Magpie Mail: Advice for New Moms, Holiday Decor, and the Agony of Waiting to Become a Parent.

Q: How do you decorate for the holidays?

A: I love this question! I was just thinking earlier today that I am already excited about playing Christmas music — ha. Below are a few of my favorite Christmas decorations:

REINDEER STOCKING HOLDERS

PERSONALIZED STOCKINGS (WILL NEED TO ORDER ONE FOR HILL, TOO!!)

QUILTED TREE SKIRT

MINI MOSS CHRISTMAS TREES (KEEP THESE IN THE CENTER OF OUR DINING TABLE)

TARTAN TABLE RUNNER

BOTANICAL WREATH FOR FRONT DOOR (WITH WREATH HANGER)

ADVENT CALENDAR — I BOUGHT A SLIM FABRIC ONE LAST YEAR FOR MINI BUT WANT TO UPGRADE TO SOMETHING MORE SUBSTANTIAL THIS YEAR, LIKE THIS, THIS, OR THIS

MINI HAS ALWAYS LOVED THIS BOOK, NO MATTER WHAT SEASON!

MY FAVORITE WINTER CANDLE

Q: I work at a small historical society and each year we have an annual banquet when we present the year’s honorees with a medal. This year, we are honoring two people I greatly admire and I would really like to make a good impression. I will be meeting with them in early October to conduct an interview for our magazine and don’t know what to wear! My style is definitely classic preppy, so I’d prefer to stay in that general sartorial area. Thank you for your help!

A: So flattering to those two honorees! I would go for something sophisticated like this gorgeous dress, some pearl earrings, and my favorite (affordable!) black suede pumps. Treat yourself to a blowout! It makes all the difference.

Other options:

THIS DRESS ($35!) WITH BLACK SUEDE PUMPS

THIS PLEATED MIDI (SNAKESKIN IS SO ON TREND!) WITH THIS PUFF-SLEEVED SWEATER

TWEED DRESS (ALSO LOVE THIS) WITH BIG PEARL NECKLACE

IF YOU’RE ON THE BOLD SIDE, THIS LEOPARD MIDI DRESS WITH A PADDED BLACK HEADBAND

Finally, I recently bought my first HVN dress and OMG. Absolutely obsessed with this label. The dresses are exquisitely made and fit like a dream. I also love the retro vibe — these will stay in style for decades. You can find them gently used here.

Q: What is your favorite holiday to dress for?

A: Christmas! I have a couple of tartan dresses I’ve owned for a long, long time (some are over a decade old) that I nearly always trot out. One is by Ralph Lauren and is absolutely timeless — black watch tartan wool! — and I am hoping I will continue to be able to fit into it over the years. I just update the accessories — i.e., a big headband, a satin handbag, or new earrings.

I love that you can get away with major drama around the holidays and chalk it up to “festive” attire — i.e., a dramatic sequinned dress, a feathered handbag or dress, red satin heels, etc.

Q: How did you handle waiting to become a parent? Struggling with being patient.

A: Ugh. I am so sorry you are going through this. It is frustrating, highly distracting, and often agonizing. (I wrote a little bit about this here.) I dealt with it very privately, only leaning on Mr. Magpie, because I couldn’t bear the thought of other people checking in on me or telling me unhelpful things like “once you stop stressing, it will happen!” (How many other women have heard that advice?! I’ve had about a dozen friends chime in to say they’d heard that exact “sagacity” from well-intentioned friends, which helps no one, only makes us feel guiltier — am I causing the delay?! — and is honestly untrue in the case of women struggling with infertility.) I also had a lot of people ask me when I was going to have a baby and/or make unintentionally callous comments like, “Jen — you guys are smart. Don’t have kids. Your life disappears.” This is all extremely difficult to swallow when you are squarely focused on starting a family. I remember sobbing to Mr. Magpie one Mother’s Day, feeling surrounded and suffocated by all of the messages of motherhood, and it was all I wanted!

Anyway — all that to say — I completely empathize with you.

My best advice would be to find your one person — whether it’s your husband, your mom, your sister, a close friend, a colleague — that you feel you can lean on and who will let you vent when you need to. I’ve had a few friends go through IVF or miscarriages together and I can imagine that would be a wonderful support to have; maybe there is someone else in your life in a similar position?

I will also say that I occasionally liked reading random blogs/forums about women going through similar issues — it made me feel less alone. Because you are not alone. I can scarcely think of ONE friend in my life who has not had some trouble getting pregnant, staying pregnant, or delivering the baby. Sometimes those forums were on the bitter side, and I kind of wanted to hear that — kind of wanted someone to say what I was feeling and to make me feel less weird for having the impulse. Sometimes they were encouraging. Sometimes they included helpful thoughts or suggestions.

Finally — other big piece of advice! — fill your life right now with things you love doing. Be selfish. Sleep in until 10 a.m., stay out for that extra cocktail, pick up a hobby like golfing or needlepoint, invest in a long TV series, travel if you can — put yourself and your own happiness first. I say this for a few reasons: first, distraction can be a powerful antidote and second, you won’t be able to do a lot of those things once you are pregnant/have a baby!

Sending you all of my best. Trust me when I say that you are not alone — I am guessing half the readers of this blog have been in your shoes. We’re rooting you on.

Q: I had a question which you may have already answered. A classic white shirt – where do I start! I wanted one that is a good buy but also can’t spend a fortune on a white shirt. I am trying to be more mindful with purchases and focus less on quick fixes and this is item number one. 

A: Love this. Depending on style:

+My Polo oxfords have held up for close to two decades. I first bought most of them in high school / college and they’re still hanging in there. A classic white one looks fantastic with jeans, skirts, shorts. (Also — proof that a classic RL button-down is eternally chic.)

+Equipment signature blouse. These are beautifully made and go with everything, forever. If the pricepoint is too steep, I have also had good luck with J. Crew’s silk blouses and Everlane’s.

+White tees — I love Hanes x Karla!

Q: Did you make a decision on your new diaper bag?

A: No! Now that mini is in school, I’m finding my Goyard is sufficient, since I’m usually only with one or the other child. Still, I am on the hunt because I am completely destroying the Goyard with every passing day. There were so many good points and suggestions made in the comments of my post on the subject that I went back to square one and re-started the search. A few late entrants:

THIS ST. LAURENT TOTE (A MOM AT MINI’S SCHOOL WEARS THIS AND IT LOOKS PRACTICAL AND ROOMY)

THIS REJINA PIYO

THIS CUYANA

THIS TILA MARCH

STILL CONSIDERING THIS PRADA

A few people have also raved about this Dagne Dover bag. A friend of mine and I were texting about it — neither of us are super into the style (it looks like luggage to me) but are attracted to its features, especially that cell phone pocket. I swear I spend half my day looking for my cell phone in my bag…

Q: I have a black tie wedding in a barn, upstate NY, mid-October. What do I wear? I can be bold!

A: My first thought was something dramatic like this pleated jumpsuit, which I’ve been ogling for some time. It’s formal but FUN. Big red lip, high heels?! You’d slay in it.

Other options:

+This gingham maxi, which feels appropriate for the venue!

+This shimmering beauty. I love that the color tones down the statement, but at the end of the day, you’re still wearing a SEQUIN DRESS.

+Caroline Constas dresses were made for a party.

+Zara has some fun, fashion-forward styles, like this.

+Alice McCall always has super fun pieces — something like this?

+Zimmermann is one of my go-to labels for eveningwear, and they’re having a great sale. This?

+This dress takes some guts, but it’s a dead-ringer for Markarian, my ultimate splurge pick (I mean…!!!)

Q: How has living in NYC changed your fashion (besides the obvious, like weather and walking)?

A: I am more fearless. I never worry that what I’m wearing will earn me sideways looks or arched eyebrows. To wit: I wore this statement dress (now on sale!) to a casual but special anniversary dinner at Rubirosa and no one batted an eye. You can wear anything here and feel great. NY is style-centric and fashion-diverse, and I’m much more game to try trends than I ever was before. I’m also finding that while I tend to gravitate towards the feminine, I now occasionally try out edgier styles and lots of black — for example, this sweatshirt, this boxy jacket, and a pair of cowboy boots are on my lust list for this fall. And belt bags are my jam.

Also, to your point: I almost exclusively wear flats or kitten heels nowadays. I walk everywhere! Even when we go out in the evenings, we nearly always take the subway (faster and easier), so I’m loathe to teeter around in heels.

Q: Best advice for new mothers? I am doing this alone and am terrified.

A: First — you are NOT alone! One of the most beautiful parts of matrescence is finding a strong, willing, and easy bond with other mothers the world over. Just in the past few days, I’ve consoled a new friend struggling with motherhood issues, compared notes on baby products with another mom friend, helped a mother carry her stroller down the stairs, and exchanged knowing looks with other mothers at school pick-up. There’s a strong mom tribe out there for you, even if it’s virtual — I mean, check out these comments!!!

Second, the best piece of parenting advice I ever received was to trust my own instincts. You are the mother. You will intuitively know a lot more than you expect to. A NICU nurse was recently saying that moms always know and anticipate when something is off with their children — even before there are consistent symptoms. She said that she always looks to and listens to the mother, who has a sixth sense about these things. All this to say: trust yourself. You are going to love this baby more than anyone else in the universe and have his/her best interests in mind; you are going to do great things with great love.

Third, make a lot of space for yourself and your emotions. There is a lot going on those first few weeks (I wrote about some of them here) and some days will feel overwhelming, and that’s normal. I was totally baffled by the mix of confusing emotions I had after mini was born in particular — I was upset by her delivery (I could not even think about the c-section without crying), I was overjoyed, I was exhausted, I was strangely nostalgic for life beforehand, I was frustrated by breastfeeding, I was relieved that the delivery was behind me. Make a ton of space for yourself. Be forgiving. Give yourself the grace to cry or vent if you need to.

P.S. My last Magpie mail — keep the questions coming! (You can always email me at jennifer@thefashionmagpie.com.)

P.P.S. Practical advice on preparing for motherhood.

P.P.P.S. Things I have learned from my mother, and things I need to unlearn.

6 Comments

  1. So much good advice here for questions I didn’t even know I (also) had! 🙂 I have amassed a collection of white button-downs (my favorites are by Acne, Everlane, and Alex Mill) — but you have me wanting a new Polo oxford! I had a bunch of them in high school/college but I’ve since grown out of them in the bust area, so I don’t have any at the moment … will be looking to change that this fall!

    Also, that black Ulla sweatshirt … so good!

    xx

  2. As a diaper bag/mom bag to jam fleeces/snacks/wipes – I love the MZ Wallace Metro in Medium once it gets chilly. For some reason it feels wintery with the quilting so I didn’t use it all summer. I even tried it in time-dye but it didn’t feel summery. Could be an easy diaper bag but may be boring since you already have backpack?

    1. Hi! Yes, I totally agree with its more wintry/cold weather seasonality. I’ve heard the straps slide off your shoulder a lot — have you found that to be an issue???

      xo

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