Disappearing Acts

10/06/2013 § 4 Comments

HF

Alright Mariah, where exactly have you gone off to this time?

It’s true, I’ve been a neglectful parent these past few weeks.  I can blame it on any myriad of things: my recent move to SoHo, the way that NYC truly blossoms in summery weather — and how amazing it is to enjoy it, a bit of travel, a bit of increased focus on my Tumblr as of late, etc. etc. etc.

But really, what has been taking up the majority of my time over the past two weeks is the fact that I’ve recently made a career change and joined the team at Harvey Faircloth as Brand Manager — which I am over the moon about!  It’s a really great womenswear brand that I look forward to discussing with you in the near future.  Of course, it goes without saying that this blog remains a place for my personal viewpoints, not for those of my employer, and whenever I discuss Harvey I will makes sure to disclose my connection to the brand, as I strive to do whenever business and blogging cross paths.

That said, I’m really excited to make this transition and I hope you will forgive my recent silence.  I’ve got a few things in the queue that I have been meaning to share with you for forever — like, ahem, the 10 remaining Charm School Posts?  Yes, it’s true, I’m a horrendous slacker as of late — I promise to get cracking.  Please don’t make me write any standards.  Standards!  When was the last time I thought about that?!?

xoxo. M.

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 23 — Go Out and Play

23/02/2012 § 1 Comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Madrid, 1908.  Image via the George Eastman House.

Editor’s Note:  One of the best parts of working with some of my nearest and dearest on my Charm School project have been the times when a contributor has suggested a topic that I had on the brain as well, because I knew if the two of us were both thinking about it, you probably were too.  Case in point, today’s topic.  When Christine sent me the idea for her post (Day 8: Your Family Jewels), she enclosed an additional thought that I also had on my own list of things to talk about this month.  What follows is not another guest post, per se, but I wasn’t about to omit her lovely words from the conversation.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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Life moves pretty fast.
If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

-Ferris Bueller

Day 23: Go Out and Play
When we are little, we eternally wish were bigger, older, allowed to stay up late and sit at the grown-up table.  This emphasis on the future, on what is to come, isn’t confined to childhood.  It doesn’t magically stop once we get to watch the Late Late Show.  That yearning to be older is gradually replaced with the notion that we are hurtling towards our future in a runaway train with a busted emergency brake. College! Grad School! Marriage! Children! Career! Retirement! Where Grandfather Time once seemed to ignore us, he now seems to be breathing down our necks as we frantically race to tick all the boxes on the life checklist.

Today, I want to let you know that the emergency brake isn’t really busted.  All your grown-up self needs to do to slow things down, to get a breather and reengage that kid who (shortsightedly) wished he didn’t have to sit at the folding card table at Thanksgiving, is to go out and play.  Rediscover the things you loved to do as a child, and you will definitely receive a respite from the frantic pace of life.  Did you draw as a child?  Why not get yourself a new sketchbook and drawing pencils?  Did you enjoy the dinosaur bones at the museum?  Make a trip to visit them again.  Did you play little league?  Join an adult league.  Whatever you love, I guarantee you will feel the same thrill you used to feel when you buy your art supplies, spy a mastodon, or step up to the plate — I know I do.

Engaging your inner kid will bring great joy to your outer adult and help you truly live in the moment.  I can’t think of anything more charming than that.

By Christine, of N’East Style:
“When I feel like I’m in the thick of things or my life is a horrible mess, I always turn back to the activities that I loved to do as a child. For me a few of those things would be: read Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy (nerd alert!), watch classic old movies (preferably starring Katherine Hepburn or Paul Newman), sit in a tree, dance in my room, go for a long walk by myself, bake a cake, knit a scarf, or draw in my sketchbook. I think it’s rather common that as you get older, you lose touch with the simple things that you really love to do, and it’s only in your youth that you have the time and stress free existence to regularly indulge in them. Yes, yoga and going on a detox diet of some sort is all fine and dandy. But for me, getting back to my early passions is what really gets me grounded and back in touch with myself. It’s something I don’t do nearly enough, but when I do it’s absolutely fabulous.”

How do you indulge your inner kid?
How will you go out and play?

Image via the National Maritime Museum.
The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 22 — Eat Chocolate

22/02/2012 § 2 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Taken at Fort Myers in 1940 by David Scherman for Life Magazine.
Even the US Army understands how important chocolate is.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce our next guest speaker!  Sarah Seilbach Brasher is the amazingly talented designer behind Edelweiss by Sarah, a line she started in Brooklyn in the summer of 2008 after spending time at Vena Cava, Maggie Norris Couture and Elise Overland.  I can’t remember how I first found Sarah, but immediately after seeing her collection, which is heavily influenced by the styles and silhouettes of the 1930s and 1940s, I demanded an invitation to her atelier (you can view my post on our afternoon here).  It was then that I was able to discover how delightful a person she is, as well!

After you peruse her shop, you’ll quickly notice how remarkably well she incorporates an air of nostalgia into her completely wearable and feminine designs.  My love of Edelweiss by Sarah is a complete no-brainer.  If ever you are in need of the perfect party dress, Sarah’s your girl.  If you are not yet familiar with Sarah, or Edelweiss by Sarah, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

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

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Day 22: Eat Chocolate
To me nothing is more mysterious and intriguing than eating chocolate.  Chocolate was said to have come from the Amazon some 4,000 years ago but it was the Maya and Aztec people who really brought cacao to us.  Using the cacao bean as money as well as using if for offerings to their Gods, they would make spicy chocolate drink during their most sacred ceremonies.  It symbolized life and fertility.

I own and run a small fashion business.  I find that work can get stressful and overwhelming to which I find myself looking for a little outlet.  Chocolate.  I believe that a woman taking the time to really enjoy a piece of chocolate is not only fabulous but also captivating.  That afternoon chocolate will give me a burst of energy that will get me through the rest of the day.

Photo from Sarah’s instagram. Find her at @edelweissnyc

Find what chocolate excites you.  To be honest most of the time I only have the Lindor dark chocolate truffles on hand. They are still delicious but if I could, I would keep a box of Voges Chocolate Truffles in my desk.  I would either go with an exotic assortment or a box of their Aztec Truffles.  I would eat one a day and take the time to step away from my work and enjoy that piece of chocolate.

We all need to take a little time to enjoy the beauty and mystery of chocolate.

by Sarah, of Edelweiss by Sarah.

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

For Serious, Matilda.

22/02/2012 § 8 Comments

Taken by Nina Leen, 1947.

There is no real reason I selected this picture, other than for its awesomeness.  I like to call it: “This hat and I are about to kick your ass in bridge.  For serious, Matilda.”

Today, I am getting serious about Lent, though.  I’m not especially religious, nor am I a Catholic (I’m actually a lapsed Episcopalian), but every Lenten season, I like to challenge myself to give up something.  For those unaware, Lent runs from Ash Wednesday (today) through Easter Sunday; 40 days in total.  For Christians it is a period of penitence, of giving up certain luxuries and of fasting.

Am I turning into a Sunday School blog? Hardly.

But I do think the concept of penitence is applicable universally, no matter what altar you choose to worship at.  A 40 day period is a great amount of time to reflect upon yourself, your personal habits and things you might want to change.  To abstain from some of your bad habits for 40 days will take some willpower.  I once managed to convince a very unhappy Mister to give up booze with me, rough going indeed, but we survived.  They say it takes only 30 days to cement a new habit, so why not seize upon the season to make some purposeful changes?

What I will attempt to give up for the next 40 days:

  • The snooze button.  You will be profoundly missed!
  • Those delightful bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches I’m very fond of
  • …and dairy in general, for that matter.
  • Passive negativity

What about you?

Sidenote: Would you believe this is my **600th** post?  In the spirit of gratitude, I wanted to send a big thank you to all of my followers, old and new.  I hope you understand how much I really appreciate your reading and comments and emails and sharing of this silly little blog.

You guys are the absolute tops.
xoxo. M.

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Reach me via email at contact@quitecontinental.net

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Quite Continental Charm School: Day 9 — A Life Lived With Purpose

09/02/2012 § 8 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst being arrested after protesting near
Buckingham Palace, 1907.  Image via The Nationaal Archief in The Hague.

What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose
–Margaret Thatcher

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”
–Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death so live, live, LIVE!
–Auntie Mame

Day 9: A Life Lived With Purpose
A charmed life is a life that is grabbed by the horns and lived — a life with direction, a life with purpose.  A charmed life is not spent on the sidelines, accepting whatever is happening simply because it is happening.

For most of us, life lends itself easily to patterns and routine.  Our days can end up looking much the same: wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, rinse and repeat.  We can spend years passively joining the morning rush hour, then the lunch crush, then the evening rush hour.  Isn’t it interesting how this natural inclination towards monotony can simultaneously leave you feeling comforted yet not very fulfilled?  Today, I want you to start living your most passionate life.  I want you to upset some of those apple carts.

While there are many routines you can’t — nor shouldn’t — break (e.g., going to work, paying your taxes, visiting the dentist twice yearly), I want you to turn your attention to your practically imperceptible acceptance of conditions or situations that are less than satisfying.  And then think about why you accept them.  Perhaps you think it might be too difficult to get what it is that you actually want.  Perhaps you don’t think you deserve it.  Perhaps you think things might eventually get better because you are patiently waiting for your boss to promote you or for your husband to realize he could be treating you better.  And it’s true, it could get better.  But I wouldn’t bet on it just happening.

Today is about figuring out what you want and how you are going to get it.  It is about refusing to let life pass you by.  It is about refusing to wake up in that beautiful house, with that beautiful wife, wondering “Well, how did I get here?”  It is about making decisions about how to make things better, putting them into action, and fighting to see them through — no matter how big or small.  It can be about improving your relationship with your girlfriend or agitating for political change.

Historically, I haven’t always been great at this, which is why I think I decided to talk about it today.  I know what it feels like to be frustrated, to feel like you are a victim of circumstance, to feel like there isn’t really anything you can do to make things more satisfying, to feel like it would be too hard to take control of the situation.   But I also know how rewarding it feels to take charge and move forward on a path of my own choosing.  To lead a purposeful life is to lead a more satisfying, exciting and aware existence.  It’s on the top of my to-do list and I hope you will join me.

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

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