Like every other woman between the ages of 21-35, I was surprised/tickled/confused by Beyonce’s recent pregnancy announcement (apparently the most liked post on Instagram…ever). The Washington Post ran an interesting article positioning the announcement within its richly allusive cultural context, outlining the many references the photograph makes to other artistic traditions and cultural products:
“She is a Renaissance Madonna channeled by Frida Kahlo and staged by the photographer Jeff Wall; she is a Dutch genre painting cross-pollinated with Anne Geddes’ baby pictures and Technicolor kitsch a la Pierre and Gilles,” writes Ann Midgett.
Midgett then interprets the post as “a wresting away of power from the patriarchy,” which, to me, felt like a bit of a stretch–a bit of a convenient hat tip, on Midgett’s end, to the zeitgeist surrounding The Women’s March and related contemporary discourse. If anything, I was surprised at the patriarchal conventions the photograph channeled: the veil, obscuring the woman’s face; her kneeling position, a gesture of supplication and servitude; the floral backdrop, a traditional (trite) symbol of femininity, all softness and delicacy at the expense of other, potentially more empowering, emblems.
And yet. The bold red lip, her close-to-nude physique, her arresting stare, her wild hair, and the fact that her husband is entirely absent from the announcement simultaneously fly in the face of those conventions.
To me, this is Beyonce at her best: walking a very fine and perplexing line that invites speculation rather than advances a crisp point of view. It’s how I feel about all of her music: bafflingly hi-brow and low-brow at the same time. At once cheesy and yet uncannily creative. Pure pop, but with deep artistic roots. Female empowerment tempered, or perhaps muddled, by raw sexuality.
And, with no meaningful segue (how do you follow Beyonce?), my latest finds (perhaps ever-so-slightly inspired by the feminine energy in her announcement)…though I thought you’d find it interesting that the three most popular items I’ve featured in the last 7 days are this dress (under $100 + still in stock, YAAAS), this cozy cardigan (also under $100, currently in HEAVY end-of-pregnancy rotation on this little Magpie), and this mini crossbody (ALSO under $100!), which I own in red.
Over the weekend, we framed and hung the final artwork for the #minimagpie nursery (more on her room here, too): a pink zebra print from the Etsy store The Aestate that I’d bought years ago and never done anything with. I couldn’t believe it when Mr. Magpie found it in a stack of frames underneath the bed in our guest room. I must have ordered it with the intention of framing it in our old condo, but completely lost track of it. When he found it, I was ecstatic, as it kind of goes PERFECTLY in #minimagpie’s pink-and-beige-with-a-safari-twist nursery. It also led me to re-visit The Aestate’s e-boutique and OMG, remember when I was talking about wanting an edgy photography print for my closet? I’ve changed my mind: I want one of these lip prints ($76 — or this one, $59).
Confession: I have to admit something wretched. I enthusiastically recommended Bronte’s Villette for my sister book club and I absolutely cannot get through it. I love most of the literature from that era from the Bronte ladies, but this one is a major snooze-fest. After passing the last two weeks without making any progress, I realized that maybe I should just let myself off the hook and read something else. And, embarrassingly enough, I settled on this trashy read from Georgia Clark ($18). Sometimes you need something light and fast to get yourself back into the reading rhythm, though–I was genuinely feeling guilty for not having read anything in the past few weeks when, in months prior, I’d averaged up to a book per week. Yikes. PSA: Um, mom, do NOT read the Clark book. I’m about 2/3 of the way done, and I’ll save my thoughts for another day, but just, trust me, mom, do not read this book. There is something interesting about the book’s underlying premise–a group of 20 something women “finding themselves in the Manhattan” (ugh, setup of every chick lit book ever) who ingest a magical potion that affords them exceptional beauty, and all of the complexities that follow. Essentially, it’s prime territory for exploring our cultural norms around beauty and the value we place on it–but the book makes a blundering mess of it, demonstrates that the author does not actually understand what the term “feminism” means (it is a fraught and complex term, but her loose, gesturing definition is…a big swing and a miss), and is shot through by a graphic, lewd bawdiness that feels completely out of place and in fact undermines any constructive criticism the book might otherwise be developing.
On a separate, but related, note: I’m also anxiously awaiting the arrival of Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me in the mail for my other book club. It’s a series of essays described as “the antidote to mansplaining.” I like to challenge myself with books described as “feminist” (as mentioned above, fraught word that it is)–they’ve helped me better understand and form my own perspective on gender relations and norms, even though Mr. Magpie will occasionally look up with alarm as I scurry off to my room with the latest by Gloria Steinem (for the record, I thought her memoir was awful–very sloppily edited and, as weird as this critique will sound given that I’m talking about a memoir, overly self-involved. She writes as if we should all know her life history intimately already. Big turn off. But, her very progressive rhetoric led to some self reflection that was ultimately fruitful.)
My latest investment piece obsession? The Hermes Collier de Chien bracelet ($1,150). The Collier de Chien is a badass. She’s downtown and edgy but refined. Like Beyonce, walking a fine line–is it ladylike or moto-chick?! The RealReal also has some gently used versions available for less, like this epic white leather one ($795).
While musing over what I’d wear if I were royalty, I went down a dark hole looking for images of the ever-elegant Princess Grace Kelly. I was really into the monochromatic look on her shown below. (She is perfect, GOOD GOD!) So when I was meandering through J.Crew the other day, lusting after all of the items I can’t fit into right now, I seriously debated buying this button-down ($69). So cute in person with the buttons on the side. I was daydreaming about wearing it with white skinnies and espadrilles this summer–or, to truly channel Grace, either these high-waisted pants (love that paper bag waist!!!) or a midi skirt like this one in the cypress green color ($59), or go tone-on-tone with this style or this style. So elegant! Incidentally, I have a super chic midi-length army green colored button-down dress (you can see me wearing it in the “About Me” pic here) that I get a lot of compliments on when I wear.
In a similar vein, OMG: how amazing is this trench dress ($128)!? The bow detailing on the sleeve is too good. Very Grace Kelly.
I have been wearing my edgy ear jacket earrings (pick no. 6) on the reg, and I love that they afford me a little “cool girl” vibe when I’m feeling decidedly un-cool in these final few weeks of pregnancy. (P.S., since starting this blog post, I’ve taken three snack breaks — dried cereal, a banana, and some dried mango. At least they’re semi-healthy-ish? Ha, all carbs all the time.) I am drooling over these cool Jennifer Zeuner earrings ($135) as an alternative. (Or, check out these petite hearts from Catbird.)
OMG, these bow-detail sconces ($380 apiece) from Kate Spade Home are unbelievable. Can you imagine them in a ladylike, wallpapered powder room? (One day — one day, people — I will wallpaper our downstairs powder room with this wallpaper from Nina Campbell. I flipping love it, especially in the green colorway.)
Zimmermann is my weakness. I’ve more or less convinced myself I need this epic bow-front dress ($995). But at that price tag, and especially when I am trying to legitimize buying this for an upcoming wedding, it’s probably a non-starter. I did come across this affordable steal that scratched a similar itch ($59). You’ll probably see me in it a few Insta pics this summer. But that Zimmermann bow! It led me to also covet this Jill Stuart white number ($495).
Speaking of toile, I am drooling over this Manuel Canovas one-piece swimsuit (88 Euros). So chic and unusual.
And, a few other shopping steals on my radar:
+These striped, bow-accented, pointed-toe flats ($109) are right up my alley.
+For expecting moms: I have been living in this $38 ASOS denim boyfriend maternity shirt. It’s pretty much a tent. I wear it with my David Lerner maternity leggings and Supergas and call it a day. BTW, it legitimately took me 10 minutes to tie my shoes the other day. I made the mistake of trying to bend over to tie them, got winded and dizzy, then eased myself down onto the floor and tried to maneuver my hands around my enormous belly, took a break, and then wondered for a few minutes whether I had the energy to hoist myself up off the ground. Whew.
+These gym socks ($10) make me happy. Whatever it takes to get motivated for the gym, right?!
+Love the colors and print of this affordable scarf ($34).
+One of you lovely readers strongly recommended having this wet/dry bag ($16) on hand for #minimagpie for messes/blow-outs/etc. I promptly ordered one and it’s just arrived. (Thanks, Jennifer B.!) Another one of you raved about the Bvlgari Petit et Mamans scent–she said she’s used it for her minis and all the other moms rave about how good her little ones smell. I followed instructions and ordered it immediately.
P.S. I updated Le Shop on Friday with some additional finds!