The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Louise Brooks

When many think of flappers from the “Roaring ’20s,” images like these come to mind:

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore
Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck

And of course, there are 1920 fashion guides, like this one, to help:

well-dressed-flapper-coast

But one overlooked garment from the famous era is the kimono. And really, what’s not to love about this comfortable, silky loungewear that instantly adds glamour to your home? The kimono was also big during this era as it was looser, easy to wear, and functional. The 1996 book, “The Kimono Inspiration: Art and Art-To-Wear in America” gives a lot of wonderful insight about the traditional Japanese piece and its impact in the United States over the years.

One silent screen star who made the kimono one of her signature looks was Louise Brooks. Apparently, it was her thing, along with a carefully cut bob.

Kimono-101

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During one of my thrifting adventures, I found this bold red kimono. While it’s more on the wiggle side, eliminating that loose comfort one would expect from a more traditional kimono, I felt ready for my close-up.

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Loungewear? Pul-eeze. This baby was meant to be worn out. I will need to work on my tip-toe walking, as modern steps won’t do in this gown, but that’s just another workout that comes with fashion.

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It sure beats those usual flapper getups that every Gatsby-obsessed dame goes head over heels for. And don’t get me wrong, I adore those waist-drop dresses too, but sometimes you just have to stand out. And who wouldn’t want to learn a thing or two from the “Kansas Cleopatra?”

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I can’t wait to rock this dress for a special occasion. Hopefully all those gin cocktails from past dinners and soirees haven’t caught up to me yet. How tragic would it be if my big ol’ butt couldn’t squeeze into this again?!

The Jazz Age Lawn Party Part Deux

Remember when I first told you about one of the most important summer events of the year, also known as The Jazz Age Lawn Party at Governor’s Island? It’s back for another round this weekend — and so am I.

READ: The Jazz Age Lawn Party Part Une

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I previously gushed about this lovely, sun-soaked soiree where you can do the Charleston with fellow flappers, quench your thirst with some hooch, all thanks to St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and show off your finest 1920s threads, of course.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

It’s seriously the cat’s pajamas.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Need convincing on why you should travel back to the Roaring Twenties and celebrate with Jay Gatsby and Clara Bow? Check out this snazzy trailer on the annual event here.

Francis took plenty of lovely photos along the way:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

This is Dreamland Orchestra (and Jazz Age Lawn Party Originator) Michael Arenella doing his thing:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Francis even made some new friends:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I wore this navy polka dot dress by vintage-inspired retailer ModCloth.com. It’s one of my favorite online shops ever and their personal stylists always make the best recommendations. This dress is no longer available, but they have a ton of 1920s-esque gowns and polka dot ensembles to make you the bee’s knees any day of the year.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I wore my favorite pearls and a matching paper hat to beat the sizzling heat.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

And of course, I cooled off with a sparkling St. Germain cocktail. It’s a must-have for your bar to make your soirees extra special…and delicious.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

The Jazz Age Lawn Party had another go this weekend, but if you missed, don’t worry…come back next year and party with us!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Regrets…I’ve Had a Few

Ever had a moment inside the fitting room where you were trying something on that looks absolutely magical on the hanger, and you think it’s going to work out, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t? Perhaps you look more like a sack of potatoes with one crop too many, a zipper is being rowdy, or a thread is loose…Something seems off. So you leave it behind, thinking, “Oh well, maybe next time.” Your wallet may be feeling nice and hefty, but come sunset, your mind is overflowing with thoughts of that garment. Desire overpowers your senses.

You. Must. Buy. It. Anyway.

Except, when you go back the next day, it’s gone. Poof.

Gone.
Gone.

Here is one thing you must remember:

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Yes, I’ve had many thrifting regrets. There was that Kate Spade navy number made fit for a 1950s socialite. The floor-length gown with plenty of gold beading. The super delicate 1920s flapper dress with fading lace. The silky pink Oscar De La Renta pajamas.

You get the picture.

These things could have been mine. But for whatever reason, I didn’t think we were a match. But we were! And they ran off to another shopper, someone who believed in them. Someone ready to love without commitment issues.

Silly me.

Here’s a prime example:

You're in danger, girl.
You’re in danger, girl.

I found this floral dress by an unknown designer. When I tried it I thought, “Geez, I have that many rolls?” “How big is this thing?” “I’m feeling meh.” “Do I really need another black dress, former goth girl?” “Stephanie wearing florals, predictable much?” “Come on, Steph. That 20 bucks can go to something else. Like another amazing dress.”

Fool.

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The next day, I thought, “But wait! It’s perfect! It’s large enough to hide bloat during you know when!” “It’s florals, I love florals!” “Black everyday!”

When I went back, gone. We never had closure.

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Moral of the story? If you’re unsure whether a vintage piece really looks good on you or not, take plenty of photos from all sides. Really look at your images in the fitting room, while you still have the piece in your sweaty, unsure hands. Is there a part of you that still wants it? If so take it – remember, it’s one of a kind, so you may never see it again. If you feel nothing, well, let some other dame enjoy it.

But seriously, think about it and think hard before letting go. And if you do feel that sense of urgency to get the piece later on, go immediately to the store, no more than 24 hours since the last visit. You’ll have a better chance of retrieving it. However, be aware that someone else may have beaten you to it. This is a thrifting hunt we’re talking about.

I will get over it, eventually. But first, let me deal with my sorrow with some retail therapy.

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.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party Part Une

Vintage enthusiasts all over New York City look forward to one of the most important  events of the year: The Jazz Age Lawn Party.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Recognized as the city’s “original prohibition era inspired gathering,” it was first conceived by bandleader Michael Arenella of the Dreamland Orchestra 10 years ago(!). What was once just a modest get-together of around 50 people at Governor’s Island looking to channel their inner flappers and gents of the 1920s, has transformed into a massive soiree of the retro nouveau movement in the city. And thanks to the 2013 film The Great Gatsby, everyone wants to party like Jay.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

While it has been a long tradition of mine to go every year, I’m gearing up for a weekend getaway outside of the city so sadly, it was not meant to be in June 2015. However, I’m happy to share last year’s festivities with you.

Governor's Island.
Governor’s Island.

For the previous event, I wore a silk dress that I bought at a thrift store in the East Village for I believe less than 20 dollars, Forever 21 mini leggings with a lace trim, and black pumps. I also wore a matching ivory fascinator. My lipstick was Bobbi Brown’s Red, which features a soft-matte finish. In other words, the color would last beyond plenty of giggle water.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Check out Francis’ ensemble. Isn’t she the bee’s knees?

The Bee's Knees.
The Bee’s Knees.

I’m not big on fascinators, but it certainly added a nice touch to the overall ensemble. While most people think of flapper gowns for an event like this, I wanted to give my outfit a unique throwback twist.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Like any swanky soiree, there were plenty of jewels to be found.

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As well as thirst-quenching St. Germain cocktails.

Yum.
Yum.

And yes, pie.

Yum (again).
Yum (again).

I love the fact that everyone, including children, dressed up for this affair!

Cutie patooties.
Cutie patooties.

Seriously, whether you’re obsessed with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, want to explore the local vintage scene, or just want something ah-mazing to do on a weekend, I highly recommend The Jazz Age Lawn Party a million times over. While the Jazz Party is happening again today (Sunday), you can also snag tickets for August. In that month, I’ll also debut part two just for you.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Spring Flowers and Chinese Cuisine

Forget spring and this blog title for just a second folks. New York City was experiencing a glorious 80 degree day. This may sound stuffy for some, but I have Dominican blood running in my veins, so anything that’s somehow related to the tropics gets me excited. I truly feel at my happiest when my skin can soak up that vitamin D (with sunscreen of course).

My view from Central Park.
My view from Central Park.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the day.

I was invited to a media preview for Philippe on the Upper East Side to celebrate their new East Hamptons location. As someone who has been following this establishment’s history, I knew I had to be there. I was researching for future stories, of course!

A small preview of what was to come.
A small preview of what was to come.

The feast was nothing short of amazing. Succulent Maine lobster, juicy plump shrimp swimming in a tangy sauce, creamy coconut cocktails, and crispy chicken with a sweet-meets-fiery kick were just a few of the many dishes we savored. Even the fried rice was fluffy and perfectly paired with fresh veggies. Philippe impressed with their take on upscale Chinese cuisine and thanks to them, it looks like me and the takeout guy are going on a break.

Philippe knows how to feed hungry writers.
Philippe knows how to feed hungry writers.

And then came dessert. By then my stomach was ready to call it a night, but could you really say no to chocolate or red velvet? Didn’t think so.

Yum.
Yum.

If you are ever on the Upper East Side or in the Hamptons, and you need some Chinese food in your life minus the excess grease, give Philippe a chance. He knows how to please your belly.

After dinner, I was stuffed to say the least. I, along with my plus one, who happened to be my other bestie Alexcia, decided to burn off some calories by walking around. And behold, we encountered The Plaza, one of my favorite places in the world. Like with great Chinese, I could never say no to The Plaza.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

What a happy accident that The Plaza’s flowers matched my dress! And speaking of the ensemble, this is a ’80s floral wiggle dress with dolman (long and loose) sleeves. These type of sleeves also give some wiggle (no pun intended) room for ladies with bigger busts. Our chests deserve to breathe. And the plunging V-neck elongates the body, giving it a leaner, smoother appearance.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

I love the fact that it twirls! If it were up to me, life would be one giant Broadway musical so I can sing and twirl all day.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The dress was purchased from Girl in a Hat Shop on Etsy. I had it tailored for it to go just above the knee, which flatters any woman no matter her age.

I gave my usual red lipstick a break and decided to “think pink.”

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

My earrings, from Forever 21 (ha!), were purchased for about three bucks. They feature actual flowers within the jewel.

My earrings of choice.
My earrings of choice.

I also found this exquisite crown on Fifth Avenue. I believe it belongs to me.

Queen Bee.
Queen Bee.

And the evening concludes! See you all next week.

Goodnight.
Goodnight.