Charm School Extra Credit: How to Tie a Bow Tie

29/10/2012 § 2 Comments

Editor’s note: Even though February’s Charm School has come and gone, a bit of Extra Credit is just the thing to get us through the other 11 months of the year, no?

The Corsillo Brothers, the lovely Brooklyn-based duo behind The Hill-Side and Hickoree’s, have created an elegant — stop motion! — film to teach you how to tie a bow tie, which makes an excellent hidden talent for anyone’s toolkit.  Closely related to a previous Charm School lesson (see: Tie a Tie), this would definitely be taking it to the next level.  Granted, learning to tie a bow tie takes patience and practice, but without any hands getting in the way of this tutorial, you’ll be on your way in no time.

Personally, I can’t wait to break out my holiday bow tie.
Do you have any plans to wear one?
And if you like the indigo chambray tie featured above, you can find it here.

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

Power Play: Prada Fall/Winter 2012

18/01/2012 § Leave a comment

“Coriolanus has grown from man to dragon.”

“O, me alone! make you a sword of me.”

“I do beseech you,
By all the battles wherein we have fought,
By the blood we have shed together, by the vows
We have made to endure friends, that you directly
Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;
And that you not delay the present, but,
Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
We prove this very hour.”

As I delved deeper into the Tragedy of Coriolanus by Shakespeare, Miuccia Prada’s Fall Winter 2012 menswear collection debut in Milan last week felt perfectly spot-on, with its old-world, militaristic influences and dramatic staging — apart and aside from the appearances of actor/models Adrien Brody, Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, and Jamie Bell.  While can give you a more in-depth look at the clothing, I felt Scott Schuman best captured the feel of the show in his moody and darkly-lit photos.  Remarkably easy to envision any one of them demanding to be “made a sword,” is it not?

All images via the Sartorialist.
Text from the Tragedy of Coriolanus by William Shakespeare.

Menswear Crush: Three Over One A/W 2011 Lookbook

17/10/2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve been a fan of the Australian menswear collection Three Over One ever since I spied their Irving Penn/”Small Trades”-influenced lookbook for S/S 2011.  I fell in love with their vintage workwear aesthetic almost immediately, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn from the gents over at The One Eight Ninewhich is one of my daily reads, do check them out if you appreciate a good eye for menswear and photography (and who doesn’t, really?) — that designer Jim Thompson has added a small women’s capsule collection this time around. I am desperately hoping that the rugged, gentlemanly vibe of the menswear translates seamlessly to the lady togs.  And that I can easily locate a stockist…

Unfortunately we didn’t get any shots of the capsule collection in the A/W 2011 lookbook, but we do get a beautiful group of menswear pictures with a dreamy, vintage nautical feel that will help tide everyone over in the meantime.

All images via The One Eight Nine.

Menswear Crush: Hackett A/W 2011 Lookbook

30/09/2011 § 5 Comments

I have been told my love of the Hackett man is a bit Sloane Ranger-y…

…I’ve decided that I don’t care.  Not one bit.  Me and Mr. Hackett go way back.
And I’m happy to renew my Menswear Crush with the F/W 2011 lookbook.

I mean, how could you say no to a man who wears this…?

You can’t, really.  Especially if you are like me and are furtively conceiving of ways to ransack his closet.  I want his ties, I want his sweaters, I want his scarves.  I want to wrap myself in his shirts — slightly too large for me — and wear them with the sleeves rolled up, tucked haphazardly.  I’d feign surprise when he notices.  He’d feign exasperation.  He wouldn’t really mind at all…  I mean, what else am I expected to do so long as Hackett refuses to make clothes for me?

For more pictures and full details on these lovely looks, head here.

All images via Hackett.

The Obsession Continues… {Kitsuné F/W 2011}

07/07/2011 § 2 Comments

It’s just about that time again — that time when I fall in love with pretty much whatever Kitsuné has on deck for the next season. You may remember discussing with me the S/S 2011 “Passenger” collection and how much I loved its 70s-inspired look.  This time around designer Masaya Kuroki looked to the American west in the 1960s — by way of Ang Lee’s 2005 film Brokeback Mountain — for major style cues for F/W 2011.  The men’s collection clearly displays the influence of mid-century workwear, but while the womenswear is somewhat retro, it’s markedly much more tailored and ladylike.  While both collections are strong and stand alone quite well, when viewed together they noticeably lack the continuity I enjoyed in the S/S 2011 “Passenger” collection, but I don’t seem to mind all that much.

Sidenote: While Kitsuné menswear frequently makes the rounds on the interwebs, it’s somewhat frustrating to me that the womenswear doesn’t get more play, because it’s simply excellent.  The Kitsuné woman is classic, elegant, tailored and has a penchant for suits and blazers.  Parfait, if you ask me.

Below, some of my favorite looks.

I have been lusting after a fleece-lined Levis jacket for ages….!

Is this velvet or corduroy? Either way, it needs to get in my closet.

Shawl collars.  Yes.

As if that wasn’t enough to take in, Kitsuné currently has a men’s sale going on their S/S 2011 collections and they’ve recently released photos of the men’s S/S 2012 collection.  Curious as to the inspiration this time around?  Well, it’s none other than The Great Gatsby.  Can you sense my excitement?

All images via Kitsuné.

Ask Me Anything: Shabby Haberdashery

13/06/2011 § 2 Comments

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line:
Schwartz Tailor Shop, St. Paul, 1918.  Via Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
Dear Mariah,
With a closet full of fine shirts (Borelli, Kiton, Charvet, Ascot Chang, Emma Willis, Battistoni et al.), I’m curious to know your thoughts on what to do with them as they age. After years of washings and ironings the first thing to go tends to be the collar. In most cases, the shirts and fabrics are in perfect condition – even ten years on. But the collars start to fray slightly. Do you think these are still wearable (albeit casually) and if so, only in the country or are they ok in the city as well? Or will I just look like a well haberdashed homeless person?

Fine shirts indeed.  I can see how you would be loathe to simply throw the baby out with the bathwater here.  The preppy adage that you should keep things — especially items of quality and sentimental value — as long as humanly possible, is near and dear to my heart.  In some cases you will be able to repair your keepsakes to make them good as (or better than) brand new — here I am talking about the soles of your shoes, the strap of your watch, restringing your pearls, etc. — but in some cases, your items cannot be repaired or reconditioned.  Instead, these are things to be loved in their perfect-imperfect state for years on.

In the case of your shirts, your instinct is correct here.  Your frayed-collars are no longer appropriate to be worn with a suit, but for weekends kicking around the city, country, shore and points beyond, they are perfect.  You should feel free to wear these shirts casually.  Take care not to pair them with anything too prissy, because this look is all about comfortably lived-in finery that gets better with age.  You definitely won’t look homeless.

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line:

Ask Me Anything: Do Clothes Make The Man?

19/05/2011 § Leave a comment

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line, post haste!  Reach me here:
McQueen. Image via ACL. (via LIFE)
Dear Mariah,
Do clothes still make the man? If so, in your opinion what single item of clothing most typifies the modern gentleman?

My dear, what a lovely question you’ve posed!  As you have probably gathered, I am a woman who has a deep appreciation for menswear.  Throughout my life, I have found myself surrounded by men who have taken a particular interest in their personal style — albeit widely varied in taste and approach.  I always tend to fancy a bit of a dandy, so it should come as no surprise that I have known and loved my fair share of peacocks, my father being the first, and the progenitor of this inclination.

My own personal style shows the influence of the men in my life — often because I tend to steal things from the ones I love most — and the fact that I grew up something of a tomboy.  I loved horses, played a lot of soccer and didn’t wear any makeup until my mother gave some to me for my 16th birthday.  Naturally, my inclination is to dress a bit like a boy.  My shirt almost always will have buttons on it.  I wear ties, I like grandpa sweaters with suede elbow patches and I have a weakness for smart blazers.  Sometimes I look like I should be mucking out a stall in my riding boots and work shirt, but the lawyer in me also loves a good suit.  Somehow I also relish being a girl and dressing like a woman.  I love dresses and sky-high heels.  I adore silk and lace and I almost always have red nails.  My favorite looks incorporate both of these leanings, yielding a look I call “polished tomboy.”

Cherie, I feel uniquely positioned to answer this question for you.  My point of view on menswear is that of a lady who eyes your wardrobe appreciatively, with an eye on what I might squirrel away for my own.  However, in order to round out the conversation, I’ve also asked a few of my nearest and dearest to also chime in to see if we can’t make this a more well-rounded conversation.

Will Price, of The Momentum of Failure:
I feel, to a certain extent, yes, the clothes make the man. A simple example would be the face value effect. Two men show up for a job interview for the same position. One man in a ripped t-shirt, baggy shorts, and flip-flops, while the other man is dressed to the nines in a suit and tie. Based on appearance alone, 9 times out of 10, the man in the suit will be given priority regardless of character. This also depends heavily on where the interview is. But in this instance, the clothes made the man. They made him appear readier and more willing and able to do the job. Sure, the guy could turn out to be a psychopath that ends up going nuts with an uzi after being let go for not meeting quarterly quota, but the fact is, he got the job. But what of the man in the shorts? Well let’s be honest: If he showed up to a job interview where the heads of the company smile on suits, he probably wasn’t too serious about the gig. But had the same scene gone down at an REI or an outdoors-enthusiast spot, the tables might have been turned.

We’re a shallow society. A generalization, sure, but it’s much easier to judge someone by appearance first and character second. So aiming to please visually is natural. Plus when you think you look good, you feel good.  So, to make a long story a bit longer, the clothes make the man, but the man makes the choice. So, you really make yourself.

In terms of one single item that is typical of the modern gentleman, I would say a classic and well-built leather wallet is a must.

J.Oliver, of Downeast and Out:
The single item that typifies the modern gentleman for me is becoming cliched these days, as more and more young men are improving their standard of dress. However, if I had to boil the argument down to a single item, I still believe a pair of dark brown or walnut-colored wingtips in calf or cordovan is the item the modern man cannot do without. Yes, captoes are more formal and a navy blazer is arguably the foundation of a wardrobe, but the wingtip deserves much praise for its versatility, as it can be paired with anything from a suit to a cardigan to a t-shirt. There are also a variety of styles within the wingtip family (longwings, shortwings, oxfords, and derbies), allowing a man to still show some individuality and personal preference with his choice. And as I continue to see gents walking around in black, laceless, square-toed dress shoes, I don’t think the point that “the shoes make the man” can be emphasized enough. While I would still say that fit is the single most important element a modern gent should focus on, I believe that a nice pair of shoes are the one item that should not be marginalized. I for one will pay up for quality materials and superior construction, as I intend to enjoy and hold on to the pairs I buy for more than a few years.

Marisa Zupan, of The Significant Other:
I don’t think clothing was the only thing that ever made the man. It comes down to many other things, not least of which is passion, personality and drive.  That said, I think clothing is an integral part of expressing all of the above.  Some might point to the suit as the single most manly type of clothing, but I’d say it actually just comes down to the shoes.  My grandmother once said, “you can see a whole man through what he chooses to put on his feet”, and I’ve never forgotten this.  Shoes, and all of the considerations that go into them, are a very personal and functional item.  Beautiful shoes, no matter if they’re sneakers, work boots or wingtips can tell you where a man wants to go, and how dedicated he is to getting there. Invest in a good pair that fits your lifestyle and you better believe it will pay off. The ladies, they notice these things, take our word for it.

Cooper Samuels, of To Take The Train
To be honest, I didn’t start caring about clothes or the way I dressed until a couple of years out of college.  My first job was at a record label and I wore jeans and a polo to work every single day.  I could never get used to the idea of wearing a t-shirt, flip flops, and shorts to work like many of my co-workers.  It just didn’t feel right, so I figured jeans and a collared shirt would be somewhere in the middle.  If I would wear nice shoes and sport coat to work, someone would inevitably ask me who died.

In the south, southern frat style dominates men in their 20’s.  If you go to a southern school you are issued a pair of patagonia standup shorts, a frat t-shirt, croakies, and rainbow flip flops.  One night when I was out in downtown Nashville, I looked around and noticed every dude was dressed the same.  It drove me nuts.  How are you supposed to stand out if you look exactly like the guy next to you?  It was then that I realized it’s time to start paying more attention to the way I dress, so I cleaned out my closet and got rid of everything I had purchased from the time I graduated high school to that point.  I invested in some nice suits, shoes, and dress shirts.  I retired my baggy jeans and bought a pair that fit.  I also started to take notice of the way other people dressed.  What I’m trying to say with this back story is that clothes still make the man.  I think men pretend not to notice what other men are wearing, but the truth is they do.

To me the item of clothing that most-typifies the modern gentleman is his shoes.  I’m not scared to save and spend money on shoes.  You can make a cheap suit look good by finding a great tailor, but you can’t hide a cheap pair of shoes.

Yours Truly:
I believe that a man is a sum of so many different parts: respect, strength, self-confidence, gallantry, curiosity, bravery, love.  Taking pride in one’s appearance is undoubtedly one of these elements, so thus, if someone’s got everything else under control and then adds some great clothes to the mix, then it could be said that clothes “made” (or completed) that man.  Conversely, if you’re a jackass, but dress well, you’re still just another jackass in bespoke.

As for the single article of clothing that most typifies the modern gentleman, I strongly agree that good shoes are important.  I will admit that shoes are among the first things I will check when sizing up a gent. You must invest in at least one solid, quality pair of shoes.  When confronted with the price, take comfort in the fact that a good pair of shoes will be with you for years.  I have lovely memories from when I was a little girl, of my father sitting in the living room watching the Lakers with his wooden shoe shine box, lovingly tending his tasseled loafers, frequently pointing out he owned shoes that were older than I was.  (And yes, he still has these shoes.  And yes, they are still older than I.)

Other things that will catch my eye will be the glasses and tie you might be wearing (and I hope you’re wearing both, but that’s just personal preference), the fit of your clothes and your choice of socks (or better yet, lack thereof).  But above all, there is one small item that I believe speaks volumes about you — at least to me, anyway.  It’s your watch.

Gianni Agnelli. Via LIFE.

In my opinion, the wristwatch most typifies the modern gentleman.  A man’s choice of timepiece will speak loudly to me.  I’ll first note the style, then after a bit I might try to gauge up the age and price you probably paid, and then I will take a step back and try to figure out why you chose that particular watch — what is it about this watch that drew you to it?  What are you trying to say about yourself by choosing it?

I’ve mentioned it a few times already, but I frequently wear one of my father’s watches that doesn’t work.  I’ve always preferred to wear men’s watches because I have a sizable disdain for dainty twee lady watches.  I want something handsome and substantial on my wrist, just like I like my men.  I clearly remember the first watch I specifically asked for, when I was  8.  It was a large, men’s Timex with a round, white face and a dark brown braided strap.  The strap was so long on my 8 year-old girl’s wrist that I had to loop the strap back under itself to deal with all the extra slack.  I also took to wearing it on my right hand, even though I was right-handed — something I continue to do to this day.  The point here is that I’ll be wondering about the story behind your watch of choice.

In my life, I’ve known a few watches (and their owners).  There was the refined gent who alternated wearing a dazzling Chopard — that I frequently joked cost more than my first car — with a cheapie plastic Timex Ironman because he loved to swim and run.  He tended to wear the Ironman more, even with his fine suits.  So much so that I sometimes had to remind him it was “big boy watch time.”  There was the upstart who wore the diamonds in his bezel with so much swag, it became tiresome.  There was the handsome executive/repressed creative who favored switching the bands on his antique field watches so that a flash of Hermes orange would peek out of his cuff at board (bored) meetings, unexpectedly.

 I don’t design to tell you what kind of watch you should be wearing.  Aim for something that pleases your eye and is appropriate for your wallet.  You should be wearing the kind of watch you like.  You should also wear it in the manner you like, just like Gianni Agnelli above.  But rest assured,  I’ll notice whatever you’ve got on your wrist, and I’ll want to hear all about it.

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line, post haste!  Reach me here:

The Shirt Off His Back {May 2011 How To Spend It, Financial Times}

18/05/2011 § Leave a comment

I feel this editorial has been extracted from the depths of my brain somehow.  I mean, we’ve got a sultry brunette, in gorgeous shirting, sporting exquisite accessories.  It looks as if she’s just rolled from bed and pieced together something almost suitable from the items her gentleman has left strewn about.  The insouciance of it all has me thinking of Sabina from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, not least of all because of the bowler hat.

Sidenote: I’ll be needing each and every pair of these shoes to get in my closet. Right. Now.  J’adore.

Styled by Damian Foxe, model Adina Forizs.
Via: How To Spend It, FT

Menswear Crush: J.Lindeberg S/S 2011 Lookbook

23/04/2011 § 4 Comments

Women in menswear.  For me, it’s almost as good as menswear-influenced womenswear.  But, unlike menswear-influenced womenswear, the focus of a woman in men’s clothes is not on sharp tailoring or small details, but is placed more on the sensual tension of a female body in a space defined by and built for a man’s body. It’s just dead sexy.

Here, photographer Eric Guillemain captures models Tati Cotliar and Siri Tollerod for Swedish menswear line J.Lindeberg‘s S/S 2011 lookbook.  Tati and Siri sport a variety of warm-weather looks, simultaneously igniting my latest Menswear Crush and providing wardrobe inspiration for all the polished tomboys out there.

A lady must have her ties.

Windswept, softly wrinkled, light as a feather.

J’adore her cuffs.  Such lovely insouciance.

View the full lookbook after the jump…

« Read the rest of this entry »

Menswear Crush: Hackett London S/S 2011

21/03/2011 § 5 Comments

I’ll admit it.

I’ve got a huge crush on the S/S 2011 Hackett man.

He’s a bit overly formal at times, but that’s how he feels
most comfortable — and just the way I like him.

He lightens up for spring with linen, madras and khaki.

But he isn’t afraid of a bit of color, as long as it’s tailored.

Fancies mixing his field jacket with a bit of gingham.

He enjoys the ease of well-worn fabrics.

He’s charmingly old-fashioned and genteel, and he
doesn’t mind when I steal from his closet…which is often.

He’s got scads of good friends, but I’m always made to feel special.

For more, head over to Hackett.

Around since the early 80s, Hackett’s traditionalism and thoroughly British feel resonates deeply with me.  I was first initiated into the Hackett world on a trip to London last year.  With no prior knowledge of the brand and lured in purely on the strength of their windows, I visited the Covent Garden location and was immediately delighted…and then disappointed to find they do not design for women nor do they have any boutiques in the states.  That means that for now, my love for Hackett will be unrequited and from a distance.  C’est la vie! I shall be comforted by daydreams of driving through the countryside with Mr. Hackett.  His natty clothes are only very slightly disheveled as we’ve got the top down on the Jag and the sun is on my bare shoulders, whispering that summer is just around the next bend…

Images via Prepidemic.

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