d be interested in trying a few of their pieces. I know many of you love this brand, and specifically their Didi mini and East cocktail dress, which many of you have written to me about. Few Moda produces their designs in the same factories as higher end retailers, and offer them for a fraction of the price — you can get an even deeper discount if you pay a membership fee, but the prices are still very reasonable even without the membership. I chose this punchy mini (reminded me of Juliet Dunn — I can’t wait to wear barefoot on the first warm day of spring) and this sweet midi (Reformation-inspired for sure). Will share my thoughts once they arrive!

+I’ve resisted the mesh trend for months now because I haven’t found a piece that calls my name. These LRs are changing my tune. I’m obsessed with them?! I really think I might go for them.

+Adidas and Farm Rio launched a collab yesterday! These pool slides have such a great vibe.

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25 thoughts on “What Are Your Favorite Substacks?

  1. I love this post! About 6 months ago, I deleted most social media and decided to fill that time with blogs and newsletters instead. I find consuming long-form content (without the barrage of distractions that instagram feeds me) to be so much more fulfilling.

    My current list:
    Cooking –
    1. Caroline Chambers what to cook when you don’t feel like cooking
    2. Jenny Rostrach’s Dinner: A Love Story
    3. Julia Tuschen keep calm and cook on
    4. Helen Liu McKinnon To Vegetables, With Love
    5. SCRAPS by Carolina Gelen

    Lifestyle (my favorite category) –
    1. Badass Matriarch
    2. Joanna Goddard’s Big Salad
    3. Aforementioned morning person by Leslie
    4. Downtime by Alisha Ramos
    5. Platonic Love by Aliza and Aja
    6. Handpicked by Alex Steele
    7. Some Happy Scribbles by Amelia
    8. Rich Text by Emma and Claire
    9. Maybe baby by Haley Nahman
    10. Between a Rock and a Card Place by Caroline (some A+ long form writing – never listicles!)

    What I coin “better living” category –
    1. Tea Notes by Erin Boyle
    2. The Analog Family
    3. Rightsizing by Whitney Leigh Morris
    4. The Isolation Journals by Suleika Joudad
    5. The Purse by Lindsay Stanberry

    1. The Unpublishable
    2. 5 Things You Should Buy
    3. The Love List

    I also read Letters from an American, Culture Study and In Pursuit of Clean Counters but I can’t always keep up with these as they produce a ton of content.

  2. Thanks for the recs! I signed up to try the free version of a couple. I only currently subscribe to one (free) sub stack. I find I just cannot take in more “content.” I’m a completionist so I start to feel stressed if I have unread things piling up, even when it is not required reading! I am mostly using reading time for books atm. And this blog of course! Oh and the one I subscribe to is Allie Lehman which I found bc she never does sponsored content. It’s a quick manageable read every week but to be honest I don’t relate to a lot of it. I did find my old favorite game through her, though! (RIP Heardle).

    1. I know what you mean by “completionist”! I see myself in you! I have to be very choosy about these things!


  3. An irresistible prompt!

    My best internet tip, though, is that Substack newsletters can be subscribed to via RSS reader (I use Feeder; NetNewsWire is one I like for a Mac OS) so that they DON’T go to your email inbox. For me, substantive reading coming to the same inbox as all the other things that tend to land in email is a nightmare and as you mentioned with Anne Helen Peterson’s, they just stack up unread or I read them in a strange rush. The RSS reader gives me a single place for all that reading and Substack (bless them) permits subscription this way.

    I don’t follow much in the fashion or motherhood realms (Magpie and Em for Marvelous – who commented below! – excepted), but here are a couple of favorites:
    – Poems Ancient and Modern (The best poem-a-day source I’ve found, with a mix of old and new as the name indicates and thoughtful commentary on each)
    – Walking the World (Chris Arnade just…walks in a bunch of cities, domestic and international, commenting on culture and built environment as he goes)
    – Prufrock (Micah Mattix, a great source of books to read and interesting internet bits in the literary realm)

    1. “I read them in a strange rush” – yes! If things start to pile up in my inbox, I suddenly flip into a crushing, robotic kind of energy: “must read through this as quickly and joylessly as possible.” Great tip on RSS reader to avoid this. You’re also making me realize I could just have them auto archive into a “TBR” folder in my inbox and set aside times each week/day to sift through.

      Thanks for making me think creatively about this!

      And great recs!


    2. I forgot to mention! Ted Gioa (The Honest Broker), for interesting music recommendations and general cultural/entertainment commentary

  4. Humbly tossing mine into the ring! I began posting at the beginning of January and am 10 subscribers away from reaching 1000! Maybe some Magpies would like to come join? 🙂 My goal is to help readers lay the foundation for a connected family from a young age so that as kids age, everyone can navigate technology with grace and agility. It’s here! https://theconnectedfamily.substack.com/

  5. I love The Catholic Feminist substack – I just began paying for it this year, and with every issue I feel she has a way of saying things eloquently that I have felt so many times. A quote from today’s on the pressure of women to be homemakers: “And yet, she said this: we are all called to be homemakers. I find myself agreeing. My question to her is, what is home?
    My home is this world; its wild and tangled borders flung open. My neighborhood is my home. My school district is my home. My country is my home. And I need to create and manage it, making it a pleasant place to live. Women are painting the landscape of our world, making it a home for all, through our gifts and Holy Spirit whispers.”
    Made me approach my whole day at work today differently – how is what I am doing making a home for others, even though what I’m actually doing is training as a physician, in a hospital, which is decidedly “un-home-like?”

    1. Sophia, I’m not Catholic, but Claire’s Substack is one of my very favorites, and the first one I paid to subscribe to several years ago! I find her to be eloquent, thoughtful, and a person who cares about a lot of the same things I do.

    2. This excerpt and your pocketing and interpretation of it are beyond moving. Thank you so much for sharing this prompt. “How is what I am doing making a home for others?” Wow. A great beginning of the day prompt.


    3. Thank you for sharing The Catholic Feminist – I’m Christian, not Catholic, but in just a few of her writings, I feel very seen.

  6. Also, over half my saved substacks are from publications I don’t subscribe to! I love being linked to a good “issue” even if I don’t like it enough to subscribe, and the restacking feature is a delight in the ways Twitter used to be

  7. I love this question!! After a round of unsubscribing last week, I now am subscribed to (only) 44 Substacks. Oy.

    Best parenting: The Art and Science of Mom, Burnt Toast, and Is My Kid the Asshole?

    Best food: What to cook when you don’t feel like cooking, This Shit Rocks, The Best Bit, A Small and Simple Thing (Brooks writes about food how I imagine Mr Magpie might), and technically Smitten Kitchen’s newsletter is a Substack

    Shopping: Worn In Worn Out by Kitty Guo, who I first loved over at The Strategist. Hi Everyone with Hillary Kerr. Handpicked with Alex Steele. No one asked, But (Christina’s thought process often reminds me of yours), What I Put On Today by Meg Strachan (Dorsey’s founder!! Best subscriber chat imho)

    Grab bag: Dearest, which explores interesting things up for auction, often weird, often historical. XoxoDorie from Dorie Greenspan, but I only read the Paris ones.

    1. These are excellent! I signed up for “A Small and Simple Thing” based on your review (he does seem to talk about food like Landon), and already ordered his recommended peanut butter. Thank you!


      1. I didn’t come to these comments expecting to buy peanut butter but I just read that post and I am totally sold 🙂 haha.

  8. Wow I haven’t heard of/read any of those substacks, and I’m a pretty online person! Here’s my list:

    Culture Study by Anne Helen Peterson (culture through a millennial lens)
    One Thing by Kyle Chayka (culture in the anti-algorithm sense)
    Last Call by Brad Thomas Parsons (amaro/cocktails and food, NYC lens)
    Everything Happened by Evie Ebert (parenting/life with humor)
    The Chatner by Daniel Lavery (very irreverent- riffs on everything from classic lit to some advice columning)
    Not hosted on substack, but She’s a Beast by Casey Johnston, for some serious heavy strength training motivation, myth busting, and humor

    1. Ooo thanks for this rich offering! I had forgotten about Peterson – she is so smart. I had to unsubscribe because her newsletters demanded so much attention and they kept accumulating at the bottom of my inbox. Thanks for the nudge to revisit.


  9. I love Leslie Stephens’ substack as well! Lots of new to me writers in here though so thank you for sharing! I will definitely check these out.

    Some of my favorites include:

    Becky Malinsky’s 5 Things You Should Buy
    Kate Arends’ House Call
    Nik Sharma’s The Flavor Files
    Olivia Muenter’s substack
    Emma Gray and Claire Fallon’s Rich Text
    Hillary Kerr’s substack

    1. Love! Thanks for these! How did I forget Malinsky? I follow her on Instagram so I guess I click over from there. I consider her an OG, model-setting Substacker.


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