The Fashion Magpie SSB

Secret #Basic Behavior.

Last Friday night, I found myself alone and left to my own devices.  Mr. Magpie was at a work event that evening and had warned me that he probably wouldn’t be home until midnight, and, after I’d successfully fed, bathed, and pajama-ed mini, I took she and Tilly out for a walk around Central Park during that magical golden hour just before seven, fed mini her nighttime bottle, and rocked her to sleep.

After sliding the pocket door to mini’s nursery closed and cleaning the kitchen, I was practically radiating with joy at the thought of an entire evening to myself.  It goes without saying that I adore evenings spent in conversation with Mr. Magpie, but — variety is the spice of life and there was something deliciously indulgent about having no one to account for but myself on that stray Friday night.  I ordered dinner for myself (a Sweetgreen salad, which sounds boring on the surface, but Mr. Magpie is not a salad-for-dinner kind of guy, and it was just what I wanted), poured myself a glass of sparkling wine, put on my new favorite face mask (full review here; and PSA: it’s on sale RN!), lit my new candle, sat down on the couch in my favorite pajamas (I just discovered they now come in a short version!), and put on Julie + Julia.  (I didn’t care for it the first time around, and was equally uninspired at my second viewing — I can’t stand the way Amy Adams plays that character for some reason.  It’s cloying and overdrawn.  But still — it felt so delightful to put on a borderline bad chick flick with no explanation needed.)

It reminded me of that Sex and the City episode where Carrie talks about SSB, secret single behavior: what people do when they’re alone.  I remember Carrie talking about eating saltines slathered with jelly standing up at her counter with her socks on.  My evening was decidedly less idiosyncratic — could I have been enjoying a more #basic night?  It was like a page out of Cosmo magazine: “How to De-Stress on a Friday Night” and “10 Steps to Instant Relaxation.”  But it was also perfect.

What’s your SSB?  I’m wondering if you have some more inspiring and quirky ways to pass time solo — but if you don’t, let’s join hands in solidarity around our SBB — secret #basic behavior.

Post-Script: Reader Q+As.

The evening also gave me time to respond to some recent reader Q+As:

Q: My mom is coming to visit [me in D.C.] soon and each time she visits, I am disappointed to not know more shops we can visit (specifically antique stores / clothing boutiques).  Was wondering if you had any recommendations for shops in DC

A: I absolutely love the little corridor up in North Georgetown on Wisconsin Ave, just south of R Street, starting with A Mano, an adorable gift and home goods shop that has been there for a long time.  You’ll find a bunch of little boutiques on your walk down Wisconsin, but for antiques, you MUST make it to The Christ Child Opportunity Shop, just south of P Street on Wisconsin Avenue.  My grandmother and mother volunteer(ed) there, and they consign upscale home goods and furnishings and art and the profits go to support children in need.  Mixed in among all those great little boutiques are some of my favorite eating spots — Bean Counter for good sandwiches (apparently a lot of celebrities stop in there!); Patisserie Poupon for great salads, lattes, and pastries; and Cafe Bonaparte for French bistro fare.  (And there’s also an incredible wine bar further up, north of R, called Bistro Lepic.  They have a wonderful wine list and Mr. Magpie and I used to go on dates there frequently!)  For dessert — Thomas Sweet is a CLASSIC for ice cream, and there’s a fancy gelato spot called Dolcezza in that vicinity, too.  Finally, if you have time for a manicure, I used to go to Vicky’s religiously every week for many, many years.  Vicky is a doll!

Nowadays when I’m home, my mom will often take me to Bethesda Row to shop — they have more chains than boutiques, but there are a fair share of unique stores in that area, including a free-standing Lilly Pulitzer store and a Sugarfina candy shop (I have a major sweet tooth).  I spent a lot of my early teen years there because I had braces and my orthodontist’s office was right there, and then there was a movie theater that we all used to hang out at before we were old enough to do anything else.  So, good memories!
Also, if you’ve not yet been, you MUST go to Black Salt, my favorite restaurant in D.C.  They have an excellent happy hour — I think oysters are $1 or $2 apiece, martinis and champagne cocktails are marked down, and you can get smaller, more affordable portions of some of their powerhouse dishes.
Q: I’m obsessed with the look of Self-Portrait, but their clothes are out of my budget.  Can you recommend a blouse that looks like Self Portrait but costs less?
A:  YES.  This and this.  The latter is at the top of my spring wishlist in blue!
Q: What other blogs do you read?  
A: My favorite blogs for shopping inspiration are Daily Cup of Couture (she has exquisite taste), Le Catch for fast-fashion finds, and Luella + June (#closetgoalz).  For motherhood/family content, I am drawn to the realness and down-to-earth-ness of Liz Adams on Sequins and Stripes — I admire her perspective, and I especially like following her on Instastory, where she shows the not-so-glamorous side of motherhood without batting an eyelash.  I don’t know if she knows how deeply relatable and inspiring she is.  I trust Grace’s opinion on basically everything: she is super real and will only feature products she loves.  I had the good fortune of having dinner with her a few months back and her skin is luminescent — and therefore I will follow her skincare recommendations to the letter.  I also love that she convinced me to read a YA book — though we felt differently about the book, I enjoyed the provocation to read something out of my wheelhouse, and I respect the breadth of literature she consumes and her perspectives on them more generally.  Finally, for a little bit of everything, I like Hitha and Mackenzie — two women I have also had the opportunity to befriend IRL and both of whom I admire.  (Aside: I personally think Mackenzie should be on a reality TV show: she is quick-witted and self-deprecating, and you can occasionally catch glimpses of this in her writing and in her Instastory collection.)
Q: I am lost as what to wear to my baby’s first birthday party in three weeks. Family only, casual, but because I work in events it’s going to be pretty styled if that makes sense and there will also be a professional photographer to capture candid shots/decor/ a few family photos. So I want to look chic while still being able to move and carry around a baby and probably be installing a floral chandelier 10 minutes before people show up. Le sigh.

A:  Oooh, this is a good one. Well, I can tell you what NOT to do: do not wear a Saloni dress with a low vee in the front (mine looked a lot like this, but from last season), as I did, because I then found it so awkward to bend down and scoop Emory up and probably flashed a thousand people. Blah. You are wise to be thinking about functionality…If I were up to a redo, I am swooning over this floaty number from Doen or pretty much any of the new arrivals at Dagny, all of which boast movement alongside eye-catching details.  I know you said “casual,” but a breezy dress feels right to me.

I also like this chic mint green jumpsuit and this stylish yellow one, both of which feel fashionable and appropriately eye-catching for a photo shoot, but also practical (and comfortable).

Q: How did weaning actually go? Did you have to do anything special? Or you just stopped offering her nursing? Did she accept it? Did you have to do anything for your own body? How long did it take? What did you substitute?

A:  First, a HUGE congrats to you for making it as far as you have!  No small feat.  You are a champion and you should be SO proud of yourself.  As far as weaning goes, I’m going to be honest and say it’s not pleasant.  For starters, even though I was down to only one feed a day when I weaned, it took a full week or maybe ten days for my body to stop producing milk, and those seven to ten days were so, so uncomfortable.  I thought I might have had a blocked duct or something, but no — it was just normal old weaning.  My suggestions: take hot showers and hand express when you’re feeling super super full.  You don’t want to pump or anything because that will tell your body to keep producing milk, but a little hand expression is necessary now and then (or, it was for me, because I thought I was going to explode).  I’ve also heard that people use cabbage to help dry up the milk supply (literally place leaves of cabbage in your bra), but I never tried this.  People swear by it though!  Also, Advil.

The other element was that my hormones went absolutely berserk.  I couldn’t see it when I was in the thick of it, but I was a weepy mess for a couple weeks and now I know why.  The slightest thing would send me off into tears.  I didn’t connect the dots while it was happening — I just kept thinking, “Oh God, why is everything so annoying?!?!”  I remember that I saw my best friend a couple of times while I was weaning and EVERY SINGLE TIME I saw her, I’d wind up in tears.  At one point, she gave me a long hug and said, “Girl, I’m worried about you. What’s going on?”  In retrospect, it’s super obvious — I wasn’t consciously upset about weaning; I was just crazy hormonal.  So, if I may offer some unsolicited advice, cut yourself a lot of slack — and just know that if you feel weepy and blue, it’s probably your hormones, and everything will bounce back eventually 🙂
Last thing to say — while it was physically and emotionally a challenging stretch, it’s absolutely nothing compared to what you went through when your son was born, and YOU WILL MAKE IT THROUGH.  And the plus side is that it’s also a huge relief to not be nursing!  I felt truly freed by it, though I miss it every now and then.  Just keep that in mind: you get your body back!  And you get some freedom back!  And you can drink wine without having to think about the implications!
Q: I’m going on vacation to Hawaii and want to treat myself to a new sundress — something I can wear on the beach but also out to dinner.  
A:  Oooh la la!  I am obsessed with this pretty maxi in the pink stripe, this mini (the back! the poms! the price!), and pretty much any of the kurtas/dresses/tunics from Roberta Roller Rabbit, like this or this, which would look equally chic thrown over a bathing suit or paired with white jeans.  This bright patterned shirt dress could also look amazing thrown over a swimsuit or with flat sandals to dinner. Lastly, this breezy boho maxi would make for a seriously sexy look with tousled hair and a suntan!
P.S.  My beloved shirt is back in stock!
P.P.S.  Obsessing over these raffia slides!!!!


  1. Re weaning: Cupofjo has a GREAT post about post-weaning blues. It is the real deal. They are tough and I’m constantly reminding women about it in my job.

    Re SSB never heard of it but my husband is on call about one evening/week and when he’s not there I always eat ‘standing dinner’ where I walk around the kitchen grazing and never actually sit down. I also listen to songs on repeat which he disapproves of and finally I go to bed SUPER early with 0 guilt. (He and I have met in the middle with bedtime and he complains that we have no grown up time when I go to bed too early).

    1. That is so funny about repeating songs! My sister once described herself as “a repeater” — listening to the same songs over and over — and I didn’t know it was a thing, but I occasionally do it, too. Standing dinner! I know what you mean — sometimes I do something similar (though usually sitting down), where I have “sninner” or snack dinner: some cheese and crackers, then maybe a couple bites of leftover chinese, then an apple. It feels oddly freeing to me.


  2. So much to say here. I am single and sad (jk on the sad part) so every night is basically SBB., especially last night. I got Sweetgreen, put on ratty sweats and a t-shirt from 2000 (yes, 2000, it’s a college tee and the best) did THREE face masks (yes 3 – mud, cream, and then an overnight mask) and stayed up past midnight watching Billions. It was spectacular.

    I am so glad that the Tata mask is one of your favorite; it’s my favorite as well. So good for glowy skin.

    But lastly, thank you for the kind words and for trusting me (and calling my skin luminous) – you are the best!

    Have a lovely rest of your weekend! xo

    1. Your evening sounds delightful — ratty tee and all. I’m actually devastated now thinking that I tossed a whole bunch of old, tattered tees in the move, thinking: “I really just don’t have the space!”, because there’s nothing like wearing your oldest, most worn-in tee for a night of SBB 🙂


  3. Each year, my boyfriend and his father go to watch their rugby team play at every local game, so I treasure the 15 or so nights like this per season!

    I actually had one such evening last night, and after an all-day uni session, it was exactly what I needed!
    My routine usually looks like this:

    – quick 20 min power nap (so I don’t fall asleep during the movie later on!)
    – long shower then into my favourite old t-shirt and sweats
    – candles lit, plants watered
    – either order food (usually a burrito bowl as the BF isn’t that into Mexican.. I know) or cook something carb heavy and easy; like The Healthy Hunter’s hangover noodles or pasta with chilli, garlic, baby spinach and Parmesan
    – watch something that is what we call a “rugby movie” ie for when BF is at the rugby. Last night’s choice was The Meddler with Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne. I LOVED it. There is also red wine and dark chocolate involved in this step, naturally.

    As always, love the blog xx

    1. Ooh la la, this sounds glorious!!! I like the idea of whipping up a little cacio e pepe for one 🙂 Enjoy rugby season!! xo

  4. Ooh, fun question! Have you read Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant? Lots of great essays from food folks on their solo dining fare. Mine would be anything with peas, as I love them as much as my husband hates them. Annie’s white cheddar shells + peas are particularly complimentary in my book (plus a shake of Old Bay—as someone who grew up close to Old Bay country, do you find that heretical or righteous?). Plus a massive chocolate chunk cookie from the nearby bakery and at least one container of cut fruit (the pleasure of not sharing!).
    Entertainment-wise, it’s whatever teen drama I’ve got on the husband’s away burner. Riverdale, right now.

    1. This sounds HEAVENLY. I absolutely LOVE that book, by the way — when I read it (maybe a decade ago now? I feel like it came out right around when I graduated from college?), it surprised me that so many “highbrow” chefs favored the simplest fare when in private: beans and rice, a hunk of bread and cheese. Lovely.

      Old Bay is good on everything, so I’d say your concoction is “righteous.” We put it in chex mix (I like to bake it at home, old school!) and people are always like, “what’s that flavor?!?” We sneak it into EVERYTHING.


  5. Sounds like a perfectly indulgent evening! My boyfriend works in a different city for part of every other week, so I find a decent amount of evening time to myself. I chuckled at the mention of sweetgreen — he does not care for it, so I usually end up getting dinner from there once every other week when he’s away! Definite secret basic behavior. 🙂 I tend to spend my solo evenings taking long exercise classes, journaling, or catching up on reading — books, magazines, and blogs!

    Love your DC recommendations! I used to go there a few times a year for work. After a recent promotion, I am traveling less, but will remember Black Salt for future trips — sounds amazing!

    In other news, I need that floaty Doen dress. NEED.

    1. Hi! I love the idea of journaling while solo. I suppose this blog is a bit like a public journal, but I’m curious about your writing habit – do you sit down with a topic in mind, or do you just let yourself go?

      Black Salt YAAAS!!!

    2. Sometimes I have a topic or two in mind, but usually I just run with it in a stream-of-consciousness-style way! I do enjoy it quite a bit.

  6. Fashionmagpie
    I am going tomNYC for school at Columbia at the end of June. What do I wear( I am 62 hipster widow) and where do I have to go? Jazz, foodie (dive, mom and pop, trendier must go) I enjoy off the beaten tracks rather than the traditional NYC. I have been to NYC several times and am looking for an adventure Can you help me

    Btw just want you to know that I look forward to reading your blog every morning in bed with my coffee. Thank you for inspiring me on the days that are challenging

    Thanks in advance and have a beautiful day

    1. Carol! Thank you so much – I’m so flattered that we’ve found companionship through this blog! I love the idea of you starting your morning with Magpie 🙂 Thanks for making me a part of your routine.

      As far as New York — oh my gosssshhhh. So much to think about and write about. I would say that, for food, a good starting point is The Infatuation, which will provide top picks by neighborhood: I find that sometimes they favor flash over substance in their reviews (i.e., “what’s trendy”), but you’ll find some cool spots nonetheless. (We always cross-referenced by googling for other reviews from the New York Times, etc.)

      A couple of things on my radar for this summer (recommended by friends and fellow Magpie readers!): packing a picnic to enjoy in Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park (there is a Daniel Boulud outpost called Epicerie Boulud that sells sandwiches/prepared salads/etc that would be the perfect spot to swing by and pick up refreshments en route), watching a movie al fresco at Pier 1 on 70th St, catching a performance at the Lincoln Center or one of the surrounding theaters (it’s close to Julliard and I have heard they have wonderful, affordable programming!), visiting the Intrepid. I recently visited the Met Cloisters and it was one of the most magical experiences — it’s a gorgeous art museum that was constructed using elements of cathedrals and convents and monasteries from Europe; the effort of bringing all of those elements over from Europe is insane, and it’s breath-taking! Definitely worth a trip, and there are pretty promenades and gardens to explore nearby. Finally, I have been daydreaming about taking minimagpie to tea at Alice’s Tea Cup when she’s old enough to appreciate it, or — for a splurge — at the Plaza Hotel.

      For clothes, I actually find that New York embraces everyone. Just do you! That said, if you’re looking for an excuse to try out something a little flashier and dressier than you normally would, New York is your place.

      Finally, two random thoughts — if you want to have a classy drink, try Bemelman Bar at The Carlyle. The walls were painted by the artist who did the Madeleine books and they have live piano music! (But it is $$$!) And, Mr. Magpie and I have a special bond over the jazz musician Stacey Kent, and have seen her perform in New York in the past — she’ll be here in June:


  7. Secret Single Behavior! I must admit, I love it when Sri and my dad go to bed early so I can indulge in mine. It always involves a face mask (currently loving Peter Thomas Roth’s Hungarian thermal water one), a snifter of brandy, feet slathered in a rich cream and white socks, and something empowering on television (binging on The Good Fight right now). Or I’ll light candles in my bathroom, play some chill music, and take a piping hot Epsom salt bath. The best part about my Kindle Oasis is that it’s WATERPROOF, so I have zero fears about bringing it into the bath. I either re-read the All Souls trilogy (one of my all-time favorites) or another brain candy read.

    Thank you so much for the kind shoutout today – so glad that we’re friends, both online and offline!

    1. Snifter with brandy!!! You bad ass. Is it lame to admit I’ve long wished to be a woman who enjoyed drinks “neat”?

      I didn’t realize there was a waterproof Kindle, and now I’m already eyeing my next upgrade…

      So glad we’ve met as well 🙂 You’ve made New York feel a lot smaller. xoxo

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