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#tscsummit Attendee Spotlight: M.K. Quinlan of Garden & Gun

Apr 29 2014

by The Southern Coterie

We’re thrilled to have Garden & Gun Senior Style Editor, M.K. Quinlan join us for the Charleston summit! We recently sat down with her to get her take on Southern style, Charleston, cocktails, and what she is excited for at this year’s first summit.

photo: Ben Gately Williams

How would you describe Southern style?

I think we all have those staples in our closet that fulfill stereotypes about southern style: a strand of our grandmother’s pearls, a well-loved pair of Wallabees. But I think what really distinguishes us as southerners is our confidence in wearing what looks good, regardless of brand name or what’s trending.

Southerners aren’t shy about getting dressed up for a special occasion, either. We can never have too many cocktail dresses. Our shoes can never be too polished. Looking good brings us joy.

What are some of your favorite Southern brands?

I’m really into the work of Susan Carson at Carson & Co. in North Carolina. She brings a retro glamour to everything she designs, from silk scarves to day dresses to table lamps. Likewise for Ann and Sid Mashburn. They can do no wrong in my book. Everyone should have one of Ann’s box-pleat midi skirts in their closet.

Angela Scott in Dallas is really blowing my mind with her footwear. I fell in love with her a year ago when I saw her Mr. Charles boots. Her new seersucker derbies are great menswear-inspired piece for summer, too.

I’m a jewelry nut, and have a long roster of Southern designers who I watch closely. Kristi Hyde (especially her maple seed pieces) and Texas designer Julie Cohn appeal to my own personal style. I also love anything inspired by the past. Candy Shop Vintage here in Charleston recreates pieces that owner Deirdre Zahl finds in antique stores throughout the South. Her new Charleston rice beads are based on a similar design made by Napier in the 1960s and 70s.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. If Aretha Franklin’s Rock Steady comes on, I’m going to bust a move.

Favorite cocktail (or beer/wine)?

I’m currently on an extra-dirty martini kick, preferably with blue cheese olives.

What are you most looking forward to at #tscsummit?

For starters, everyone that I admire in Charleston is going, and I’m thrilled to spend some long overdue time with them. But I’m probably most excited about meeting all of their counterparts from other parts of the South. I get so much pleasure out of traveling to other places, exploring their shops, and making new friends. Attending the Southern C in my own backyard is the next best thing.

What do you hope to gain from the summit?

I’m looking for ideas for the pages of Garden & Gun and our style blog Belle Décor. I’d also like to learn how others in my field approach social media. We hear so much about personal branding these days, and there’s no doubt that it has been the key to success for many entrepreneurs in the style sphere. I’m hoping to soak up some advice on how to be a meaningful, successful presence on social media without making it all about me.

What do you hope attendees see or do while in Charleston? (must sees, eats, shops, etc)

The new Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island is worth the fifteen-minute drive to the beach. Phenomenal Italian influenced seafood and an atmosphere that anyone in design will appreciate. The new Chez Nous falls into the same category, with delicious European fare and a well-curated atmosphere that extends from the royal blue waiter’s stations to the sailor stripe uniforms. As for shopping, I get the majority of my inspiration from Charleston’s antique and vintage stores. Six Mile Antique Mall is one of my favorites.

What is your ideal day in Charleston?

I try to live it every Saturday: an early morning beach walk on Sullivan’s Island with my husband Paul and my dog Phil; a stop off at my favorite antique stores in Mt. Pleasant on the way home; tennis, or just enough yard work to make me feel like I deserve a beer or two before dinner with friends at The Wreck. You can’t beat fried oysters and cheap beer by the water.

See y’all tomorrow in Charleston!


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