The Fitting Room Chronicles: Dress of Many Colors

I’ve been thinking about David Bowie a lot lately. Actually, I’ve been in mourning, but I don’t like to think of him as gone forever. In my mind, he’s back in his planet.

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As I mentioned in my last post, The Thin White Duke has had a profound effect on me. I still can’t believe he left us. His music has been on heavy rotation and I’ve been feeling quite sad.

Rightfully so, I want to celebrate his life. And in the city he has called home for quite some time now, there are many tribute parties. There’s even a Carnegie Hall Tribute Concert happening, although honestly it’s a bit stuffy for my taste. I would much rather just hit the floor, put on my red shoes, and dance the blues.

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Of course, there are many other events happening here lately, even a sing-along in Union Square Park. But I personally cannot wait for Bowieball. It’s a huge extravaganza celebrating the life and legacy of David Bowie. Even Debbie Harry of Blondie is a fan. I can only imagine that this year’s festivities is going to be one of epic proportions.

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While no official dates have been announced yet, I’m already fantasizing about what I would wear. I received this beautiful gift from Jordan, which came from one of my favorite Etsy vendors, The Braided Bandit. It’s a 1980s floral rainbow dress.

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Photo by Jordan Race

I thought how great this could look with a galaxy-inspired headdress, but it also reminded me of Frida Kahlo. And then of course, I started singing melodies from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

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In other words, I can wear it for many reasons. Best of all, it’s a perfect fit – no tailoring required!

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Whether for Bowieball or not, how do you think I should rock this dress?

 

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The Fitting Room Chronicles: A Tale of Nos

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t always leave a thrift store with a dress or 10.

Sometimes, I do encounter a day where I just don’t find what I’m looking for. I’m itching to spend money, but nothing speaks to me. Everything looks and feels blah on my body.

And guess what? It’s A-OK.

Aside from the obvious that you’ll have more money in your wallet for future shopping sprees, you should be a bit more choosy when expanding your closet. To get more bang for your buck, it’s crucial to invest in timeless pieces where you’ll rock a particular item for years to come. If an item has a short shelf life, it’s a poor investment that will leave your wallet slimmer and your closet crowded with uninspired pieces.

When it comes to fashion, don’t look for flings or one-night stands that only look and feel good for a moment. Discover true loves, or pieces you’ll treasure for years to come. Look for items that express who you truly are without saying a word.

Here’s what happened on this particular day:

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1980s Sun Dress

Dress #1: A 1980s sun dress

Why it Didn’t Come Home: The fabric was bulky for a sizzling hot day in the city, there were some glaring stains that would be costly to remove, and the colors were on the meh side.

Do I Regret Leaving it Behind: Nope.

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Floral Hot Pink Dress

Dress #2: A floral hot pink long sleeved dress that may/may not have been by Betsey Johnson

Why it Didn’t Come Home: I didn’t feel like it would get much use at the moment.

Do I Regret Leaving it Behind: Kinda. It was a beautiful dress with a bold, gorgeous pattern. However, it did resembled many other pieces in my closet already, which is probably why I gravitated towards it. I never saw it again, so I would like to think it wasn’t meant to be.

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1980s Hot Pink Suit Dress

Dress #3: A 1980s hot pink suit dress

Why it Didn’t Come Home: Who wants to feel like a giant Pepto-Bismol bottle?

Do I Regret Leaving it Behind: Hell to the no.

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Street Fair Find

What I Wore to Shop: A blue and white navy-inspired striped dress I found at a street fair in Manhattan.

Why it Came Home: I usually stay away from striped dresses because I feel wide in them. However, this airy little number made me feel super confident and cool for a warm day in the city.

Do I Regret Buying it: Not at all. The dress is still in my closet. It may fit a little snug these days, but I can still rock it – and I will.

Going for an Ava Gardner Look

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

Neither did I.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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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Being an ’80s Baby at Culture Club

I’m not really a big fan of the ’80s. The fashion was, well, loud. The makeup was, well, loud. And aerobics was very, very loud.

Jane Fonda and her leg warmers.
Jane Fonda and her leg warmers.

But I don’t loathe the ’80s completely. It gave me a lot of things I adore. Like the music. All of it.

Madonna's "Dress You Up" single was my first record.
Madonna’s “Dress You Up” single was my first record.

Blast some Duran Duran, Boy George, Poison, Quiet Riot, Queen, A-Ha, or anything from that decade and I’m hitting the dance floor. I’m going to sing my lungs out. I’m going to be a hot sweaty mess.

But I adore it.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Therefore, it made perfect sense for bestie Francis and I to hit up Culture Club, Manhattan’s former official dance club to all things 1980s. Sadly, Culture Club has since closed and no place of its kind seems to exist. Such is life in NYC.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

For the occasion, I wore a vintage Rebecca Minkoff bejeweled red dress that made me feel like a groupie on the Sunset Strip.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

You’ll have to go easy on me because finding this exact same dress online was near impossible. Besides, do you really want to hurt me?

Pre-party selfie.
Pre-party selfie.

I found this piece at a West Village thrift store and I couldn’t find too much info on it. However, discovering pieces from the 1980s is pretty easy online as it’s a relatively recent decade, in comparison to older eras, like the 1960s and anything before that. That’s why I have some other ideas that I would totally rock…and you should, too.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

For a sizzling look from the ’80s, try these: channel your inner Pretty Woman with this extravagant ball gown for $69.95, be a glamour goddess with this cut-out number for $20, flaunt your big…hair with this curvaceous dress for $59, or get physical in plenty of lace for $125. Or, you can have fun on Etsy or even eBay finding lots of other fiery ensembles.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Hasta la vista, Culture Club! You were a blast to party with on a star-studded night.

RIP Culture Club.
RIP Culture Club.

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