The Fashion Magpie Hatch Maternity Dress

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 99: Maternity Clothes + Speed Reading.

My Latest Snag: The Hatch Maternity Dress.

I have never ordered any maternity clothing from Hatch, though it’s been abuzz for a long time. I always presumed it was for tall, willowy types who could pull off the voluminous slouch of the label’s styling. But when this Sylvie dress (seen above, worn by the founder of Hatch) went on sale just in time for our vacation next month, I jumped on it. And now I’m down a dark hole and also have this and these in my cart, figuring I’ll get decent use out of warmer weather maternity clothing given that I’m delivering in late May and will need to wear pregnancy clothes for the month or so following. (And the genius of this label is that most of their pieces work while nursing, too!) I also love this maxi dress in the bisque color — it may be the only full-price article of maternity clothing I buy this go around. P.S. — If you’re also expecting/have just recent delivered, two other solid sources for maternity-wear: ASOS for inexpensive, trendy pieces when you’re desperate to get out of leggings and long striped tees (my uniform) — love this — and Shop Buru, which specializes in selecting clothes that are nursing friendly (you can sort all of their pieces by “easy access” for just this reason). I love this marigold number.

You’re Sooooo Popular: Le Stepstool.

The most popular items on le blog this week:

+This ultra chic stepstool. My bestie put hers in her shower because she doesn’t have anywhere to rest her leg while shaving. I bought mine to help mini access the toilet. But there are literally countless ways to use this stylish stepstool, which is such a step up — ehhhh?! get it?!? — in a kitchen or pantry for easier access to tall items, in a closet, at bedside when recovery from a c-section…

+Super stylish, minimalist white sneakers. Basically the grown-up and sophisticated version of Golden Goose sneakers.

+Heavily-discounted velvet mules for a winter affair. (People claim these are SO comfortable.)

+An affordable scallop-trim blouse to wear with everything. These are the kinds of basics I can get behind: a straight-forward white button down, but with a little interest at the trim.

+A chic and affordable iPhone case!

+Hygge, in sweater form.

+My secret organizational weapon when traveling. Planning on ordering another set for baby boy in a different colorway. Will be so convenient to have a green set for him and a pink set for mini to make their belongings easy to find.

+A timeless basic that goes with everything you own.

#Turbothot: Speed Reading.

After finishing this meaty, worthwhile, and thoroughly depressing novel, I returned to Nine Perfect Strangers by the author of Big Little Lies. I enjoyed the first 70% or so of the book — especially the segments written in Frances’ voice, which I took to be a semi-autobiographical casting of the author herself — but the ending of the book is…a train wreck. I had written previously that Moriarty is one of the few “chick lit” writers who operates in a different stratosphere when it comes to the substance and craft of her work. The ending of this book proved me sadly wrong. I find that most good writers do more showing than telling, but the final third of her book is more or less a poorly written list of happenings designed to hastily tie up loose ends, with no art or passably interesting writing to be found. It is as though she handed off the book to her eighteen year old niece and told her to “finish things up neatly.” Ahh! I found myself speed reading to get to the finish-line, as I was around 80% through and determined to finish it in a thirty minute stretch before bed the other week.

Do you ever speed read?

My grandmother was trained as a speed reader; she actually took a class on the topic. And there’s a well-visited article that purports to teach you how to “read 300% faster in just 20 minutes.” I can imagine it might be useful if you are reading for trade or academia and don’t need to be particularly well-versed in the minutaie of an article but want to speak appreciably well about its thrust.

But most of the time, I return to the old-guard rejoinder I used to issue to my students, back when I was a teaching assistant: “Good readers are slow readers.” Because it’s true. The linked article above talks about “regression” (consciously re-reading portions of a book) and “back-skipping” (returning to a previous spot because you’ve lost your concentration in the intervening paragraphs) as though they are bad things, but I always extolled the virtues of these happenings to my students: when you are reading slowly and deliberately, you are attending to every nuance in the book. You are a more active agent in the construction of meaning. (And you tend to make better-situated observations.)

That said, there are times and places that call for speed-reading — i.e., when you are 3/4ths of the way through a book and it just feels wrong not to finish it in its entirety. But I realized the other day that I’ve developed an informal rubric around deciding whether or not I will put a book down: if I’m leaning towards speed-reading within the first fourth of the book, I’m going to cut bait.

What about you?

#Shopaholic: Les Travel Cups.

+How adorable are these for some sort of outdoor festivity involving hot beverages — for coffee at a a breakfast before a fundraising walk/run, for mulled wine at a potluck with the neighbors, for hot tea for all the parents at a kid’s soccer match?

+In love with the oversized bows on these tootsies.

+Hoping this dress ($70!) works with my pregnant figure!

+Love the oversized gingham on this nursing pillow cover.

+Drawn to the reasonable price on these chic minimalist vases. Would make for a good housewarming gift with a bunch of hydrangea!

+Super chic footwear for a baby boy.

+Love the pattern on this catch-all basket — perfect for an entryway for depositing keys and the like.

+Love this mismatched pattern blouse in the blue! Looks like SEA or Ulla.

Shop Le Post.


  1. The Boden blouse is an extra 20% off when you buy two clearance items. You talked me into it (and a glitter spot Breton)! I’m not always sure if something like that will be stylish or frumpy.

  2. That was one of my main problems with the book – I simply did not understand or like Jack…
    And the ending felt so rushed after workibg my way through the book. Not rewarding at all.

    1. SO true. Laurie was OK as far as characters go — she had some depth and believability to her. I felt that her navigation of the tricky relationship she had with Sarah was especially believable. But Jack! Horrible! I had no idea who he was as a character and agree that the ending (just finished it a few minutes ago) was ultra-bad. Eh well. Onward!

  3. I love this outlook on cutting bait after the first quarter of a book, if it’s not resonating. Like some of the other commenters, I too am a “rule follower” and have trudged through many an unenjoyable book just for the sake of finishing them. I love thinking about your method of quantifying reading, though — 250 books in a decade is not *that* many, and it’s so true that they should be enjoyable to read!

    I have traditionally been a fast reader, but during the past few years have been trying to diligently, consciously focus on reading slower, and revisiting specific passages that resonate. I’ve done this a lot with my current read — Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which has been such an emotional read for me.

    P.S. Can’t wait to hear your full thoughts on One Day in December — I just read it and found it to be suuuuper frothy and unrealistic at many points, but still an enjoyable read (if not a very well-written one).

    1. Hi!! These are really solid insights. Sometimes I find myself having to say “slow down!” as I’m racing through a book, whether it’s because I’m finding it so enjoyable or because I just want to get it done 🙂 I need to add Michelle Obama’s book to my list. It feels like everyone is reading (and raving about) it.

      Yes, I’m at like 90% done with One Day in December but my eyelids were just too heavy last night to finish it. It’s been a fun, vapid read. Some parts are so cringe-worthy, especially the dialogue. And Jack’s character is so unevenly drawn. At some points, he’s a charming bumbling gentleman and at others he’s a nasty vindictive sack…


    2. FULLY AGREED re: Jack! I found him rather unlikeable/difficult. Ha! And the cringeworthy dialogue … eeesh. Maybe someone could adapt it for the screen and improve that aspect … I think a lot of people would go see it.

      Re: M.Obama memoir — it is at once inspirational and relatable. I think it would be a great read no matter what your political stripes! Her story is truly American but also remarkable (for obvious reasons). xo

    3. Yes — unlikeable, difficult, and unbelievable (in a negative way — not like “SO GOOD HE WAS UNBELIEVABLE!”). I just finished the book now and was so disappointed by the ending. Ehhhh well. Onto the next!

  4. Sometimes I find myself speed reading because the writing is so good, so evocative and place-y, that I feel compelled to experience it, rather than read it. (The Shipping News did this too me, and parts of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.) And then there’s the kind of speed reading you referred to, which overtakes me in thrillers of all stripes (the equivalent of covering my eyes during the scary parts of a movie, which I also do). If the writing is poor, eg Girl on a Train, I’ll go even faster. But usually, the final discovery isn’t as enjoyable as the chase!
    Note on Hatch — definitely size alllll the way down. The cuts are VERY generous, esp if you’re intending to wear post-partum.

    1. Claire! Just discovered this Hatch sizing issue. I LOVE that dress but it was enormous on me. I have to return it 🙁 I’m so bummed as I love the style! Anyway — to all other reading: buyer beware on the size end!

      I also cover my eyes in scary/violent movies — ha. Hadn’t thought of speed reading as the literary equivalent! But very true. Thanks for putting a more positive spin on this habit…xo!

  5. I’m in the middle of ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ and am not finding it to be like any of her other books at all. I couldn’t put any of the others down (and stayed up all night in one case to finish one of them) – this one, I’ve left for nearly a week. I suppose I may stick this one out and actually finish it.

    That stepstool is so cute – I know you’ve posted it before, but I may finally cave and get it. I’ve been looking around and haven’t seen anything else quite as nice.

  6. Such a great post! Life really is too short to waste time on books that you aren’t into. I’m halfway through “Where the Crawdads Sing” and hope you pick it up soon so I can hear your thoughts!

    Love that Boden blouse and the packing cube trick is a great mom hack!

    1. Yay!! Thanks for the note. I’ll report back on Crawdads — I think it’s going to be next in my queue. xoxo

  7. I totally feel you there – with some books you just need to know how it ends even though you do not particularly care for the book.
    I‘m still very much looking forward to your thoughts on „One day in December“. 🙂
    Greetings from Germany!

    1. Yes, once you’re past a certain threshold, you just gotta see your way through…better when you figure out if you don’t care for something early on and can cut bait early and without the guilt.

      I’m about 1/3 of the way “One Day in December” and it is SO frothy and cinematic. I mean, some scenes feel like they’re right out of “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” right?! It’s been a fun distraction and I look forward to reading it before bed, even if some of the dialogue/romantic scenes are cringe-inducing 🙂 xoxo

  8. My mom (a former librarian!) does it all the time and calls it “fast forwarding.” HAH. I’m most likely to do that when I feel that a book is just WAY too long and clearly had not been edited at all. I read City on Fire and by the end of its almost 1,000 pages (!!!!) I was just skipping 2, 3, even 4 pages at a time. Just way, way, way too many unnecessary words.

    1. OOF. I was just talking with a fellow book clubber not too long ago that the ideal length for a book is ~300 pages. If it’s longer, it’s got to have a really compelling reason to be longer. But usually it’s just gratuitous! I feel the same way about movies — 1.5 hours is ideal, 2 hours is doable, anything over makes me itchy/has to be REALLY GOOD to keep me hooked.


  9. I have adopted a rule of 100…if I start a book and I am not connecting with it by the first 100 pages, I’m out! That’s my line in the sand so to speak. At this point in my life, reading is for enjoyment and pleasure. There are too many good books out there to spend my precious time drudging through any book!

    1. Love that rubric, and think it’s totally fair — 100 pages is a decent enough amount of time/substance that you can usually ferret out whether something is going to be boring/badly written and that it’s not just a bumpy start. xoxo

  10. I just read this post on abandoning books that “aren’t for me.”
    Still not sure that this compulsive finisher is convinced! I think I can count on one hand the number of books I DNF in my adult life – mostly books like The Fountainhead (UGH) and The Great Gatsby (embarrassed face emoji) that I felt like I “should” read. But maybe the next time I’m not enjoying something I’ll be more tempted to abandon it.

    Also, like the previous comment, my mom will read the end of books…but usually only if they are too stressful and she “just needs to know if someone dies” or something 🙂

    1. That is SO funny — had never heard of this phenomenon of reading the ending first except for in “When Harry Met Sally,” when a neurotic Harry admits to the habit but only out of morbidity (“what if I die before I finish it?”) I hear you, though — sometimes the classics that we *should* love are really tough and guilt-inducing. Kind of like “classic movies.” Citizen Kane? I was so freaking bored…and yet I’m mortified to admit it. xo

  11. It took a few years for me, a rule follower, to become comfortable with cutting bait on an uninteresting book. How freeing it is to not finish something I didn’t enjoy! Recently, I read half of Circe, and stopped. So many people IRL and online had raved about it, but it wasn’t clicking for me. While it may be small to some, it is good for me to practice not doing something I don’t enjoy just because others around me love it.

    My mom is a funny reader. She reads the final three or four chapters of a book before starting at the beginning. Doesn’t matter if it’s a thriller, memoir, or chick lit. She’s a retired police detective and loves to see how storylines work out and pick up every clue. It was always very shocking to my type A childhood self!

    1. Woah!! That is so interesting. I’ve never heard of that approach to reading but it makes sense given her profession 🙂

      You are so right re: rule following. I had the hardest time coming to terms with “breaking up with books” when they weren’t a good fit. The completion desire was so strong! But, life is too short. Once I did the math (I probably read 2 books a month — so 24 a year — so a decade is around 250 books, and I’m not going to cede one of my cherished 250 spots for something I dislike!!!), I got more comfortable with the notion. That said, if I make it over 50% of the way through, I’m usually pot-committed, no matter how agonizing the end is. xoxo

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