QC Prêt-à-Porter || Tuxedo Season

18/11/2015 § 3 Comments

quite continental: tuxedo season

Gold, nude, black, leather and lace.
These are a few of my [current] favorite things:

Clockwise from top left:
Maison Martin Margiela Jazz Club Candle
Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Larsson & Jennings Saxon Watch
Essie All Eyes On Nudes Matte Nail Polish
Garance Dore Love Style Life
Only Hearts Penelope Bralette
Frye Carson Harness Riding Boot
Bauble Bar Mason Pavé Ring

Recent items of note:
Hacker tips on how to travel the world for free. [via Vice]
Dear Men: please feel free to order a Cosmo. I won’t judge. I mean I’ll try. [via MSN]
Smoking your cocktail in a bong is a real thing. [via LA Mag]
A brief history of the restaurant matchbook. [via Eater]

Keep in touch:
Instagram: @quitecontinental
Twitter   ||   Tumblr

DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

12/01/2014 § 3 Comments

QC DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

This Christmas, instead of simply handling all of my shopping online as I am usually wont to do, I decided to put my paws to work and create as many homemade gifts as I could.  This included an organic raw sugar and virgin coconut oil shower scrub, which is a relatively quick and easy beauty remedy for dry skin — no mean feat in the winter, but truly makes a great gift all year-round.  While the scrub itself doesn’t take much effort, I especially enjoyed working on the packaging.  My East Coast recipients received pretty blue Heritage Collection Ball Jars topped with brown craft paper, green twine, manila packing tags and a spring of evergreen.  My West Coasters received rubber gasket jars topped with ribbon and smudge sticks from Juniper Ridge.

Ingredients (all organic if possible): raw sugar, virgin coconut oil, argan oil, essential oils (optional)

Combine two parts sugar to one part coconut oil in a large bowl.  Add a tablespoon of argan oil and mix well.  If you want to add fragrance — I honestly like it without, and prefer the natural coconut/sugar scent, but to each her own — essential oils are most effective, but you can also try natural ingredients like vanilla extract, lemon zest, fresh mint.  Pop the mix into a jar and you’re all done!  Easy!

QC DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 18 – Updo and Done

23/09/2013 § 3 Comments

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

QC Charm School: Updo and Done“Hmmmmm, is this bow too much or just enough??”
Photo by Peter Stackpole for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce today’s guest speaker!  Please meet Erica Whelan, the exceptionally talented hair and makeup artist whose work can be seen everywhere from the runways of New York Fashion Week to the glossy pages of your favorite editorials to some of the most fabulous private clients.  Indeed, whenever we catch up, she’s always got several new stories and numerous beauty tricks up her sleeve.  She’s my own secret weapon!

If you are not yet familiar with Erica, it is my pleasure to introduce you.  For her lesson, I requested she share a simple updo, something everyone should have in their styling arsenal.  Good for everything from board meetings to brunch to broadway show, think of this classic chignon as a style soldier of fortune, able to handle any sort of occasion you might throw at it.  You might also recognize the guinea pig in the chair…I knew all this hair was good for something.

Without any further ado, Erica’s tip for a charmed life.
Photos by the equally talented Amelia Tubb.

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QC Charm School: Updo and Done

You will need a teasing comb, boar bristle brush, an elastic ponytail holder, bobby pins, hair pins, texturizer spray and hairspray. Depending on your hair type you may also need a flat iron and smoothing crème.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

1) Hair can be clean or slightly dirty (“second day hair”). Get volume in the top section of hair by spraying a dry texturizer spray like Oribe or dry shampoo like Klorane. This will instantly add volume to dry hair. Hold hair straight up and away from head then spray at the root. Wait a few seconds then massage product into your roots.  If your hair is curly, you should use a flat iron to straighten and add shine to your hair.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

2) Brush hair into a low ponytail. I usually position my ponytail at the occipital bone, which is the bone you can feel at the back of your head. I like to spray my brush with hairspray before I brush the hair into a low ponytail — this trick will help tame flyaways. Your ponytail should be smooth. You can use a dime-sized dollop of smoothing crème and run over your ponytail to remove any frizziness. You can style the front of your hair to your liking. Ex: a few pieces of hair framing your face, a middle or side part, or backcomb the top section for volume — your choice.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

3) Once your hair is in a low ponytail, slide the ponytail holder about an inch down. This will give you enough room to split the hair down the center.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

4) Split hair down the center then flip the ponytail up. Starting with the ponytail end, begin feeding it through the split. Grab the ponytail with your fingers from underneath and pull it through the split.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

5) Give the ponytail a gentle tug so it tightens back up.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done(Editor’s note: OBVIOUSLY THIS IS MY FAVORITE PICTURE.)

6) Use a comb to tease the ponytail. This will create the base for your bun. Tease as much or as little as you like. Remember, the more you tease the bigger the bun. Once you’re done teasing, smooth the underside of the ponytail with your boar bristle brush. This is the side that will be visible so it needs to be smooth.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

7) Put the back of your hand on the inside of the ponytail (the teased part of the ponytail) about mid-length. Wrap the ponytail around your hand and tuck the tail into the hole you created when you split your hair down the center in Step 4. Keep tucking until you form a bun.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

8) Using bobby pins (medium size for short to medium hair or large size for medium to long hair) secure the bun. I like to use two bobby pins at the top where we tucked the tail into place. Then gently pull apart the bun to make it fuller. Then continue to pin into place.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

9) My secret weapon to keeping hair in place is to use a hairnet. Hairnets come in different colors so you can find one that matches your hair color and the mesh is so fine that no one will be able to detect it up close or in photos. Cover bun with hairnet then pin into place using hair pins. Make sure to grab the hair and then the net when you pin. FYI – A hair pin is a u-shaped pin that is lighter than a bobby pin. Bobby pins secure a hairstyle into place where as a hair pin keeps the hair in place once the style has been secured.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

10) Final step – spray with hairspray to keep in place and tame any flyaways.  All done!

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

Shortlist #4: Specs, tunes and hawks.

29/06/2012 § Leave a comment

A collection of things I’m currently obsessing over:My new Prestons in gimlet tortoise by Warby Parker.
Sidenote: love the co-ed shirt by G1 Goods — and it’s on sale right now!


The release of Beasts of the Southern Wild on Wednesday (NYC/LA).
I seriously get goosebumps every single time adorable 6 year-old
wondergirl Quvenzhané Wallis shouts “I’m the man!”
You can also read the review by AO Scott of the NY Times here.

In my summer make-up bag:
NARS eyeshadow: Silk Road (icy peach pink/ rose gold with gold flecks)

Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil in Bourbon
Diorshow Black Out mascara in Kohl Black
Anastasia brow gel
Anastasia brow powder duo in Brunette
Sephora Collection IT brow filler brush
While I am usually a black eyeliner type of girl, this summer I’ve been changing it up with tones that are softer but help bring out my eyes (which are a funny, changeable color that’s almost blue).  I’ve been embracing warm, golden colors and perfecting my brows.  I quite like it, especially with my new specs!

I’ve been constantly listening to the magnificent playlists Moonrise Kingdom put together on 8Tracks.com.  I’ve always thought that one of the most important characters in Wes Anderson films is the soundtrack, but in this case we get individual playlists organized (and inspired) by all the characters.  Find them here.

A few weeks ago, while walking down Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village, a full grown red-tailed hawk swooped down right next to me, picked up a tasty sparrow treat and proceeded to eat it in three bites while sitting on a fence not much taller than me!  I’ve since found out that who I met that evening was one half of a Village celebrity couple: Bobby and Rosie, the NYU red-tailed hawks.  I’ve seen them a few other times in the park, but the best way to watch them — and their two babies! — is via the NYU Hawk Cam, which you can find here (I’ve been watching nonstop).

Goapele ~ Tears On My Pillow

02/04/2012 § Leave a comment

A little soul music for your Monday morning…

I’ve been a fan of Bay Area-native chanteuse Goapele since 2002, but she’s never quite made the commercial breakthrough I always thought she deserved.  In this post-Adele world, armed with her new single “Tears On My Pillow” from her recent album “Break of Dawn,” I’m wondering if she just might.

Sidenotes: How ridiculously gorgeous is she? Do we think those are her own lashes? And I’m officially and completely obsessed with her makeup; that cool red on her lips must. be. mine.

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 5 – Winterize Your Skin

05/02/2012 § Leave a comment

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

Photo taken by George Skadding for LIFE Magazine in 1948.

Day 5: Winterize Your Skin
A charmed life is definitely about feeling your best and putting your best self forward whenever possible, and it is undeniable that when you look your best, you feel at your best.  Today we turn our attention to perfecting your birthday suit in the winter.  While basic skincare is important the entire year, during the winter months your skin requires a bit of extra care  — because really, no one wants to shake hands with an alligator. Between the wind, the rain, the snow, and the drying air from furnaces and heaters, our skin is zapped of all its moisture and sorely in need of renewal.

Luckily, the solution is simple.  Incorporate an exfoliating agent into your cleansing regimen and then follow with a rich conditioner.  For areas that need extra attention like your feet, knees, elbows and lips, use a good balm.

Ladies, I’m guessing this tip might be a no-brainer, but I did want to draw your attention to a few products that I have been loving this winter.  L’Occitane Certified Organic Pure Shea Butter is amazing; it healed a chapped, post-flu nose and is a great addition to my DIY home manicures.  Dairy Association Bag Balm is a familiar canister that my mother has had on her bedside table for as long as I can remember.  Created to prevent cows’ udders from chapping, this balm will soften up just about anything.  And, added bonus, it’s made in the USA.  Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish is my very favorite scrub — it is a bit on the coarser side, so some may not want to use it every day.

Gentlemen, I’m still trying to figure out why most of you won’t use lotion.  Is it because it seems feminine?  Or perhaps you don’t care to add one more thing to your morning routine, for brevity’s sake? As a liberal user of the snooze button, I can definitely understand that.  In any event, if you incorporate even a weekly use of a moisturizer, you will definitely feel the difference — as will those who snuggle up against you.  I highly recommend Vaseline Intensive Rescue Repairing Moisture Lotion, which is available in most drugstores, is inexpensive and works wonders.  It is unscented, so you won’t have to worry about smelling like flowers or fruit.  As for cleansing, I love the scent and feel of Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap.  It will slough off the dry bits for you and isn’t as drying as most bar soaps.

Sidenote:  For those with skin that tends toward combination, oily, or acne-prone, you may want to try a blemish-fighting scrub like Peter Thomas Roth Blemish Buffing Beads, but I’ve also found a cheaper alternative: good old St Ives Swiss Formula Apricot Scrub works just as well.

From top leftKiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk and Honey Body Polish
Kiehl’s Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub

Aesop Rejuvenate Intensive Body Balm

Peter Thomas Roth Blemish Buffing Beads

St Ives Swiss Formula Apricot Scrub

Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap

From bottom left:  Dairy Association Bag Balm 
L’Occitane Certified Organic Pure Shea Butter
 
L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream
 
Vaseline Intensive Rescue Repairing Moisture Lotion
 
Rosebud Salve

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

Field Notes: New York International Gift Fair

16/08/2011 § 2 Comments

This weekend I braved the stormy weather to drop by the New York International Gift Fair.  With my wet hair and Hunter wellies I wandered among thousands of purveyors of fine gifts, personal accessories, home decor, personal care products and tabletop collections.  I enjoyed checking in with some of my familiar favorites like Jonathan Adler, Oly and Dune and Duchess.  And of course, as I am a sucker for all things curious and decoupaged, John Derian and Company always has my full attention (I am in earnest need of a few dozen of his domed paperweights if you are feeling generous).

Delightful desk accessories aside, Barr-Co was a personal care collection that initially drew my attention solely on the strength of their product design.  But you probably could have guessed that, no?

Barr-Co is the latest product line from k hall designs, a Missouri-based company specializing in aromatic bath, body and home care products.  Owned and run by husband and wife team John and Kelley Barr, k hall designs believes in simplicity, quality, sustainability, and strives to use the most natural ingredients available.  Their products are made, labeled, boxed and packaged by hand in the US.

Barr-Co is a collection of soaps, lotions, candles and other bath products that are hand-crafted in small batches in St. Louis, Missouri.  For example, each wax candle is signed and dated by the artisan that poured it, and topped by a handmade letterpress candle cover.  Currently available only in the “original scent” — a fresh combination of milk, oatmeal, vanilla and vetiver — the products are at least 98% natural and most are vegan.  I especially like the deeply moisturizing hand salve, which is suggested for “before and after gardening.”  (I decided to take liberties with those instructions, natch.)

Hand-stamped muslin bags.

Packaged in sturdy, reusable milk bottles and parfait glassware, with labels that recall the age of tonics and elixirs, Barr-Co are not the sort of products I would hide away in a medicine cabinet somewhere.  These beauties are definitely worthy of display.

I also briefly stopped by Coral & Tusk, a lovely, Brooklyn-based outfit that specializes in embroidery and stationery.  Founder and designer Stephanie Housley has a whimsical touch, especially when rendering members of the animal kingdom.  If you’re in need of adorable embroidery, please take a moment to look over Stephanie’s pillows, framed art, merit badges and baby accoutrements.

I find myself wanting this little fox very, very badly.

Merit badges!

For more information:
Follow k hall designs on Facebook
Follow Coral & Tusk on Facebook

Your Thoughts? Wedding Hair

05/08/2011 § Leave a comment

Hold your horses…

No, I am not getting married — take a breath — but in the spirit of the hair question I just answered, I thought I might turn the tables and ask your opinion.

As I mentioned, I am heading up to a New Hampshire wedding this weekend and have yet to decide what to do with my hair.  Ground rules are (1), it must be up and off of my neck, due to the neckline of the dress, and (2), it can’t be too complicated because I do not have the patience.  The DIY hair tutorials on Joanna Goddard’s blog Cup of Jo are right up my alley and I find myself torn between two somewhat similar styles and wondered which one you might prefer?

 The Gibson Roll

Or,  Three twisted buns

What do we think?  All rolled up and tidy?  Or a bit messy and disheveled?  Or something completely different?  Thoughts?

If you want to try these out yourself, head over to Cup of Jo for the easy, completely illustrated, step by step hair tutorials.  I’ve already practiced both styles, and they are quite easy.  Perfect summer updos, even if you aren’t going to a wedding.

Image 1 via FGR., images 2 through 5 via Cup of Jo.

Ask Me Anything: Curl Tamer

04/08/2011 § 2 Comments

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line: contact@quitecontinental.net

Yours Truly.  My specialties are curly hair and mischievous looks.

Hi Mariah,
I noticed you’ve got curly hair, just like me.  I was wondering what products you use?

Over the years, I’ve gone through a number of phases in my relationship with my hair.  (I blogged about it a few months ago, if you’d like to read it.  It’s a bit wordy, so consider yourself forewarned…)  But yes, my hair is definitely curly and rather full.  I had a Brazillian Blowout back in the winter, which rendered my hair completely — amazingly! — straight.  I loved it and completely recommend it for curly girls who want  wash and wear straight hair for a couple of months.  It gradually has worn off and this summer I am rediscovering my love for my curls.  You can see the current state of my locks above.

Everyone’s hair is a bit of a puzzle/middle school science fair project.  You’ve got to experiment until you find what works for you, but here are some of my tips for taming curly hair:

  • Never ever EVER brush your curls…unless you want to look like a poodle.  Curly hair should be combed through when soaking wet, and left to its own devices after that.  I only use my fingers to style my hair after it is dry.
  • Curly hair is thirsty.  After you think you’ve put in enough product, add more.  And don’t be afraid to double or triple up on your products.  At present, I’m working with three or four to get the curls you see above.  In the shower, be sure to use a good conditioner, as dry hair invites frizz.  Lastly, unless you have super oily hair/scalp, don’t wash it every day.  Try going a few days.  If you absolutely can’t go without washing your hair, try merely rinsing and lightly conditioning it.
  • Air drying is always best.
  •  Lastly, find a stylist who understands curly hair.  In New York, I go to Angela Soto at the Whittemore House Salon in Greenwich Village, and I **highly** recommend her.  She’s amazing.

Secret summer weapons.

So what’s on my hair right now?  The two products you see above have been a godsend to me this summer: Je Veux Argan Oil and SACHAJUAN Ocean Mist.  Both were recommended to me by Angela, and can be purchased at the Whittemore House, if you’re so inclined.  I especially like the Je Veux because it conditions my hair without weighing it down — a problem I had when I tried using pure argan oil.  The Ocean Mist does an excellent job of defining my curls, especially in the morning after I’ve slept on them.  I’ve also heard good things about Fekkai Beach Waves and Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.

My summer regimen is as follows:

  1. Wash, comb through a deep conditioner (the only time I comb my hair), wrap hair in towel to wring out excess moisture
  2. Apply generous amount of Je Veux Argan Oil, evenly spritz SACHAJUAN Ocean Mist, scrunch
  3. Air dry.  Once dry, finish off with a bit of hairspray.  I love Elnett.

Hope that helps.  Do let me know how it goes for you!

**Sidenote**  It seems like argan oil is everywhere lately, and I didn’t have the faintest where it came from, so I asked  Tara Cole, holistic health and nutrition coach (and good friend/partner in crime) to explain:

“I am always on the search to uncover healthy, holistic solutions to heal the body.  I discovered argan oil and its multitude of uses last year, and have been hooked ever since.  This amazing oil keeps my skin young and healthy and looking fresh. 

It can also be used to re-hydrate the body, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and soothe skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema.  It can reduce appearance of scars and stretch marks, moisturize cuticles, and it’s a great way to nourish and add shine to your hair.  I also dab a little on insect bites in the summer to heal quicker.  

This ancient healing oil is derived from the kernels of the slow growing argan tree, exclusive to the dry lowlands of Southwest Morocco.  I recommend finding an organic, cold-pressed oil for best results.   I like both Josie Maran Cosmetics argan oil, and Arganica Oil.

For help with organic questions and holistic health tips, you can visit Tara at her website, Green Tara Wellness.

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line: contact@quitecontinental.net

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