5 Things You Should Read, Shop, Watch, Try, and Make Right Now. (Feb 2023)
These are both of-the-moment and greatest hits, all at once. How marvelous!
Greetings and salutations from the city formerly known as sunny Los Angeles. So excited to talk about a few of my favorite things, from the books (yes, plural) you simply need to read right now, to the J.Crew summer essentials I suggest buying before they sell out, to the most delicious and low-fuss main course I’ve ever made.
As always, if you have book recommendations, please send them my way. Personally, I’m looking forward to Alison Roman’s new cookbook, Sweet Enough, which is coming out at the end of March, and am currently reading The Rachel Incident, which is by YA legend Caroline O’Donoghue and is a heart-stopping delight of a read. (It will be recommended to anyone who likes Sally Rooney books, as the author is Irish. This is lazy; Sally is swell, but Caroline stands on her own.)
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Last, but not least, let me know if you want any more category specific I Tried stories. (So far I’ve done workout pants, black bodysuits, trousers, white t-shirts, and jeans.) In a perfect world, you would leave your desired topic in the comments below, as I’d love an element of community agreement on how to prioritize upcoming topics. As always, I tend to think these are most helpful when they are wardrobe essentials, and recent suggestions include: gray sweatshirts, black heels, smart blazers, and cocktail dresses. If you want any of these covered—or something else entirely—do let me know.
READ: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J. Crew by Maggie Bullock
One book is fiction, the other fact. One came out last year, the other hits stores on March 7th. One is a New York Times best-seller, the other is one of Vogue’s most anticipated books of 2023. Both are essential purchases, IMHO.
Let’s start with Tomorrow. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this book wasn’t on my radar until recently, despite the fact that both The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly (two of my favorite and most-trusted publications) deemed it one of the best books of 2022. Somehow I missed the accolades from these sources, and only became aware of it through Instagram, when suddenly it felt like everyone, from every area of my life, was reading it.
At first glance, I shrugged because it’s about friends who make video games, something I do not care about, know anything about, or have experience with, aside from whatever I played in the school computer lab in the ‘90s, including: The Oregon Trail, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and Odell Lake (which I thought was called Ogden Park until recently?). Spoiler alert: Everything is not just about video games, and the parts that do touch on the intricacies of creating those virtual worlds was actually quite fascinating.
So what are the broad strokes of Tomorrow? Well, it covers pain, creativity, complexity, partnership (romantic), partnership (business), success, failure, public-facing responsibilities, academia, start-ups, process, chemistry, loss, the process of knowing someone, the process of letting yourself be known, Harvard, hospitals, Venice Beach, misunderstandings, childhood, jealousy, power dynamics, and of course, love, in all its wonderful and difficult forms. It’s thoughtful, funny, devastating (in small doses), euphoric, and just stunning all around. I wish I could go back and read it for the first time again.
On a completely different note—but also incredibly delicious and compelling—is journalist Maggie Bullock’s fascinating deep dive into the world of J.Crew. (Full disclosure: Maggie and I overlapped very briefly at ELLE, I’m a diehard fan of her newsletter, The Spread, and we talked about Kingdom for an episode of the Who What Wear Pod, which is coming out soon! All of that said: I know or worked with a lot of folks who write books, and never mention them here. This is an unbiased review, truly.)
If you like a behind-the-scenes peek into cultural touchstones as much as I do, I implore you to pre-order this book today. If you have ever felt a way about J.Crew, I implore you to buy this book today. If you are interested in thoughtful, juicy, incredibly well reported non-fiction, I implore you to smash that link and buy The Kingdom of Prep today. (Has anyone ever said “smash that link” and not cringed immediately? Ha.)
One thing I wasn’t prepared for: The Kingdom of Prep gives you all sorts of interesting details about J.Crew, sure, but it also offers up wildly fascinating insights into the American idea of prep, the way retailers rise and fall, and contextualizes both J.Crew and preppiness in a way I’d never considered before. 11/10 buy it today. And yes, I know it’s not out for a few more weeks, but the pre-order aspect of a book is so important for authors (booksellers decide how many copies to order based on those pre-sale numbers), and this one really deserves all the love.
SHOP: J.Crew Spring
Did you think I was going to write all of that about J.Crew and then not want to talk about what I’m shopping from the new spring collection? Pshaw. So what have I recently purchased and what am I considering? So glad you asked. (You didn’t, but that’s how excited I am.)
First of all: Jeans! Or should I say, jean? I am deeply enamored with the brand’s new, limited-edition Point Sur Pintuck Flare Jean in Rinse Wash, which are frankly babelicious. They’re inspired by vintage pieces from the Rose Bowl Flea, made in LA, and look so cool on, I could hardly stand it. I also feel like flares, which have been simmering on the runways for a couple of seasons, are going to have a full-on moment after Daisy Jones comes out, and this pair is definitely a part of that vibe, but way more sophisticated than the other options I’ve seen on the market. The dark rinse and the pinstripe detail down the front looks polished, elevated, and chic. One note on sizing: This style runs on the generous size, so I recommend sizing down if you like a more fitted look.
In other news, I’m still not over olive green, and currently have this smocked-waist dress in said color en route to my house. It feels like an excellent weekend dress, and can be dressed up or down easily. I also remain dedicated to striped sweatera of all shapes and sizes, and just added this cashmere version with jaunty buttons to my cart.
Additionally, I have learned my lesson with J.Crew swim and coverups—which is: they always sell out—so though I have no interest in considering bathing suits right now, I re-purchased the brand’s cutout tie-back one piece in black, and highly recommend doing so. It’s super comfortable, sleek, and doesn’t feel frumpy like so many one-piece suits do. It is 100% my favorite at the moment. (Runs true to size.) On that note, last year I bought a linen cotton beach shirt in stripe to wear over said suit, and it was definitely the best shopping decision I made all summer. Right now the navy and white is on sale, and J.Crew also has a handful of solid versions. I recommend buying it, as it will sell out again, no doubt.
WATCH: Daisy Jones & The Six on Prime Video, March 3rd
I might have been slow on Everything, but I was early on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Daisy Jones & The Six back in 2019, and have been eagerly awaiting the small screen adaptation, which finally debuts in just five short days.
Set primarily in the 1970s, the book and show follow the rise of a fictitious, iconic band and the drugs, sex, fights, love, and rock ‘n’ roll that naturally go along with the subject matter. If you’re thinking, “Gee, that sounds like Fleetwood Mac circa Rumours,” you would be absolutely correct, as the history of that incredibly talented and dramatic band served as the inspiration for Daisy. If you’re curious, read Katie Rosman’s great piece about the show in The New York Times, and keep your eyes peeled for a Who What Wear podcast episode I did with Daisy’s costume designer, Denise Wingate, who spent an entire year thrifting the show’s wardrobe.
To be perfectly honest, I rarely care for adaptations of books I adore, but after having seen the entire show in prep for said podcast interview, I can tell you that it’s definitely worth your time. Riley Keough, who plays Daisy, is excellent, and I become totally besotted with Camila Morrone, who plays Camila Dunne. (She’s a force; I was totally blown away by her performance and presence.) Even better: the songs are several notches above the usual Hollywood attempt at making iconic period music; for those who remember, Daisy definitely goes beyond a Stillwater/”Fever Dog” situation.
And if none of these things make you interested in the show, consider this: Timothy Olyphant is in Daisy, which is more than enough reason for me to watch it.
TRY: Lawless Forget the Filler Lip-Plumping, Line-Smoothing Tinted Lip Balm
I’ve mentioned my fondness for Lawless products before, and the brand’s plumping Smoothing Gloss is one of my staples. But I’m not actually a gloss girl on a day-to-day basis, which is why I was next-level thrilled that Lawless just released a tinted balm version of their lip-plumping product.
I currently have the four more pigmented shades in heavy rotation—Sugarplum and Lover are my favorites, but Georgie and Posey are excellent too—and just a note, the color is incredibly natural IRL. (I think the colors look much bolder in the imagery on Sephora than they do on; you can definitely apply more to get that effect, FWIW.)
The formula tingles just the tiniest bit, is wildly moisturizing, and makes your lips look like the best version of themselves. You, but like 33% fuller and brighter, and who doesn’t like that?
MAKE: Tri-Tip Roast
In December, I had the delightful experience of officiating the wedding of two of my dear friends in Santa Ynez. It was a wonderful weekend celebrating their partnership, and I fell in love with the area anew. Aside from the wedding itself, I found lots to love in Santa Ynez, including a place we had lunch called the Lucky Hen Larder. They make a tri-tip sandwich that honestly I still think about on a weekly basis.
The tri-tip was so amazing, I’ve spent the last couple of months making this roast at home, with a little help from a recipe from The New York Times. It’s dead simple, incredibly delicious, and pretty much the ideal dinner party option, as it requires no fussing whatsoever. In a perfect world, you can get a larger roast—like 2 or 2.5 lbs—which is pricey, but makes more sense when you realize it goes a very long way.
There is no doubt in my mind that the grilled version is probably superior, but we have only made it in the oven, and it’s still a total knockout. In addition to seasoning—we like the steak rub from McCall’s in Los Feliz—we also slather the roast in fresh minced garlic, and when I tell you it’s heavenly? It truly is. In addition to being wildly yummy, a tri-tip roast also makes for divine sandwiches the next day (or several days, depending on how much you have left). Trust me on this one!
Okay friends, that’s it for now. If you want to follow me on @hillarykerr, I’d love it. And if you have anything to say or ask (preferably nothing terribly mean), please drop me a note either via DM or in the comments below.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I’m truly so glad you’re here. If you like what you’re reading, please consider sharing this newsletter. All products mentioned are independently chosen, and some may be affiliate links. Your support is appreciated.
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I’d love a piece on COLOR at more accessible prices. JCrew has a ton of it right now, but some seems to read junior. Becky M. just did a piece in her fantastic newsletter, but I can’t quite bring myself to buy High Sport pants as a basic. (They are so good though.) I’d also love to see the new(ish) brands you think are great. There are so many! Ven Store, Favorite Daughter, Commission, oh my! Finally, I love your newsletter so much! It’s the first one I read on Substack (and that I actually read, rather than just skim for photos). I love your high-low approach and you seem cool as hell!
Bras for mom boobs