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.

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.

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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.