The Fashion Magpie M Series

The M Series: Landon Lands in Lyon.

My stomach was doing somersaults as the bus lurched towards Lyon St. Exupery Airport.  Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night sat, unread and unopened, in my lap.  I looked down and realized I’d been grasping it so hard, the muscle between my thumb and forefinger hurt.  I took a deep breath and returned it to my college-issue Longchamp before smoothing out my Lilly Pulitzer dress.  It had earned me more stares and turned more heads than I’d wanted on my multi-stage trip to the airport, down Rue Auguste Comte, across Place Carnot, into Lyon Perrache station, then a few metro stops, then up the steps to wait for a bus shuttle to the airport, then onto a crowded bus with stained, plush seats for a forty minute trek to the suburbs — but I was used to it.  Three months in Lyon, amidst chic French women in navy, black, and brown, had not deterred me from my garish display of pastels, florals, gingham, and madras, though I had acquired a number of pashminas, a new pair of flared Miss Sixty jeans, a boucle winter coat that reminded me of Jackie O., and a set of incredibly chic French girl bangs that I have never since been able to replicate.

As the bus pulled to a stop, my heart was pounding.  Everything seemed to expand and contract and I walked, in a dream-like state, towards the terminal and down the escalators.

“Meet me at the baggage claim,” he’d said.

I looked down, for the fourteenth or fortieth or four-hundredth time that morning, at the small piece of paper with his flight number written on it in my minuscule handwriting, and craned my neck up to scan the monitors.

When I spun to my left, in a hurry to find carousel six, I saw him before I saw him.  Mr. Magpie has always had a distinctive way of walking — with a purpose, shoulders back, sort of an unwitting swagger — and my heart was racing as I turned to face him, all six feet of him — taller than I remembered, though maybe that was skewed by the generally short stature of the French — handsome but scruffy, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep — wearing khakis and his signature leather bomber jacket — his hazel eyes meeting mine —

“Oh!” was all I could say.

He dropped his bags and pulled me into him.

“I can feel your heart,” he said.

When I think about our story, I often tell it from the beginning: “I met my husband the same day I met my father-in-law.”  I like the Shakespearean drama and improbability of it.  I like, inexplicably, to underscore that we were “as close to high school sweethearts as you can get”–and I often use that exact phrase.  I don’t know why; I suppose I believe we were destined to be together, and enjoy the small rush of pride I feel when I share how long we’ve belonged to one another.  And I love to think about those early, tender months and years of our courtship — the headiness, the thrill — and how it has given way to a different kind of love, one that is true and deep and comfortable, broken-in, like the hole-laden heather gray VIRGINIA BASEBALL t-shirt of his that I wore to sleep for years and years.  It’s a love that involves the exact same faux sparring before bed every night: “you have all the covers,” “why do you have your legs on a diagonal across the bed?”, “can you give me a back rub?  pleeeease?  you never give me a back rub,” “your feet are so cold!” and the same caring routines, where he makes my coffee, measuring out just the right amount of sugar to the tenth of an ounce using a scale (I kid you not) and I fold his laundry the way he likes it folded (t-shirts in thirds, not halves, as I was taught), and we almost always find ourselves sitting on our couch at nine p.m., swapping two flavors of Haagen Dazs, eaten “right out of the bucket,” as he puts it oh-so-appetizingly, but not before he’s asked me which flavor I’d prefer to start with, a miniature but endearing gesture of love that, when I stop to think about it, makes me a little weepy, because —

I can feel your heart, my love.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the story of us, aka THE M SERIES.  Hehe.  (Part one here.)

Post-Script: What I’d Wear Now…

As far as early 2000s fashion goes, Lilly P. dress isn’t a bad choice for an airport outfit*, but I’d probably opt for something else if I were seeing the love of my life for the first time in three months nowadays.  This line of inquiry led me to think about what I’d wear if I were living through some other big moments all over again:

*When I was just out of college, one of my very good girlfriends was dating a marine who had been deployed on multiple tours in Iraq.  I remember the day he was returning to the U.S. very clearly — she was all nerves, and had been fussing over what she called her “airport outfit.”  “I just can’t figure out my airport outfit!” she’d complained to me in the weeks leading up to his arrival.  I loved that phrase, and all it suggested — so natural to her to refer to it like that, so paramount in her mind.  Airport outfit.

+Airport outfit: Because Mr. Magpie loves dresses — this dress is the perfect blend of sexy with its bustier neckline and “welcome-home-darling” with its country gingham.  Sort of Jackie meets Marilyn.  I also love this floaty floral frock, which feels painterly and memorable, and this easy striped dress, which deftly walks the line between casual weekend and date night.  But something about this babydoll style is right up  my alley, too, especially with these chic gingham slides (under $20!).

+Date Night: Just the right amount of sex appeal.  Or this, to show some leg.  Or — how stunning and sweet and saucy is this (check out the back)?!

+Meeting the Parents: This dress (a girl can dream), this (those sleeves tho), or this (very Oscar de la Renta).

+Bridal Shower: Style in spades.  I DIE.  Also love this, especially with a bold colored necklace.  And this is elegant, with a reasonable price tag.

+Bridal Luncheon: I love the shape of this dress, and that pale blue! (Something blue!)  I also love this sweet one, with its bows — who says brides can’t wear patterns?

+Bachelorette: A touch more modest than we usually see, but the short hemline accommodates!  Meanwhile, this jumpsuit SLAYS, and who says you need to wear white?

+Rehearsal Dinner: This is the most fetching, elegant dress I’ve ever seen.  I also like the eyelash lace on the neckline of this dress and the volume/drama on this.

+Honeymoon: I’d wear this every day of the week and twice on Tuesday.  I DIE.  I also live for this and this, both of which would look amazing with beachy hair and sun-kissed shoulders.

+I don’t know where this belongs, but this jumpsuit is very Katherine Hepburn or Grace Kelly, and seems like just the thing a chic heroine should wear in the story of her life at one point or another.

P.S.  What I would change about my wedding day.

P.P.S.  That time I misplaced my wedding ring.

P.P.P.S.  I shared some other nuptial-related dress picks in response to a reader question here!





  1. Such a sweet memory! I laughed at the description of the things you added to your wardrobe while studying abroad — so close to my heart! I spent my junior year in Paris and ALSO bought a bouclé coat to see me through the winter, as I had (without thinking) only packed a North Face snow parka. Très démodé! Ha! And I also got an amazing haircut while there that would n.e.v.e.r. work on me now … ah, youth.

    I’ve definitely had “airport moments” like the one you describe, and they are so sweet … definitely a mix of anxious and tender, as someone else wisely said. I love all of the alternate outfits you proposed! I sometimes don’t think enough about what I wear when I’m with my boyfriend, or seeing him after a long business trip — a little more thought would probably go a long way. 🙂

    1. HAHA! I also owned a North Face parka and it made me stick out like a sore thumb. The French just did NOT get the sportiness of that look…”zut zut, qu’est-ce qu’elle apporte?! Oh la la, c’est sportif.”


  2. All the feels! Back when we were dating, my now-husband’s visa ran out and he had to move back to Europe. I was so nervous on my first trip over to visit him and spent my layover in the bathroom compulsively changing my outfit so I would look nice when I walked through the exit to baggage claim. I ended up wearing something completely impractical for travel, haha.

    When he finally moved back to the US, I was a mess. I felt so anxious and tender. I paced around in my apartment before leaving, trying on clothes. Again, I ended up in a totally impractical (but very cute) outfit. He later told me I stuck out like a sore thumb at Dulles, but that it was so me. After all, I was nervous for my first date with him and ended up in a beautiful silk dress… and green rain boots. #Fashion

    1. HA! Yes, I’ve never been one for practicality in matters of fashion, so I’m right there with you. “Anxious and tender” — those words perfectly describe the emotion of waiting to be reunited with a loved one. XOXO

  3. I love this post for many reasons, but mostly because a) in college, I studied near Lyon in Grenoble, and b) I recently needed an airport outfit! I hadn’t really thought of the importance of it, although I found it important at the time? Without realizing it? I must treasure those special little moments more 🙂

    1. Yes! Never underestimate the stress/meaning of a good airport outfit. I mean, it reminds me of Iris Apfel, who was recently interviewed by Bazaar. I wish I had saved the article, but she said something along the lines of — “Dress nicely because it’s a kindness to the world around you.” The same goes, of course, for the ones you love — why not dress up when seeing a cherished person for the first time in a long while? It’s a form of love.

  4. I love this series! This reminds me of the ee Cummings poem, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)”—which, incidentally, served as my wedding vows. Also, the romance of pre-smartphone (or any cellphone) travel! I met my ex under the Eiffel Tower in the fall of 07. I told him to look for the girl in red pants, and then shrunk them in the wash and had to quickly, madly replace them!

    1. Oh my gosh, how flattering re: ee cummings — and what a funny story about the red pants. I can totally imagine myself getting into that kind of awkward spot!

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