Just When I Thought I Was Out… {Ralph Lauren Collection Spring 2012}

16/09/2011 § 2 Comments

…they keep pulling me back in.”  — Michael Corleone

I suppose I should have never doubted that Ralph Lauren would be my favorite from NYFW.  We go way, way back.  And this time around I flirted with the idea of another man, but the indomitable Mr. Lauren didn’t care.  He waited.  He reclinated.  He knew that when he would drop his glittering collection on my head, I’d come running right back to his side.  He knew that I wouldn’t ever be able to say no to him…

The man was right.

For spring 2012, while most other collections showed influences of the 1930s and 40s, Mr. Lauren reached back even further to a decade he is most comfortable with — the 1920s.  And why not?  His costumes for Jack Clayton’s Gatsby are constantly referenced by fashion and costume designers.  Why not seize upon spring’s nostalgia, ratchet up the glamour and hit his own sweet spot?  Textbook really.  These are clothes for both Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker, and you probably already know I tend to like Jordan a bit more…  If you were looking for 1920s with an edge, for the ironic jazz age, you won’t find it here, because that is not what Mr. Lauren does.  You need to go talk to Thom Browne if that’s what you want, because that’s what he showed this week.  Mr. Lauren is unfailingly earnest, and you will either find this boring, or love it to death as I do.  Ralph Lauren is not an iconoclast — he is an icon.  And it is a dying breed at that…

Mr. Lauren’s spring 2012 is iridescent, feathered, and jeweled.  It is club-collared, double-breasted and cuffed.  The palazzo pant is making a return.  You better learn how to tie a tie and how to wear a cloche hat.  And above all, get thyself to a fabulous ball because these gorgeous silk gowns, they are screaming to be worn.

Now, I had to restrain myself here.  Of course I wanted to post it all down to the last drop, but if you really want to see every outfit, you can head over to Vogue for that.  And I highly recommend you do because photographer Marcio Madeira had a field day.  His shots are A.Maz.Ing.  What I wanted to share with you, were some of my favorite looks, coupled with some of my favorite detail shots  (Madeira blew my mind with these — I have yet to see any other runway detail shots that are this lavish, this indulgent).

Ready? Let’s Charleston…

“Let’s, let’s stay together
Loving you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad…”

Well done, sir.

All images via Vogue.

Ask Me Anything: The Perfect Button-Down

28/06/2011 § 4 Comments

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line: contact@quitecontinental.net
The amazing Ms. Jenna Lyons* Image via Style.com

Dear QC,
I’m relatively new to your blog, but am thoroughly enamored with your looks for summer (chinos, oxfords, and the like). I was wondering if you have any tips for choosing the best fit for button-down shirts? Do you shop men’s, women’s or both? I’m a bit curvy and not sure where to begin, I’m afraid I’ll be swimming in a men’s shirt, but won’t get the same look in a women’s cut!

I’m a size 12 and pretty curvaceous, as I have a 40 inch bust. I’m a recent graduate from Saint Louis University, so I shop on a budget, with few splurges. My best friends are upscale resale stores and on occasion eBay, but I try to find looks in stores where I can try things on first, and then buy pieces at a discount elsewhere.

Any suggestions would be fantastic!

First, thanks for your kind words and asking for my help!  Ah yes, you have figured out that I almost always have buttons on my shirt.  (In fact, I’m wearing a button-down right now…)  Let’s first get you sorted and then offer a few tips to everyone else.  I should first disclose that you and I have opposite “fit issues” when it comes to shirt shopping.  While mother nature has blessed you with a womanly bustline that has me positively green with envy, I’m what some might call “athletic”…if they were being nice.  But I think that my experience hunting for a perfect shirt will lend itself nicely to your search.

Our first stop is Brooks Brothers.  With women’s shirts available in sizes 0 to 20, I’m confident you could find something here.  Their Classic Fit is the fullest fit available, isn’t darted and has a french front, but I’m curious to see if you might like going up a size or two and trying their more tailored fits — namely, the Tailored and the Fitted.  The darts on a larger size might add a nice bit of shape, whereas the Classic Fit might end up being a bit too blousy.  (Sidenote: the Miracle Non-Iron shirts are amazing, especially for travel, business or otherwise.  I took one with me on a trip to Cairo and it held up beautifully crammed in my duffel.  They’re also excellent if you hate ironing as much as I do.)

Next up, J. Crew.  Here, I recommend the men’s shirts over the women’s.  I’m an especially big fan of their Vintage Chambray Utility Shirt, and have been wearing mine nonstop.  Last summer I went to the Liquor Store in Tribeca to try out the sizing.  I fit into an extra small, but preferred the small because this is a shirt that is meant to be worn a bit loose.  Luckily, these shirts go up to an extra extra large, so I’ll confident you’ll be able to find something comfy and casual.  (The J. Crew women’s shirts go up to an extra large or a 14, which should work.  To be safe, I’d suggest the Perfect Shirt with a bit of stretch, as I understand from my more endowed lady friends that the single biggest issue with wearing button-downs is that annoying gap that tends to open between button holes across the bust.) (I wouldn’t know as my buttons aren’t taxed in the least bit.  They’re practically on vacation.)

Lastly, if you only get one oxford shirt, I want you to get a bengal stripe by Ralph Lauren.  I’ve got more than a few and they only get better and softer with age.  On the women’s side they offer sizes up to 14, but just in case you find the fit unsatisfactory, I might suggest purchasing the men’s shirt and taking it to a tailor to add back or side darts to tweak the fit and make it your own.  (Sidenote: Go to a menswear shop and get measured to figure out what size you are in men’s dress shirts, as they are sold by neck size and sleeve length.)

Good luck!  Do let me know what you end up getting!

A few tips for those with me in the — ahem — “athletic” boat:

  • For dress shirts, the Brooks Brothers Tailored Fit cannot be beat.  The darts are excellently placed.
  • Also try J. Crew men’s shirts in slim/extra small.  An added bonus for tall girls like me, the sleeves are usually quite a bit longer than those you find normally on a woman’s shirt.
  • Check out the men’s shirts at Wharf.  Made in New England, they are of excellent quality, are offered in a small and are meant to shrink a bit.  (Sidenote: I hear that Wharf is working on a line of ladies shirts, which I am sure will be very exciting.)

*Postscript: By the by, I am rather obsessed with Jenna Jyons, President and executive creative director of J. Crew.  She’s 6 feet tall, brunette, from California, and the heir apparent at J. Crew — how could I not be a fan? The lovely Kendall Crow posted a great interview of Jenna and Derek Lam at Parsons (their alma matter) on her blog that you should take a look at, when you have a moment.  I love how Lyons is so funny and down to earth, and greatly admire her personal sense of style — not to mention how well she handled the whole (ridiculous) nail polish gender controversy.

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

Ask Me Anything: New Old Hollywood Sunglasses

30/03/2011 § 4 Comments

I’m very pleased to introduce a new feature on Quite Continental called “Ask Me Anything.”  Yours Truly tends to get a lot of questions about this and that and whatnot, and I thought I might answer them here.  So if there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line, post haste!  Reach me here: contact@quitecontinental.net

Marlene Dietrich in 1938, taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Dear Mariah,
I am looking for a pair of sunglasses: round lenses, tortoiseshell frames, old school, old Hollywood style.  Any thoughts?

Even though it is fuh-reezing here in NYC, summer is on my brain and nothing says “summer” better than a new pair of sunnies.  As we recently discussed, I just picked up a lovely new pair of Ray-Ban Caribbeans to comfort myself until the temperatures start to rise, but I love the idea of a pair that look like they are from the 1930s.  Please note, sunglasses of this sort can be tricky — one misstep and you could end up looking like John Lennon, when you were actually aiming for Marlene Dietrich (or her male counterpart).

For your consideration, a few options that will have you ready for your close-up:

Ray-Ban RB4141 Rounded Wayfarer in Light Havana with Polarized Green Lenses: While not a true round frame, I really like the fresh take on the classic Wayfarer here.  Scoop them here.

Oliver Peoples Sheldrake in Matte Sycamore with Green C Vintage Glass: We’re still not quite in truly round territory, but I have a distinct weakness for tortoiseshell paired with green lenses.  Scoop them here.

Oliver Peoples Riley 48 in Dark Mahogany with Viola Glass Photochromic: Our first round lens is courtesy of one of the oldest Oliver Peoples frames — the Riley.  Loving the colored lenses and the delicateness of the frames here.  Scoop them here.

Warby Parker Begley: I really like the Begleys.  The frames are close to being completely round, but have a bit more heft than the Peoples Rileys.  Add some green lenses, and you’re good to go.  Scoop them here.

Sidenote: If you’re not familiar with Warby Parker, climb out from under that rock, cherie, and learn!  The entirely online boutique sells stylish prescription eyeglasses for only $95.  While they do not currently offer sunglasses, you can order frames sans lenses and have tinted lenses put in at your local eyeglasses shop.  When compared to the $400 you’d drop on either of the Oliver Peoples, Warby Parker is quite an attractive alternative, no?

Warby Parker Monroe:  If you’re committed to completely round, Warby Parker has that covered as well.  Scoop them here.

Moscot Miltzen:  Moscot provides a very handsome option with real glass lenses (and yes, green is available).  You’ll also get added points for verisimilitude here, as the Miltzen is Moscot’s oldest model and was introduced in the 1930s.  Scoop them here.

Ralph Lauren Purple Label Keyhole Sunglasses:  These Purple Label beauties offer more substantial frames, if the preceding options were a bit delicate for your taste.  I especially like how bold the tortoiseshell is here, but these frames may be a bit too flamboyant for some.  Scoop them here.

Persol PO2988S: In the mood for Italian?  Persol offers a model that has a very straight bridge (no keyhole) that is continued through to the temples — very similar to Ms. Dietrich’s frames.  Scoop them here.

Sidenote: In honor of the 50th anniversary of the film To Kill A Mockingbird, Oliver Peoples will be releasing a Gregory Peck frame, modeled after the glasses worn by his character, Atticus Finch.  Created with the assistance of Peck’s son Anthony, who owns the pair worn by his father in the film, the frames feature handsomely round in a range of muted tortoiseshell colors.  While they’re not sunglasses, I’m guessing you might like these as much as I do.  Look for them in the near future at Oliver Peoples boutiques and Barneys New York.

Via: NYT.
Images courtesy of Ray-Ban, Oliver Peoples, Warby Parker, Moscot, Ralph Lauren, Sunglass Hut, and NY Times

Scooped: Seabreeze Phonograph {also, Win It! – The World of Gloria Vanderbilt}

03/03/2011 § 7 Comments

I’ve already reported on the Ralph Lauren Home sample sale last weekend, but we haven’t yet had a chance to discuss the treasures I found.  Most special to me is this darling phonograph I scored for only $25.  Probably manufactured in the late 50s by Seabreeze, a Canadian corporation that now focuses on “home comfort products” like heaters and fans, the phonograph is in relatively good condition, albeit missing a needle.  If you have any ideas on how/where I can find a replacement needle, do let me know, darling!

I’m not even sure if it works yet, but I was so drawn to the design and lettering, there was no way that I was going to leave without it.  I actually bought it without a plan to get it home.  Luckily, one of the sweet boys working the sale helped me get it in a taxi, and then the cab driver helped me get it out of the trunk, and my doorman helped me get it inside.  A happy and lucky chain of events!  So excited!

Do not think that I shopped only for myself!  I picked something up for you, cherie, but of course!

I’m giving away a special Ralph Lauren edition of The World of Gloria Vanderbilt, a gorgeous book about a remarkable woman.  This special edition comes in a pretty purple keepsake box with a frame-worthy print from a Toni Frissell shoot of Gloria for Vogue at her Connecticut country home, Faraway.  The book details Gloria’s amazing life, from her birth into American aristocracy, her tumultuous and peripatetic childhood, her debut as a beautiful socialite, her marriages and children, and her varied talents as an actor, painter, writer, designer and muse.  The book is simply lovely!

Entering is easy.  In honor of a woman who was undoubtedly classy and fabulous, click around my 28 Days of Classy and Fabulous Things and leave a comment below this post telling me which day’s tip was your favorite and why.

For additional entries you can follow me on Twitter or bloglovin’ or add me to your RSS reader — just be sure to let me know in your comment!

You have until March 10 to enter, and I will announce the winner next week.

Bonne chance mes amis!!

In The Trenches: Ralph Lauren Home Sample Sale

28/02/2011 § 7 Comments

When I received the notice from Soiffer Haskin regarding an upcoming Ralph Lauren Home sample sale, I admittedly let it pass without much thought.  I vaguely remembered on Saturday morning that it was this weekend, and decided that I was in need of some sheets and perhaps a new duvet, so I went searching through the interwebs for the usual information on location and hours and whatnot.  I was not prepared to find out that this was not your regular white sale — this was the sale, the sale that used to only be open to Ralph Lauren employees, the sale where Ralph Lauren Creative Services opens up their ridiculous store of vintage treasures to the public, the sale you must attend if you’ve ever dreamed of living in that gorgeous mansion up on Madison Avenue, like me.

Hello, Lover.  Image via NYT.

I realized I was already a day behind the fanatics, but I had luckily woken up early enough to be there for the opening of the second day.  As I read stories online of people leaving the warehouse with huge bags full of amazing things — yesterday — and that a substantial line waited patiently for their turn to enter while toughing out the torrential downpour that hit NYC on Friday, I realized it was time to rally.  I got there just after the doors opened and I made a full loop before committing to anything.  I avoided the remaining home collection wares — I can only imagine there had to have been more on Friday — and focused on the antiques and vintage areas.  Speed was definitely the way to go, as things were being snapped up left and right.  Prices were very reasonable (and I heard that they dropped even further on Sunday), which added to the frenzy.  Frequently when I would return to an area, things were gone in a matter of minutes.  She who hesitated was definitely lost.  There were also quite a few large items, which posed a potential transportation problem for me, so I had to avoid them.  This was the first year there was a courier service available onsite, but one of the RL workers actually told me to avoid them at all costs, and she was right — their rates were outrageous.  For next year’s sale, bring a partner or two, get a Zipcar, or have a plan to get yourself and your stuff into a cab.

The antique area was full of barrels, signs, sporting equipment, knick-knackery, and the like.  That marble tailors sign almost came home with me, but it was too heavy.  This area was already picked pretty clean by the end of the first day, but I did manage a few finds.  However, in the courier’s area, I saw already-sold vintage bicycles, rugs and club chairs being packaged to be sent out.  Curses!

More lamps than you could shake a stick at.

Armoires, beds, tables, desks, benches, oh my!

Rows and rows of beautiful chairs.

Vintage clothing and jewelry.

Perhaps you were in need of a life sized British soldier or six?

Next year, I am confident that this is the type of event that warrants showing up on opening day and joining the queue.  Now I don’t come to this decision lightly.  There aren’t many things I would willingly do this for.  But seeing what was left over on the second day of this sale assures me that to the queuers, come the spoils.  Also, if you aren’t already signed up with Soiffer Haskin, I highly recommend it.

Last Looks: Winter Sales + Classic Purchases

18/01/2011 § Leave a comment

With everyone’s attention turning to S/S 2011, and Pre-fall after that, I decided to take one last look at what remains of the Winter sales.  Not the time to finally buy that “of the moment” Fall/Winter investment piece (unless you don’t mind that you don’t have much time to wear it), I usually cast a rigid eye on the (usually very picked over) selection.  I look for classic pieces that will work forever and for transition pieces that will work in the immediately upcoming seasons.  A few of my finds are below, but be sure to check out the online boutiques yourself!

Rugby Ralph Lauren Shrunken Button-Cuff Crewneck
Originally $79.50, now $39.99This is practically a no-brainer purchase — cable-knit is the epitome of classic  — and is currently available in 6 colors.  The detail at the cuff is slightly reminiscent of the military trend that was really big for Fall/Winter, but it comes off more genteel here — like the timeless combination of gold buttons on a navy blazer.  Scoop it here.

Rugby Ralph Lauren New Essex Velvet Jacket
Originally $228, now $169.99

Like it or not, velvet figures big for Spring/Summer 2011 – here’s a chance to pick up a transitional piece at a reduced price.  Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for velvet – at 13 I cajoled my mother to buy me an electric blue velvet blazer that I wore until it was threadbare – so any old excuse to add to my collection will do.  I especially like the tuxedo trim on this jacket — makes me want to listen to Frank Sinatra while sipping a gin gimlet.  Scoop it here.

Lauren Ralph Lauren Striped Grosgrain Ribbon Belt
Originally $38.00, now $9.99

The grosgrain ribbon belt is a prep classic, and is currently available in three different colors.  Even if you aren’t a prep at heart, this Spring/Summer is all about vibrant combinations of bright colors and patterns.  This belt is a great way to incorporate a little color into your wardrobe.  Scoop it here.

Freda Cecile Dress
Originally $505.60, now $202.24

After her LBD, every girl needs a LRD – and this shift dress by Freda is a versatile dress that can go from day to night, depending on how you dress it up or down.  For day, try it with a swingy blazer and nude heels, for evening pair it with black tights, a sky high black heel and statement bijoux.  Scoop it here

**It’s also worth mentioning that Matches took even deeper cuts (up to 70%!) to their sale this morning**

Joie French Dot Silk Top
Originally $284.46, now $141.37
This top promises to be classic and current at the same time.  While the dots are a classic nautical-inspired choice, the dolman sleeves and the delicate silk will be in tune with the ladylike look of Spring/Summer.  Pair this with another graphic print or cinch it with a full skirt – the possibilities are endless.  Scoop it here.

J.Crew Camden suede brogues
Originally $250, now $198
I’ve been a fan of J.Crew’s Camden brogues for a long time – and here is a chance to get them in stone-colored suede, just in time for Memorial Day…if you care to follow those rules.  Menswear for women isn’t going anywhere, so these are a solid buy.  Scoop them here.

Reiss Dezrae Trench
Originally $485, now $183
When pressed to pick one classic piece that makes me think “spring,” it’s got to be the trench coat.  If you’re already covered with a classic khaki-colored trench — an essential! — here is a chance to pick up an alternate in a fun color.  Only one size left, so you’ve got to act fast.  Scoop it here.

Happy hunting!

Ralph Lauren 4D Experience

11/11/2010 § Leave a comment

Projected last night onto the new women’s flagship at 888 Madison Avenue in New York:

Monsieur Lauren takes us into the 4th dimension.  J’adore!

Ralph Lauren: In His Own Words

29/09/2010 § Leave a comment

In a captivating montage, Mr. Lauren discusses the inspiration and hard work that are essential to creating his runway shows while we are treated to a viewing of the Spring 2011 lines.  While it is no secret that I am already a big Ralph Lauren fan, I loved hearing Lauren describe his own creative process — quite inspiring to any creative type!

“This is not a job, it is a joy.  This is what I breathe, it’s what I live.”

J’adore monsieur Lauren!

Polo Ralph Lauren: Fall 2010 collection

20/09/2010 § Leave a comment

Fire up your antique roadster, grab your tweed newsboy caps and work on your tennis game.  Polo Ralph Lauren wants you to get ready for Fall…

As an added bonus, a quick overview of all of the Fall lines from the House of Ralph:

Nacho Figueras: A Caballo by Matthew Donaldson

02/09/2010 § 1 Comment

Image via: NOWNESS

Just released on NOWNESS, director Matthew Donaldson’s short film A Caballo captures Argentine polo star Nacho Figueras astride his horse Vasco Negro through a 180.  In slow motion for maximum effect, the film is a visually stunning illustration of raw horsepower.  Oh yes, and Nacho isn’t so bad to look at.  You may recognize him from his Ralph Lauren adverts.

View A Caballo here.

Side note:  I was a rather horse-obsessed girl, so you can see why this caught my eye (ok, aside from Nacho).  This short immediately brought to mind the classic 1979 film The Black Stallion that I guestimate I have watched about a billion times.  After a little searching, I unearthed this montage on YouTube and immediately had yearnings for my jodhpurs.  Perhaps Quite Continental should start taking riding lessons again.  We hear Gucci makes some beautiful riding boots…

Enjoy!

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