Fashion Trends

The Magpie Diary: April 14, 2024.

By: Jen Shoop

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If you feel even a scintilla of emotion over anything, you can assuredly find a passionate outcropping of conversation about the subject on Reddit. I love this. Feel like something’s off about the new mustard re-brand? Obsessed with the sound of a manual coffee grinder? You can and will find other people who have observed the same phenomena and volunteered their opinions. I often find Reddit reassuring for this reason: other people have thoroughly articulated a passing “sense” that I’ve clocked, and have done all the legwork of explaining why I felt that way. Often, these are about trivial matters, but sometimes, I stop and think: “Aha! Something I did not know about myself.” I also find it comforting to imagine these legions of observant people taking in the world and sharing their minute views on it. “Attention is our proper and ceaseless work!” “Be astonished! Tell about it!” — These are all Mary Oliverisms. There are its detractions, but Reddit seems full of Mary Oliver disciples.

I was reminded of this last week when I shared the photo of myself above on Instagram, and a generous (!) reader commented: “Love this look — it’s giving Natasha from SATC in the best way. She always had the chicest outfits.” After beaming my way through the flattery, I realized I had a lot to say about Natasha. Poor Natasha! I lowkey loved her, and found her elegant and mature in ways that Carrie was not, or not always. I have long felt that the writers of the show couldn’t find a way to exonerate Carrie’s behavior with her. Perhaps this was intentional, but it almost felt like Natasha’s goodness, her polish and maturity — or the way patrician beauty Bridget Moynihan telegraphed these virtues in portraying the character — got away from the script. Can you even imagine knowing that your husband is cheating on you with Carrie, then finding her in your apartment, then calling after her to have a conversation, and instead tripping and falling down a flight of stairs and knocking your teeth out in front of her?! Then having The Other Woman accompany you to the hospital?! And holding yourself together with poise during the entire debacle? It’s too much — I have had to skip that episode, or at least that portion of it, in rewatches over the past few decades. I think that her outfit in that haunting scene — a sort of Nili Lotan riff on Nancy Meyers Hamptons core — amplified my reaction. Here is this elegant woman who is trying to speak with (not necessarily scream at, or confront) her husband’s mistress, wearing a calm, cool, and collected ensemble of neutrals (it could read either “oh, I just came back from Out East, where I might have been trimming hydrangeas and reading the latest Patchett” OR “I just got back from taking in the latest exhibit at the Met”) with a perfect 90s blowout. On that note, Natasha may well be why I respect Patricia Field (SATC’s legendary costume designer) the most. You can see she exercises restraint in her styling, whereas the other characters occasionally leer into costume territory. (Also enjoyable, but sometimes heavy-handed and distracting.) Natasha read like a more realistic version of a modern, chic New York woman — someone you’d take a second look at while browsing in a boutique or jumping on the Subway. An interesting choice, vis a vis Field, because she could have contributed to a cartooning, or even damning, of the character by dressing her differently.

Anyhow – you can see I Have Thoughts on Natasha, and a cursory skim of Reddit corroborated my sentiments. There is an entire “hot take” thread where people rally behind her in the series. I was charmed! The chatter led me to think about two things: 1) Who are the other secondary characters we love who don’t get enough limelight? Are they accidents or intentional foils? and 2) How we dress tells a story — what is mine telling today? The latter point gets at my recent musings on how anything, approached with intent and care, can be art. The way we dress, the way we style our bookshelves, the way we structure our days. (I am the thread. What am I stitching right now?) Sometimes I dress to feel comfortable in my own skin (I’m most myself, a body at rest, in a comfortable dress!); sometimes I pile on a bunch of pieces that I love (I call this “hero dressing“); other times, I dress for mood, as I did earlier this week, in my “Natasha outfit.” I had wanted to dress like I was on vacation. The weather had turned (75 much of this week!) and I’d had a string of good nights of sleep (praise be). I felt rested and happy and wanted to dress in a way that matched. The above look tumbled out!

But on the first point: who are the other secondary characters we love, and why? Was Natasha an accident, or outlier? We need flawed and complex primary characters to make stories work, and feel believable, and deliver enough friction to matter (e.g., invite climax and denouement), but secondary characters needn’t carry the weight of the narrative mechanics, and can be simpler, more one-dimensional. They don’t need to change. (Most stories work like this: outsider comes to town, or hero journeys away from home. In any case, there is a change in the main character because of these comings or goings.) Curious if you have any good examples of beloved side characters who occasionally outshine the leads?

(Above, wearing Hill House Home’s Cosima dress in the new shell print. I would go down a size in this. I’m typically an XS, but I own a striped version of this dress in an XXS and feel that it fits better, though the smocking is pretty snug. I tried this in the XS and think the arm holes are too big / bodice too loose. I wish I’d gotten an XXS. The print (tiny shells) is SO cute! Perfect vacation dress. Styled with this Sezane bag ($160 — I think a good value for the Loewe-esque look), Tecovas ostrich sandals (supremely comfortable — the footbed has a pillowy cushioning, and the ostrich material has a lot of give), and the Janessa Leone sunhat. Trying hard not to make the hat my entire personality.)

Also this week…

Neighborhood blooms popping off. So simple but just standing outside for a few minutes and observing the world can turn my day around. Nature is a live model for accepting change with grace!

I did not adequately extol the virtues of this $18 eye cream earlier this week, when I shared my favorite under-$20 beauty products. First: I’ve been waking up with puffy eyelids the past week. I think this is either because of pollen, or maybe I just needed to switch out my contacts sooner (I don’t use dailies), but this caffeine eye cream dramatically depuffs in a matter of minutes. It’s wild! I believe it’s the caffeine ingredient. Second: I had my makeup done this week and the artist was applying undereye concealer, and said: “Who does your undereye botox?” I do not get undereye botox, and said I’ve been using this $18 cream, and she was astounded! Take that for what you will — undereye botox for $18!

Random aside: I’m wearing the Quince supersoft fleece joggers and hoodie above. Literally a dream to wear — ultra brushed, sort of a thin, slouchy feeling. It’s my favorite Saturday night in / getting ready for the day outfit. I think the fit is not as flattering if you’re expecting company (at least IMO) or running errands, but it’s just the thing if you need to take care of yourself, move slowly, putter about at home. (If you’re looking for a more polished sweatsuit set, I still rec the Frank and Eileen ones!). Speaking of Frank and Eileen, they just released a striped version of our favorite popover henley, and I think I need it. One of you described this popover as “a young mom Diane Keaton vibe” and I totally see it. Easy, casual, but un-boring.

Speaking of self-care: I took a long, chilly run last Saturday morning, then took a hot shower, then applied this mask. IMO Clarins makes the best face masks. I also love their de-puffing one and use it often before a big night out, or situations where photographs will be taken, or special occasions. It chisels the facial features – I can’t explain it. You don’t even know you’re looking puffy until you use this. But the Cryo-Flash is a treasure, too: it’s like a cold plunge, and face feels invigorated, clear, happy afterwards. Both are included in Sephora’s ongoing sale.

I mentioned this yesterday, but I made the Hand Me the Fork shrub spritz and OMG. It was just what I wanted it to taste like — sweet, tart, fizzy, with a little kick of vinegar. We served them as cocktails with sparkling wine. Strongly recommend, with one modification: strain the shrub through a mesh sieve before using in a cocktail/mocktail. Otherwise, you wind up with lots of strawberry/raspberry seeds that aren’t pleasant to drink. (I used a blend of strawberries, raspberries, and golden berries.)

Chic provisions spotted at The Organic Butcher (our second home, I swear). A great spot to stop by if you want interesting fare for “gouter” (a French tradition of having a little snack in the early evening) — local cheeses, tinned fish, seasoned marcona almonds, cured meats, crackers that cost $22 (I kid…sort of), etc.

Picnic weather! We are long overdue for a picnic blanket upgrade and I’m eyeing this one. To be honest, Mr. Magpie and I both find the picnic blanket below a little triggering. We sat on it daily in Central Park during the depths of lockdown and the pandemic. Just seeing it brings us back to those slow days, when it felt like time was pooling in the middle of Manhattan, and we’d never get out.

(Exhibit A: my son’s perpetually dirty/muddy soles. I swear to God, I buy this boy a new pack of socks the first of each month, and they’re stained and destroyed by the end of week one.)

Speaking of socks: I restocked my favorite socks and added a new Nike set (top, bottoms) to the rotation. I wear the socks for working out, but also — everywhere? Under jeans, with sneaks, with boots. I love the tight weave. I have pixie feet (size 5 foot) and these actually fit my foot without that annoying baggy overhang at the heel. They have just the tiniest bit of compression – they feel like they’re hugging your foot. The bra runs a tad small – I find a lot of their sports bras do? – so I would size up, but love the fit and color.

Onward, Magpies, into the week ahead!

P.S. When do you feel most like a mother?

P.P.S. Six reframes I lean on.

P.P.P.S. In case you need encouragement in a big life change: you’re gonna love it.

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16 thoughts on “The Magpie Diary: April 14, 2024.

  1. !! So much to discuss here! But I will keep it brief: first, please give me your best tips for the Clarins depuffing mask! I am getting married VERY soon and want to try it out! I’ve been intrigued by this mask for years (all thanks to you!) but now I’m ready to take the plunge and am curious what you’d rec in terms of the best time(s) to do it pre-wedding?!

    Also: totally agree with Aoife re: daily contacts — I use Acuvue Oasys Max and they are excellent and I never have problems. They are pricey ($115ish for a box of 90 individual lenses) but worth it, imo, especially since I wear glasses probably 40% of the time on average throughout the year (less in the summer, more in the winter)

    Also! As soon as I saw this comment about Natasha I clicked over to Reddit to see if I could refresh my memory about some of the details of her storyline and I immediately found that thread you reference, which waylaid me for a bit! All super interesting, and I completely get what Anna is cautioning against below re: readings of her appearance … but I personally have never found ANYTHING untoward or objectionable about how Natasha behaved, regardless of how chic or neutral her clothes were! If anything, I found her almost TOO gracious (to be believed) in some instances. Totally understand your fondness for her!


    1. Hi! I agree with you on Natasha!! Such a good character.

      Re: Clarins, despite being effective, it’s not abrasive / doesn’t leave your skin red or “worked out,” but I would still suggest testing it once or twice in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I put it on clean skin and let sit for like 30 minutes. Then wipe off with a warm washcloth. See how it feels/looks! Then I’d do it closer to the wedding day, in advance of rehearsal dinner maybe?


  2. I love the bucket hat! Curious what visibility is like? Do you have to crane your neck to see straight ahead?

  3. Hi Jen, I absolutely feel you re: contact lenses and I am a major proponent of daily lenses.
    I used to get recurrent viral conjunctivitis (as gross as it sounds) from stress and low immunity. It led me to having to wear glasses and no make-up for months at a time due to how sensitive and reactive my eyes were. Ultimately I switched to dailies and it’s made a colossal difference to my eye health.
    I use Acuvue Total 1 dailies and though they’re quite expensive — especially when compared to monthlies and even other dailies on the market — I find I can wear contacts for a full day with no problems as they allow the most oxygen to the eye. Furthermore, switching to dailies made me feel more confident about my eye health and it does feel more hygienic to wear a fresh pair of lenses every day particularly when I factor eye make-up into the whole thing.
    Overall I think the impact of packaging is not great although the flip side is purchasing endless bottles of solution that come with so much packaging, too. Hoping your eyes are feeling better soon! xx

    1. Thank you! Interesting note, maybe I’ll go back to my eye doctor and ask about dailies…now I’m truly wondering if they’d be a better fit!


  4. I’m so thrilled you were touched by my compliment and even more honored that it was featured here! I actually checked out the Reddit you shared on Instagram after my comment, and I also felt sucked in by all the Natasha commentary. I agree with all of what you said here – the restraint shown in her styling reflects her character’s restraint. Much like her wardrobe of neutrals, even when confronting Carrie in her own apartment, she keeps her cool quite well.
    Someone commented that Natasha is only seen in white before the affair and only wears color after she discovers it, which some think symbolizes the way Big took away her innocence and belief in “true love.” I tend to agree with that, but also think that her repeatedly appearing in white also emphasizes that she got what Carrie couldn’t: Mr. Big married Natasha after he told Carrie he’d never get married again. She’s his bride – Carrie never could be.
    It’s also worth noting that Natasha actually tried to lock Carrie out of the cab she put Natasha into after the fateful fall down the stairs, which is maybe the one time Natasha did something remotely rude to Carrie. I think someone on Reddit pointed that out.
    Much food for thought!

    1. Oo these readings are SO good! I hadn’t thought as carefully about her white-centric wardrobe but can totally see this theory!


  5. Yummmmmm the shrub. Did you still dilute with sparkling water before adding the wine? Or mix the shrub right with the wine?

    1. I mixed the shrub right into the sparkling wine, and liked a fairly heavy pour of the shrub, so you really taste the tart/vinegar/sweet mix first…but you could also dilute with a bit of sparkling water!


  6. While I certainly agree that how we dress can tell a story, I am wary of conflating appearance with character, which I think a lot of retrospective analyses of the Natasha character veer into. Being beautiful or well dressed does not make one a good person. I think the Kibbe body typing system, which has resurfaced recently on social media, also plays into this tendency.

    1. Thanks for this thoughtful note — I hadn’t heard about Kibbe body typing before! Wow – lots of food for thought here! Appreciate you bringing this up.


  7. I love a side character!! The Expanse is what immediately comes to mind: Amos, Drummer, Diogo, Bobbie, Klaas, Fred Johnson, all the side or bit characters who made it sparkle. The first episode is a snooze but if you can get through it it’s incredible; I think the last 2 seasons had some of the best acting I’ve seen on TV.

    Black Sails is coming to Netflix. The first season is one big violent trigger warning so I’d suggest seeking out spoilers, but if you get through that, it’s not representative of the series as a whole (though violence is used quite hauntingly later on). Anne Bonney is a favorite side character!

    Turn:Washington’s Spies was really excellent, and fun for anyone who’s lived in the area. It’s been long enough that I can’t recall specific characters but everyone was great.

    Trial & Error is a delightful comedy that never got its due, and each bit character is so spot-on. It holds up to rewatch and has been thoroughly enjoyed by everyone I’ve ever shown it to. He’s arguably a main, but Dwayne Reed is one of my favorite characters.

    Everyone has heard of Ted Lasso, but I have a soft spot for the minor characters: Trent Crimm, Colin, Phoebe.

    1. Firm agree on The Expanse, Kelly! Definitely one of my favourite shows EVER. It’s so fascinating and has endless aspects to intellectually and creatively mine! xx

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