Oxblood Obsession

Most people associate me with wearing bold floral prints. It makes perfect sense as, after all, I am a big advocator of adding color to my life.

But sometimes, I like to go to the dark side. And that doesn’t instantly mean grabbing the nearest little black dress (actually, that can be pretty complicated in my closet).

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Photo by Jordan Race

For quite some time now, I’ve been a big fan of moody oxblood, a rich, wine-infused shade that’s dark, luscious, and wonderfully chic for the crisp fall season.

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Photo by Jordan Race

For a weekend at the Henry Norman Hotel in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, I wore a Victorian-meets-1920s oxblood dress that I’ve had for years. Most people think it’s vintage, but would you believe I actually found this back in college at Forever 21? I was young and broke, so the retailer helped me at the time feel fashionable. These days, I prefer thrifting, but I still to my modern classics, like this dress.

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Photo by Jordan Race

As expected, this dress is no longer available at Forever 21, but here are some authentic vintage picks I really like:

If black is your go-to color, shake things up this autumn by falling for oxblood (see what I did there)? It’s a runway-ready hue that flatters everyone and it’s a great way to brighten up your wardrobe just a tad bit.

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Photo by Jordan Race

As for the Henry Norman Hotel? It was delightful? Imagine having an entire apartment all to yourself. That’s what one of the rooms felt like.

Tell me, what do you think of oxblood?

Bettie Page at Madison Square Park

Unlike my first encounter with Marilyn Monroe, I didn’t discover Bettie Page until I was much older, age 9 to be exact. I clearly remember her never-ending curves, those signature raven waves with a perfect fringe, and her red hot pout. There was also that barely-there leopard swimsuit.

The first image I've ever saw of Bettie Page on a postcard.
The first image I’ve ever saw of Bettie Page on a postcard.

I was previously told growing up that Bettie Page had died and was probably killed off by the mob. However, she was alive and living quietly in Florida at the time. She died in the year 2008 at age 85.

Warning: Some boobage below (for those catching up with me in an office setting).

My autographed photo of Bettie Page, also signed by photographer Bunny Yeager.
My autographed photo of Bettie Page, also signed by photographer Bunny Yeager.

My dear friend, renowned filmmaker and Academy Award nominee Mark Mori, made an amazing film on the life and legacy of Bettie Page. He actually spoke with her candidly and she herself narrates the film. You can score a copy of the documentary, along with some other goodies here.

For a Sunday morning stroll in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, I decided to pay tribute to Bettie Page with a goth-meets-bohemian twist.

I actually used to be goth, but that’s a story for another day.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

I wore a slinky, loose-fitting, label-less black dress, which I purchased from a thrift store in the West Village. For a similar look: A Liz Claiborne sleeveless sheath dress for $30 at JC Penny, a crisp cotton sleeveless black dress by UNIQLO for $19.90, a linen sleeveless black dress for $50 at L.L. Bean, or the more body-revealing wrap maxi for $34 at ASOS.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The black floral shawl is also a label-less one that I purchased at a West Village thrift store. For a similar look: A long black lace cardigan for $16.99 at Forever 21, a romantic purple floral kimono for $54.37 at ASOS, a metallic mesh floral kimono for $39 at Forever 21, or the super similar reclaimed vintage maxi kimono dress for $99.67 at ASOS.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The earrings are long golden chandeliers from H&M. They’re no longer available, but I’m really into these long ones for $7 or these gorgeous Art Deco ones for $9.95, both from H&M.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The lipstick is Milani’s Color Statement Moisture Matte Lipstick in Confident, also known as a bold brick red. Milani has it for $6, but I found mine at CVS.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The sunglasses are vintage, but you can easily find a pair for a variety of colors and prices on Etsy.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

As for the Bettie Page tribute I spoke of? I wore my Bettie Page cameo necklace, which I purchased from California-based Etsy vendor Gretha of NeverGrowUpTreasures. She specializes in rockabilly and steampunk pieces, but she also offers these amazing cameo necklaces of old Hollywood stars and pinups that I adore. She can also custom-make a Bettie Page necklace just for you, so hop to it!

Kahve's Iced Vanilla Mint Latte in Hell's Kitchen.
Kahve’s Iced Vanilla Mint Latte in Hell’s Kitchen.

To cool off on a sizzling Sunday morning like this one, I highly recommend heading up to Hell’s Kitchen – no, seriously. You’ll find this adorable small coffee shop called Kahve where they offer this thirst-quenching iced vanilla mint latte highlighting real mint leaves to cool off. It’s my absolute favorite treat from this shop and I tend to pick one up after a long day at the office. It’s divine.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

That’s all for now!

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.

Spring Flowers and Chinese Cuisine

Forget spring and this blog title for just a second folks. New York City was experiencing a glorious 80 degree day. This may sound stuffy for some, but I have Dominican blood running in my veins, so anything that’s somehow related to the tropics gets me excited. I truly feel at my happiest when my skin can soak up that vitamin D (with sunscreen of course).

My view from Central Park.
My view from Central Park.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about the day.

I was invited to a media preview for Philippe on the Upper East Side to celebrate their new East Hamptons location. As someone who has been following this establishment’s history, I knew I had to be there. I was researching for future stories, of course!

A small preview of what was to come.
A small preview of what was to come.

The feast was nothing short of amazing. Succulent Maine lobster, juicy plump shrimp swimming in a tangy sauce, creamy coconut cocktails, and crispy chicken with a sweet-meets-fiery kick were just a few of the many dishes we savored. Even the fried rice was fluffy and perfectly paired with fresh veggies. Philippe impressed with their take on upscale Chinese cuisine and thanks to them, it looks like me and the takeout guy are going on a break.

Philippe knows how to feed hungry writers.
Philippe knows how to feed hungry writers.

And then came dessert. By then my stomach was ready to call it a night, but could you really say no to chocolate or red velvet? Didn’t think so.

Yum.
Yum.

If you are ever on the Upper East Side or in the Hamptons, and you need some Chinese food in your life minus the excess grease, give Philippe a chance. He knows how to please your belly.

After dinner, I was stuffed to say the least. I, along with my plus one, who happened to be my other bestie Alexcia, decided to burn off some calories by walking around. And behold, we encountered The Plaza, one of my favorite places in the world. Like with great Chinese, I could never say no to The Plaza.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

What a happy accident that The Plaza’s flowers matched my dress! And speaking of the ensemble, this is a ’80s floral wiggle dress with dolman (long and loose) sleeves. These type of sleeves also give some wiggle (no pun intended) room for ladies with bigger busts. Our chests deserve to breathe. And the plunging V-neck elongates the body, giving it a leaner, smoother appearance.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

I love the fact that it twirls! If it were up to me, life would be one giant Broadway musical so I can sing and twirl all day.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The dress was purchased from Girl in a Hat Shop on Etsy. I had it tailored for it to go just above the knee, which flatters any woman no matter her age.

I gave my usual red lipstick a break and decided to “think pink.”

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

My earrings, from Forever 21 (ha!), were purchased for about three bucks. They feature actual flowers within the jewel.

My earrings of choice.
My earrings of choice.

I also found this exquisite crown on Fifth Avenue. I believe it belongs to me.

Queen Bee.
Queen Bee.

And the evening concludes! See you all next week.

Goodnight.
Goodnight.

“A Grown-Up Dorothy”

If you’ve managed to survive this winter season in New York City, I salute you. After a seemingly never-ending frost, we’re finally embracing the sun-soaked warmth of the spring season.

It was the perfect occasion for me to meet up with one of my closest friends Francis for a movie night at Lincoln Center, home of the ballet, opera, and Fashion Week. We recently saw The Age of Adaline starring Blake Lively and it was a lovely romantic film filled with gorgeous leading men and yes, one lucky blonde bombshell wearing some heart-stopping vintage couture. Seriously, you should watch this flick just for the costumes.

“Love is timeless.” And so is great fashion.

For the evening, I decided to channel what one co-worker at the office called “a grown up Dorothy.”

“We’re off to see the wizard…”

I wore a nautical-inspired 1970s secretary dress by Jonathan Martin. And yes, it’s called a “secretary dress” because they were created for secretaries! While the piece is from the ’70s, it gave me serious 1940s vibes. I found this dress in mint condition, which is a major score when you’re shopping vintage!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

As you can see, I paired them with red patent heels, which would have made the Wicked Witch of the West green with envy. See what I did there?

As one would say, she's peanut butter and jealous.
As one would say, she’s peanut butter and jealous.

I added my usual corselet waist belt, which I wear about 99% of the time. A waist belt, when worn properly, creates the illusion of a cinched waist and it just makes dresses look all the more polished. It’s important to find one that’s an appropriate size for comfort and designed to complement your waist. I couldn’t live without them. Every woman just looks better when she plays up her waist and natural curves. You can find these nearly anywhere.

I would have curtsied for you, but it wouldn't have ended well.
I would have curtsied for you, but it wouldn’t have ended well. Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I’ve wore these jeweled red earrings, which have been favored by photographers for several photoshoots I’ve done. Everyone thinks they’re vintage, but I bought these at Forever 21 for about three bucks nearly six years ago! They don’t make ’em like before.

Girls need big jewels. Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Girls need big jewels.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Oh, and that diamond-encrusted pin? That’s vintage. I believe it’s from the 1930s and I bought it at a flea market for about five bucks. I purposely included it because, well, my boobs decided to betray me. One button kept popping out and I just wasn’t in the mood to star in my own peep-show!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Ladies, if you have a similar problem, make sure you take your outfit to the tailor. He/she can make magic happen. Also, I always carry a gorgeous-looking pin in case I have any sudden wardrobe malfunctions. You never know.

When in doubt, add a brooch.
When in doubt, add a brooch.

Well, I’m off now because “there’s no place like home.”