The Fitting Room Chronicles: In With the Old

Once upon a time, Francis took me to the lush Gallow Green, a quaint rooftop lounge where patrons are transported to a secret garden filled with beautiful company, tantalizing cocktails, and mouthwatering grub.

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For “just one of those nights,” I wore a juicy orange floral lace dress by Hollywood actress Eva Mendes from her New York & Company collection. It was paired with ivory lace oxfords, which i transitioned from day to night. I received loads of compliments and I was  all smiles.

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Photo by Francis Rodriguez
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Photo by Francis Rodriguez
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Selfie

Sadly, summer is long gone and we’ve been dealing with a Snowpocalypse. While I normally wear my spring/summer attire all year by simply pairing it with a warm cardigan, this dress just won’t do to beat the chill.

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Fortunately, I got quite lucky at my recent thrifting adventure.

I found this 1950s ensemble, which features a very similar floral lace pattern, except it’s more black than orange. Not only does it highlight sleeves, but it’s more weather appropriate and pairs perfectly with one of my many cardigans.

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For the most part, I believe in wearing all of my outfits throughout the year. Whether it’s adding leggings, boots, a sweater, or a heavy scarf, there’s no need to pack away gorgeous pieces, only to rock them for a few months. However, I will admit that there are certain outfits designed specifically for certain seasons, and layering just won’t do. That’s why I try to find a similar piece that goes with the certain season. Not only will I get to wear something I know I will look and feel good in, but I will have more clothing options for the chill or heat.

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The weather should never prevent you from feeling fabulous. And you never know when a friend will invite you to spend the night at a rooftop.

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The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Marilyn (Again) for 2016

New Year’s Eve is probably one of the most stressful nights of the year.

All that anticipating of finding the perfect outfit to welcome a new year is no easy task. Suddenly, everything in my closet transforms into rags and staying in bed sounds like a better idea.

On New Year’s Eve, I made a last-minute attempt to find the perfect dress by visiting my local thrift store. I was fortunate enough to find this brand-new, floor-length gorgeous golden gown. Best of all? It was only $16.

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This dress instantly reminded me of Marilyn Monroe, of course. Who could possibly forget that other iconic dress she wore for “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 1953?

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According to old Hollywood style expert Kimberly Truhler, that famous “sunburst” dress was originally designed by William Travilla for fellow blonde bombshell Betty Grable, who wore it in 1952’s “Dreamboat.” When Monroe saw it, she allegedly loved it so much that she insisted on wearing the piece and it ultimately became hers. The fit looks so spectacular on the star because she was apparently sewn into the dress.

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While I wasn’t sewn into this piece, I might as well have. It was about two sizes too small, but who cares? I felt fabulous.

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Photo by Jordan Race

As for New Year’s Eve? Would you believe I didn’t go out after all? Well, now I have a brand new gown to debut any day of the year. And I can assure you, this is no rag.

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Photo by Jordan Race

 

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Stevie Nicks

I will never be Stevie Nicks. No one could be Stevie Nicks except Stevie Nicks herself. She is a blonde witchy love goddess who must be worshipped and adored. This fellow Stephanie isn’t worthy.

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I had an amazing opportunity to check out a Stevie Nicks photo exhibition in SoHo, and to say that I was inspired would be an understatement. These are what you call SELFIES. Bow down.

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There are many ways to pay tribute to this iconic artist with your wardrobe. A bohemian white lace dress, loads of fringe, a crimson velvet gown with ruffled sleeves, wide-legged pants – anything that a spellbinding 1970s singer would wear really.

But in my case, I decided to go with bat sleeves.

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I’m not usually a fan of velvet, as everything tends to stick and the fuzzy texture drives me insane, but I felt like an enchantress in this simple black body-hugging velvet dress with sheer bat sleeves. I was compelled to twirl, cast spells, and sing “Edge of Seventeen,” one of my favorite songs since childhood.

But  you know what else we could use for a Stevie Nicks party? A crimson 1970s silk dress with a cape.

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Stevie also happens to be a fan of red hot dresses too.

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With the cool, crisp fall season upon us, and Halloween around the corner, now is the time to sprinkle some Stevie Nicks magic to your wardrobe. Who wouldn’t want to dress up like a legend, and feel warm with all of those layers?

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Aloha, Blue Hawaii!

Confession: I’ve never been to Hawaii. It’s actually a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I dream of dipping my toes in a clear, sapphire blue sea while feasting on juicy, sun kissed pineapples, all while swaying my hips and yelling out, “Aloha!” to every one I encounter.

Gil Elvgren Pinup
Gil Elvgren Pinup

While this NYC gal hasn’t visited Hawaii yet, I decided to channel the tropics in my ensemble for a media event at The Asia Society.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

This dress ($163), from New Orleans-based vintage-inspired retailer Trashy Diva, is from their “Aloha Blue Hawaii” Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

According to Trashy Diva: “Inspired by vintage Hawaiian fabric, Blue Hawaii makes it’s debut as our newest addition to our tropical prints. Blue Hawaii will surely become your new favorite tropical print!”

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

This piece definitely made me channel my inner pinup. Along with a white flower on my hair and matching orchid earrings, I was ready to attend the nearest luau. However, I was intrigued by The Asia Society’s exquisite offerings.

The remains of sushi and cocktails.
The remains of sushi and cocktails.
Our view at night.
Our view at night.
Late night snack at Cupcake ATM (780 Lexington Avenue in NYC)
Late night snack at Cupcake ATM (780 Lexington Avenue in NYC)

Sadly, this dress is no longer available, but Trashy Diva is one of the best vintage-inspired brands around, and their garments are made to last. I adore many of their dresses and even have several saved for a rainy shopping day!

But if you’re looking for something on the tiki side, Unique Vintage has a whole section dedicated to just that.

1950s Style Purple Tiki Floral Halter Hawaiiana Wiggle Dress & Bolero Set ($104), Unique-Vintage.com
1950s Style Purple Tiki Floral Halter Hawaiiana Wiggle Dress & Bolero Set ($104), Unique-Vintage.com

Hopefully, Trashy Diva will deliver some more sunshine in the upcoming winter months with similar prints. After all, who wouldn’t want to look like Loretta Young for a day?

Loretta Young Tiki Look #1
Loretta Young Tiki Look #1
Loretta Young Tiki Look #2
Loretta Young Tiki Look #2
Fin.
Fin.

Spending the Afternoon with Frank Sinatra

Nothing puts me in the right mood quite like ol’ blue eyes.

Frank Sinatra: The One and Only
Frank Sinatra: The One and Only

Night and day, summer or winter, I’m all about feeling like a glamour goddess while New Jersey’s finest Frank Sinatra croons of his greatest love, and one of my favorite old Hollywood stars, Ava Gardner.

Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner

So when the New York Public Library in Lincoln Center was hosting a special exhibition dedicated to the beloved singer and star, appropriately titled “Sinatra: An American Icon,” you know I was attending.

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It was truly a celebration of Sinatra’s life, featuring his wardrobe, awards, and even personal artwork he created for his grandchildren. It was an exquisite feast for fans and I was incredibly honored to be a part of it.

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There were even other treats on display, like Billie Holiday’s furl shawl and Ella Fitzgerald’s gorgeous emerald dress.

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Artwork created by Frank Sinatra for his grandchildren.
Artwork created by Frank Sinatra for his grandchildren.

For the festivities, I wore a vintage Joni Blair of California red plaid swing dress that I purchased from Etsy vendor TempleKatVintage of Pennsylvania. She’s one of my favorite Etsy vendors and I was excited to receive such a beautiful, seasonal piece for the fall and winter months.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

And while the look and style scream 1950s, would you believe it’s actually from the 1980s? But that’s my little secret.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

For a similar dress I have some recommendations. Vintage-inspired retailer Lindy Bop has a near replica for $46, except it’s so popular that most sizes are sold out. However, you can request for the vendor to notify you when the piece is back in stock, giving you some time to save your coins. Unique Vintage has a 1950s style red tartan swing dress designed by pinup star Bernie Dexter for $154 that’s downright breathtaking. If you’re looking to add some wiggle to your step, Unique Vintage also has this green tartan dress by Stop Staring! for $178 that will hug every single curve you’ve got, making the fellas break a sweat. And finally, Etsy vendor maybel57 has a wiggle red tartan dress from the 1950s available for $115.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

Missed the Frank Sinatra exhibition? You’ll definitely want to try the Interactive Sinatra Walking Tour where you can visit some of his favorite hot spots and performance venues throughout the city he famously sung about. Or, you can even go on a short trip to Hoboken, New Jersey and learn all about Sinatra’s childhood home.

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The Fitting Room Chronicles: Wiggle Here, Wiggle There

On Facebook, a friend of mine posted this definition of the wiggle dress:

1950s actress Jayne Mansfield
1950s actress Jayne Mansfield

A dress whose hem is narrower than the hips, causing the wearer to walk in short strides with legs close together, producing a sway or ‘wiggle’ of the hips. A fitted dress which enhances an hourglass figure. Every gal should own a wiggle dress or two or ten.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Wiggle dresses were extremely popular in the 1950s, when blonde bombshells like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield wore dangerously alluring, tight-fitting garments dresses that felt like second skin and flaunted every single curve on their breathtaking bodies.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield

Marilyn Monroe was even known to have dresses sewn directly on her figure. One example that comes to mind is her infamous “Happy Birthday” dress, which she wore in President John F. Kennedy’s birthday bash in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

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Marilyn Monroe in her “Happy Birthday” dress.

I did not find a similar piece and I won’t be impressing government officials anytime soon, but I did find this lovely nude number.

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I believe it’s from the ’50s, and in true classic wiggle fashion, it fits like second skin. Sitting? Ha, that’s just for amateurs. But the best part? It was a mere 18 bucks. Gotta love those thrifting deals.

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Ladies, you need a wiggle dress, whether it’s for date night or a “just because” evening affair involving jazz or cocktails. Most vintage-inspired clothing lines offer them (Stop Staring! and Pinup Girl Clothing quickly come to mind). Or, you can hunt for one while thrifting.

Regrets? I have none.

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:

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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:

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

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

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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.