Reading List (& Giveaway!) || It by Alexa Chung

02/12/2013 § 24 Comments

Alexa Chung giveaway on QC

Over the long weekend I had the good fortune to curl up with Alexa Chung’s new book It, courtesy of Penguin Books.  Part memoir, part photo book, part how-to style manual, and completely hilarious, it was the perfect companion for a leisurely few blustery days that were best spent inside.  Written in a uniquely conversational tone — borderline stream of consciousness at times — it almost feels like Alexa’s sitting right there with you, having a chat.  I loved it, having long been a fan of Alexa’s personal style (which I will leave you to peruse on Pinterest or Tumblr on your own time — a definite rabbit hole if there ever was one), and I definitely recommend giving “It” a whirl.

Now, for the exciting part!  Thanks to the generous folks at Penguin, I’ve got a copy of Alexa’s book to give away, which you can enter to win by leaving a comment below!  Enter by noon on next Monday, December 9th, and I’ll randomly draw a winner from the entries.  Please note: this drawing is open to US residents only.

Good Luck!!

QC***UPDATE*** Leslie, you’ve won!  Please send me your mailing address at contact@quitecontinental.net and your copy will be right on its way to you!  Congrats! xx

Mini March Reading List

13/03/2013 § 5 Comments

March Reading ListWPA poster dated March 25, 1941, via The Library of Congress

Inspired by the blustery lady in this charming WPA poster, I’ve picked up a few books for March that I have been meaning to read.  No promises on whether I will finish them before the month is out, but I am definitely looking forward to getting acquainted with:

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
by Nathaniel Philbrick

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Have you read any of them?  What’s currently on your nightstand for March?

Reading List || The Atlantic: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All ~ Anne-Marie Slaughter

27/06/2012 § 2 Comments

Image via The Atlantic.

By now, you’ve probably heard a bit about the controversy over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article for The Atlantic, in which she discusses the familiar difficulties surrounding the achievement of a successful work-life balance for high-performing, elite females.  Currently a professor at Princeton University and most recently the Director of Policy Planning at the US Department of State, I have been familiar with Slaughter for some time (mainly due to my work in political risk and the fact that I actually work quite closely with the gentleman that held the Directorship at Policy Planning before she did — so there’s a bit of a weird work/life crossover in this post).

Slaughter believes initial steps towards women truly “having it all” are a few key practical adjustments to working arrangements and — perhaps even more difficult — changing the way that women feel about working.  The latter, a realization that came sharply into focus when she decided to leave the public sector and DC, to return to her professorship and family in New Jersey:

“A rude epiphany hit me soon after I got there. When people asked why I had left government, I explained that I’d come home not only because of Princeton’s rules (after two years of leave, you lose your tenure), but also because of my desire to be with my family and my conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible. I have not exactly left the ranks of full-time career women: I teach a full course load; write regular print and online columns on foreign policy; give 40 to 50 speeches a year; appear regularly on TV and radio; and am working on a new academic book. But I routinely got reactions from other women my age or older that ranged from disappointed (“It’s such a pity that you had to leave Washington”) to condescending (“I wouldn’t generalize from your experience. I’ve never had to compromise, and my kids turned out great”).

The first set of reactions, with the underlying assumption that my choice was somehow sad or unfortunate, was irksome enough. But it was the second set of reactions—those implying that my parenting and/or my commitment to my profession were somehow substandard—that triggered a blind fury. Suddenly, finally, the penny dropped.  All my life, I’d been on the other side of this exchange. I’d been the woman smiling the faintly superior smile while another woman told me she had decided to take some time out or pursue a less competitive career track so that she could spend more time with her family. I’d been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with her dwindling number of college or law-school friends who had reached and maintained their place on the highest rungs of their profession. I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in. Which means I’d been part, albeit unwittingly, of making millions of women feel that they are to blame if they cannot manage to rise up the ladder as fast as men and also have a family and an active home life (and be thin and beautiful to boot).”

Slaughter’s op-ed is a long read, but I urge you to read it.  As a single, professional woman without any children, ostensibly busy “concentrating on my career,” it gave me reason to examine my current priorities and wonder what I would do when (if?) the time comes for me to incorporate motherhood into my life, about the assumptions I operate under (Nanny? Of course), how much I might actually be willing to reorient my life and why I felt a kind of knee-jerk resistance to doing so.  I definitely doubt that anyone — men and women, alike — can read this op-ed without being affected.  Understandably, since being published on The Atlantic’s site last Wednesday night, it has gone on to be the most viewed article in the history of the magazine.

For further discussion, Slaughter’s op-ed has also inspired a number of passionate responses (e.g., Jodi Kantor’s piece in The New York Times, Rebecca Traister’s piece at Salon.com, Katherine Rosman’s piece on The Juggle for WSJ.com), and Slaughter will be doing a live Q&A with readers on The Atlantic’s site on Friday 29 June at 11am ET, which you can find here.

Also on the list:
The Wall Street Journal:  Lauren Mechling remembers a few “unprincessy” heroines (Ramona Quimby! Harriet the Spy!) in honor of Pixar’s first girl lead, the fiery haired archer princess Merida in Brave.

The Wall Street Journal: Michael Spector on the “singular, unmistakable worlds” of Wes Anderson.

WWD: Mini menswear crush!  A first look at Brooks Brothers’ costumes for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

The Financial Times: Monocle’s editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé on how (not) to apply for an internship.  Best line: “My favourite letters are the ones that say there’s a willingness “to fetch coffee, work late and even empty the bins.”  Fantastic! The global economy is now safe thanks to your commitment to gingerly rolling up your sleeves and doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Reading List || The Titanic Edition

12/04/2012 § 2 Comments

Grand staircase of the Titanic. Image via Retronaut.

I have a mild obsession with Titanic — the historical event much more so than the Cameron film, but I’m not going to even try to pretend like I didn’t make my high school boyfriend sit through that 3 hour extravaganza — twice.**   And so, I’ve put together a roundup Reading List in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster; the concurrent 15th anniversary and 3D release of the 1997 James Cameron film; and the people who didn’t realize Titanic was real, not just a movie:

Amazing photographs:  Construction of the Titanic || Interiors of the Titanic || Photographs taken onboard Titanic by Father SJ Browne || Titanic Survivors {all via Retronaut}

Titanic Guide to New York City Part 1 & Part 2 {via Scouting New York} — top it off with a stay at The Jane Hotel, where the survivors stayed 100 years ago {via Designtripper}

Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic {via Smithsonian.com}

Guernsey’s and Bonhams both auction off Titanic artifacts this week.  View selected items {via Artinfo}

Fashion and ephemera salvaged from the deep: On the Titanic, Defined by What They Wore {via NY Times}

Every *MAN* for himself: Researchers say male chivalry on sinking ships is a myth {via Washington Post}

Remastering Rose and Jack: Converting Titanic to 3D with a cool infographic {via NY Times}, but if you happen to be in China, don’t get all excited about Rose’s 3D boobs {via LA Times}

Unsinkable Molly Brown presenting a loving cup to Captain Arthur Rostron, master of the RMS Carpathia, the ocean liner that rescued the survivors from the Titanic.  Image via the Library of Congress.

**and I may have gotten the tiniest of lumps in my throat upon my first viewing of the 3D trailer in the theatre.  Don’t you judge me!  I was young and impressionable!

Reading List || The Financial Times: Power With Grace ~ Christine Lagarde

13/12/2011 § Leave a comment

Christine Lagarde.  Image via the FT.

When Christine Lagarde took the reins at the IMF from embattled and embarrassed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I will admit that aside from the remarkable milestones she represents — the first female managing director of the IMF, first female finance minister of a G7 country, first female head of international law firm Baker & McKenzie — there is something about her style that resonates deeply with me.  Here I use the term “style” loosely, as I do not specifically mean her manner of dress or hairstyle.  While I do love both, it has more to do with what Gillian Tett calls her “power with grace” in Tett’s recent article on Lagarde for the Women of 2011: Special Edition of the Financial Times:

But Lagarde is also being watched – as a potent female watershed. Never before has a woman held such a powerful position in global finance; the world of money has hitherto been dominated by men, not just inside banks but in bureaucracies too. Lagarde herself has often lamented this pattern, joking, for example, that the financial crisis might have been different if there had been “Lehman Sisters” and pointing out that the euro’s “fragile” foundations were created by its “founding fathers”, not mothers, since “regrettably, there was no woman at the table at the time.” Or, as she recently told me on the telephone: “I wish that there were more women in finance – I think it would be much healthier. We don’t know if it would have been different with more women [in 2008] but my intuition tells me it possibly might have been.”

Read the article here.


And from Forbes, Lagarde talks about being a lawyer, gender, diversity and the role of the IMF in the global economic crisis.  Especially interesting to hear the reasons she prefers to use the title “Chairman.”

Also on the list:

The Smithsonian: Unflinching Portraits of Pearl Harbor Survivors

Business of Fashion: Digital Scorecard | Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

LIFE Magazine, 17 Jan 1969:  While Burton romances Rex, Liz weighs her power and her future

The diamond is 33.9 carats and when I first saw it I said, “It can’t be real.”  And Mrs. Burton belted back happily, “You bet your sweet ass it’s real.  It’s the Krupp Diamond.”

Reading List || Vanity Fair: Anderson & Sheppard: A Style Is Born

25/10/2011 § Leave a comment

The new Anderson & Sheppard shop, on Old Burlington Street, London.

The November issue of Vanity Fair has a lovely article on an upcoming book — Anderson & Sheppard: A Style Is Bornthat lovingly details the founding and evolution of arguably the finest British bespoke tailor: Anderson & Sheppard.  As the preferred tailor to royalty, both of the regular old monarch and Hollywood varieties, the firm has long dressed some of the most discerning and fashionable men.  Reading the excerpt immediately moved the book to the top of my wishlist, as I am a complete sucker for old silver screen legends, fine tailoring and a good story.  I can just barely hear the quiet hustle and bustle of the shop as I wander through the pictures of gorgeous suits in various stages of completion…

Via Vanity Fair:

The bespoke tailor Anderson & Sheppard enters its second century as the standard-bearer of Savile Row craftsmanship. Anderson & Sheppard has two simple rules. First, a suit shouldn’t wear the man—the man should wear the suit. Second, the moment a man is overdressed, he is badly dressed. Visitors to the establishment retain vivid memories—the fabric books in the paneled reception room, the selection of buttons on the walls, the leather-bound ledgers in which clients (Chaplin, Astaire, Cooper, Fairbanks, Dietrich, Coward, Murrow, Harriman) have signed their names and had their measurements recorded.

Adapted from Anderson & Sheppard: A Style Is Born, via Vanity Fair:

…it was style, not volume, that defined Anderson & Sheppard in the 1930s. No decade since has set as high a bar for men’s fashion, nor has there been another time in which popular taste was so closely aligned with good taste. As the men’s-wear expert Alan Flusser notes in his book Dressing the Man,“that elusive but convenient character, ‘the average man,’ was exposed to more visual ‘aids’ in the form of smartly attired public figures than he could shake a stick at.” In other words, the style arbiters had actual style. And among the leading arbiters were Anderson & Sheppard men: stars like Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper.

Different as they were—the former skinny and urbane, the latter athletic and laconically all-American—Astaire and Cooper shared a knack for wearing dressy clothes with ease. Smashing as he looked in his top hat and tails opposite Ginger Rogers, Astaire looked even better offscreen: accessorizing his favored A&S checked jackets with cashmere scarves knotted ascot-style; hitching up his perfectly draped trousers (often with a necktie rather than a belt) so that they’d break just so over his shoes. Cooper was less improvisatory but no less thoughtful—he had his suits made with the lapels sitting low on his chest, an arrangement that languidly complemented his six-foot-three-inch frame rather than aggressively calling attention to it. Mr. Halsey confirms the veracity of a particularly enchanting piece of A&S lore: that Astaire, in testing out a new suit at the final fitting, would ask for the antique carpet on the fitting-room floor to be rolled up so he could try a few steps on the hardwood.

Read the article here.  Be sure to view the slideshow as well.

Cary Grant in Anderson & Sheppard, with Rosalind Russell in 1942.
Two of my favorite people in the entire world, btw.

All images via Vanity Fair.

Small addendum! Also worth a moment’s perusal:
Financial Times:  Lunch with the FT: Mickey Drexler [J.Crew CEO]

Financial Times: China’s women show taste for fast cars and whisky

New York Times: The Monograms Meet: O Sits Down With RL
Oprah Winfrey: “How do you keep reinventing?”

“You copy,” Ralph Lauren said. “Forty-five years of copying, that’s why I’m here.”

Reading List || LIFE Magazine July 6, 1959: Big Sur, California Story

18/10/2011 § Leave a comment

Henry Miller, second from left, in Big Sur in 1959.

I was pleased to discover that in 1959, LIFE Magazine sent J. R. Eyerman to capture a portrait of the creative colony that called Big Sur home at the time.  Shooting in color, Eyerman returned with sun-bleached moments of artists, yogis, writers, families and local businessmen living in the picturesque California mountainside town.  And after spending a few days there last week, I am happy to confirm that Big Sur definitely retains some of this same arty, offbeat and bohemian personality.

To read this lovely article, head here.

All images via the LIFE Archive.

Reading List || WSJ Magazine: The Beau Brummels of Brazzaville

04/10/2011 § 1 Comment

Image via WSJ

The current “State of Man” issue of the Wall Street Journal Magazine has a fascinating article written by Tom Downey about Congolese dandies, or “Sapeurs.”  In the two Congos, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbor the Republic of the Congo, it is still a struggle for many to meet their own basic human needs.  Violence is a daily part of life.  Severe poverty is rampant.  And yet, impossibly, there exists a small group of men who make it the main priority of their lives to outdo each other with exceedingly extravagant (and sometimes bordering on outlandish) suiting and accessories.

On their idiosyncratic and highly ritualized approach to their individual style:

The general rule for Brazza Sapes is said to be that they wear no more than three colors at a time. In fact what this seems to mean is three tones, not counting white. Pocket squares aren’t folded but stuffed in and left to spill out, rakishly. Patch pockets abound, an unconventional feature on most jackets. The outfits are dandyish, but they don’t come off as costumes. Some Sapes boast of their brands, especially their shoe brands, of which J.M. Weston, a fine and expensive French shoemaker, seems to be the most prominent. But most Sapes agree that brand isn’t everything—it’s about fit, confidence and, as Hassan Salvador tells me, art: “We need to paint with colors, patterns and textures,” he says. “All week I mull over the different possible combinations of jacket, trousers, pocket square, tie, tie pin, scarf, umbrella and suspenders before I actually put on the clothes.”

On how Congolese society perceives these men:

“The Sapeurs can only exist in peacetime,” Atipault told me. “To me they’re a sign of better things: stability, tranquility. They indicate that our nation is returning to normal life after years of civil war.”

To read more about these peculiar African peacocks, head here.

Reading List || McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Chris White Answers Profound Questions About the Presidents

09/09/2011 § Leave a comment

A bit more for your reading pleasure on this Friday afternoon.  As a lawyer in disguise I enjoy a good bit of poli-sci humor and lately I’ve been addicted to Chris White’s hilarious answers to questions about the US presidents for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, such as “Is it OK to dunk on a president?” “What did the founding fathers smell like?” and, my favorite thus far:

Question #7: “Who would win in a fight?”
From Chris White Answers Profound Questions About the Presidents

So let’s get it on: 43 men enter, one man leaves. No “over the top rope” battle royale, because Taft and Cleveland would have an unfair advantage. All men are at the physical peak of their presidency, because Wilson deserves a chance. No firearms.

We are sticking with the classics: 43 men on a remote island, forced to fight to the death in a series of individual battles with a soundtrack by Stan Bush. It will be called Beyond Capitoldome, and it will cost $49.95 on pay-per-view. Who wins?

Any bets on who is the last man standing?

Find out here.

Reading List || GQ, July 2007: My Father’s Fashion Tips by Tom Junod

02/09/2011 § Leave a comment

Spurred by my rant about men wearing black shoes with navy suits, Ted pointed me in the direction of a great article about fashion, tradition, fathers and sons.

My Father’s Fashion Tips by Tom Junod

I have a sense of style, I guess, but it is not like my father’s—it is not earned, and consequently it is not unwavering, nor inerrant, nor overbearing, nor constructed of equal parts maxim and stricture; it is not certain. It does not start in the morning, when I wake up, and end only at night, when I go to sleep. It is not my creation, nor does it create me; it is ancillary rather than central. I don’t absolutely f’ing live it, is what I’m trying to say. I don’t put it on every time I anoint myself with toilet water or stretch a sock to my knee or squeeze into a pair of black bikini underwear. Which is what my father did. Of course, when I was growing up, he tried as best he could to teach me what he knew, to indoctrinate me—hell, he couldn’t resist, for no man can be as sure as my father is without being also relentlessly and reflexively prescriptive. He tried to pass on to me knowledge that had the whiff of secrets, secrets at once intimate and arcane, such as the time he taught me how to clean my navel with witch hazel.

The bit about navy blue and black…

Never wear navy blue and black—that’s what I came to know on the morning of my wedding, when I wore a navy blue suit and black shoes, and my father said, “What are you—a policeman?” (“But Dad, what kind of shoes should you wear?” “With a navy blue suit? Navy blue shoes.”)

Hilarious, touching and perhaps somewhat instructive, the article is a great read and I definitely recommend you hopping over to GQ to enjoy it.

You can find the article here.

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