Quite Continental Charm School: Day 21 — Drink More Gin

21/02/2012 § 9 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Women in a New York City bar, 1941. Taken by Nina Leen for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  My good friend Marisa Zupan is a journalist, writer and the founder of the excellent men’s style blog The Significant Other, where she provides a thoughtful and studied female opinion on issues, brands and individuals important to the well-dressed man.  If your boyfriend/father/boss/anyone! is in need of a bit of a sartorial upgrade, please forward him to Marisa posthaste.

After I learned of our shared love of wearing beautiful neckties, I guessed we would get along famously, and I was right.  Marisa is one of the most grounded and supportive individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I’m also quite pleased she chose to write about gin, one of my favorite libations.  If you are not yet familiar with Marisa, or The Significant Other, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Marisa’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 21: Drink More Gin
Let’s face it ladies, you’ve been drinking mostly vodka your whole life. In high school it was vodka and crystal light (everyone did that right?), college it was vodka and whatever the hell juice your roommate had in the fridge, and in your young adult life it’s been some vodka martinis with the occasional ironic whiskey on the rocks to switch things up. Through all of this, gin has really gotten the short end of the stick.  I’ll admit, in my younger less classy days, I thought gin tasted like licking the underside of a moss covered rock, but those days are over and this year will be the one when I educate my much more mature palate.

Like its flavor profile, Gin’s history is varied and complex. It was discovered by Italian monks, used as medicine during the bubonic plague and, because it was cheap and (too) readily available, gin became associated with people and places of disrepute in London. Despite its sordid past, gin made a come back in the British colonies and has since then been the spirit of choice in some of the classiest and most popular cocktails. In my efforts to become more gin-knowledgeable, I discovered Brooklyn Gin, a company based right in my backyard. The ingredients, fresh citrus and juniper berries, are bought at a market only a 10 minute walk from my apartment, and distilled 30 minutes out side of the city. Local and delicious, what more could a lady ask for? A cocktail recipe. Below is just that, I hope you enjoy, here’s to kicking the vodka habit and getting more sophisticated in 2012.

Olive Rosemary Martini (via Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

2 ounces gin
2 teaspoons dry vermouth
1 rosemary sprig
Pitted olives

To Make: 

Shake 2 ounces gin and 2 teaspoons dry vermouth with crushed ice; strain into a stemmed glass. Strip leaves from bottom 2 inches of a rosemary sprig, skewer through pitted olives, and add to the drink.

by Marisa Zupan, of The Significant Other.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 19 — Find Balance

19/02/2012 § Leave a comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Photo taken by Nina Leen in 1949, for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker! The lovely Jodi Fournier is the President of Windsor Resources, a full-service staffing and professional recruiting firm headquartered in New York, the wife of the feisty owner of Terrapin Stationers, Ted Harrington, and the mother of a lovely teenager they enjoy referring to as “The Spawn” (her real name is Kyle).  I had the pleasure of meeting Jodi through Ted, who you may remember did my lovely business cards, and whose work you have probably seen all over the internets and via some of the classiest fashion week invites.

While I first must remark how much of a delight it is to know her personally — and how it’s always a treat when she makes an appearance — it was after reading her thoughts on how she tries to achieve balance in her life, that I truly began to admire her as a person, and I bet you will too.  She truly has it all.  Jodi has managed to combine a successful career, a loving family and a deep commitment to giving back.  She remains one of the loveliest people to be around and has a delightful sense of humor.  She also has an adorable dog and horse.  Jealousy!

If you are not yet familiar with Jodi Fournier, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Jodi’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 19: Find Balance
When I think of work/life balance it connotes a 50/50 split or some sort of concession of work and “life.”  I don’t like giving less than 100% to everything I do nor do I like to compromise; neither option is classy or fabulous so, I say I can have it all by MERGING career, family and volunteering with proper planning, passion and involving the whole family.

Giving back is very important to me, my husband Ted and our 16 year-old daughter Kyle.  When Kyle was in the 7th grade, she and I joined a group of 9 other student/parent pairs and two geography teachers on a 10 day “middle school version of the Peace Corps” service trip to Senegal.  I was recruited to chair the fundraising efforts, which took many months and lots of planning; not an easy feat as the President of a small recruiting firm with offices in NY and CT.  To merge work with this huge undertaking, I made sure I used my time wisely, when at work, I concentrated ONLY on work – giving 100% so that I didn’t experience any pangs of guilt at night or on the weekends when I was “working” on our Senegal mission.  To give 100% to these efforts while not at work I made it a family affair.   With all hands on deck working towards a common goal it was very easy to merge family and volunteering.

Ted volunteered his time and materials – he owns a classy and fabulous printing company: Terrapin Stationers – by making 200 notebooks and pencils for the students of the school we helped build.  Kyle wrote an impassioned email and sent it to her grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends asking them to make a donation to this cause in lieu of giving her Christmas and Birthday gifts.  I coordinated and organized, with their help and the help of the other students and parents, a concert and auction which resulted in net donations of over $20,000.

I have to say, we received so much more than we gave.  Today, the visionary geography teachers and a small group of parents have formed Humanity Now, a 501c3 organization; Kyle has founded a High School group and has made new students aware of what is going on in the world and how they can help; and Ted continues to give to the cause too, by volunteering his time, talent and materials.  It’s a classy and fabulous family affair.

by Jodi Fournier.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 16 — Select a Signature Scent

16/02/2012 § 7 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Taken by Hans Wild for Life Magazine, 1947.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  My good friend Anne, founder of the fashion and culture blog Ritournelle, is a lovely French expat currently living in New York City.  She works in the beauty industry and is my frequent partner at some of the best museum and auction house exhibits in the city (where I frequently act like something of a living duck blind so that she can sneak photos, sshhhh!).  Her encyclopedic knowledge of beauty and fragrance companies, especially French ones,  is second to none, and as I am always in need of a good tip — and who isn’t?! — I quite enjoy picking her brain for new discoveries.  The fact that she almost always comes bearing some sort of French delicacy is icing on the cake.  She’s like my own private Inès de La Fressange.

Ritournelle is a place to visit if you love Paris, Dior, Charlotte Gainsbourg, fashion history and would like to practice your French language skills (all her posts are in both French and English!).  If you are not yet familiar with Anne or Ritournelle, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Anne’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 16: Select a Signature Scent
My perfume is one of my most treasured possessions. I grew up in the rainy Normandy countryside, surrounded by a lush garden from which scents of moss and flowers, surprising by their variety, would compel me. Nothing stirs me more now than the green notes of galbanum and earthy iris roots from my Chanel N°19 bottle. You will often find me obsessively sniffing my wrist like a drug, a gesture that appeases while revitalizing me.

In France, fragrance is an essential and intimate part of a woman’s life. She would not consider starting the day, much less leaving her house, without a spritz. Moreover, each perfume worn over time defines a certain period of her life. The chosen brand and perfume, its concept and notes reveal much about her personality. Think about it: the woman who wears the strong, oriental, in-our-face Opium by Yves Saint Laurent leads her life far differently from the one who favors fruity, playful and innocent Petite Chérie by Annick Goutal. Yet, I quote Hermès perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, “The perfume must say, ‘I have many secrets: I am who I am, but you may not know everything about me.’ In any case, the perfume builds up the other self. The one I am and the one I wish I was.”

In order to find the perfume that you can call your own, got to the brands which values you cherish most. Are you more drawn to traditional and Parisian houses like Guerlain and Hermès or to modern, urban ones like Le Labo and Byredo?

Make your purchase an event to look forward to: experience it during a trip abroad or in a refined store where you will get the best advice (like MiN or Aedes de Venustas in New York). Try fragrances first on blotters, but be aware that what you smell on paper is very different than on your skin. Let your emotions guide you and take your time; it can be a lengthy process with several trials. The ideal fragrance should surprise you by its power of bringing out your emotions all while being the perfect olfactory expression of yourself. (For example, I adore Iris Nobile by Aqua di Parma, it’s a great fragrance, but that solar citrus note is just not me). When you come down to a couple you like, spritz each one of them on a different wrist (without rubbing!) in the morning and see how they evolve during the day to measure their quality and chemistry with your skin.

You needn’t be loyal to your fragrance. Think of it as a wardrobe: you have your outfits for work and days off, and those that you save for a special occasion. Likewise, adopt a more sensual perfume for nights out. For example, I’ll trust the rich and voluptuous 34 boulevard saint germain by Diptyque to set me in the right mood. Then, I change perfumes according to the season: when spring comes and temperatures rise, I will switch to a lighter fragrance, like Un Jardin après la Mousson by Hermès.

How do you choose your fragrance?
Do you stay loyal to one perfume or do you experiment with different scents?

by Anne, of Ritournelle.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 15 — Keep a Travel Journal

15/02/2012 § 5 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Charles A. Lindbergh’s flight journal. Photo by George Silk.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  Jen Swetzoff is a writer, editor, mommy and the founder of the travel blog Parenture (parenting + adventure) where she focuses on family-friendly vacations, the best gear for families on the go and gives her readers an inside look at the places she travels to with her husband and her daughter, Baby E.

A secret: how I know Jen differs from all of our guest speakers thus far.  Ours is a friendship that predates either of our blogs, in fact — I met Jen very soon after my arrival in New York, and we worked together for some time.  I’m especially in awe (jealous) of the fact that she has travelled to twenty countries on six different continents in the last ten years.  And while I am not a mom myself, the locations that Jen suggests, especially those upstate, almost automatically get added to my to do list.  If you are not yet familiar with Jen or Parenture, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Jen’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 15: Keep a Travel Journal
Honestly, writing often feels like the last thing I want to do on vacation. But I do it anyway. Because no matter what other souvenirs I carry home, my travel journal ends up being the most treasured. Cameras are amazing, and I always pack one of those, too, but they’re predictable. Reliable. They always do the same thing and do it well. They capture clear and accurate moments of time–instants really, that exist and then fade away–and make them stand still forever. Which is great for people like me with crappy memories.

But words, written in our own sloppy handwriting, are fluid and imprecise and subjective. Which makes them either hilarious or profound in retrospect. Even when I’m not in the mood to put pen to paper (both of which I always have in my bag, locally and on the road), the right travel journal–a brand new book–is inspiring. Its openness gives me the same sense of hope that planning a trip does. On its pages, I can think, dream, remember, record, realize. Because anything’s possible on a blank page. Anything can happen on a great adventure. So even if you don’t have a trip planned yet, get yourself a travel journal.

Here are a few of my favorites to get you going:

Hands down, this Smythson is the classiest travel journal on the market. For some reason, it makes me think of Out of Africa. But I gotta say, I like the pretty pink version too.

I love a classic Moleskin, with all its literary history, but this company just gets better with age. Have you seen the new Moleskin travel journal?

The colorful and lighthearted journals from Archie Grand just make me smile.

Loving this adventurous notebook as well.  It’s also a Moleskin, but has been screen printed by the lovely print shop and design studio Fifi du Vie

Bon voyage!

by Jen Swetzoff, of Parenture.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 13 — Know Thyself

13/02/2012 § 5 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Actress Olivia De Havilland, 1942. Taken by Bob Landry for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  Kate Arends is an amazing artist and graphic designer I initially came to know through her blog wit + delight, but I quickly discovered the full scope of her excellent eye and creativity through her Tumblr, her Pinterest, her Instagram, and her charming personality through her Twitter account.  I’m confident they invent new sharing platforms on the interwebs just so Kate has new mediums to dominate.

My favorite remains her blog, where she is at her most charming and wickedly funny and discusses everything from how her weekend went, to what she’s listening to, to how she’d like to redecorate her apartment…or her hair.  It’s all very genuine and deliberate and lovable.  And her obvious skills as a graphic designer and her aesthetic that balances the best of vintage and modern?  Well that’s just icing on the cake.  If you are not yet familiar with Kate or wit + delight, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Kate’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 13: Know Thyself
The key to living a little more fabulously is knowing who you are and what you like. I’m not talking about the huge things that define our lives- like what do you want to do for a living, just the small stuff. What’s your favorite dish to cook for friends? Perfect it. What’s your signature drink? Call it. What’s your go-to uniform for that second date? Rock it like nobody else.

Everyone has a uniqueness that makes them different from anyone else on this earth. I think that’s where true beauty lives, in the uniqueness of YOU. I couldn’t think of better way to live a classy and fabulous life!

So! Here’s who I am: I’m a letter writer, lingerie lover, red lipstick fanatic, inquirer of the extraordinary, with an extra large side of geek.

What about you?

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite // Gold Calligraphy Pen // Coin Purse // Liquid Eyeliner  // Glasses // Bra  // Red Lipstick // Custom Stationary

by Kate Arends, of wit + delight

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 10 – A Proper Foundation

10/02/2012 § Leave a comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our fourth guest speaker!  My good friend Sarah is the personal style blogger behind Style on the Couch, where she discusses her quest for the perfect party dress, her adventures as a Englishwoman in New York, her addiction to lingerie and even contemplates the psychology of fashion — with good reason, she’s also a psychologist!

Sarah’s blog is a charmingly personal — reading it is a bit like sitting down with a good friend to dish over cocktails — and I can assure you that she is just as lovely in person.  If you are not yet familiar with Sarah or Style on the Couch, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Sarah’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 10: A Proper Foundation
A day of being classy and fabulous should be a day in which only self appreciation is allowed. It should be a day to praise our curves, to love our legs, to give thanks for our bodies. Looking good and feeling great, whilst also being a state of mind, can be helped along by great undergarments that give the very best womanly silhouette. Fabulous lingerie also inspires us to feel feminine and chic even if we are the only ones who will know and see what is going on at the level of our foundations. We shouldn’t save lingerie for a special occasion; we should treat ourselves to those items that make us feel wonderful all the time.

Our screen icons: Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot – these women knew how to dress for their shape and accentuate their assets (Harlow even chose to be buried in her lingerie!) Even woman should own fabulous undergarments that help her to feel classy and fabulous. I look to Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant for some guidance in this matter: “To find the right undergarments, you first need to determine your desired silhouette”. For an hour glass figure I look to the shapewear of La Perla and Result Wear. For a nipped-in waist – try a waspie from Bordelle. Desire a hint of cleavage? Try a demi-bra from Blush Lingerie’s Midnight Kiss collection.

Build a collection of the right foundations for your shape and silhouette right now. Love your contours. Become truly classy and fabulous by shining a spotlight on your best assets.

by Sarah, of Style on the Couch.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 8 — Your Family Jewels

08/02/2012 § 3 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

The fabulous Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Image via the Smithsonian.
More on Gertrude here.

Editor’s Note:  I’m very pleased to introduce our third guest speaker!  Christine Mitchell is an amazingly talented artist and the founder of the blog N’East Style, where she explores an aesthetic that is modern, yet rustic, with a deep admiration of all things New England, independent and handmade.  I came to know Christine initially through her artwork — it’s everywhere!  Her drawings and logo work appears all over the interwebs, recently graced a lovely set of stationery for Tory Burch and even the handmade card she sent me for Christmas.

But aside from all the cool stuff Christine introduces me to on her blog, and her amazing talent as an artist, the main reason I asked her to participate is because she is honestly one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  I knew whatever she chose to share would be heartfelt and charming, just like she is, and I was right.  If you are not yet familiar with Christine or N’East Style, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Christine’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 8: Your Family Jewels
In general, I’m not a huge accessorizer. It’s very likely that is due to the fact that in the mornings before work, instead of contemplating what I’m going to wear I find myself cleaning, writing note cards, catching up on emails, or sleeping past my alarm. As my work land personal lives continued to get more frenzied (and exciting!) in the past years, I decided to ditch the heaps of slightly chintzy jewelry options in exchange for a finely edited selection of beautiful pieces that are very dear to me and that I wear day in and day out. For me, it was akin to one of the final stages of becoming a woman. Now, I wear jewelry with history; a few turquoise and silvers Navajo pieces given to me by my mother, a necklace and pair of earrings made by a dear friend and talented jewelry designer Kate Jones (both of which my wonderful boyfriend gave me), a necklace my sister brought back from Bali, and a couple simple silver and gold pieces made by local designers that were the first big presents I ever gave to myself. I feel sophisticated and completely myself when I wear these pieces, every single day. And even better still, I look forward to the day that I’ll be able to pass some of these pieces down to my daughter(s) and share with them the stories of each treasured piece.

by Christine Mitchell, of N’East Style.

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 6 – Be Fashionably Punctual

06/02/2012 § 1 Comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

New York’s old Pennsylvania Station. Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE.

Editor’s Note: I’m very happy to introduce our second guest speaker! Lizzie Garrett Mettler is a journalist, writer and the founder of the amazing blog Tomboy Style, and this spring she’ll be adding “published author” to the list of her awesomeness, as the book Tomboy Style will be released by Rizzoli on April 10 (pre-order your copy here).  I met Lizzie virtually when she asked me to do a Q&A for her blog back in May of last year and I had the opportunity to hang out with her in LA in the fall.  She is one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever met and I definitely wish we lived closer to each other.

Tomboy Style is one of my absolute favorite places on the internet.  A compendium of all things adventurous, rebellious, fashionable and female, the blog is an expertly researched and magnificently cross-referenced guide to embracing your inner Françoise Hardy or Diane Keaton.  I especially love the old photographs that Lizzie finds, but you probably guessed that already.  If you are not yet familiar with Lizzie and Tomboy Style, it is my pleasure to introduce you.  It is a daily read for me and I bet it will be for you as well.

Without any further ado, Lizzie’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 6: Be Fashionably Punctual
Arriving twenty minutes late to a party is a given, but when it comes to other appointments, being habitually late is as un-classy as driving a yellow Hummer. It seems lately, everyone has a story about a friend they had to ditch because their flake factor got in the way. Have you noticed the phenomenon of re-conforming meetings, appointments and lunches? The re-confirm has evolved into daily American life, but In England, the re-confirm is barely in the British lexicon—perhaps because by culture, they are punctual, and when they say they will arrive at a certain time, they usually do. The habitual late-arriver may blame himself or herself, but allowing them to repeatedly disregard or hold your time to a lesser value than theirs is something you should do without as well.

Help your friend have (or treat yourself to) a fashionably punctual life with a vintage watch! There are some great online retailers for 1940s-1980s watches like Park & Bond and Matt Singer, but if you want a real deal, do the research and hunt for your timepiece on eBay (online forums are a great way to spot fakes!). Lately I’ve been loving a round face from the 1940s, a time when, just maybe…people were more on time.

Column 1: Military (top: 1940s Waltham, 1940s Elgin A-11)
Column 2: Pilot (top: 1940s Breitling, 1940s Gotham Gothameter)
Column 3: Dress (top: 1950s IWC, 1940s Omega)

by Lizzie Garrett Mettler, of Tomboy Style

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 3 – Get a Library Card

03/02/2012 § 5 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Audrey Hepburn.

Editor’s Note: Today I am very pleased to introduce our first Charm School guest speaker!  Stephanie Madewell, the writer, designer and brilliant mind behind the exceptionally erudite blog even*cleveland, is a lady I have long admired, so you can imagine how excited I was when she accepted my request to contribute.

It is difficult to describe exactly what kind of blog even*cleveland is, which is probably why I love it so much.  Somewhat thematic in nature, Stephanie explores various topics (e.g., swans, works in miniature, Louisa May Alcott, winter) through the lenses of art, literature, photography, museum collections and fashion, connecting dots I didn’t know existed.  I find I am frequently staggered at the breadth of this lady’s knowledge about…well, pretty much everything!  Aside from that, she’s also a great source for information on cultured happenings and usually posts great music over the weekends.  If you are not yet familiar with Stephanie and even*cleveland, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Stephanie’s tip for a charmed life.

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Her reputation for reading a great deal hung about her
like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Day 3: Get a Library Card
Since I’ve moved to New York, one of my favorite indulgences is watching people read on the train. New York subway riders are voracious readers – you see everything from tabloid skimmers to book editors correcting proofs. But there are certain readers whose whole presence speaks a story – every detail from the drape of their coat to the knot of their scarf is just right. They sit on the train in attitudes of unstudied elegance, exuding cosmopolitan appeal, and inevitably the grace note is a library book.

I don’t know quite what it is about library books – I love books in general, and the books in my own collection beyond reason – but library books speak straight to desire. They embody both canny frugality and boundless avarice. Library patrons are greedy readers, but smart – they know to try before buying. It’s an admirable quality.

I’ve been lucky to visit a few places in the world – not nearly as many as I would like – but in the absence of unlimited funds and unlimited time, it has been my great good fortune to love to read and to be born into a world with public libraries. I firmly believe no one should go through life without a library card. It is a free passport to places beyond time and imagining – everywhere from the siege-wracked walls of Troy to chill and lonely lunar landscapes. In the past year, I’ve flown with Margarita through the inky Russian sky, bivouacked with Cossacks, hunted blue tigers, watched the ominous shimmer of the desert sun, wandered the moon, and tracked netsuke across two continents.

Stepping into a bookstore is a wonderful thing, and I find owning books a necessity of life, but libraries are living, working monuments to the idea that knowledge should be free and that it belongs to everyone.They let you dip into the seething and magnificent mass of human thought and endeavor – thousands of years of thinking and writing and talking and tale-telling. It’s the easiest way to explore the world, and there’s surefire glamour in that.

by Stephanie Madewell, of even*cleveland

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Find out how to get a library card in New York  here.

Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for LIFE, 1944.

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

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