The Nightmare Before Christmas

Unpopular Opinion Alert: I’m not a fan of Christmas and I don’t really celebrate it.

benedictgrinch02
I’m a mean one…

Yes, I had a wonderful childhood, filled with memories that are as sweet as freshly baked sugar cookies. I remember staying up until midnight so I can attack a pile of presents, eating plenty of pernil, and just basking in the glow of my family’s Christmas tree lights while watching “The Nutcracker.” It was a magical time in my life.

The_nutcracker_prince_vhs

Over the years, things changed. I remember my family struggling to spend money on gifts, just so that the holidays could seemingly be joyous. Visits from relatives became less and less. The holiday became quickly associated with going in debt and just sitting in front of the TV. The excess commercialization became unbearable and the financial stress was unwanted. When I finally became an adult, I chose not to celebrate it.

jycapudu

Now? I’m pretty happy. I spend the day treating it as if it was Halloween, my most favorite holiday. This involves watching scary films and real-crime documentaries. It’s quite fabulous.

Speaking of Halloween, I was in the middle of moving, so I didn’t check out the Village Halloween Parade, a long tradition of mine. I still wanted to dress up, so I came up with my own costume: Alice Cooper in Wonderland.

tumblr_inline_n2o0vwntZz1r8292h

05_3039505

Alice-COOPER-2-002

As you’ll soon see, I channeled both “Alice in Wonderland” and shock rocker Alice Cooper for one costume.

933754557cb685d47535c7b6f42cc987

Movie_alice_in_wonderland_flowers

Disney-image-disney-36260553-500-336

Welcome to my nightmare…

FullSizeRender-4
Photo by Jordan Race
FullSizeRender
Photo by Jordan Race
FullSizeRender-2
Photo by Jordan Race

The piece is a 1960s square dance dress that came from one of my favorite Etsy vendors, The Braided Bandit. With the help of my tailor, I removed a lot of the extra ruffles and popped out the sleeves to give it a more modern look for day or night wear. The lace rabbit ear band also came from Etsy, via ShopGinaMichele.

FullSizeRender-6
Photo by Jordan Race
FullSizeRender-3
Photo by Jordan Race

I had a blast becoming this character for Halloween! As for Christmas, I’ll be wearing my Sid Vicious mugshot shirt with yoga pants, while watching a murder mystery or three. Happy holidays!

FullSizeRender-7
Selfie by me.

Christmas in July

The holiday season is officially here, and with that comes the blistering winter temperatures one could except in December.

Oh, joy.

Real_Jack
Winter is coming.

Now before you call me a Grinch, hear me out. I may have been born and raised in New York City, but I am a woman of the tropics, someone who is at peace with rising temperatures and is truly myself at the beach.

So when we suddenly had some 70-degree weather, I was like a kid waking  up to Christmas morning. For the occasion, I decided to look back at one steamy day from this summer.

IMG_4381
Photo by Jordan Race

For a stroll down the Village, I wore this thrifted one-piece with a paisley print by Madewell. Normally, I’m not a fan of the print, which was en vogue during the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s, but I do appreciate this subtle earthy tone.

IMG_4408
Photo by Jordan Race

I paired my mini dress with a gold chain featuring Roman coins, which I also thrifted, along with simple sandals and my navy Longchamp purse. I adore Longchamp and I would score a bag in every single color if I could. They’re perfectly versatile and wonderfully chic for any outfit.

IMG_4469
Photo by Jordan Race

As expected, my outfit is thrifted, but I do have some recommendations if you’re looking to capture some of that retro bohemian spirit:

No sizzling hot day would be complete without cocktails, right? Well, there was La Isla Escondida, a Mexican speakeasy in Little Italy that’s part of The Mulberry Project. They may be closed for the winter, but I highly recommend it for some refreshing libations.

10311779_998610290157_353151703337332378_n

994458_998610404927_4241329353969354117_n

10557233_998610514707_3236218693332096122_n

As for the rest of winter? Sadly, I might be hidden in coats for a while, but who knows…we might get an unexpected heat wave one of these days. Here’s to hoping.

Happy holidays!

IMG_4446
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.

10801477_10100147823068527_1261380990917735091_n

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.

10665244_10100147822983697_4580230120943735918_n

10313504_10100147823043577_1234599458710460723_n

10614256_10100147823133397_1383181212189015217_n

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.

IMG_9694

IMG_9688

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.

IMG_9722

IMG_9726

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

ecbceb6709a031a920a52110.L

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?

10553613_10100147823013637_7375499331410535369_n

10791_10100147823158347_1600925771971585899_n

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.

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.

Just Another Rooftop

I may be afraid of heights, but this New Yorker prefers wining and dining up in the clouds surrounded by skyscrapers. Really, why would anyone want to break a sweat in 90something degree weather in a stuffy room when you can catch a cool breeze up above everyone else?

Having Cocktails in the Sky.
Having Cocktails in the Sky.

Francis and I make it our mission to visit every rooftop spot in town, so when we were invited to culinary extraordinaire David Burke’s SPYGLASS above the Archer Hotel in midtown, needless to say we were going.

Our View.
Our View.

SPYGLASS is fantastic because it’s walking distance from many offices in the area. So whether you had a rough day at work or simply just want to kick back, this is a swanky rooftop that requires zero subway or taxi transportation, depending where you are. Just a simple stroll will do. Your nostrils will thank you if sticking your nose into someone’s armpit in a too-tight train or being glued to the chair of a cab on a sweltering day isn’t your thing.

Enjoying Ourselves.
Enjoying Ourselves.

SPYGLASS also gives you a direct view of the Empire State Building while you’re enjoying lobster dumplings, oysters, and thirst-quenching cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, the Village will always be my home away from home no matter where I am, but this local deal isn’t too shabby.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Now for the dress. I absolutely fell in love when I saw this piece in a West Village thrift store. It features the brightest orange flowers I’ve ever seen. Seriously, you can light up any room with this thing.

Photo By Francis Rodriguez.
Photo By Francis Rodriguez.

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many details about the dress. No label was found, but it came in excellent condition and was around 25 bucks. It reminds me of a 1950s (or even 60s) cocktail dress. Since the dress zips from the back and not the side, it comes from a later period (not the 50s). That’s one trick to tell if your ensemble is possibly more modern or much older. Also, this outfit highlights a full skirt, so no petticoat is require to add some dramatic flair. Just be prepared to slap people around with your hips.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

I paired the dress with matching navy patent pumps to keep the look more uniformed. The focus remains on the dress, as opposed to dizzying anyone with too much going on.

Original Fire & Ice Ad.
Original Fire & Ice Ad.

As for the lipstick? That’s Revlon’s Fire & Ice, which was first introduced in 1952. It was reportedly one of the many shades of red Marilyn Monroe wore. You can still find it in nearly any drugstore for less than 10 bucks.

Marilyn Monroe, 1952.
Marilyn Monroe, 1952.

The lipstick is a very bold, fiery red shade, so I blotted it just a bit to tone it down. Again, I wanted the dress to be the focal point. I finished my look with champagne.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

This was our view for the evening.

Our Evening View.
Our Evening View.

So seriously, what are you doing down there? Start rooftopping it!