woman jumping in joy

Wear What Makes You Happy.

A girlfriend of mine sent me a link to a pair of shoes and wrote: “I’m walking that fine line of thinking these are weird but also I *need* them, you know?”

My response: “Girl, wear what makes you happy.”

On the downslope of this fourth decade of my life, I tell myself and my friends and my Magpie readers —

Wear the house slippers that make you feel slightly ridiculously like royalty,

The faded gray Virginia sweatshirt that still smells like your husband before he was your husband,

The tulle gown of your dreams (inspired by the infectiously happy photo of Aworo Mayowa above),

The tube socks that throw major Diana-exercising-in-1984 vibes (worn over leggings and pulled all the way up),

The feather trim caftan dress that makes your heart sing with frivolity,

The nap dress that makes you look pulled together but feel like you’re wearing pajamas, styled a la Nellie Diamond herself, with a black turtleneck leotard underneath, even when your husband calls it your “sister wife look” (aHEM),

The coordinated loungewear set that you will one day look back on and cringe at (“that was so 2020″),

The exaggerated collar you know you want to try to wear,

The Aran knit sweater that belonged to your grandfather,

The oversized flower studs that are on just the right side of overdone,

The Uggs you’ve been hiding in your closet that you secretly want to wear all the time,

The velvet bow headband that makes you feel like Brigitte Bardot,

The elaborate headpiece that might shock your friends,

The frilled and bejeweled cardigan that belongs to 1892,

The over-the-top sequined golden Saloni for an at-home celebration for two,

The cocktail ring you inherited from your aunt,

The Birks that, you think, aren’t even really your style,

The ultra-loud and borderline ridiculous Gucci cardigan,

The white bike shorts and denim shirt that make you feel, while pregnant, like Annie Banks in “Father of the Bride II,”

You do you // you do you // you do you.

I must cheesily bookend this post with a bit of script from an excellent 90s Western that Mr. Magpie and I re-watched recently, “Tombstone.” (Side bar: were the 90s not the golden era of action films? I find the ones nowadays are over-engineered and rendered totally ridiculous by CGI? Mr. Magpie and I always talk about how the animontronics achieved in “Jurassic Park” still supersede any of the computer-animated monsters and critters we’ve seen onscreen in the past few decades…)

Doc Holliday: What do you want, Wyatt?

Wyatt Earp: Just to live a normal life.

Doc Holliday: There is no normal life, there’s just life, ya live it.

And so I say again, mainly to myself and perhaps it will resonate with a few of you this morning, too — you do you // you do you // you do you.

P.S. A lot of the items listed above I own and wear to make myself happy. Also really filling my fashion cup at the moment: turtlenecks and chunky cardigans, my Birdie’s slides (just re-stocked again, RUN), a Ganni leopard maxi dress from a few seasons back that I love to wear around the house in the evenings (look for less with this), glossy red nails (<<I wear the “Rock the Runway” color and use this exact kit and the manicure really lasts!), and oversized ear muffs (these are also #goalz). Also pretty much anything from this post on dressing like a present.

P.P.S. Lots of good (chic!) bundling up options. I think I might invest in a Moncler coat next year — this one in the pink is at the top of my list.

P.P.P.S. As a corollary to this post: does anyone else feel like she has been running against the wind at certain times in their lives?


  1. This is terrible advice which no doubt contributes to some of the worst social ills of the modern world – modern slavery, anti-feminism, climate change etc. And at a time when so many have so little, it seems like a downright tone-deaf excuse for not turning your mind to some of these issues in your purchasing choices. Do better, please.

    1. Hi there — I welcome discourse in the comments, but want to call out the standards that this community stands for and has upheld over years of conversation here: civility, open-mindedness, constructiveness. Ad hominem attacks are not necessary to make a point.

      If you are interested in further discussing this matter following our community standards, I shared some thoughts on personal shopping ethics in response to your last comment on this post:



    2. There was no ad hominen attack in my post. I think your refusal to engage with the substance of what I said is very telling. As a person of colour and a Christian, my view is that we are obliged to consider and act to address the types of issues I raised in my previous comment above. If you’re completely comfortable with ignoring those just so you can have the slippers you want that’s a matter for you. I can only hope that my comments give pause to some readers.

  2. LOVE Tombstone! It (and Doc in particular) has the best lines. It’s the only movie I can think of that I immediately rewatched the first time I saw it, way back in the year of our Lord 1994 😉

    This post is inspiring me to find more clothing items that make me happy! Right now I have my silver and cheetah Gola “trainers” which fit the bill, but the rest of my winter wardrobe seems to be jeans, striped shirts, and grey sweaters. Time to find more sartorial joy!

    1. The movie is EXCELLENT. The script-writing was phenomenal — Doc has great lines but, I mean, c’mon, when Wyatt Earp yells: “Tell him I’m coming and I’m bringing hell with me”?!?!? GAHH! SO good.

      I was similarly inspired by writing this post. Pulled out my most dramatic cardigan and put on big earrings today 🙂


  3. Aaahhh I love this mindset! Such a cliche phrase, but life is truly too short to not wear what makes you happy!

    I feel this way about my glitter Golden Goose sneakers. They still make me ridiculously happy 1.5 years after purchase. It was such an “out of character” purchase for me, but I am weirdly in love with them and I’m not sorry about it! BUT — with COVID I do feel a discomfort wearing something “high end” like this around people I know (the few times we interacted safely outdoors) since we don’t always know the full story of how they might have been impacted financially by the pandemic — particularly those with small businesses in industries that have taken a hit.

    This past spring/summer I wore all my summery dresses, earrings, etc. I had nowhere to go except for walks around the neighborhood, but I felt good! I will say I find it a bit more challenging this season — although I enjoy dressing up for fall (I can’t say we have a true winter where I live in CA), it takes a bit more effort to layer creatively and I find myself in leggings and a tunic sweater most of the time. Thank you for the reminder!

    PS: Jen, I’m holding you responsible for my new obsession with Nicola Bathie earrings! Haha. A pair of mini flower studs (similar to what you shared) are en route to me now, and one of the pieces from the chinoiserie series is on my wish list but I can’t justify it right now. Sigh…

    1. I love all of this, Mia, especially you in your glitter GGs. GET IT! So true that life is just too damn short not to wear the thing!


  4. Reading this post while wearing a nap dress and some new Uggs* I bought myself for Christmas to wear as house shoes. Needless to say, I’m fully on board with the message of this post!

    *I never had Uggs at the height of their popularity (I’m more of a driving loafer kind of gal), but recently realized they are perfect for my current “working-from-home-and-occasionally-dropping-my-kids-off-at-school” situation.

  5. What a fantastic post on fashion – I love this idea and feel like it’s the perfect follow-up to 2020. Take nothing for granted. For me, I tend to purchase something that I love, but then wait for a some special occasion to bring it out. No more! Wear the thing! xo

  6. I’ve had similar conversations with my Mom; She wants me to have her real-deal Mongolian lamb coat from the 90’s, and I’m afraid to wear it in public for fear of PETA retaliation.
    I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a party every year where the one stipulation was that everyone should wear that one item in their closet that they LOVE, but don’t feel they can wear for one reason or another.

    1. Love the idea of this party!!! Would be so interesting to go around and ask after everyone’s chosen item. xxx

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