The Love List is Back.
...and without great fanfare. Here's issue 01.
Hello! The Love List is back, and without great fanfare. Were you surprised to see this in your inbox? It’s taking new shape (email newsletter) on a new home (Substack), pared back to the format it began in nearly 15 years ago: as a simple list of the things I love. (If you’re like, “WTH is The Love List?!” click here.)
But this is a different “Love” — like me, it’s settled in, older, gentler, and has less to prove. Five or ten things, weekly: a creative outlet for a time in my life where I feel rested, happy and inspired — but not trying to do the most.
I think I’ve finally found the right combination of what I used to love about the old Love List and my new newsletter groove. The time is right.
Like the old days, I’ll be writing (emphasis on writing) entertaining, shopping, home, restaurants, hotels, some music, and a small handful of events. Unlike the old days, the focus isn’t exclusively Southern.
Anyway, enough talking about it. Let’s be about it.
P.S., let’s keep the conversation going over on Instagram between newsletters! I’m @jessnellgraves.
To shop >> My friend Dale long ago coined the term “summer sweater” for poking fun at my affinity for knits in July, but given the air conditioning situation is cranked down to 68° most places I go in Atlanta, it’s a pretty practical layer. To me, a blue and white stripe is synonymous with summer, and La Ligne makes the best striped sweater out there — The Marin. I have three now, all in different color ways, so when the brand dropped matching Marin shorts, I made them mine immediately. I’m in my thirties, and while I think edicts about “dressing your age” are dated (and kinda mean tbh), I also don’t find shorts to be a universally flattering thing for me the way I did in college. But here’s what I like about the Marin shorts: they’re a slightly heavier knit, so they drape nicely and have the tiniest bit of movement to them, and they don’t have pockets, so they don’t bulk you up at your hips. The length is on the short side, but not offensive on my 5’9 frame, and they make a three year old collection of sweaters look like a cute matching set I picked up this season. I wore them two days in a row, and I will miss them while they’re at the cleaners.
To shop >> On the topic of matching sets, the lazy girl who lives deep inside of me is very much enjoying this moment they’re having in fashion. This one from Hampden, and this one from Frankie Shop have pretty much stepped in to do the hot weather heavy-hitting dresses usually handle for me. I think they look just as cool with a flat sandal during the day as they do with a heel out for dinner, and they make getting dressed require exactly zero brain power.
To try >> Another trend I’ve fully adopted is the now-infamous “Kendall Jenner bun” a-la Jen Atkin. I’m sure most of you already know about this by now, but I’m linking the tutorial here just in case, because it’s about the most dead-easy, chic and practical hairstyle for hot weather I can think of. (If you want to level up, hit this bun-slicking styling tool I found on TikTok with some hairspray and bid flyaways farewell in less than five seconds.)
To read >> My introduction to Casey Wilson was as the “AHH-MAH-ZING!” Penny from the gone-too-soon sitcom Happy Endings. Her recently released book of essays, The Wreckage of My Presence, had me up binge-reading and giggling to myself ‘til wayyy past bedtime. Read it. Then let me know if you, too, are a “Bed Person”. I am proud to be part of this blanketed, cozy club, which also, as you may guess, includes “Bath People”.
To try >> My friend Alisa Barry owns a beautiful store and prepared food line called Bella Cucina (one of Oprah’s favorite things, don’t take my word for it!) She’s recently launched the Re/Set Plan, which isn’t a “cleanse” so much as it is just exactly what it’s named: a reset for the way you eat. You get seasonally-minded recipes, a gorgeous set of pantry provisions in the mail, and lots of hands-on guidance from Alisa herself, via email and Zoom. I love her approach because it’s not a rigid diet, instead it’s about forming good habits and healing through food.
To listen >> I made new summertime playlists while watching Wimbledon, which was an emotional rollercoaster this year. Serena! Federer! Sigh. High Summer Hydration is full of upbeat, high-tempo vibes (think New West, Sault, Tyler The Creator) and Homebody Air Floaties is full of non-intrusive beats (Washed Out, Jordan Rakei, Jitwam) for mellowing out on your favorite soft surface.
To dine >> I am only now beginning my post-Vaccination existence, but I’ve jumped right back into dining out. Restaurants and hotels are, for me, lifelong pursuits, both in profession and leisure, and I will never take for granted the pleasure and privilege of being a guest somewhere truly great. Let’s talk about Chef Craig Richards’ Lyla Lila. Since it opened just before COVID descended, it slipped past some dining radars. Here’s your sign. Let yourself be seduced by the swanky lighting and upholstered booths. Dip into some truly delicious Italian wine, (a smart, cool and un-bothered selection) and then order a pasta (always a freshly-made handful of options), a crudo (zing! zip!), and whatever fresh catch is on the menu.
To read >> Writer Chrissy Rutherford’s newsletter is. so. good. The former magazine editor has set up shop as an activist and consultant (among her many hats). Her knack for storytelling is something special. She elucidates clearly and empathetically on topics that for others, can feel like mentally picking apart a tangled necklace wad. If you want somewhere to start, my favorite issues so far are “How to Find Healing in Astrology Beyond Meme Accounts” and “How to Save a Friendship”.
To shop >> I recently moved (“the soft loft” highlight on Instagram) and to break in my kitchen, had some friends over for a homey dinner. I am pleased to report that this Staub baking dish, in all of its chic utility, is the perfect size for exactly one roast chicken. I threw some new potatoes and onion quarters in there too, for good measure. Pulled out of the oven and straight to the table — an easy crowd-pleaser of a dinner that only dirtied up one pot.
To drink >> Scribe’s large-format rosé (they ship!) is perfect for al fresco dinners when you want you show your guests it’s time to start taking summer seriously. A flex, for sure. Pairs well with chilled oysters and a great playlist. Cheers.
What did you think of the new Love List? Tell me! Let’s stay in touch between newsletters on Instagram.
LOVE that you’re back with The Love List! It was a joy to find your voice in my inbox again. Great recommendations, as always!