Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 179: On Being Tough.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: The R Vivimos Doen-Inspired Dress.

I already own this dress in black, but I had to have it in white when it was restocked in all sizes. This dress is so comfortable, romantic, and lightweight — honestly, dangerously close to a nightgown! I adore it. I plan on wearing it in white with a blue and white gingham headband (look for less with this) and flat sandals.

On the topic of must-own dresses, I am currently twiddling my thumbs waiting for a promotion that works on this dress. (I know J. Crew will mark it down, just have to wait. It is SO GOOD in the navy and the yellow!)

P.S. More under-$100 scores here.

P.P.S. Isn’t the bed above the stuff of grandmillennial dreams?! The headboard reminds me of these pretty frames I featured in my Etsy finds roundup earlier this week, and a pair of beautiful vintage brass candle sconces I hung in my dining room (similar to these).

You’re Sooooo Popular: Hanky Panky.

The most popular items on le blog this week:

+Discounted Hanky Panky.

+My favorite hair tool — which, at the time of writing this post, is on sale for only $41!!! (Read more about it here.)\

+Adorable crossbody for fall.

+A versatile white midi skirt.

+Darling printed mini dress.

+Chicest sweater-jacket hybrid.

+Marble bath accessories!

+My favorite eyeliner (under $7).

+Affordable pink toile crib sheet! (Seen in mini’s room here.)

+Chic face masks for fall.

+Cute toddler dress.

Weekend Musings: What Does It Mean to Be Tough?

I have long equated “toughness” with a stiff upper lip. Can I muscle through this moment without dissolving into tears? Can I demonstrate strength by exuding calm and composure?

The truth is, though, I am a crier by nature–and so I have always thought of myself as “a softie.” I am easily moved and often the first to dab away tears as a bride walks down the aisle, or a loved one issues an unexpectedly tender admission, or Jonathan Van Ness gently reminds a man obsessed with appearing younger than he is that it is, in fact, a privilege to age. Don’t even get me started about my Dad giving a toast, whether it be at an informal gathering or the black tie wedding of one of his daughters: he stands and taps his glass–and I promptly weep. In short, the word “tough” would never spring to mind when asked to describe myself.

Earlier this year, navigating an emotional situation, I mentioned to Mr. Magpie that I was trying to be tough in front of and for my sister, but that I kept getting choked up. He surprised me by saying:

“You are tough. Being tough isn’t about crying or not crying.”

What is it then? What does it mean to be strong for other people? What does it mean to be tough as a woman?

I think about my mother, who is tough in the sense that she is, quite simply, always there and always herself. She is reassuring, positive, and forever ready to distract me when I need her to. She is my true blue. The world could be in shambles (safe to say 2020 feels that way) and she remains her unflustered self: that is to say, she is the consistent, gentle energy that holds all of us up no matter what we’re going through.

I think about my sister Elizabeth, who is tough in her willingness to go there with me, to even the darkest moments, to even the most heart-rending truths. I can say to her the things I am afraid to say to myself. And she will stand there with me, shouldering the fear.

I think about my sister Christina, who is tough in her seemingly endless capacity to listen and take on the burdens of others while also quietly and uncomplainingly shouldering her own. Hers is the discreet and understanding ear into which I (and countless others) have poured every last fleeting nothing that weighs on my heart. The depths of her empathy and loyalty know no bounds. She is my first and last phone call, and she always picks up, no matter what she is enduring on her own.

And I think about my sister Eleanor, who is tough in her emotional resiliency and determined fair-mindedness. When she was young, she was bullied by classmates, and yet she has not let that despicable cruelty change the openness and tenderness of her heart. She is the last to judge and the first to offer an alternative perspective: “Well, maybe she just intended to say…” She is the first person I go to when I find myself unsure of how to articulate something sensitive without causing undue offense. She navigates those situations with astounding confidence and consideration.

Though I have shed tears alongside each of them, these extraordinary women have re-defined what it means to be tough.

What do you think? How would you define tough?


+Women of substance.

+The Victorian stand collar on this shirt is so on-trend — feels Horror Vacui-esque and costs less than $100.

+You must know about Madewell’s Secret Stock Sale — something they’ve never done before, but there are outrageously (scarily) good deals, like this chic yoke blouse ($24! — would wear with white skinnies), an adorable white dress for $19 (I might wear it with this floral belt), this pretty dotted midi, and my absolute favorite denim overalls (insanely flattering — I like to wear these in the fall with frilly blouses like this).

+How cute is this lemon print skirt?!

+Swooning over this black bag.

+A perfect chunky knit for $30. I like the idea of wearing it with some ivory wide leg jeans for a fresh look for fall.

+$14 for four hydrangea print tumblers. How ADORABLE?!

+I didn’t even know Kitchenaid made such pretty bowls for their stand mixers! I usually keep mine “hidden” with one of these dust covers, but that hobnail bowl would make me want to show it off!

+Speaking of pretty kitchen gear, I didn’t know can openers could be cute! And this set of covered bowls is such a good value ($12 for a set of 4 in such a great color).

+Dust covers are a must for china storage!

+Such an elegant top (on sale).

+Just the prettiest embroidered linen dresses.

+Mini is now at an age where she is less keen on having a huge 6″ bow (<<one of my favorite bow sources) worn jauntily on the right side of her head; we are really into Elsa braids, high ponytails, and pigtails at the moment. I just ordered a set of these “long tail” bows for ponytails this fall.

+So cool for fall. Get the look for less with this, which I own in ecru. (This eyelet trim style is also really fun.)

+Still a few left of these deeply discounted Shopbop sale items.

+Absolutely darling corduroy bubble for a little girl for fall! I would layer this over a peter pan collar onesie and a pair of Jefferies Socks cableknit tights (<< the best!)

+More fall finds for toddler girls here and here.

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2 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 179: On Being Tough.

  1. Ooh, great question — first, I love how you’ve articulated toughness/strength in varied forms in your sisters and mom. I think it’s helpful to think of the multivariate ways in which we can exude these qualities — in my mind, it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing! I say this as a major crier/emotional softie as well. For me, I think I am at my toughest when I’m thinking in an empathetic and just way— maybe similar to what you said about Eleanor above. I agree with your husband that it’s not about showing emotional “strength” — I think about something I read recently about leadership and (I’m paraphrasing) how we would be much better off if men adapted more feminine qualities in the workplace/leadership roles, rather than the other way around. Lots to chew on here!

    OMG, the Madewell stock sale — yes! I snagged a pair of Ace & Jig pants in a textile I’ve loved for years (this is one of my favorite brands, and it can be hard to come by, even on the secondary market!) Two thumbs up.


    1. Yay!!! Im so glad about the Madewell score – love when that happens.

      Thanks also for weighing in on toughness here. The fact that you drew a line between emotional toughness and emotional strength is interesting, too. A lot to think about for sure.


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