Broadway Baby

I love the theater. Any chance I get, I catch a show. It’s one of the luxuries of living in New York City. And I’m not even joking about that – Broadway ain’t cheap.

But it’s one of the best things to invest in for a good time in the city.

10404305_10100156230589787_3473588587566549911_n
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I used to intern at a publicity firm that handled several shows, so it was a wonderful treat to visit the theater on a daily basis. And even these days, Francis and I love having a girl’s night out on Broadway.

IMG_7922

IMG_8021

IMG_8022

For this special evening, which involved an exquisite media tasting of delicious New Zealand-based Kim Crawford wines at Gabriel Kreuther, I wore a black and white 1940s tailored suit dress, which I found at a thrift store in the East Village. I paired my outfit with matching black and white  pumps, simple pearl earrings, and a gold chain featuring a panther’s head. Keeping it classy, y’all.

IMG_8023
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
IMG_8024
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

From the office to Broadway, followed by cocktails or wine, this was the perfect outfit for the evening.

IMG_7969
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
IMG_8035
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

For a similar suit dress that you can transition from day to night, here are some lovely options I found:

I haven’t had the opportunity to kick off the New Year with a show quite yet, but here’s some interesting trivia. A long time, I interviewed beloved playwright and fellow Latino Lin-Manuel Miranda. He was, at the time, writing a musical now known as “Hamilton.” You might have heard of it.

IMG_8025

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Falling for Carmen Miranda

When it comes to fall in New York City, girls think about rocking their finest black, oxblood, and burgundy styles – you know, everything dark and heavy. And trust me, I’m all for that. With all the holidays coming up (candy, pie, and champagne, oh my!), I need to go to the dark side with clothes to camouflage that pooch waving hello.

But sometimes? I just want to throw myself on a pile of palm leaves, not fall foliage.

IMG_2477

When I found this transparent tropical ensemble for less than 20 bucks, two words came to mind: Carmen Miranda.

Havana1

Carmen_Miranda_1941

Anyone who’s into old Hollywood, thrifting, or just pop culture in general knows a thing or two about “the lady in the tutti frutti hat.”

Annex - Miranda, Carmen (Week-End in Havana)_NRFPT_02

Carmen MIranda in THE GANG'S ALL HERE (1943), directed by Busby Berkeley.

The woman made an entire career out of wearing crop tops in banana-hue, headdresses overflowing with plastic fruit, and frilly skirts designed for the samba. And let’s be real here, Carmen made the look completely hers for technicolor films.

Poster - Greenwich Village_02

Carmen even reportedly said this: I have never followed what people say it is ‘fashionable’. I think that a woman must wear what fits her. That is why I created a style appropriated to my type and my artistical genre.

Now that’s my kind of girl.

Carmen_Miranda_November_1939

So for this fall, yes, I’m going to flaunt my black, oxblood, and burgundy. However, I’m also going to show off some flower power, towering palm trees, and even a parrot or two straight from the tropics (print-wise of course). It will be fun way to stand out among a sea of autumnal uniforms and reminisce about past sizzling summers.

IMG_2482

IMG_2487

The only thing that should brighten up those dreary days that quickly transition into night? You. And personally, I would heat things up even more by carrying a pumpkin spice latte on one hand. Sure, this dress is pretty, but baby, it’s cold outside.

Going for an Ava Gardner Look

Did you know there’s something called “National Vodka Day?”

Neither did I.

10641303_10100127100900917_597048863166089447_n

This alleged marketing holiday is technically on October 4th, but truthfully, who wouldn’t mind kicking back with a cool vodka cocktail after a long day at the office?

10649955_10100127100965787_6176939897766279607_n

I was invited to attend an event in honor of this day with Wyborowa Wódka, a premier Polish vodka. U.S. President of the Polish Vodka Association Andrzej Szumowski was in attendance to share the pride of Poland with us at Schapiro’s Eatery and & Cocktail Bar on the Lower East Side.

10426114_10100127100925867_995807330865872311_n

There were tons of pierogis to eat and drinks to savor.

For the evening, I wore this thrifted 1980s label-less electric blue silk dress and paired it with a corselet belt.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

Looking back, it reminded me of 1940s glamour goddess Ava Gardner, a sultry Hollywood dame who enjoyed cocktails and was also the love of Frank Sinatra’s wife.

BlueDress

ava00002

290856__24740.1349962765.380.500

It’s been described that her swears were like hearing a truck driver and a sailor have an argument. Now that’s my kind of lady.

84qNJ05

2483882_orig

8217d8cc12756b23541a84e78a29b1e1

For a similar look:

  • 1980s Electric Blue Beaded Silk Dress (size 2) $75, Etsy.com
  • Vintage 1980s Electric Blue Wiggle Dress (size medium) $50, Etsy.com
  • 1980s Cocktail Electric Blue Dress (size medium) $75, Etsy.com
  • 1980s Old Hollywood Glam Beaded Electric Blue Dress (size medium) $112, Etsy.com

Another personal pick you should check out? The super popular Ava dress collection by vintage-inspired retailer Pinup Girl Clothing. Not only are they drop dead gorgeous and super comfortable, but they also come in an array of sizes, ensuring that their brand offers style “for every body.” And who doesn’t love that? I would like to believe Ava would approve.

Pinup Couture Ava Dress in Sky Blue
Pinup Couture Ava Dress in Sky Blue

On sale for $57(!) at PinupGirlClothing.com.

Ava Dress in Teal
Ava Dress in Teal

$114, PinupGirlClothing.com.

I really enjoyed my personal take on this classic look!

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

Also, if you’re ever in North Carolina, make sure you check out the Ava Gardner Museum. It’s on my bucket list!

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

Lady Love Song

Every lady deserves to have a dress in her closet that accentuates her curves and is guaranteed to make jaws drop everywhere. Who wouldn’t want to have a silky smooth fabric hug your shape like a lover who knows exactly what to do with his/her hands?

May I introduce you to the Lady Love Song Dress?

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

This piece, from vintage-inspired online retailer ModCloth, features a velvety smooth fabric that will make you feel like a seductive pinup. My beau couldn’t get enough of it and well, I felt like the greatest animated seductress of all: Jessica Rabbit.

Jessica Rabbit from the 1988 film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"
Jessica Rabbit from the 1988 film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
Jessica Rabbit
Jessica Rabbit

Even ModCloth said it best: Who wouldn’t want to croon a ballad when they see you in this sultry frock? In a melodic, shimmering maroon velvet material that caresses your curves, this dress complete with a crossover sweetheart neckline and gentle pleats at the bust, is made to impress. Step into your favorite jazz club for a martini and dulcet serenade!

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

Another woman who would appreciate this piece? Rita Hayworth, 1940s “love goddess” of Hollywood, who also served as one of the inspirations behind Mrs. Rabbit.

Rita Hayworth (in black and white)
Rita Hayworth (in black and white)
Rita Hayworth (in color)
Rita Hayworth (in color)

I wore my merlot-hued dress for an evening with loved ones at Hotel Indigo, a posh hotel in Chelsea where you can easily spot a model or three making her way to the Meatpacking District for a stylish Saturday night out.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

No martinis were involved (I’m more of a gin girl), but you could savor tantalizing cocktails at equally posh Mexican hot spot Tijuana Picnic on the Lower East Side. It’s a fitting tribute considering Rita Hayworth, whose real name was Margarita Carmen Cansino, rose to fame in Tijuana clubs in Mexico as a dancer.

Tijuana Picnic in New York City
Tijuana Picnic in New York City
Sizzling Chicken Wings at Tijuana Picnic
Sizzling Chicken Wings at Tijuana Picnic
Delectable Churros at Tijuana Picnic
Delectable Churros at Tijuana Picnic

Expect luscious libations, such as the Grapefruit Gringo (poblano infused-vodka, grapefruit, Thai basil, and sugarcane), Mi Casa Margarita (featuring loads of tequila and mezcal), or the Mayan Michelada (a spicier take on the Bloody Mary).

10868131_10100181563352727_6740354002546789848_n

10610580_10100181563377677_826558357618546056_n

Love the Lady Love Song dress as much as I do? Make it a forever dress in your closet in Merlot for the wine lovers out there, along with Olive, Black, or Ruby for $89.99. I would just recommend going up a size for a comfy fit without losing the hip-hugging effect.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The Fitting Room Chronicles: When Your Favorite Thrift Store Has a Sale

When your favorite thrift store has a sale, you know it’s time to celebrate. I can't even.

I can’t even.

These sales don’t happen too many times during the year. After all, you’re already getting a decent deal on pieces that previously cost double, sometimes triple, the price. So when they do offer a sale, you better seize the day.

Do you know when your favorite thrift store is going to have a sale? Black Friday may sound obvious, but this isn’t always the case. Here are two important tips:

the_more_you_know2

Ask (No Really, Ask)

This may sound like a major “duh,” but try to make friends with the salespeople. They know the ins and outs of the store. They can tell you when sales are expected to occur during the year, as well as when items will be discounted to make room for new merchandise. Also, these folks can tell you when new inventory is in stock so you can take advantage of their treasure before anyone else.

Make Note of the Changing Season

As the sun-soaked days of August are slowly (and sadly) coming to an end, salespeople/owners of thrift stores need to think about the changing season. In this case, it’s the cooler month of September. To make room for new fall-friendly merchandise, they need to get rid of all the summery staples they have in stock. My store had a three-day sale to make this possible, with prices going up to 50% off. And even though you may be thinking about autumn pieces too, I still like to get sweet gear on sale that I can use with seasonal layers, like scarves or cardigans. Go back to the first rule and find out when your store will be having any sales to coincide with the changing season.

I had to pull a Destiny’s Child and think about bills, bills, bills before going crazy here, but here’s what came home with me:

FullSizeRender-2

A Free People dress for $14 that requires zero tailoring for a perfect fit? Don’t mind if I do.

FullSizeRender-2

A brand new H&M dress (with tags still on and all) for $13 that also needs little to no tailoring? Sign me up.

FullSizeRender-2

A floor-length gown that could be from any time between the late 1950s-early 1970s for $11? Yes, please. I am also aware that some tailoring will be involved, but I can’t help being 5’2″!

Three dress cost me less than $40. Not too shabby.

Speaking of the fall, it’s nearly here…you might want to begin checking out those end-of-season sales starting…now.

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: So I’m Going to Need a New Bra for This

Summer is not quite here yet in New York City, but at a smoldering 85 degrees, we’re getting a taste of it.

Despite the sweat-inducing temperatures, I continued on with my weekly ritual of visiting my beloved thrift store. Unlike a typical clothing boutique, you just never know what surprises await you.

Normally I find so much treasure, I struggle to carry pounds of clothes on top of my 5’2″ frame as I tip-toe to the fitting room. This weekend, my finds were quite minimal, but that’s okay. My wallet is thankful.

Find #1

According to the tag on this silk black dress, it comes all the way from Paris. While it hugged my curves in all of the right places – and I can’t ever resist a black outfit – the side zipper was completely broken. I would consider a piece like this a “project,” which means that, if I were to purchase it, I would collaborate with my tailor on tweaking it to create a more custom fit, including replacing the zipper. While I’m not against a project, the efforts would have been costly in this case. The dress alone was 40 dollars, and with any additional changes, we’re looking at a price tag worth over 50 bucks. In this case, I didn’t think it was worth the splurge, so I let it go.

Posing with an open (and broken) zipper.
Posing with an open (and broken) zipper.

Find #2

Ever fell madly in love at first sight? I did. This hip-hugging floral Tracy Reese dress looked like a dream on the hanger. Her dresses are worth over 300 dollars, but I could have taken this home for a mere 23 dollars. Sadly, my Dominican butt was like nope. Sure, I was able to zip it all the way up, but I also had to take multiple quick breaths just to let oxygen past through my body. And sitting? Ha! That’s just for amateurs.

Not breathing can look quite glamorous for five secondsdeargodwhenwillthisend?!
Not breathing can look quite glamorous for five secondsdeargodwhenwillthisend?!

Lucy can relate.

When a piece runs large you can easily work around it, but too small? Ugh is the answer.

Find #3

Normally I’m very against all things strapless. Being well endowed on top, I need support or my back will punish me with unforgiving aches. And let’s be real, when was the last time you looked forward to wearing a strapless bra? But sometimes, sacrifices should be made. Especially with a discovery like this.

We have a winner!
We have a winner!

While I was feeling down about the previous dress that wouldn’t fit, this one was two sizes smaller and works great. Okay sure, it’s a vintage size, but work with me people! The tag says it’s by Beginnings, which is/was based in New York. I tried researching it, but nothing seems to be available. The price tag? A lovely 14.

I can’t wait to rock this gown sooner than later. Unfortunately, I will need to buy a strapless bra.

Daphne gets it.
Daphne gets it.

I will say this dress made me get over the Tracy Reese outfit. It’s like that moment when you’re about to get back with an ex, only to find out there’s someone way better waiting for you and ready to take you out. Don’t ask me how I know this.

In short? Today was a good day: for myself and my wallet.