Field Notes || Myrtle

20/05/2013 § Leave a comment

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During my recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of visiting with Whitney Bickers, the proprietress of Myrtle, a delightful boutique snuggled on a corner of Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.  Featuring independent female designers and an excellent selection of vintage clothing, as well as accessories, books and other assorted gifty items, this adorable little shop feels more like a clubhouse than mere retail experience, completely due to the amount of personal attention Whitney provides her customers.  Shopping at Myrtle is akin to spending a leisurely time with a trusted friend, trying out all sorts of interesting designers and original pieces you may have never heard of before — almost like your personal, inside track to style.

Whitney and Myrtle first appeared on my radar via mutual friends Samantha Pleet and Lizzie Garrett Mettler, and while it may have taken awhile for us to connect in the non-internet world, I’m so glad we did.  Aside from being one of the loveliest people ever (ever!), her path to opening Myrtle is certainly an inspiration.  While working in the entertainment industry on the production side, Whitney came to the realization that what she was really dreaming of was having a store of her own.  With no formal background in retail, but armed with some good advice, a tiny bit of luck and a whole lot of hard work, Whitney took a leap and opened in 2011.  In the years since, this one-woman show has continued to evolve, expanding to e-commerce and one of my very favorite Instagram feeds, where Whitney tries on new store arrivals in the massive mirror you can see above, giving internet fans of Myrtle an early head’s up at stock that hasn’t made it to the webstore just yet — but the best part is that you can tell how much fun she’s having.  And of course, when she wanted to turn the camera on me during our visit, I immediately insisted on a double mirror portrait of our own…

Myrtle

Myrtle
2213 Sunset Boulevard  || Los Angeles, CA 90026 || (213) 413-0004

Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a 1972 Ford Bronco?

17/04/2013 § 1 Comment

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Sometimes when you’re driving around in Los Angeles, you discover amazing things.  Most times you can’t stop to investigate and have to make a mental note to return, as you have to hurry onto this or that appointment or to finish the day’s errands — but this wasn’t one of those times.  As soon as I spied ASC Auto Repair (1816 Lincoln Blvd., Venice CA 90291, (310) 396-6341), I knew I would be stopping.  I mean, it isn’t every day that you get to go to classic Ford Bronco heaven.

After a chat with the owner, David, in which I tried to force him to pick a favorite model year to no avail — “I mean, they’re all nice, it just depends on what is on the inside!” — I was given free rein to poke around and take a few pictures.  For the most part, the technicians ignored me — much too busy, of course — but every now and then I would catch a proud look as I appreciated their handiwork.

Sidenote: if you’re feeling generous, I’ll take that pretty ’72 with the white stripes.

New Additions: Los Angeles Stowaways

16/04/2013 § Leave a comment

Officially back on the east coast after my trip to Los Angeles!  If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have already seen my bajillion and three beach and car and Mexican food pictures, so I will spare you.  But you’d like to see my recap of Northern Grade, the American-made men’s pop-up shop, you can find it on the BKLYN Dry Goods blog here.  I’ve also still got plenty of other stuff to share from my trip, so please be on the lookout for future posts.Los Angeles Stow Aways

Of course, no trip home is complete without a few stowaways.  In fact, because it is one of my personal rules to never ever EVER check a bag, it’s become something of a ritual to leave behind an item or two that won’t fit in my carry-on, with instructions to ship it to me (sorry, Mom).  This time around was no exception.

Shown above, from top left:
Vintage Guam t-shirt* from BKLYN Dry Goods
T-shirt* from Deus Ex Machina
T-shirt* from General Quarters (call to order)
Personalized postcards from Black Sheep Postal Service
Veg tan belt from Cause and Effect (that I helped make at Northern Grade!)
Juniper Ridge incense from General Store

*I’m designating summer 2013 “The Summer of the T-shirt,” evidently

Shown below, my magnificent vintage Ralph Lauren blanket coat from BKLYN Dry Goods.  If you want one of your own, they’ve still got a beautiful aztec-y pink and greenish one — but act fast and contact them directly, as it isn’t on the site just yet.

Los Angeles Stow Aways

I do hope all is well with you.  Yesterday’s devastating events at the Boston Marathon left me more than a little shell-shocked and my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected.  For more information on how you can help, please visit the American Red Cross.
Be safe. xo.

Afield: Northern Grade Los Angeles

04/04/2013 § Leave a comment

Northern Grade

Hello from 10,000 feet somewhere above Pennsylvania!  Skyblogging!  As I mentioned earlier, I’m heading out to visit my hometown of Los Angeles this weekend for a pretty awesome two-fer.  My twin nieces just turned ten (oof! double digits!) and Northern Grade, the travelling men’s pop-up, is in town.  I’m actually willing to consider this a three-fer, if the weather manages to stay in the 70s, as expected.

I’m really looking forward to catching up with some familiar faces and meeting a few new ones.  I’ll probably be rambling around in my sweet rental car everywhere from Simi Valley to Manhattan Beach, so do let me know if there’s anything you think I shouldn’t miss.  Over the weekend I’ll be on hand with BKLYN Dry Goods at Northern Grade, which you should definitely check out.  It’s a pretty rare opportunity in Los Angeles to find such an excellent assortment of quality, American-made menswear, accessories and collectibles all in one place and the folks at Pierrepont Hicks always put together an awesome event.  If you see me, please say hello!

Bonne année!

03/01/2013 § 13 Comments

2013.

I do hope this post finds you as thankful as I am for all that 2012 had in store for us.  Like most years, 2012 was something of a mixed bag.  We had highest highs, lowest lows and everything in between.  We cried a little, laughed a lot, and learned a bit more about ourselves.  We loved, we lost, and we moved on.  We grew.

Most of all, I am grateful this year for the support of my amazing family and friends, grateful for the lovely new people I’ve met via this tiny corner of the interwebs that I call home, and grateful for fresh starts and a sparkling clean 2013.  Here’s to the happiest of new years, my dears!

2013

Getting down to business: Where on earth have I been for two weeks?  I took a much-needed trip home for the holidays to Los Angeles to relax and recharge and visit my family, and while I was there I decided to take an unplanned break in honor of the holidays, which included my birthday.  I spent a lot of time driving around some of my old haunts, visiting with friends and perfecting my Wii dance moves with my 9 year-old nieces.  I also had time to take a few quick pictures with photographer Idris Erba, a friend I’ve had for more than a decade — and as you can see in the pictures he took, the weather in LA was pretty idyllic.

Wearing: scarf: J.Press lambswool scarf (25% off!) || blazer: vintage || shirt: J.Crew chambray work shirt || denim: Uniqlo || bag: Lotuff Leather (c/o) || watch: Form Function Form button stud weekender (c/o)

I also wanted to share a few photos from my trip home that I took via Instagram.  Snapped in Hollywood, Silverlake, Downtown, Long Beach and Manhattan Beach, they represent some of my very favorite moments.

2013 2013 2013 2013 2013

On trips home I frequently get asked when I’m going to finally tire of New York — the cost! the weather! the people! the subways! — and move back west.  Perhaps west coasters imagine that New York is something to suffer through, to thicken your skin and toughen up a bit.  All I know is that if I still get that thrill down my spine when I catch that first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline when I return from being out of town, I must still be in the right place.  Los Angeles has plenty to offer, and will always have a very special piece of my heart, but Manhattan has her hooks in me and she isn’t ready — just yet — to let me go.

Keep in touch!
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Postcards from Los Angeles

04/09/2012 § 1 Comment

Wanted to share a few of my Los Angeles moments before I head back to NYC,
as filtered through Instagram (quitecontinental).

QC Prêt-à-Porter || Guest of the Bride

31/08/2012 § 3 Comments

A weekend to celebrate love:

J.Crew Origami pleated wool-crepe dress
Roberto Cavalli Alligator gold-plated Swarovski crystal cuff
J.Crew Daisylace Minaudiere
Kate Spade New York Stoney heels
The Row Oversized cat eye acetate sunglasses
My Go-To Red Lip: NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil in Cruella
…and copious amounts of bubbly!

This weekend finds me in Los Angeles for a good friend’s wedding and so I have thrown together a somewhat midcentury modern, Betty Draper-inspired, emerald-infused party outfit featuring a rather dazzling alligator cuff — yes, I realize it completely breaks the bank, but it was so good I had to include it!  The neckline on this dress is fantastic, and demands a bare canvas — no necklaces or chandelier earrings, please.  Top it off with an updo, a precise cat eye and a crimson lip and you’re ready for cocktails with Don.

Other activities will include a bit of auntie duty, catching up with some west coast friends and relearning how to parallel park with my super sweet rental car.  If you have any recommendations for me, please do pass them along!  Since moving to New York five years ago, my Angeleno intel on what to do and where to go has probably grown a bit rusty.

Have a lovely weekend!
What will you be getting up to?

xoxo. M.

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Instagram: @quitecontinental

Sidenote:  You may have noticed I was a bit quieter than usual this weekend — not because I lacked anything to say, definitely — but more likely because of my awesomely full weekend hiking and camping, I felt a bit less inclined to sit in front of my computer for the next few days.  Add to that the preparations for trip I am currently on, the strategy sessions with Lani for Fashion Week, and the general realization that summer is coming to a close, it felt like a good time to take a step back from my usual routine and I am happy to say that I am really enjoying myself.  Regular posting will resume when I return to the city.  I’ve got tons to dish about and Fashion Week is going to be a blast!

In The Clutch

15/08/2012 § 3 Comments

Lovely Clare Vivier Flat Pouches with:
One stripe,
two stripes,
three stripes
(love the red, white and blue!)

The perfect size for your essentials, whether you are tossing them into your carry-on, your beach bag or simply want to travel light, these elegantly minimal flat pouches by Clare Vivier have me obsessed.  I love everything about them, from the warm tan of the leather to the contrast zippers and sporty stripes – but most of all, I love the fact that they are handmade in Los Angeles.

Further Reading: For a look inside Clare Vivier’s Silver Lake headquarters, be sure to check out Lizzie’s visit.

Charm School Extra Credit: Daughter of a Deb

25/07/2012 § 1 Comment

Editor’s note: Even though February’s Charm School has come and gone, I still find myself coming across lovely gems like this one.  If you might indulge me, I’ll be sharing a few throughout the year as a bit of Charm School Extra Credit

The idea that girls require guidance and education in order to become women — scratch that, to become proper ladies —  is the foundation of charm school.  You might recall we discussed this concept in February.  I talked about how I saw value in the model, girls and women coming together in the name of self-education and improvement, but I disagree with the emphasis most of these institutions placed on being pretty, perfect baking skills or being a good wife.  To hell with all that.  And so, that’s why I created the Quite Continental Charm School, a modern guide for modern women to create their most charming life.

And while I might have turned the concept of charm school on its head for my own purposes, I still remain fascinated by all the traditions that prepare and commemorate a girl’s transformation into a woman, like the Bat Mitzvah or the Quinceañera.  Growing up, I was none too interested in all of that Sweet Sixteen stuff, but I wasn’t able to completely escape the allure of the tradition.  Perhaps it’s because I am actually the daughter of a “deb.”

What’s a deb? Historically, American debutantes were girls who had reached the age of maturity and were newly eligible to be married.  As part of a formal — and usually quite lavish — ceremony the girls were presented to polite society (read: upper class) either singly or as part of a group, usually wearing some kind of fancy white ballgown.  Fast forwarding a few generations, the deb of my mother’s generation wasn’t primarily intent on catching a husband.  Her attentions were instead focused on making an excellent impression in her social circle (on her own behalf, as well as for her family), finding the perfect escort and wearing an amazing dress.  While traditions do vary regionally, most debutantes also perform some sort of charity work as part of the process as well.

So, as we might have discussed already, my mother was quite the social butterfly growing up.  When I was a young resident of Awkwardsville, living at the intersection of Braces Street and Glasses Avenue, I would often look at the pictures of my mom at one of the many photos of her at a prom or formal — from their sheer number, it would seem like that was all she did in high school — but it was the pictures of her at her cotillion, in that shining white dress, that would always stand out from all the others.  What I felt is hard to describe, but I loved them without having any desire to be a deb.  I left that to my sister, who seemed to enjoy it.  Naturally, to her cotillion I wore a black, backless gown and painted my nails with Chanel’s VampNaturally.  

So for a change, I asked my mom to talk a little about what it was like when she was a deb, to hear the story behind the pictures I love so much (which I promise to scan sometime soon):

“The debutante thing was very different in 1965.  You had to be invited to participate, and that produced a group of about 35.  In the spring we waited with baited breath to see if we were chosen.  Selection was based on family, character, and social standing.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be chosen because your grandparents were not in the “in” social scene.  But we were buddies with Alicia’s family (they were); and Alicia and I were best buds (but she had to drop out because she came down with mono).  I was a little younger than the rest of the debs (required age was 17 of a HS senior), but it was the crowd I hung out with (I was 16 and a junior).   Announcements were made and the formal tea was held; we wore hats and gloves and our best dresses to tea.  In the countdown to Thanksgiving weekend, we were required to attend etiquette classes,  We were also required to do a set amount of volunteer hours.  I was assigned to the Neuro-Psychiatric Institute at UCLA (NPI).  It was interesting.  I had to wear a candystriper-type uniform (like a pinafore).  I got to see the lab monkeys in their cages (that part was sad).  Then weekly rehearsals began around mid-Sept.  Mrs. Poole started us of with the waltz and curtsey.  After we had that down, they brought in the dads, and then the escorts.  The ball was held at the Ambassador Hotel in the Embassy Ballroom (where RFK was assassinated 3 years later).  I had a room upstairs where I dressed and some parents hung out after hours.  We had an all-night party as a group somewhere else.”

My mother’s debut was organized by the Los Angeles chapter of The Links, an international, non-profit volunteer service organization of women committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Link’s ball; the first was held at Ciro’s, a famous nightclub on the Sunset Strip, because hotel ballrooms were not available for minority social events in Los Angeles in 1952.  So you can imagine how happy I was, finding these pictures in the Life Archives.  While these debutantes in 1950 are 15 years earlier than my mother’s era, and a good fifty years earlier than my sister’s, there are constants: the puffy white dresses, the elbow-length gloves, the proud parents, the nervous escorts, the pomp and the circumstance.

The photos, shot by Cornell Capa for Life Magazine, capture Harlem’s very first large-scale “negro debutante cotillion,” organized by Mrs. Lillian Sharpe Hunter, a prominent social-event promoter.  If you would like to read the article — and there’s a great shot of the  Rockland Palace Ballroom where all 52 girls debuted in front of an audience of 4,700 that you must see! — you can find it here.

(Above, L-R) Debutantes Joan Greene, Carole Mc Kenzie, Marian Romain,
Lois Mc Laughlin and Marcia Miller posing in their dresses.

Debutante Marilyn Lowe wearing a dress made
from feathers during the debutante cotillion.

Patronly shriners, members of Brooklyn’s Eureka Temple No. 10,
who sponsored debutante Joanne Norris during the debutante cotillion.

Ushers holding seating lists during the debutante cotillion.

Girls waiting to go downstairs for the debutante cotillion.

Grand March is led by Mrs. Lillian Sharpe Hunter and the
guest of honor Grover Whalen for the debutante cotillion.

Matronly organizers and committee members
look on during the debutante cotillion.

Were you a deb too?  I would love to hear your story!

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

Field Notes || Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center

30/04/2012 § 1 Comment

New York is a vertical city, and its skyscrapers are climbing ever higher (case in point, just today my next-door neighbor One World Trade claimed the title of tallest building in New York).  All that height, especially in the canyons of the Financial District or parts of Midtown, can feel a bit oppressive at times to someone like me, who grew up in one of the most horizontal cities in the world.  For comparison’s sake I could give you some facts and figures about square mileage and population — essentially: LA is larger, while NYC is more populous — but nowhere is this “horizontal-ness” illustrated better than from the observation pavilions of the Getty Center.

Known for its impressive views from the Pacific to Downtown, the Getty Center is one of the best places to take in the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles (if it happens to be a clear day).  Designed by Richard Meier, the Center also houses a large portion of the Getty art collection and has been the setting for a marriage proposal or two…thousand.

Familiar vistas aside, I also made the trip to the Center to catch the Herb Ritts retrospective, L.A. Style.  Best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities and fashion editorials, equally impressive are Ritts’ nudes and his exploration of the concept of gender.  A compact exhibition, complete with large-scale prints, vintage magazines and a screening of his music videos (e.g., Janet Jackson’s Love Will Never Do (Without You), Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game), L.A. Style is an excellent collection of some Ritts’ most iconic images, taken in the 1980s and 90s.

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Getty Center
April 3 – August 26, 2012

The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Open Tuesday – Sunday

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