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.


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

Quite Continental Charm School || Matriculation Day 2013!

31/01/2013 § 1 Comment

Quite Continental Charm School

Great Caesar’s Ghost, it’s January 31!  How on earth did that happen already?  As we get ready to turn the corner on February, you may already know what that means around here – the annual return of Quite Continental Charm School!!

Every year in the month of February, I endeavor bring you a daily tip to generate more class and fabulousness in your everyday life, spanning the topics of fashion, travel, beauty, etiquette, relationships, and whatnot.  Charm School is my modern guide to creating a charmed life, where you learn about things to do, to see, to think about, to taste, to buy, to read, to listen to, and to experience.  And as I definitely don’t claim to have a monopoly on such knowledge, you’ll have a lovely slate of guest instructors, each chosen for their class and fabulousity.

Charm School is my absolute favorite time of year, and I hope you will consider joining us this time around!  For those students who are in need of a bit of a catch-up, you can find the last two years’ lessons below – but don’t you worry, there won’t be any math on this exam.


Day 1: An Attitude of Gratitude

Day 2: Class Up Your Bedroom

Day 3: Get a Library Card
by Stephanie Madewell of even*cleveland

Day 4: A Firm Handshake

Day 5: Winterize Your Skin

Day 6: Be Fashionably Punctual
by Lizzie Garrett Mettler of Tomboy Style

Day 7: The Hostess Gift

Day 8: Your Family Jewels
by Christine Mitchell of N’East Style

Day 9: A Life Lived With Purpose

Day 10: A Proper Foundation
by Sarah of Style On The Couch

Day 11: Travel Elegantly

Day 12: A Proper Lie-in

Day 13: Know Thyself
by Kate Arends of wit + delight

Day 14: Write Love Letters

Day 15: Keep a Travel Journal
by Jen Swetzoff of Parenture

Day 16: Select a Signature Scent
by Anne of Ritournelle

Day 17: Take Your Seasonal Accessories Seriously

Day 18: Date with Great Charm

Day 19: Find Balance
by Jodi Fournier

Day 20: A Proper Lunch

Day 21: Drink More Gin
by Marisa Zupan of The Significant Other

Day 22: Eat Chocolate
by Sarah of Edelweiss by Sarah

Day 23: Go Out and Play

Day 24: Stretch

Day 25: Travel Light

Day 26: How to Score Vintage
by Jahn Hall of BKLYN Dry Goods

Day 27: No Contest

Day 28: Be Enterprising
by Jessica Goldfond of The Shiny Squirrel

Day 29: The Icing


Day 1: Get Your Passport

Day 2: Own a True LBD

Day 3: Social Stationery

Day 4: The Red Lip

Day 5: Keep A Diary

Day 6: Champagne!

Day 7: Give Back

Day 8: Tie a Tie

Day 9: Move It

Day 10: Fresh Flowers

Day 11: Calling Cards

Day 12: Perfect Your Signature

Day 13: Pearls

Day 14: Be Your Own Valentine

Day 15: Wear Pajamas

Day 16: The Trench

Day 17: Thank You Notes

Day 18: Disconnect

Day 19: Try a Bit of High Art

Day 20: Une Bicyclette

Day 21: Fix Your Face

Day 22: Have a Signature Dish

Day 23: Fly Solo

Day 24: Get a Tailor

Day 25: Watch Classic Films

Day 26: Smell Pretty

Day 27: How to Stock a Proper Bar

Day 28: C’est Fini

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

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