Bettie Page at Madison Square Park

Unlike my first encounter with Marilyn Monroe, I didn’t discover Bettie Page until I was much older, age 9 to be exact. I clearly remember her never-ending curves, those signature raven waves with a perfect fringe, and her red hot pout. There was also that barely-there leopard swimsuit.

The first image I've ever saw of Bettie Page on a postcard.
The first image I’ve ever saw of Bettie Page on a postcard.

I was previously told growing up that Bettie Page had died and was probably killed off by the mob. However, she was alive and living quietly in Florida at the time. She died in the year 2008 at age 85.

Warning: Some boobage below (for those catching up with me in an office setting).

My autographed photo of Bettie Page, also signed by photographer Bunny Yeager.
My autographed photo of Bettie Page, also signed by photographer Bunny Yeager.

My dear friend, renowned filmmaker and Academy Award nominee Mark Mori, made an amazing film on the life and legacy of Bettie Page. He actually spoke with her candidly and she herself narrates the film. You can score a copy of the documentary, along with some other goodies here.

For a Sunday morning stroll in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, I decided to pay tribute to Bettie Page with a goth-meets-bohemian twist.

I actually used to be goth, but that’s a story for another day.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

I wore a slinky, loose-fitting, label-less black dress, which I purchased from a thrift store in the West Village. For a similar look: A Liz Claiborne sleeveless sheath dress for $30 at JC Penny, a crisp cotton sleeveless black dress by UNIQLO for $19.90, a linen sleeveless black dress for $50 at L.L. Bean, or the more body-revealing wrap maxi for $34 at ASOS.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The black floral shawl is also a label-less one that I purchased at a West Village thrift store. For a similar look: A long black lace cardigan for $16.99 at Forever 21, a romantic purple floral kimono for $54.37 at ASOS, a metallic mesh floral kimono for $39 at Forever 21, or the super similar reclaimed vintage maxi kimono dress for $99.67 at ASOS.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The earrings are long golden chandeliers from H&M. They’re no longer available, but I’m really into these long ones for $7 or these gorgeous Art Deco ones for $9.95, both from H&M.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The lipstick is Milani’s Color Statement Moisture Matte Lipstick in Confident, also known as a bold brick red. Milani has it for $6, but I found mine at CVS.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The sunglasses are vintage, but you can easily find a pair for a variety of colors and prices on Etsy.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

As for the Bettie Page tribute I spoke of? I wore my Bettie Page cameo necklace, which I purchased from California-based Etsy vendor Gretha of NeverGrowUpTreasures. She specializes in rockabilly and steampunk pieces, but she also offers these amazing cameo necklaces of old Hollywood stars and pinups that I adore. She can also custom-make a Bettie Page necklace just for you, so hop to it!

Kahve's Iced Vanilla Mint Latte in Hell's Kitchen.
Kahve’s Iced Vanilla Mint Latte in Hell’s Kitchen.

To cool off on a sizzling Sunday morning like this one, I highly recommend heading up to Hell’s Kitchen – no, seriously. You’ll find this adorable small coffee shop called Kahve where they offer this thirst-quenching iced vanilla mint latte highlighting real mint leaves to cool off. It’s my absolute favorite treat from this shop and I tend to pick one up after a long day at the office. It’s divine.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

That’s all for now!

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The Fitting Room Chronicles: Unable to Earn Erin Fetherston’s Tiger Stripes

I first discovered Erin Fetherston when I was an intern at the New York Observer, in between fact-checking Simon Doonan’s stories and organizing Candace Bushnell’s previous “Sex and the City” column. Erin wasn’t quite the legend she is now.

READ: How I Became Carrie Bradshaw (For a Day)

Erin Fetherston giving Edie Sedgwick vibes.
Erin Fetherston giving Edie Sedgwick vibes.

Back then, Erin was the dainty, blonde It-girl of the fashion world, creating daintier dresses, and 1960’s-esque pieces for the mod girl looking to have tea with her folks and then hit up the hottest wine bar on a Saturday night. I even had the chance to interview her regarding a whimsical autumn collection for a London-based fashion magazine (now shuttered down), that I used to freelance for. I adored her pieces, but back then, I was a struggling student who wouldn’t dare consider spending over 100 on a dress. In between going to school full-time, freelancing, holding a part-time job, and interning, there was no way I could have splurge on such a piece.

Erin's Madame Butterfly shirt dress.
Erin’s Madame Butterfly shirt dress.

The above dress could be purchased for $165 on Erin’s site. I adore it.

These days, the grown-up Steph is in luck, because some of Erin’s creations from previous collections could easily be found in thrift stores, like this ensemble:

Wearing an Erin Fetherston creation.
Wearing an Erin Fetherston creation.

I’m not sure from which year this piece came from, but it was in perfect condition, tags and all. This price? A mere 30. I felt like a dame ready to hit up Studio 54 in a low-cut salmon gown with a massive cape, surrounded by daring tiger stripes. I was ready to boogie.

That's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it - wait, I don't mind sitting down, honest!
That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it – wait, I don’t mind sitting down, honest!

Except I couldn’t boogie. I couldn’t even sit. Sadly, Erin and I just weren’t meant to be. Unfortunately, I was forced to leave this little number behind for some other broad who could get ready for a night out with Bianca Jagger, riding off into the sunset, well, nightclub, on a white horse.

Bye Bianca.
Bye Bianca.

But the day didn’t end in tragedy. I did get this snazzy, label-less black and white dress for about 15 bucks. Sure, it wasn’t an Erin Fetherston, but reader, I could sit with ease whenever I feel like it. I was content, as so was my wallet.

This is more like it.
This is more like it.

Erin, if you’re reading this, I think you and I should grab a caw-fee, or a cup of that fairy dust that keeps you looking so magical. You and I should talk about the fact that I’ve been oohing and ahhing some of your ensembles lately. Who knows, you might lend me some pixie dust and, on my next thrifting adventure, I could strike gold.

Fin.
Fin.

Fourth of July (Also Known as the First Time I Wore an Apron)

Fourth of July is the American holiday made for honoring one’s pride by watching fireworks, having Lana Del Rey on heavy rotation, and filling your belly with BBQ while enjoying golden rays of sunshine on the beach.

Tell me I'm your national anthem...with the perfect Instagram filter.
Tell me I’m your national anthem…with the perfect Instagram filter.

I’m all about that life, but for one particular Fourth of July weekend, I celebrated with cocktails.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Not too long ago, I was invited to a special celebration hosted by Pinnacle Vodka where we learned how to pair seasonal summer dishes with playful libations. It was held at My Cooking Party in Chelsea and the special guest was the lovely Claire Robinson from the Food Network. This woman knows how to throw a fun party and maybe someday, I can host just like her.

Chef Claire Robinson
Claire Claire Robinson

Robinson shared some of her go-to party recipes, which you can easily recreate at home. My personal favorite was her creamy icebox cake, which you can top with your favorite berries. And what’s more patriotic than strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream?

Sugar & Spicebox Cake
Sugar & Spicebox Cake

Here’s how to make it:

Chef Claire Robinson’s Sugar & Spicebox Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 9 to 12 chocolate graham crackers, broken into squares
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Strawberries and blueberries (optional)

Preparation

  1. Beat 2 cups cream with 6 tablespoons sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it just holds soft peaks. Reduce speed to low, then add cream cheese and mix until combined.
  2. Spread 1 1/4 cups cream cheese mixture evenly in bottom of springform pan and cover with graham crackers. Spread with another 1 1/4 cups cream cheese mixture, followed by graham crackers in the same manner. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture on top. Smooth top, then cover pan with foil and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer from freezer to refrigerator and chill, covered, until a sharp knife inserted into center cuts through softened graham crackers easily, about 8 hours.
  3. Pulse remaining graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground.
  4. Beat remaining cup cream with cinnamon and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar using electric mixer at medium speed until it just holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and side of pan and frost cake with cinnamon cream. Serve cold.
  6. Decorate with whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries on top.

Renowned mixologist Niccole Trzaska was also present to show us how to whip up celebratory cocktails.

Mixologist Niccole Trzaska
Mixologist Niccole Trzaska

She taught me how to make this festive drink. While I was pretty impressed with my mixing skills, I should probably stick to my day job.

My Red, White, and Blue cocktail.
My Red, White, and Blue cocktail.

Because there was some cooking, erm, mixing involved, I wore an apron. You guys, this was my first time ever!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Here’s another look because who knows when this will happen again:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

For the event, I wore a grey Calvin Klein sheath dress, which means that it’s designed to be fitted for your body shape. A sheath dress shouldn’t fall no where below the knee, making it great for the summer season. I’m also a fan of Calvin Klein couture because he’s very forgiving in the sizing department. You don’t have to be a model to fit into any of his clothes.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I purchased this dress at a thrift store in the West Village, but there seems to be a ton of similar looks on eBay, all by Calvin Klein. For other Calvin Klein picks, here are my favorites: There’s the belted sheath dress in charcoal offered by Macy’s for $89.98, an A-line variation with faux leather by Lord & Taylor for $66.55, another cotton-printed sheath by Macy’s for $88.99, as well as an all-while moto ensemble from Calvin Klein’s actual online shop for $108.

And if you missed the ’90s, rocking some Calvin Klein is the perfect way to rekindle some of those memories from the era without appearing dated.

So tell me, how did you celebrate the Fourth?

DSC_39572

Get Shorty

A bar named after me? Sign me up!

Shorty in New York City's Nolita.
Shorty in New York City’s Nolita.

Alright, so Shorty isn’t exactly named after me, but as someone who’s 5’2″, the name definitely catches my attention. So when I was invited for its exclusive grand opening party, you know I was going to check it out.

FullSizeRender

Shorty, a sexy cocktail den in Nolita (that’s north of Little Italy), can easily be overlooked in a city where lounges, speakeasies, and restaurants are found practically on every block. But if you look carefully for the sign, and head down some stairs, you’ll find a 1970s Parisian bordello-inspired haven where the drinks are cool and the music is sizzling hot like the weather.

Cocktails at Shorty.
Cocktails at Shorty.

My favorite libation from Shorty is the Paloma, a classic cocktail highlighting thirst-quenching silver tequila (a must-have for the sweltering summer season), as well as fresh lime juice, tangy grapefruit juice, and Sprite for some citrusy bubbly.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

For the party, I wore a vintage 1970s black and white pinstriped dress, which takes a lot of inspiration from the 1940s. Seriously, I felt like I could have picked up a gangster named Johnny Knucklebreaker with this thing. Its slinky fabric and pleated skirt hugged all of my curves, yet it was super comfortable.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The dress was purchased from Portland-based Etsy vendor Jumblelaya. If it were up to me, I would buy everything she’s selling. If you’re a vintage fan, her dresses are nothing short of enchanting.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The original designer is by Jen-Jen New York, which was apparently pretty popular during the 1970s for its nightlife-friendly gowns. Sadly, there isn’t much information in existence now. However, you could still find some Jen-Jen New York dresses on Etsy.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

For a similar look, here are my picks: There’s this handmade 1950s-1960s dress on Etsy for $52, a maxi gown ensemble from ModCloth for $32.99, a 1950s-inspired swing dress from Unique Vintage for $138, and another swing style dress in color block form by Pinup Girl Clothing for $142. You can even get similar black and white pumps from Pinup Girl Clothing for $52. They’re way too cute to pass up.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

As for jewels, I stuck with pearls. These are from H&M. It seems to no longer be available, but here’s a similar one for $5.95.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

So yes, you don’t need to be a shorty to visit Shorty. It’s a cozy bar that’s perfect for date nights or when you feel like unwinding on a weekday and prefer being a bit hidden in New York City. Because sometimes, you just need a sweet escape for the night and that may involve heading to a bar that’s secretly the home of a French madam.

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Hello, Le Sailor

Reader, on a disgusting July afternoon in New York City where I felt warm, salty sweat drip down in places that should never go, I decided to do something daring.

I chose to wear horizontal stripes.

Sound the alarm.
Sound the alarm.

Perhaps it was the desperation of wanting to get out of my DNA-soaked gown and try on a thin, breathable cotton dress, but I took a chance. A big one.

Like many women, I grew up being taught that horizontal stripes were only designed for willowy French girls. I mean, they probably only break a sweat while carrying baguettes, so of course they always look so chic.

OK, why am I hungry now?
OK, why am I hungry now?

Brigitte Bardot could rock them.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot

Jean Seberg could rock them.

Jean Seberg
Jean Seberg

A curvy Dominican with big bosoms and wider hips should not…unless she wants to look straight up fat.

Blame the baguettes. Actually, I just wanted another excuse to stare at carbs.
Blame the baguettes. Actually, I just wanted another excuse to stare at carbs.

But on this day, I didn’t give two zip-a-dee-doo-dahs. I am rocking horizontal stripes and have zero regrets.

Draw me like one of your French girls.
Draw me like one of your French girls.

In my latest thrifting adventure, I found a size small(!) Greylin navy cotton dress with petite stripes and I adore them. It features some sort of wrap around tie-up that I wasn’t feeling, so I let it go free against my hips. Not only did I feel cool and refreshed, but I was relieve to know that I could indeed wear horizontal stripes and my name didn’t have to be Gigi. Well, Stephanie is actually French so yeah…stripes for the win.

Greylin, I love you.
Greylin, I love you.

In short? Wear whatever you want and try everything/anything. A magazine may tell you hell to the no. Your grandma may insist you’ll never get married and instead, be doomed to live alone with 15 strays named Pablo. But sometimes, when something is meant to be, it will work. Plus, how can one really know if a “trend” doesn’t work if, I don’t know, you don’t try it on?

Will I wear horizontal stripes every day? Probably not. But there is hope for a sweaty mess like me. Now, let’s celebrate with this little jingle:

Getting Carried Away

I’m a huge fan of “Sex and the City.” I still watch my DVDs (many of them worn after being on serious heavy rotation). I’ve interviewed Candace Bushnell, the woman behind the popular series. I’ve even met the lovely Sarah Jessica Parker during the early stages of the show back in the ’90s.

My signed photo from Sarah Jessica Parker.
My signed photo from Sarah Jessica Parker.

But look, I get it. I’m a native New Yorker and I know you’ll have a better chance of finding a live unicorn on Canal Street than discovering a rent controlled apartment on the Upper East Side and spending $400 on shoes while just earning an income from a weekly newspaper column. And let’s be real, Carrie Bradshaw’s questionable relationship with Mr. Big is, well, questionable. So yes, “Sex and the City” is an NYC fairy tale.

Carrie Bradshaw and The Dress.
Carrie Bradshaw and The Dress.

But I still enjoy it. Proudly.

During one of our usual rooftop outings, Francis and I checked out the Mondrian SoHo Penthouse to attend an event for Brazilian spirit Leblon Cachaca.

Cachaca cocktails.
Cachaca cocktails.

For this event, I decided to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw by wearing my own spin of the infamous ballerina dress from the show.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I love a big tulle dress that would make me feel like I’m enjoying a night out with Misty Copeland, but I don’t normally get an opportunity to wear a ballet-esque gown. But I adore them.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

This dress is from one of my favorite online retailers ModCloth.com. They sell tons of vintage-inspired dresses and, if I had Carrie’s budget, I would buy practically everything they offer.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

This dress has since been discontinued, but I have some suggestions. If you’re thinking pink, there’s this glamorous ensemble for $99.99, this casual ballerina look for $29.99, or even this sweeping piece for $69.99. If you want something on the noir side, like what I did, here are my recommendations: there’s this one for $64.99, another with plenty of lace for $109.99, or this peachy number for $64.99.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

There were plenty of drinks to be found.

Leblon Cachaca drinks.
Leblon Cachaca drinks.

And the party was an overall success.

A happy weekend indeed.
A happy weekend indeed.

Here was our view for the day:

Downtown Manhattan stretching to Midtown and beyond.
Downtown Manhattan stretching to Midtown and beyond.

And that’s how I got Carried away.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Getting Dior for 19 Bucks (and Other Things)

Ever told yourself, “I’m only spending x amount of dollars and no more” before entering a store? I did today – and failed.

But I did succeed in other areas. Here me out.

I must say, I’m very thankful for being a thrifting fan. I probably save way more money than the usual shopper who prefers snagging their outfits at retail stores. For example, I found this majestic Christian Dior kimono gown – and it was only 19 dollars. Good luck spending that amount in Christian Dior for anything.

Christian Dior Kimono Gown
Christian Dior Kimono Gown

At first, I wasn’t going to get it because it was super wide for a size medium. I probably could create a couture tent while staying overnight at Yellowstone National Park (yeah right, I don’t camp hahahah).

Glamping
Glamping

But upon applying a leather corselet belt to cinch everything in and enhance a waist, I was in awe by its rich autumnal hues and flowy fabric, an ideal ensemble for the cooler fall months in New York City. And it’s Dior, enough said.

Dior, baby.
Dior, baby.

Oh, and for 19 dollars, it will always fit. Now that’s a deal.

Another win I earned during my shopping trip? This comfy Zara dress made out of linen and cotton. It’s super breathable for the sticky, icky summer we’re experiencing.

Zara
Zara

Beware of seemingly cool fabrics, like silk, during the summer. You’ll feel like this:

Hot potato.
Hot potato.

But for 15 dollars, Zara will keep me looking (and feeling) cool for casual days and nights out.

Winning with Zara.
Winning with Zara.

But not everything was a major success today. And I think my wallet is pretty thankful about that.

There was this dress. It looked fabulous on the hanger. But on me? It looks like I was being devoured by Ursula. And if you ever saw “The Little Mermaid,” you would know Ursula is not someone you want to piss off.

The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Noooooooo!
The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Noooooooo!

There was also this ensemble. It was a flowy Japanese waist drop dress. I love how super comfortable I felt, but I wasn’t crazy about how I looked. I don’t need guys offering me seats on the subway because they think there’s a bun in the oven.

Japanese  Waist Drop Dress (without belt).
Japanese Waist Drop Dress (without belt).

I applied my usual belt and while I looked better in it, this dress wasn’t made to be held in. Rather, it wants to be free. I’m just not sure if we’re a right match.

Japanese Waist Drop Dress (with belt).
Japanese Waist Drop Dress (with belt).

I tried it on. More than once. I decided to leave it behind. I kinda miss it, but if we meet again, I know it was meant to be. We’ll see.

Don't offer me a seat on the subway. Actually, let me sit. I'm tired.
Don’t offer me a seat on the subway. Actually, let me sit. I’m tired.

I also found this black and white dress.

It looks good...
It looks good…

But as you can see, it wasn’t exactly the best fit…

Nah.
Nah.

Well, I now need to budget myself a wee bit better. I’ve got some big plans coming up and the moolah will be needed. But at least I have Dior to dry my tears.

Fin.
Fin.