If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds! I am contemplating expanding the content in this series soon. Let me know if there’s more of something you’d like to see there!

This week, I’ve been asking myself, How do I decide how involved to be at my children’s school? I left the inaugural HSA meeting revved up to sign up for everything, especially since I have always imagined myself stepping up to be class parent (and have done it twice in my children’s Montessoris), volunteering for field trips and bake sales, etc. But last year revealed something interesting to me: I might be of best use in narrower straits. By this I mean that last year, I plugged in to the school community in a couple of ways, and I found some draining and low-impact (to everyone, not just speaking selfishly! — like, I don’t think I was additive to some of these events), but my favorite and most meaningful was volunteering a handful of times in the school library. I’d go in and read to my daughter’s class and then help her and her classmates find and select books to take home. I had wanted to help with shelving, too, but the kind librarian waved me off. I treasured this small involvement and am not above admitting that it afforded the slightest impression of living out a childhood fantasy of owning a bookstore. More importantly, it gave me insight into my daughter’s school world and classmate dynamics and enabled me to model for her a lifelong obsession with reading. It was also quiet, and easy, and barren of any of the occasionally uncomfortable dynamics of interacting with mothers who are more involved in the school. I should say that absolutely none of the mothers I’ve met at my children’s school are ever unpleasant or anything but welcoming, but there is always — how to say it? — a slight chasm? A feeling of outsidership? Like, I inwardly wish I was that mom who was always at the school, and feel mild remorse that I am not? I tell you, guilt grows like knotweed in my motherhood reflections, equally unbidden and unmitigatible.

I read not long ago a bit of advice from a seasoned mother: “Get involved in your children’s school where your kids will see you.” Meaning: if you’re going to make the effort to be there, find a way to make your presence and volunteerism visible and high-impact for your child. I think the library was a good spot for this and plan to reprise this filter as I tick through other opportunities for the year ahead.

I was texting a wise mom friend of mine for her thoughts on how she decided how involved to be (she has a senior job at a major financial institution), and she said: “I sign up for one in-class party per year, and then just plug in a little when convenient. It’s just not a season for me to lean in hard at school. I’ve made peace with it.”

Increasingly, in this realm and others, I am aware of the impact of drawing boundaries and making peace with them. I dropped out of two book clubs this month, and I did it clearly and without beating around the bush. This might sound self-involved and obverse to social norms, but I am reminded of an old sales adage we tossed around back in my days of slinging software: “A quick no is much better than a slow maybe.” Like, why drag things out and open the door for awkwardnesses or repeated “no, can’t make it again” type conversations? Better, I think, to have a clean break? To entirely remove the agony of “can I finish that book by x date? How do I say no again?”

Trivialities, all, but inroads into becoming an expert in myself…


Some other notes from the week:

+I changed out my summer table linens for autumn ones thanks to Christina Dickson Home (in progress shots seen above and below). She sent over the most gorgeous bundle of tablecloths, placemats, and napkins, and generously offered us all 20% off with code MAGPIE20. In fall, I love to mix in woven placemats like these for a little earthy texture, put out dried hydrangea in a rustic vase (this is the exact one we have and it’s on sale!; I cut the hydranges above from our bushes and dried them myself!), and swap out the taper candles for fall colors like forest green (seen above). I shared these earlier this week, but if you don’t have dried hydrangea, I’m obsessing over the look of these faux plum tree branches or these magnolia ones. Terrain also has some really cool dried arrangements that would be perfect for the season.

+While we’re on the subject of table linens, Julia Amory is also running a big warehouse sale, with select linens at 75% off. It’s running through today!

+I’m firmly planted in my fall running regimen and it feels fantastic. Fall is my favorite running season. I love witnessing the turn of the trees on foot. Anyway, this week, it was chilly enough for layers, so I bought a bunch of the items in my fall fitness roundup. I’m especially excited about my new Harrier tee from Tracksmith (these are the absolute BEST; stretchy and breathable and warm despite being very thin; try code NETC-Team for 20% off…worked for me! I’m a major coupon code hunter), my new Nikes, and this running hoodie. Really leaned into marigold for fall. I also ordered those Athleta salutation leggings so many of you raved about (you can see me in them below). I am…so-so on them! I feel badly saying that since so many of you raved about them, so take my perspective with many grains of salt. Here’s my beef: I find the seams up around the waist/belly area and the pockets on the side not particularly flattering? (This is noteworthy since I run with cropped-length shirts a lot — if I were only pairing with a long sweatshirt, might have a different story). I also never feel the cell phone pocket does me any good — I will never put my cell phone there (cannot imagine running with my phone on my leg?), and so it just adds bulk/distraction where I want nothing. Overall, I think I prefer the seamlessness of Lululemon Aligns. I do think the Athletas have a good fit, length, and overall feel — slightly more compressive than Aligns and clearly fantastic quality. But I find already I’d prefer my Aligns to them. I also ordered a fourth or fifth pair of those inexpensive Amazon leggings, also in brown. They’re like my “beater leggings.” Take ’em out when it’s rainy/muddy and throw in the laundry. The fit is great, I tell you! The quality is definitely inferior to Lulu / Athleta, but they are only $20. Anyhow, I think I’ll be reserving my Athletas for more athleisure moments versus fitness. Below, I styled for a walk with this Amazon sweatshirt (runs enormous – do not size up; I think this was a Grace find!) and $20 sherpa bag. (And, per usual, Dorsey necklaces — I rarely take these off.)

+After my runs, I am always freezing, and I pack a big, boxy sweatshirt to throw on over top. My current favorites are this Paris one and an old “Cindy Crawford” one from The Reformation from years ago. I love the Cindy one because I usually could not look any less like Cindy when I’m wearing it — tired, sweaty, no makeup. I’m not a big athleisure gal (although this roundup is making me change my tune a bit…I influenced myself!), but I do love a crewneck sweatshirt like this. Such a splurge, but I keep coming back to this faded green Anine Bing one.

+We had a delightful crab feast last Sunday — the end of the summer always feels like the right time for this, though blue crabs in these parts are delicious all through fall, and especially in October, as they fatten and prepare to molt. (My father-in-law calls them “brown bellies” and hunts them out of the pile.) My husband and his family are — how to say? — purist? Puritanical? about crab-eating. They approach it like some of us do Sunday Church. There are rules and conventions to observe, and they are unwavering in their devotion. First, they serve nothing but crab. Don’t even try to sneak in a corn muffin or a sheet of french fries. Instead, you eat the crab until full, over the course of a few hours, or until you grow tired of picking and instead just sit back in your chair and sip beer. Second, the only acceptable accoutrements for steamed blue crab are Old Bay (or sometimes the house seasoning, if offered by the crab purveyor — they all have variations on Old Bay) and malt vinegar. They laugh — they scoff! — at drawn butter, which is reserved for lobster and other (in their eyes, lesser) types of crab. Third, no mallets/hammers allowed. They shatter the shell and make the meat difficult to eat, pierced as it will become with cartilage. Instead, you may only use crab picking knives purchased from an obscure Maryland company. These look like small, heavy butter knives and, over the past many years, I’ve learned that you can, in fact, capably pick a crab with just one of these implements. They will tolerate crackers (and set one out generously at my place), but generally turn up their noses to those, too. I find I still need them to crack the claws, though my in-laws use the leverage of the table to get into theirs.

I’ve come to cherish these idiosyncrasies, which make the feast simple, satisfying, and somehow reverent? All hail the blue crab!

+Sometimes classics are the only way to go. I put on the outfit below and felt like a million bucks — and so myself, too! The bag is the LL Bean medium in ecru/ecru with regular-length handles (had a lot of questions about handles — the long ones look too long and IMO out of proportion with the bag, and these regular length ones WILL fit over your shoulder, but just barely, FYI). I have so many of these boat totes but really love this size and colorway for fall. I’ve been wearing it all week in lieu of a proper handbag. The dress is G Label (seriously cannot rave enough about the quality and tailoring of Goop’s house label — it is SO good, and I love seeing Gwyneth style all of the pieces…apparently she remains very involved in the fit and styling of the house brand, and often serves as fit model) and the sweater over my shoulders is Quince’s cotton fisherman which is ANOTHER slam dunk from this brand. Guys! Where have I been? This brand makes the best inexpensive sweaters to fill out all your wardrobe holes. This navy one is so versatile and did I mention it’s 100% cotton and only $39?! Seriously insane. I love it. I sized up to a small in this for a looser fit and probably could have even gone up to a medium for a really slouchy/oversized look, which is kind of what I’m after these days.

+Some final shopping notes: 1 // my Tazz Ugg slippers, available in a super-cute teddy brown and stocked in all sizes!; 2 // the lip balm you’ve been raving about for awhile — cannot wait to try when these arrive in the mail; 3 // my current most absurd fashion craving: a designer baseball cap, specifically one of these Celine logo hats (I blame Nicole Cassidy) or this plaid Miu Miu. I don’t think I can legitimize such a $$ purchase, so looking for other fun fall hats — currently eyeing this plaid one (look for even less with this; 4 // found my Sleeper feather trim pajama set on super sale in a fun hot pink here. Trust me when I say these are SO fun to wear out for holiday affairs / birthdays / girls dinners. Just pair with a suede pump or velvet platform to signal intentionality and keep the rest of the look minimal. You can also wear just the top on its own. 5 // My Internet friend Chrissy shared these incredible under-$100 suede brown platform heels. Love! Perfect with all the wider-legs/flares or long fall dresses we’ve been buying. *Adds to cart.* I’m attending a fall party at the end of this week (will be debuting this Doen dress, which arrived and is SPECTACULAR — I ordered the XXS and I swear it looks tailor-made to my silhouette!; would be perfect for Thanksgiving! I got in the creme forest floral but also love the brand-new mulberry vine pattern) and thinking about ordering the shoes to wear with it.

P.S. Are you an expert in yourself?

P.P.S. What song do you secretly love?

P.P.P.S. My fall shop! And all the items on my current fashion wishlist.

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**I took the above photo at Storm King Art Center a few years ago. If you live in NYC, you must plan a visit in fall!

My Latest Snags: Tuckernuck Dress + Doen Blouse.

This week, I picked up this denim Tuckernuck dress (so versatile — love the clean lines) and this Doen top (influenced by you — this was a bestseller last week and I loved the idea of tucking it into dark wash denim). I also ordered a bunch of items for my daughter, including this Zara dress, these Zara Mary Janes, this Little English dress, and these Birkenstock-inspired slides.

This Week’s Bestsellers.


*15% off with code MAGPIE15.

Weekend Musing: Expectations Are the Enemy.

I can’t stop thinking about an Instagram overlay I heard this week: an older woman’s voice says she’s reached the end of her “I can’t wait until–” years, and that she regretted all the time she spent postponing happiness, or straining to get to the next phase. I have gotten much better about this from a parenting standpoint since my son was born. I remember laying in my postpartum bed, in our first (matchbox-sized) apartment in New York, and witnessing a kind of haze settle in around my baby and I. “Stay a little longer,” I told myself. “Soak everything up.” And I did, for what felt like weeks on end. I deferred little chores, put down my phone, leaned on the kindness of my husband to bring me breakfast and coffee — and instead absorbed everything about that tiny boy. I have no regrets.

But I think it’s the finer points — the smaller activities, the quotidian repetitions — that give me trouble. It was easier, I think, to say: “His newborn days are fleeting; let me sit still with him.” So, too, with planned special days for my children, in which I arrive with an intention to focus on them. It is much harder for me to stay present and open during the humdrum: standing on the sidelines at soccer, or watching my four-year-old boy swing at the park, or making my way through dinner. I find myself thinking about the other things I can or should do, fast-forwarding to next steps. It is not that I am wishing the time away, exactly, or saying “I can’t wait until –” but more that I am not adequately paying attention to the here-and-now. It’s as though time is slipping right through my fingers. At heart, I know I’m talking about mindfulness. And I know I need to better exercise that muscle. Last weekend, for example, my husband and I took our son to a playground for an hour, a rare just-the-three-of-us excursion. I will never forget my son’s glee, the way he basked in our attention, the way his affection poured out, honey-like. But sitting on that bench at around the twenty or thirty minute mark, I admitted to my husband that I was having trouble sitting still. I ticked through all the reasons why my fidgetiness was absurd: the weather was glorious; we had no one whining or out of sorts; we were offering our boy some much-needed quality time; we were together; our time was absent of external demands. And yet. I felt myself itching to be productive, to check my phone, to rifle through plans for the evening or following day. Saying it all out loud made me feel better, more centered, more capable of bending my mind to the present moment, especially when my husband shared something interesting about mindfulness and the use of time:

“Expectations — good or bad — are the enemy.” He explained that if you go into an experience with high expectations, even if they are met, you’re constantly expending energy in yardsticking. If you enter into an experience with low expectations, you’re approaching from a place of negativity.

I’ve been trying this on for size this week. I’ve been self-aware when I find myself grimacing or over-enthusing about a particular event or chore or activity. It’s like putting myself into neutral. I trust taht this practice is how the truly even-keeled folks make their way through life: open to surprise, unflustered by the happenstance. They open the door and accept.


+A few of you had asked for the peppier dinner party playlist I used recently — I saved it to a public Spotify playlist in case you’d like to listen! I also have a “Magpie Dishwashing Music” playlist that is perfect for chores at home on a rainy Saturday.

+Intrigued by this tiny steamer for travel. I have a small Rowenta one but I almost never bring it with me because it’s too bulky — and their travel one doesn’t look that small? (In general, I’m inclined to trust Rowenta, though. Their iron is incredible. Have I yapped about it enough this year? If you don’t have a Rowenta, strongly advise upgrading. Will make your clothes look so much better!)

+A perfect corduroy kick flare. I actually pulled out my trusty Gap kick flares (I think I’ve led about 2/3 of the women in my life to order these, and all rave about them as much as I do!) this week and was reminded of how much I love this flattering fit.

+Julia Amory’s caftan in black is such a great transitional dress. I actually thought of Halloween when I saw it! And of course I adore her shirtdresses.

+Remember the tartan trousers I was going wild over earlier this week? If you like the look but not the price tag, Sezane has a cute pair in a great wool tartan out now. So good for the holidays!

+Sezane has a lot of really chic, well-priced pieces out right now! I think I’m going to try these cropped forest green trousers (!) and this striped cardigan, which reminds me of La Ligne, but about half the price.

+Losing my mind over this Stine Goya dress. I do not have an occasion lined up to wear it but…!!!! So good for holiday…

+Cute rugby stripe sweater for a little boy.

+Love everything about this $60 lamp.

+How chic are these frayed-edged ballet flats?

+In response to my post about girls’ dresses for fall this week, a Magpie pointed me in the direction of this spectacular fall toile from new-to-me brand Lallie London. Wow!

+Fab pleated leather skirt.

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*More denim skirt styling ideas here.



*Go up a size for a roomier fit. I could probably have even gone up two sizes for a slouchier look. (I took a S and am usually an XS.) So, so worth the hype. I’m wildly (!) impressed with quality relative to its under-$100 price tag. I will be getting more from this brand. After many of you raved about the brand, I reached out to them to see if they’d be willing to send me a sample to test, and they generously gifted me this item and a few others. Thank you so much for the rec. I’m obsessed!


P.S. Styling chocolate brown.

P.P.S. I feel ill-equipped to give marriage advice, but here are some thoughts.

P.P.P.S. What would you tell your 20-year-old self? (Comments are great!)

Do you go through phases of brief, intense obsession with certain dishes? I am absolutely this way — but my husband could not be more different. He hates repeating meals (save for leftovers; we typically eat the same dinner twice in a row to reduce his cooking load) and is hell-bent on diversifying not only the cuisines but proteins we eat from day to day. (A week of all poultry is hell for him!)

Me? I’m deep into a bizarre but delicious breakfast of cottage cheese (Good Culture brand only), everything bagel seasoning, and raspberries harvested from Mr. Magpie’s garden. I know it sounds strange: garlic seasoning alongside fruit? But it works. A great combination of savory, umami, sweet, and it’s filling enough that a small ramekin keeps me happy until lunchtime. I also love the cottage cheese with EB seasoning and cucumbers for a later-in-the-day snack.

Other hyper-fixations I’ve had in the recent past: chicken caesar salad wraps (I generally avoid wraps like the plague, as they bespeak bad corporate catering, but fell in love with one from a local spot and could not stop ordering it), chicken pho ga soup with a ton of lime, sriracha, and Thai basil mixed in, and broccoli rabe dressed with red pepper flakes, garlic, olive oil, and pecorino romano. This last dish can hardly be called a “temporary” fling — I’ve been obsessed with it for years. If rabe is on the menu, I will order it. There is a local pizza joint that has a broccoli rabe and sausage pizza and I have a very difficult time ordering anything else but this combo.

What’s your current hyper-fixation meal? The weirder the better. Please share in the comments!


+My Grub Street style food diary. I know you loved this post — should I do another soon?

+What do you eat for lunch?

+Some of our favorite restaurants in the DC area here. To this I would add a Bob’s Shanghai 66, a no-frills, fast-casual Chinese restaurant out in Rockville that Landon took me to this week for a little midweek lunch date. It was SO, so good.

+Some of our favorite kitchen gear.

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Shopping Break.

+All the hype about these pants! I ordered a pair to try…

+Also ordered this fun dress. I am such a dress girl.

+But I also discovered the perfect LBD. I own a sleeveless version of this dress in a hot pink and it is SO FLATTERING. The fit is divine. Somehow 25% off and fully stocked!

+OO this variegated knit sweater from Sezane!!!

+I polled my Magpies for the best dry shampoo and so, so many of you (hands down) raved about Living Proof. I ordered myself some – cannot wait to try!

+Speaking of new beauty, a few of you had raved about UBeauty’s Lip Plasma, and the team over there just reached out and offered to send me a few colors to try. I cannot wait!!! Will write a review as soon as I receive and test.

+Cute sticky notes for lunch box love notes!

+It may seem early, but these little tree decorations are a good thing to buy now and sock away for Thanksgiving. The brown ones would totally work on a fall tablescape, too!

+This bag was sold out in the navy suede until late October so I picked in the chocolate raisin color. I’ve been looking for a good slouchy bucket bag for fall and love the buckle on this one.

+Ordered some of these fill-in-the-blank thank you note cards for my children. 10% off with code MAGPIE10.

+I’ve given these prayer bowls to a few children for Baptisms/First Communions — so sweet. These custom embroidered pieces are also sweet.

+Cute fall kicks, under $50.

+Attractive, inexpensive curtain rods for a DIY situation.

+Placemats above are Proper Table. Still in constant use in my house, a year in.

+Dramatic tweed dress for a special occasion this fall.

+ICYMI: I wrote two mini reviews on pieces I am loving from Dorsey, and on my Adidas Sambas.

+Again, this is early (!), but I love these legging sets from Lila + Hayes for my girl. I’ve bought her several sets each year and it’s just such an easy uniform for weekends. Comfortable for her, but cute! The patterns are amazing. They always do great holiday patterns.

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds!

I know I’m leaning into fall when I start gravitating towards thriller books (about to start this one, and my sister-in-law is reading and enjoying this!), watching horror movies (did anyone else see “Bodies Bodies Bodies”? It came out last year, but Mr. Magpie and I watched it last weekend and thought it was excellent — sort of edge-of-your-seat whodunnit with Gen Z flare; Clue with contemporary social commentary!), and burning fall candles (I have this, this, and this already queued up for the season). This weekend, I’m planning to make my yearly batch of iced pumpkin cookies. It’s a bit on the early side (I usually wait until October), but I can’t help myself.

A couple of finds to maximize fall hygge this autumn —

fall home finds


P.S. I saved a bunch of my favorite fall finds to my Amazon shop, too. Plus: 16 chic home decor finds, and some favorite kitchen gizmos of ours.

P.P.S. Some thoughts on the modern thriller as a genre.

P.P.P.S. On pursuing English as a major in college. (Not sure I’d advise? But can’t imagine my life any other way.)

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds!

Q: More everyday fall outfit inspiration.

A: Saw the photo above and immediately wanted to recreate. Great oversized/boxy/swing jacket, ecru jeans, boxy bag, even the Birk bostons!

P.S. Other good posts to look to for everyday style: here and here.

Q: Wedding guest in FL in October. Bride requests no black, but no other dress code. Outside.

A: Assuming it will still be toasty then — I love this orange gown; the mixed silk material and slight rustiness of the color read autumnal to me but it’s still appropriate for warmer climate! Also love this shockingly affordable dress — again, has a seasonal vibe (especially in the emerald green or rust) but would be totally comfortable in warm weather. More of a splurge, but I’m obsessed with this dramatic Rhode, and Johanna Ortiz is always a great pick for Florida affairs. Finally, love this splashy orange-pink dress.

Q: A good mauve nail polish.

A: A horrible unhelpful but truthful answer: I basically never stray from white-pink (OPI Lisbon Wants Moor or Let’s Be Friends) or bright red (OPI Big Apple Red or Essie Really Red), but am motivated to try a vampy color Katie of Beach Reads and Bubbly has been wearing, OPI’s Yes My Condor Can-Do, for fall this year. I know I will probably regret it. Any time I’ve tried a darker polish, my hands look unrecognizable and slightly unwell to me. Ha! Does anyone have a better rec for mauve for this Magpie?

Q: A request for next time:  outfits for all of the upcoming evening fall social events on the cal. Adult-only, non-dress options? (e.g. parent socials, cocktail mixers, date nights in the city, etc.) thank you!!

A: My Parker Edit isn’t a bad place to start. I designed it for business casual environments but a lot of the outfits feel perfectly polished/sophisticated for events at school, date nights, etc (and are not dresses). I love the idea of a great blazer over a polished tee with statement jeans and great flats. This has been my uniform lately, or sometimes I swap in a polished cardigan (love this, this, or this) instead. Another good formula: silk slip skirt, textured sweater, great flats.

Q: Rain jacket – something unusual but versatile.

A: Love the ones from Stutterheim (select colors on sale here). They have a great, fashion-conscious shape and come in fantastic colors. I also think this gingham one from Loeffler Randall is fun and unexpected.

Q: Fall looks with spring/summer elements (white denim, florals, light pink).

A: I’ve been wearing white/ecru denim around the clock. I especially love this pair and this pair. You can make them feel autumnal with a simple striped tee like this or this and slides like this or sneakers like this. For the floral piece — Tuckernuck has some really great fall florals out like this and this, and Mille always does great fall florals (I own this Charlie top in several patterns — great for tucking into high-waisted white denim for a transitional look). Same goes for Emerson Fry — check out their Frances blouse! Well priced, in pink/floral patterns, and perfect for tucking into jeans.

Q: Need rec for bridesmaid shoes.

A: These! Won’t compete with the dress and will go with everything (and be re-wearable til kingdom come). Also available in black, gold, etc. If you’re after something with a lower heel, these ones from LR are fun but might not work with every dress.

Q: Black tie wedding gown in black — comfortable and danceable.

A: This is gorgeous, and the strap around the neck means you won’t be fidgeting to keep dress up while dancing! This VB is also a timeless knock-out — L.A. Confidential vibes!

Q: An updated work bag that can fit a laptop.

A: Splurge: Bottega or Metier. More reasonable: Cuyana, Naghedi, Little Liffner Option One or Two, this J. Crew (confirmed can fit laptop but note that the top does not zip — may not be great if you commute via train), or this Etsy.

Q: Bright red everyday clothing pieces under $200.

A: Love this! Pops of red are definitely trending this season. I like this oversized cardigan, these NBs, this slip skirt, these Vibi Venezias, this striped knit, and this beanie.

Q: Feminine but not frilly fall dresses, moody colors — under $200.

A: This Wiggy Kit (actually past season and therefore on sale) is on my shortlist for Thanksgiving/fall. You might also take a look at Doen. This is slightly over budget but I adore it.

Q: Dress for my presentation at a big conference — special but professional.

A: I love the idea of a CO shirtdress. Timeless, classic, elegant, tailored, but definitely has a point of view. This would make me feel like a million bucks — a boss-lady. I also just ordered this denim shirtdress from Tuckernuck. It’s super dark wash and very structured so the denim looks fresh, polished, and sharp rather than casual. Imagine with a suede Manolo-inspired mule like this. This shirting striped dress is also excellent and timeless — but the slightly longer ankle length makes it feel more dramatic in a good way. I also think this dress, with a simple black pump, would be fab.

Q: Autumnal hue suit for a conference at the end of October.

A: Bigger budget: anything VB, but how fab are these wool pinstripe trousers with matching blazer, or these plaid ones with matching jacket? WOW. Smaller budget: these BR pants and matching jacket are VB-esque but currently 40% off, making the entire suit under $300.

Q: A black belt for trousers without a large logo.

A: Nili Lotan, Refine, or J. Crew!

Q: Narrow bedside tables.

A: These ones from PB are only 16″ — love this biscotti color. Also love these cloth-wrapped ones from WS (18″). Have also seen these drawer-less ones styled beautifully in bedrooms.

Q: Comfortable/casual shoe with some heel to wear with wide leg jeans.

A: I like a boot for this job — something like this.

Q: My fiance’s birthday is next month, and I want to get him something special to commemorate the occasion.  He definitely appreciates luxury items, and is an avid hunter and traveler. I would love any and all suggestions, keeping to under 1K if possible (we have a wedding to save for!).

A: I always try to graft gifts onto interests. What about some great, upgraded hunting gear? A new Barbour or Filson field jacket, a Tom Beckbe hunting vest or waterfowl vest, new Muckboots?

Q: 60th birthday gift for a minimalist sister.

A: One of these incredible under-$100 cashmere fisherman sweaters (size up / be generous in sizing) or an LL Bean tote with her initials on the side. Those are my front-running gift ideas for sisters for the holidays! Can think of no woman who wouldn’t love one or both of those items.

Tuckernuck has some epic new arrivals. Last week, I ordered this denim dress, but I love all of the items below for the season ahead. The code YOUROCK will get you 20% off your order, and it even works on brands that rarely honor discounts (like Rue de Verneuil!). Sharing my top picks below…

01 // FAUX LEATHER LEGGINGS. These are so chic — imagine with an oversized striped button-down and brown flats.

02 // DEMELLIER CROSSBODY. She’s a beaut. This one has been on my radar all season long. I love her in both color options, and the glossy hardware is impossibly chic.

03 // LOEFFLER RANDALL VELVET MARY JANES. I love LR flats — so incredibly comfortable, right out of the box — and adore the rich velvet colors available in this style. Perfect with all your winter dresses. I own similar velvet styles from Vibi Venezia and love the way little velvet slippers feel dressy — but don’t involve any heel height / pain.

04 // GINGHAM SHIRT. OK, how adorable? This would look so cute beneath denim overalls, or tucked into high-waisted trousers or utility pants. J’adore j’adore.

05 // LIZZIE FORTUNATO ARP EARRINGS. I love the heft of these beauties! Imagine with a crisp white button down and great wide-legs.

06 // DEEP DENIM DRESS. Ordered this the moment I laid eyes on it. I am obsessed with dark denim for the season, and love the collarless silhouette, slight puff sleeves, and bracelet wrists. This will be a great fall workhorse to style up and down — I immediately imagined with chocolate brown flats and a great brown bag, but also love the idea of pairing it with boots, beneath a cableknit cardigan, etc.

07 // NAVY SNAP PULLOVER. A polished take on athleisure — adore the gold buttons and rich navy color.

08 // EMBROIDERED TAHLIA MINI. I saw this and thought it was perfect for my Magpies living in warmer climates who are still looking for ways to incorporate fall colors into their wardrobes. This would be adorable for a lowkey Thanksgiving celebration.

09 // RUE DE VERNEUIL TOTES. Tuckernuck has such a great collection of this trendy French brand’s chic totes. I’ve been eyeing one for a year now. I saw this one and imagined packing all my family’s gear for an afternoon at a vineyard — toys and activities for the kids, snacks, sweaters, etc. — or tossing everything inside for a weekend trip to take in the fall foliage in Charlottesville.

10 // ROSEWOOD CHINTZ MARLENA DRESS. One of my top picks for a fall family portrait. Imagine with a cable-knit sweater in a wheat color around your shoulders, or great chestnut brown suede boots.

P.S. Visitations — a reflection on grief.

P.P.S. How do you spend time alone?

P.P.P.S. 16 beauty minis to try.

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The French refer to the end of summer vacation and resumption of normal life in late August as la rentree — a re-entry. Children return to school; stores and restaurants closed for summer break re-open; families come home from summer holidays. America doesn’t experience the same level of summer shutdown that the Europeans do, but here, too, I feel a profound shift come early September. I follow a couple of French creators on Instagram who talked this year about la rentree as both a kind of depression and an opportunity to start over. I witnessed a similar internal whiplash. The hazy looseness of summer mornings and August evenings seemed to evaporate abruptly; in its stead: alarms, uniforms, lunchboxes packed tidily in the fridge the night before. I felt myself torn in two directions, at once longing for the slow starts and ready for the rhythmic routine.

I have been trying, this year, to pull up more regularly after transition moments and ask: “What went well? What didn’t?” These reflections help me better smooth things out at future turning points, or at least emotionally anticipate what might ensue. For example, my children have historically had big reactions to the back-to-school process. There have been uncharacteristic bed-wettings, tantrums, regressions of various kinds, and clinginesses. This year, I purposefully kept their first week back at school as quiet as possible as if to tamp down on any extra stimulation, and was completely unfazed when my son had two accidents (and he rarely has them!) It felt strangely, even satisfyingly, premonitory. I think my children appreciated the designed quiet of our home life bookending the newness of the school year, as we saw little “transitional aftermath” otherwise. Isn’t it interesting to contemplate the design of your home life and family schedule in this way? We can turn down the volume some weeks, and “let ‘er rip” others. I am learning to calibrate according to my children’s needs, reminding myself to really stop and listen to them. So goes the adage: “Wisdom is the reward you get for listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”

As for me? I clipped back into my running regimen and read every night before bed — two habits that always afford me calm and stasis. I was borderline ecstatic on my morning run on Monday: a chilly, damp 62 degrees (I had to layer!), a 9:45 pace, browning leaves underfoot, and Olivia Rodrigo taking me back to my teenage angst. The right kind of autumnal therapy if you ask me.

So, asking you to day —

What made this year’s “rentree” good? What did you learn for the next one?

Post Scripts.

+ “Fly, be free! I want to say. I want to say, Stay with me forever! Come to think of it, these are the two things I want to say to everyone I love most.” — Catherine Newman. Musings along these lines here.

+The pinches of motherhood.

+Have you tried my “buffer” practice? Really helps me toggle out of work mode into motherhood mode.

+The goal, always: “to live care-ingly.”

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Shopping Break.

+Shopbop’s 20% off sale ends today! I am going to try to avoid blabbing about these jeans again. I feel like they’ve been in every “What I Loved Wearing” post for weeks on end. There has been a huge shift in denim over the past few years, and I have finally really leaned into the new silhouettes — these feel like a good “gateway drug” to some of the looser/baggier fits and wilder leg shapes. The off-white is perfect for fall!

+I’m dying over Ralph Lauren’s tartan blazer and trousers for holiday 2023. I have a pair of tartan trousers I pull out every year — they are SO fun to re-imagine with trendier shoes/accessories each year. Last year, I paired with a feather-trim blouse (I used the top from this Sleeper set) and Miu Miu black suede platforms for a Christmas event and it felt like the perfect classic-meets-modern moment.

+Speaking of platform sandals, this under-$100 pair is perfect for fall. Imagine with fall dresses and/or wide-legs!

+Cutest mini sherpa vest for a wee one.

+If you’ve been holding out on the Dyson Airwrap like I have, Blue Mercury is offering 20% off with code HAPPY20. (You have to sign up for their rewards program to apply the code — but it’s free to join.) I am deeply, deeply tempted.

+People are going crazy over Clarins’ new mask. I think I need to try it! I am such a fangirl for this classic brand. I still use their double serum daily. Holy grail product!

+The Naghedi mini crossbody just came out in a great forest green color. Love it for fall! A little more interesting than black/navy/taupe — but will still pair well with fall colors like burgundy, khaki, denim, brown, navy, etc.

+For fellow parents to Dogman-obsessed children: this puzzle is a cute rainy day activity. It has a hologram effect! (Also, alternative-but-similar-to-Dogman titles suggested by Magpies here.)

+Goop just released a new product: colorblur glow balms. Color me intrigued! I’ve turned into such a fan girl of this line this year. If you are new to the brand, my two favorite products are their peptide serum (I swear this has done wonders for the texture and evenness of my skin, and has even helped tone down discolorations) and their GoopGlow microderm exfoliator. I wrote a full review of the exfoliator here — it’s incredible.

+A REALLY chic under-$150 sweater.

+Fun statement belt.

+Styled carefully, these slouchy cords could be spectacular. Under $40 too.

+Love the silhouette of these suede boots, and such good colors! Especially dig the chocolate brown.

+Speaking of chocolate brown (my fav color this season), I own and adore this ribbed turtleneck from J. McLaughlin. Such a good layering piece.

+Dorsey released their fab cocktail rings. These are investment pieces but WOW – they look heirloom.

+Fun casual sherpa vest for a weekend/dressed-down look.

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My daughter would rather wear jeans and a t-shirt most days (which I’ve learned to not only accommodate but support, after some soul-searching), but there are occasions where we dress up. Below, my favorite dress finds for little girls for the season — perfect for fall family photos, special occasions, and even a handful of casual/everyday dresses that my daughter will accept. Over the weekend, I ordered her this printed Little English pima cotton dress (15% off with code FALL15) — the print was so cute, and she vastly prefer soft cotton / t-shirt dresses to the starchy poplins of her toddler years.


Two other dresses I couldn’t squeeze into the collage: this Boden (it’s cord!) and this Doen! Too sweet.

P.S. More recent kids finds, plus fall coats for little ones.

P.P.S. On maintaining wonder as a parent.

P.P.P.S. Emotional calisthenics.

*Above: head to toe Veronica Beard, including an iconic trench (look for less with this), blazer, shirt, and jeans.

**Also, in case IYMI: Shopbop is offering a surprise 20% off a ton of great current-season buys. I shared my top picks here. Do not miss my favorite SLVRLAKE ecru jeans and THE bag of the season!

One of my girlfriends recently asked me for thoughts on “leveling up” her business casual wardrobe. She just made partner at her consultancy (!) and said she doesn’t want to wear a suit (too uptight) but feels uncomfortable wearing jeans (“I want to feel like the boss!”). I loved this prompt for a post, as I think many of us find ourselves in similar straits: looking for pieces that communicate confidence, polish, and maturity without sacrificing style. This edit is for my Parker Magpies.

One of my biggest style insights when dressing in this mode is picking one “fashion-forward” piece and then grounding the rest of the look. For example, try a statement jean like the wildly popular horseshoe style from Citizens, or a re-engineered utility pant like Nili Lotan’s cult following Shon style (look for less with these), and then pair with a polished button-down and classic flats. I promise you can pull it off, and the effect will be: “Wow, that woman is chic and knows how to dress herself.” My personal challenge to you is to buy a couple of more fashion-forward/out-of-your-comfort-zone pieces this season when it comes to work! I think playing everything safe/classic (which might be the common impulse in the workplace) leads to boredom with your wardrobe.


Shop the Parker Edit.

P.S. My dad’s career advice.

P.P.S. In case you feel like you don’t have it all figured out yet. (Rest easy — few of us do.)

P.P.P.S. Inspired by a poem I love.

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Wooo – a surprise 3-day sale at Shopbop in which we can score 20% off several of my top picks for the fall season, including —

1 // The SLVRLAKE jeans I haven’t stopped gabbing about (I would advise going up a size for a looser fit — plus, no one wants tight white jeans).

2 // *The* ALC Grace bag! A bunch of you own and rave about this bag. Several have specifically said it should be much more expensive than it is — that it rivals Celine quality handbags they also own! And now, 20% off.

3 // A fun little hat to throw on with your fall wardrobe. The whimsical slogan and marigold color add an element of funk to any outfit. I own this and love pairing it (unexpectedly) with a crisp button-down and ladylike flats.

4 // One of my girlfriends loved these pants so much she ordered them in three colors. These are a great utility style pant for everyday that you can dress up with a blazer or dress down with a striped tee. I own a few pairs of pants in this army/fatigue green and find it is surprisingly easy to pair with nearly any color in the wardrobe. Acts like a neutral!

5 // I spotted a mom at my daughter’s soccer game last weekend wearing these sunglasses (with code, under $50). Instantly copy-catted.

6 // This coat is such a great buy IMO. I have a similar style from Talbots from years ago that I still reach for constantly — the hood is a game changer! I didn’t realize how essential that is in rainy/chilly weather. Plus, the length is long enough for throwing on over leggings and having rear coverage, and I feel like the style dresses up enough to be worn over a fall dress.

7 // Olive green cords are having a moment. I like the idea of styling them down a bit, e.g., with sneakers and a slouchy knit or a simple white tee and a great suede bucket handbag.

8 // An ivory knit is an incredible tool in your wardrobe. Goes with everything. A wool skirt, leather pants, jeans (of course), leggings!

9 // A gorgeous fall patterned dress for the cocktail party circuit. This one turned my head because it would work just as well for a family portrait as it would for a school meeting, a brunch, or even Thanksgiving!

10 // A fall statement top. This is my “lazy” formula for wanting to look like I spent time coordinating my outfit when I have zero energy. Pair a bold top like this with your favorite jeans and an unexpected pair of shoes.

P.S. More of my fall picks from Shopbop here.

P.P.S. Musings on returning to my hometown.

P.P.P.S. What’s stopping you?

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds!

1 // THIN STRIPED TURTLENECK SWEATER. A Magpie asked me for recs for “thin knits to tuck into trousers and skirts.” This is a great one. I love it in the stripe! Imagine tucked into wide-leg trousers, a silky slip skirt, loose-fit jeans!

2 // SILVER SLINGBACKS. Silver accessories are having a major moment right now. These would be fun with looser fit jeans.

3 // SLIP SKIRT. This is going to be a shock, but I’ve never owned a slip skirt in my life! I am in the market for one this year. I want to pair with chunky knits for texture contrast. This olive green one hits all the right marks, and I LOVE the color.

4 // MINI CITY BAG. This small crossbody is SO fun. Love the knot detail on the straps.

5 // KNIT CARDIGAN. I’m on the waitlist for this beauty. It has a Jenni Kayne / Khaite quality thanks to the silhouette.

6 // STRIPED TOP. The color and style of this top is VERY Veronica Beard. Love it paired with high-waisted olive trousers or bootcut jeans.

7 // SEAMED KNIT SWEATER. Lots of knitwear on this list, but Zara has SUCH great sweaters at reasonable prices. Like, the quality isn’t phenomenal, but you can get high-end looks at a fraction of the price. A great way to try statement silhouettes/details on without a major investment. Does anyone remember the pearl-studded sweater of theirs I bought maybe four years ago? I LOVED it so much, and still have it in my closet! It always gets compliments.

8 // CROPPED KNIT CARDIGAN. Another great basic for the season. Pair with tartan nap dresses, jeans and tees, etc!

9 // KNIT SOCKS. These remind me of the Falke ones I bought and adore!

10 // CHERRY PRINT DRESS. Your little lady needs this! Bonpoint vibes.

11 // AIRPLANE SWEATSHIRT. And your little man needs this! My son loves their prints — so fun. A lot of them have a Keith-Haring-meets-Marimekko vibe that I love.

P.S. You still have time to make this fantastic, easy icebox dessert — summer’s not technically over until the 21st!

P.P.S. Small home and travel improvements.

P.P.P.S. How can you tell when something is good advice?

If you want more Magpie, you can subscribe to my Magpie Email Digest for a weekly roundup of top essays, musings, conversations, and finds!