Christmas in July

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

Oh, joy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Going Italian (In Greenpoint)

Manhattan girls don’t like to leave the island. We just don’t. From food to shopping, there’s really no reason to visit the other boroughs.

But Brooklyn knows what’s up.

Roses of Greenpoint.
Roses of Greenpoint.

I don’t need to tell you how Brooklyn (at least some parts of it) are the playgrounds of hipsters, or how everything cool is somehow made in the BK. And if you watch HBO, chances are you know about one particular show where its setting happens to be Brooklyn.

But I really don’t go to Brooklyn unless I absolutely have to. And when I found out about this massive warehouse where you can find tons of vintage pieces for affordable prices, you know I was making the trip down under.

I know, I know.
I know, I know.

For my visit to Greenpoint, specifically Dusty Rose Vintage, I wore this sheer 1970s label-less dress I thrifted many moons ago in (yes) Manhattan.

Photo by Jordan Race.
Photo by Jordan Race.

I paired it with a (more modern) sparkling matching floral cardigan from Topshop that I also thrifted. The pearls are also vintage, and I kept the lipstick more natural looking, all thanks to Milani’s Color Statement Moisture Matte Lipstick in Naked ($5.99). I felt like I was in the streets of Italy. But I wasn’t. I swear.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

For a similar look (all Etsy.com):

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

I adore Dusty Rose Vintage in Greenpoint. It’s a true shopping haven for thrifters who relish on the hunt. Make sure you reserve some hours just to go through bins and bins of clothes from various eras. There’s even a “Goth Witch Noir” bin(!).

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

Jordan was trying to find a leather jacket, but he wasn’t as lucky. Perhaps we’re due for another visit sooner than later!

Jordan was attempting to find a leather jacket.
Jordan was attempting to find a leather jacket.

I wish I could tell you NOT to visit Dusty Rose Vintage, only so I can have this whole place to myself. But seriously, this place is the bee’s knees. Every thrifter should make a visit to Mecca. So make your way to Greenpoint and shop until you drop!

Fin.
Fin.

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Take it Off

Have you ever found a perfect vintage piece while thrifting, but you weren’t in love with the sleeves? Perhaps they were too tight, too puffy, or just so not right?

Here’s an idea: take it off.

You read that right, sweet cheeks!
You read that right, sweet cheeks!

Look, I get the fact that not too many people are super confident about their arms (I know I’m not). We all can’t be First Lady Michelle Obama.

Really, Michelle?
Really, Michelle?

But seriously, who cares? Your so-called flaws deserve to shine and the right outfit can make you both look and feel like a star. For some of my dresses, I have the sleeves remove to give the piece a completely different look, all while being able to still wear it with ease. And for those sudden chilly days or nights, I simply pair it with a cardigan or shawl.

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I recently found this bright purple kimono dress from the 1970s-80s featuring a fan print. While the dress itself was a comfortable fit, the sleeves were attacking my bulging biceps. What to do? I took the dress anyway and I had my tailor removed the sleeves. The result? You’ll have to wait and find out!

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Don’t be afraid to give a vintage piece some new life. Whether it’s removing sleeves, trimming it in half, or doing something completely different to enhance your personal style, I say do it. It’s a great way to have a custom-made piece that’s meant for you and you alone. Not only will you give your thrifted piece a new chance to be shown, but it will present a new angle that’s never been seen before – until you decided to make it happen.

So, have you ever altered your vintage piece to make it your very own? I want to hear all about it.

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And for some ideas, read up on how I took a Hawaiian dress and made it look super brand new by taking off the sleeves.

But wait! Here’s a sneak preview:

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:

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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.

South Street Seaport

The last time I’ve been to South Street Seaport was when I was 16. I still remember the sickly sweet stench of Abercrombie & Fitch cologne, a sea of “I Love New York” t-shirts being sold by vendors looking for a quick buck, abandoned centuries-old buildings displaying loads of graffiti tags, and broken-down streets leading to cluttered highways.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

So you can only imagine my surprise when I recently went down, all the way downtown, to South Street Seaport, only to see a brand-spanking new neighborhood. The historic harbor highlights cobble stone streets (great if you’re not wearing heels), quaint coffee shops overlooking towering ships, and a massive beer garden leading to streets of seaside restaurants. There’s also the Smorgasburg, a foodie paradise where ramen burgers and massive grilled cheese sandwiches overflowing with oozing fromage are readily available to one’s mouthwatering delight.

Needless to say, I was a fan.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

I re-discovered the South Street Seaport as a native New Yorker wearing a piece from one of my favorite Etsy vendors, The Braided Bandit. It’s a super comfy 1970s black maxi dress by American brand Choon California.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

Finding a vintage black v-neck dress on Etsy is pretty easy, but here are my picks: There’s this 1970s/1980s gown that’s super similar for $60, a gorgeous cocktail variation available in plus sizes for $39.90, a 1970s sheer variation for $50, and, if you’re willing to splurge, a 1970s Givenchy creation for $498. Just don’t forget to keep your size and measurements in mind before ordering.

All you need is a wide leather waist belt to cinch the waist, creating instant Morticia Addams vibes.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

To jazz up a plain black dress, I added a giant vintage butterfly brooch, but any brooch of your choosing will do. A lot of beautiful pieces can also be found on Etsy.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

So excuse me while I enjoy a local espresso and shop for stuff.

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.