The Fashion Magpie Great Everyday Flats

Magpie Mail: Traditional Flats, Throw Pillows, + Bedside Charging Solutions.

Q: I am looking for flats, preferably under $100, that are interesting but still the “traditional” flat, i.e. no slingback, no slides/mules, etc. Preferably no bows either. Searching for these seem to be like searching for a unicorn lately.

A: I hear you! Slides, bows, and other embellishments are so in vogue right now. My first thoughts were:

+Margaux’s classic ballet flats (seen above) — people rave about the quality and comfort of these shoes. They are significantly pricier than you mentioned, but you can get 10% off your first purchase by signing up for emails. Their demis are less expensive, but they do have a bow, so I’m not sure if that’s a dealbreaker for you.

+Loeffler Randalls. I have always had really great experiences with LR and you can often find past-season styles on Amazon for a song. I own these and these exact styles in different colorways and wear them heavily — and have done so for countless seasons. Incidentally, I feel so passionately about their styles that I updated my Best of Everything: Clothing Basics post to include them, which led me to add a bunch of new items to that roundup. Check it out for more wardrobe must-haves.

+Sam Edelman’s Sally Flats. I love these in the on-trend optic white, which would look incredible with anything from light-wash denim and a floaty blouse to a tailored shirtdress for work.

+J. Crew’s Pointed Toe Flats. Traditional styling, and come in a range of great colors. J. Crew is always running promotions so I’d wait and pounce until they issue their next one.

+Rothy’s. Again, people go insane over these, especially from a comfort standpoint — I have been eyeing a pair of their loafer styles forever. I think you can get a discount by signing up for emails.

+These scalloped flats in the neutral suede color would look lovely with just about anything. Reminiscent of Chloe.

+If you’re comfortable with prints, love this snakeskin style!

Q: My daughter is being baptized in May, and I have no idea what to wear! I want to look appropriate but fashionable.

A: I hear you! My first thought was a pretty white spring dress. That’s the route I went at mini’s Baptism, and I wore something like this. Elegant, timeless, and looks beautiful in pictures with your daughter in her own (likely white) baptismal gown. (I wore this dramatic dress in white to my son’s baby shower two weeks ago that I’d also consider — very forgiving for a pregnant or post-partum figure! Not sure how comfortable you’d be with that dramatic bow in a Church setting, but just throwing it out there.) If you’d prefer to avoid white, something like this elegant Milly (love the cape sleeves and that pink-orchid color), this feminine RedValentino, or this affordable lace pretty (which I’d wear with a J. Crew cardigan in a similar color — i.e., pink on pink / lavender on lavender). For something refined and more on the conservative side, try this $59 shirtdress (so elegant) or this polka-dotted stunner ($100). For a splurge: anything by Saloni, but I am in love with this floral and this white eyelet stunner. All of their dresses are terribly elegant and sophisticated — and elongating!

Q: I need new couch throw pillows but I don’t know where to go to find affordable ones or how to pick a scheme. Our curtains are gray with darker gray embroidery and our rug is navy and white… I don’t want too matchy-matchy but I do what them to go.

A: Ooh, I love this challenge because you have some great, grounding dark colors and classic styles that are just waiting for a pop of color and print. My suggestion would be to start by browsing a few pillow sites and looking for a bold pattern you love that incorporates one or both of the shades you mentioned (gray and blue) but that preferably introduces a new (bright!) color as well. Some of my favorite pillow sources are Caitlin Wilson, Aurelia6311, and Whitlock & Co. Spend some time looking through their prints and see what stands out to you. Based on what you described, I could see myself being drawn to this dragon print, this artful floral, this elegant Schumacher, this funky toile, or this chic chinoiserie. I would order two pillow covers in the print of your choice and then supplement with a few solid-colored throws — don’t be afraid of picking a pillow in a unique texture or in one of the contrasting colors in your print, though! For example, if you went with the funky toile, maybe pick up on the yellow in that print with two of these in the yellow stone color. Or if you went with the dragon print, try a slightly different shade of blue in the form of this. Or this in the soft pink color if you went with the chinoiserie. In short: use the printed pillow to bring several of the colors you’re using elsewhere together in one place, and then supplement with a contrasting color.

Also: make sure to buy your pillow inserts 2″ UP from the size of the pillow cover. So if you buy a 24″ x 24″ pillow cover, buy a 26″ x 26″ insert. I didn’t understand why my pillows always looked sad and deflated until an interior designer taught me this trick — it’s the only way to achieve that full, stylish look you want.

Q: I saw in an Instastory that you had some sort of cube charging station on your bedside table. What was it?! I need to organize the tangle of cords on my bedside table.

A: Yes! I use this one. I was so tired of having a tangle of cords threading over my bedside table. Now I plug my Kindle cord, my iPhone charging cord, and my daughter’s monitor in here, using these velcro cable ties to “abridge” the length of the cords and keep them in check — and still have multiple spare outlets for when I need to also charge my laptop, my iPad, or the iron (I often iron in my bedroom). I love the cube design because it can fit so many outlets in one small space that can sit on my bedside table, discreetly, versus having a long strip outlet dangling down the side of my bed. It also means I don’t need to constantly fish behind my bedside table for the outlet strip; it’s always in easy reach. My only gripe with it is that it’s not heavy on its own so you need to kind of balance which outlets you’re using or it is likely to topple over. Still, a huge improvement.

Q: Where have you been buying all of your son’s baby clothes? I’m expecting a boy as well and looking for good sources for traditional clothing.

A: I’ve had a lot of questions about this ever since sharing some of the items I purchased for his layette in a series of Instastories. I bought a lot of “nicer” pieces from Lou Lou’s Baby Boutique earlier this year — I love it for traditional styles like Peter Pan collar onesies, gingham rompers, and knitted sets. I also picked up a few pieces from Jacadi (I’m especially drawn to their rompers and overalls) and Florence Eiseman jon jons for summer. For everyday wear, I anticipate micro will be wearing a lot of Kissy Kissy footies, 1212 onesies (the softest EVER), Polarn O. Pyret pants, and sleepers/footies from Livly, a newer-to-me label that I am smitten with (and many pieces are on sale here)! All of their pieces come in the softest pima cotton with the cutest prints. Finally, I did buy a couple of special pieces from Spanish label Nanos (including several pieces from this look — OMG) and Ralph Lauren (including a quilted field coat like his dad’s).

Q: Can you share some hostess gift ideas? A friend graciously offered up her London flat for me to stay in for a week and I have no idea how to thank her. I could always go with a case of champagne…

A: My first thought was a super-elegant gift for her home, like a St. Frank Textile throw or monogrammed throw from The Loveliest Company (<<they have THE MOST STUNNING monograms), one of these pomegranates in terracotta (it’s scented and can be used to perfume a closet or bathroom), or a Molton Brown gift set. If those feel a bit impersonal, you might also consider a chic pair of pajamas or a Slip eye mask (or both!). Finally — and this might be tricky given that you’ll be abroad in London — I always love to give food gifts, something like a shipment of really good coffee from your favorite roaster or a box of baked goods from a great bakery, like Levain here in Manhattan or Miette out in SF. If that’s too tricky to import/ship, maybe a “hamper” from the storied Fortnum & Mason (based in London)?

Finally, this isn’t specific to a hostess situation, but I always think a personalized jewelry round from Leontine Linens, a monogrammed bag or pouch from Parker Thatch, or a set of personalized playing cards from Peep’s Paper are elegant and timeless.

Q: Would love to hear more on how you are building out your sons wardrobe for the first 3-6 months? I know you said you want to focus on soft, comfortable items for when he is really little, and I feel the same way! Would love to know where you turn for “basics” like sleepers, onesies for the daytime, etc when you don’t want to spend a ton but also want quality for his fresh newborn-ness 🙂

A: I shared some of my favorite finds for micro’s layette above, but wanted to specifically respond to this question from the standpoint of “affordable basics,” since I recognize that I can be a little spend-y with children’s clothing. I love trolling Amazon for price breaks on Kissy Kissy (like their footies — which are usually $10 cheaper than you’ll find them at Saks/Bloomie’s/Nordie’s/etc.) and Polarn O. Pyret. Both of these brands are incredibly soft and well-made and come in great prints and colors. I have also found some great basics at Primary; I especially love their leggings, long-sleeved tees, and socks. Really great, non-frou-frou, unbranded essentials to stock up on. For affordable jammies, check out Burts Bees. They come in super cute prints and I’ve bought the rugby stripe ones for mini in a couple of sizes. Finally, and unsurprisingly, Gap is my go-to source for reasonably-priced what-to-wear-at-home stuff, like these striped onesies and these white bodysuits, and they’re constantly running promotions! I remember ordering a bunch of pieces from my hospital bed in Gap’s “up to 7 lb” size (i.e., preemie size) for mini when she dropped to six pounds shortly after she was born — and also a number of pieces from Boden’s sale section, which also carries itty bitty sizes (their size newborn runs really small — I remember I ordered a box set of their onesies on sale). I love this onesie, this rainsuit, and these overalls. Also: don’t forget about gift sets, which can often be a really good value, even if you’re only buying for yourself. This $80 gift set includes a blanket, bib, hat and four onesies! Finally, every baby boy needs some Osh Kosh in his life.

Q: I’m looking for a dress to wear to a cousin’s London wedding in late May. The specs: 4:30 pm, Kew Gardens, mostly Brits in attendance. I have a curvy, hourglass build and tend to look best in structured pieces and rich colors. Whaddayagot?

A: Sounds like an elegant affair! The time of day and the fact that it’s in London take some mental configuring. I generally feel that any wedding after 3 PM is suitable for proper evening attire (including full-length gowns), as you’ll be dancing into the twilight hours, but you may get a different vibe depending on invitations and what you are able to glean from the bride and her bridal party’s attire. My first thought was to look at Saloni, though they are investment pieces. I feel like a broken record here, but their pieces are stunning and elegant and tend to live in this territory between cocktail attire and whatever’s just beyond. This is unreal and I feel like a curvy, hourglass build would be lovely in it. This slightly less va-va-voom style is conservatively sexy, too, and in such a great color. I think it also straddles the line between daytime-appropriate and evening-appropriate with aplomb.

I would also take a look at Shoshanna — she tends to feature elegant, structured pieces that might look at home at this event. I love this pretty midi-length dress, though not sure how comfortable you’d feel in a pastel, and this black-and-white one, too. In a similar vein: this affordable lace dress, which comes in a rainbow of colors.

This Shona Joy dress features a nipped waist but is not necessarily “structured” in the way you’re looking for — but it stands out to me as a possibility, especially in that fire engine red, or maybe the forest green.

Two affordable finds: this lace dress and this tiered one. Both look like Self-Portrait, without the price-tag!

Finally: this is a front-runner I’ve been recommending to so many readers for summer weddings. IT IS TO DIE FOR. The color is so unusual and elegant, the sleeves and nipped waist so dramatic. Love.

Q: I am looking for a bridesmaid dress for a friends October wedding in Boston. The requirements are full or midi length, solid navy, and on the formal side. I will be 3 months post-partum so am looking for something “forgiving.” Not super focused on nursing-friendly, as I tend to like myself better in fuller coverage up top and figure I will just make it work for the evening. 

A: Pretty! The first dress that jumped out at me was this Mikael Aghal, though not sure how you’ll like the neckline. This one is a bit more conservative up top and may be comfortable for you — and I think it’s equally elegant. This is in a similar vein, but costs a lot less. I think the cut would be very forgiving!

Q: My husband needs shoes for inclement weather, but doesn’t like the look of a Wellie. Recs?

A: The classic would be the L.L. Bean “Bean Boot.” The moc is convenient and easy to slip on, though I personally slightly prefer the style of this slightly higher-shafted variation. I also love these Hunter Chelsea boots — they are like a cropped wellie.  Hunter is THE rain boot brand.  I had my pair for like 15 years and they’re just now giving in. I like these in the olive green or maybe the red??? There’s also the Sperry Chukka boot — though I’m not sure how your husband would feel about having to lace-up. We’re big Sperry fans in this house, though. Blundstone and Muck Boots also get really good reviews (read them!) but I’m not as smitten with the look of either style as I am with the ones above — however, I do concede that men have different…priorities.

Post Scripts.

+My favorite pieces for spring.

+This pretty dotted dress is haunting me. I am in love with it!

+In the market for a nursing cover — any rave reviews?! I’m torn between this style, which can be repurposed in a number of different capacities, and this one, which is mildly horrifying in its apron-like-ness. I have a gut feeling I’ll prefer the latter from a functionality standpoint (and I anticipate principally using it at home anyway, when we have guests), but the former is so much more attractive. I had a similar one to the former with mini and always felt like I was suffocating in it, but maybe this one is a better design? Ah, help!

+This cheery printed dress is on sale for only $129. LOVE.

+What is your secret #basic behavior?

+This blouse is ultra-elegant. (And $49!)

+OMG THESE $60 MULES. DO I NEED THEM IN THE POLKA DOT.

+Please take some time to read through the recs in the comments on this post on affordable beauty products!

+I know a lot of us are tired of hearing about Marie Kondo. Look beyond the label and check out all of my favorite organizational tools/products here!

12 Comments

  1. For an upcoming Magpie mail, my question is what dresses would you pick from Rent the Runway for a late June black-tie wedding in a city? I LOVE your style and have loved all your wedding picks you’ve suggested to readers so I know I can’t go wrong with a Magpie-approved choice. I lean towards renting for black-tie events since I’m not invited to many and embarrassingly, due to Instagram/social media, don’t love rewearing statement dresses (as much as I hate to admit that).

    1. Hi Natalie! I hear this, and I’m totally on your same page. Good timing, too, since I’m in the midst of putting together a Magpie Mail post! Stay tuned 🙂 xx

  2. I, too, have been eyeballing Rothys loafers for what feels like forever! Can’t decide which pattern I like best, but I have like 6 other pairs of loafers that I love and have all of my color bases covered. Le sigh…

    Your mention of Levain has me craving a cookie now! Haha.

    A note on rain boots: I, too, have a very old pair of Hunters that are just now starting to show wear. I purchased mine 13 years ago when they were still made in the UK, though. I’ve heard that the quality is not the same now that they are mainly made in Asia.

    I also have a pair of Blundstones that I LOVE for inclement weather. The model I have is their “dress” boot, which looks a little sleeker than their regular 510/550/whatever models. They work with wool socks in the snow, and with regular socks in the rain … I’ve never had a problem with getting road salt off of them in the winter … I LOVE THEM! haha. I think they’re so nice on men, too.

  3. I had a Bébé au Lait nursing cover in the second style, and yes, while a bit apron-like, I did appreciate not having to fuss when the baby was little and needed to be fed NOW. The little bit of wiring at the top meant it was easy to see her when she was nursing, and it was easy to stuff into a bag. Plus, it was big enough to cover everything. Perhaps not the most attractive item, but I thought it served its purpose well.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! The wire in the front is compelling to me. It looks like it would feel less suffocating. HM. Another reader pointed out that the “all around” style is better for coverage while on the go…Decisions, decisions.

  4. Thank you again for the thoughtful answers to my questions! Love reading the responses to other questions too – just went down a Lou Lou’s rabbit hole..OMG!

  5. To the bridesmaid dress seeker — I’d also check out Rachel Pally (beautifully soft jersey material) and Azazie – a traditional bridesmaid retailer with LOTS of options that is direct to consumer, removing the annoyance and extra fees typically associated with bridal boutiques. I just ordered the “Flora” style and was very pleased with the design and quality. I got a custom size that ended up needing alterations, so I’d recommend going ‘off the rack’ in a bigger size and having it tailored accordingly.

  6. I love my Rothy’s! You have to get a referral link from someone to get the $20 off, so I’m leaving mine here (hope that’s ok, Jen! Feel free to delete if not, as I get store credit if someone purchases through it) in case anyone is interested in a pair: https://share.rothys.com/x/37dm9c

    I will say that they aren’t the most supportive as-is–I have flat feet and general foot issues so wouldn’t walk MILES in them like others say they do, but as far as flats go they’re as comfy as you could get without a padded insole and the fact that they’re machine washable sealed the deal for me! I’d size up a half size if you’re between two…I’m usually an 8 or an 8.5 and got the latter. They felt a tad loose when I tried them on but they don’t stretch, so that size worked best!

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