The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Louise Brooks

When many think of flappers from the “Roaring ’20s,” images like these come to mind:

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore
Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck

And of course, there are 1920 fashion guides, like this one, to help:

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But one overlooked garment from the famous era is the kimono. And really, what’s not to love about this comfortable, silky loungewear that instantly adds glamour to your home? The kimono was also big during this era as it was looser, easy to wear, and functional. The 1996 book, “The Kimono Inspiration: Art and Art-To-Wear in America” gives a lot of wonderful insight about the traditional Japanese piece and its impact in the United States over the years.

One silent screen star who made the kimono one of her signature looks was Louise Brooks. Apparently, it was her thing, along with a carefully cut bob.

Kimono-101

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During one of my thrifting adventures, I found this bold red kimono. While it’s more on the wiggle side, eliminating that loose comfort one would expect from a more traditional kimono, I felt ready for my close-up.

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Loungewear? Pul-eeze. This baby was meant to be worn out. I will need to work on my tip-toe walking, as modern steps won’t do in this gown, but that’s just another workout that comes with fashion.

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It sure beats those usual flapper getups that every Gatsby-obsessed dame goes head over heels for. And don’t get me wrong, I adore those waist-drop dresses too, but sometimes you just have to stand out. And who wouldn’t want to learn a thing or two from the “Kansas Cleopatra?”

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I can’t wait to rock this dress for a special occasion. Hopefully all those gin cocktails from past dinners and soirees haven’t caught up to me yet. How tragic would it be if my big ol’ butt couldn’t squeeze into this again?!

The Jazz Age Lawn Party Part Deux

Remember when I first told you about one of the most important summer events of the year, also known as The Jazz Age Lawn Party at Governor’s Island? It’s back for another round this weekend — and so am I.

READ: The Jazz Age Lawn Party Part Une

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I previously gushed about this lovely, sun-soaked soiree where you can do the Charleston with fellow flappers, quench your thirst with some hooch, all thanks to St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and show off your finest 1920s threads, of course.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

It’s seriously the cat’s pajamas.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Need convincing on why you should travel back to the Roaring Twenties and celebrate with Jay Gatsby and Clara Bow? Check out this snazzy trailer on the annual event here.

Francis took plenty of lovely photos along the way:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

This is Dreamland Orchestra (and Jazz Age Lawn Party Originator) Michael Arenella doing his thing:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Francis even made some new friends:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I wore this navy polka dot dress by vintage-inspired retailer ModCloth.com. It’s one of my favorite online shops ever and their personal stylists always make the best recommendations. This dress is no longer available, but they have a ton of 1920s-esque gowns and polka dot ensembles to make you the bee’s knees any day of the year.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I wore my favorite pearls and a matching paper hat to beat the sizzling heat.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

And of course, I cooled off with a sparkling St. Germain cocktail. It’s a must-have for your bar to make your soirees extra special…and delicious.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

The Jazz Age Lawn Party had another go this weekend, but if you missed, don’t worry…come back next year and party with us!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Regrets…I’ve Had a Few

Ever had a moment inside the fitting room where you were trying something on that looks absolutely magical on the hanger, and you think it’s going to work out, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t? Perhaps you look more like a sack of potatoes with one crop too many, a zipper is being rowdy, or a thread is loose…Something seems off. So you leave it behind, thinking, “Oh well, maybe next time.” Your wallet may be feeling nice and hefty, but come sunset, your mind is overflowing with thoughts of that garment. Desire overpowers your senses.

You. Must. Buy. It. Anyway.

Except, when you go back the next day, it’s gone. Poof.

Gone.
Gone.

Here is one thing you must remember:

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Yes, I’ve had many thrifting regrets. There was that Kate Spade navy number made fit for a 1950s socialite. The floor-length gown with plenty of gold beading. The super delicate 1920s flapper dress with fading lace. The silky pink Oscar De La Renta pajamas.

You get the picture.

These things could have been mine. But for whatever reason, I didn’t think we were a match. But we were! And they ran off to another shopper, someone who believed in them. Someone ready to love without commitment issues.

Silly me.

Here’s a prime example:

You're in danger, girl.
You’re in danger, girl.

I found this floral dress by an unknown designer. When I tried it I thought, “Geez, I have that many rolls?” “How big is this thing?” “I’m feeling meh.” “Do I really need another black dress, former goth girl?” “Stephanie wearing florals, predictable much?” “Come on, Steph. That 20 bucks can go to something else. Like another amazing dress.”

Fool.

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The next day, I thought, “But wait! It’s perfect! It’s large enough to hide bloat during you know when!” “It’s florals, I love florals!” “Black everyday!”

When I went back, gone. We never had closure.

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Moral of the story? If you’re unsure whether a vintage piece really looks good on you or not, take plenty of photos from all sides. Really look at your images in the fitting room, while you still have the piece in your sweaty, unsure hands. Is there a part of you that still wants it? If so take it – remember, it’s one of a kind, so you may never see it again. If you feel nothing, well, let some other dame enjoy it.

But seriously, think about it and think hard before letting go. And if you do feel that sense of urgency to get the piece later on, go immediately to the store, no more than 24 hours since the last visit. You’ll have a better chance of retrieving it. However, be aware that someone else may have beaten you to it. This is a thrifting hunt we’re talking about.

I will get over it, eventually. But first, let me deal with my sorrow with some retail therapy.

The Jazz Age Lawn Party Part Une

Vintage enthusiasts all over New York City look forward to one of the most important  events of the year: The Jazz Age Lawn Party.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Recognized as the city’s “original prohibition era inspired gathering,” it was first conceived by bandleader Michael Arenella of the Dreamland Orchestra 10 years ago(!). What was once just a modest get-together of around 50 people at Governor’s Island looking to channel their inner flappers and gents of the 1920s, has transformed into a massive soiree of the retro nouveau movement in the city. And thanks to the 2013 film The Great Gatsby, everyone wants to party like Jay.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

While it has been a long tradition of mine to go every year, I’m gearing up for a weekend getaway outside of the city so sadly, it was not meant to be in June 2015. However, I’m happy to share last year’s festivities with you.

Governor's Island.
Governor’s Island.

For the previous event, I wore a silk dress that I bought at a thrift store in the East Village for I believe less than 20 dollars, Forever 21 mini leggings with a lace trim, and black pumps. I also wore a matching ivory fascinator. My lipstick was Bobbi Brown’s Red, which features a soft-matte finish. In other words, the color would last beyond plenty of giggle water.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Check out Francis’ ensemble. Isn’t she the bee’s knees?

The Bee's Knees.
The Bee’s Knees.

I’m not big on fascinators, but it certainly added a nice touch to the overall ensemble. While most people think of flapper gowns for an event like this, I wanted to give my outfit a unique throwback twist.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Like any swanky soiree, there were plenty of jewels to be found.

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As well as thirst-quenching St. Germain cocktails.

Yum.
Yum.

And yes, pie.

Yum (again).
Yum (again).

I love the fact that everyone, including children, dressed up for this affair!

Cutie patooties.
Cutie patooties.

Seriously, whether you’re obsessed with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, want to explore the local vintage scene, or just want something ah-mazing to do on a weekend, I highly recommend The Jazz Age Lawn Party a million times over. While the Jazz Party is happening again today (Sunday), you can also snag tickets for August. In that month, I’ll also debut part two just for you.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.