The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Ariel (and Failing)

Confession: This entry does not take place in a fitting room.

I know, I know, this can’t be a fitting room chronicle if it doesn’t take place, well, in a fitting room right? Well, this lady here has been quite busy with a move an all, so bear with me.

Have you ever spotted an outfit that looked heavenly, it was on sale, and you thought it would be an amazing fit, when it was a major no? That just happened to me.

Lately, I’ve been stocking up on casual accessories from H&M and lucky for me, they’ve been having a sale. I spotted this gorgeous teal dress that I thought would transform me into Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.”

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Walt Disney Studios
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Walt Disney Studios

Let’s just say it didn’t work out.

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Walt Disney Studios

Sure, the dress below may have looked like a million dollars on, but I felt more like a two buck chuck. I can assure you, it had nothing to do with H&M’s design. However, their sizing was on the super tiny side and my big ol’ butt wasn’t having it.

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Photo by Jordan Race

God forbid I would bend down…or exhale. But while holding my breath, I looked fabulous. Sadly, I really felt like this:

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Walt Disney Studios

Nope, I would not become part of your world with this outfit on. I wouldn’t become a sexy siren for a date night, or any night for that matter. And I was fine with that. I could use those $15 dollars to buy a vintage dress that would indeed make me feel like a gorgeous dame.

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Photo by Jordan Race

My advice to you? If something looks spectacular on the hanger and you don’t feel like trying it on at the store because you’re feeling that lucky, make sure you can return the item back and get a refund. It’s important you try on everything you buy because you’re dressing for your body. Sizes, cuts, designs, and fabrics can all impact your shape and it may not look like the best investment after all. This has nothing to do with you, going on a diet, or avoiding being an Ursula because let’s face it, Ursula’s got major red lipstick game.

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Walt Disney Studios

It’s about purchasing a quality piece you can feel comfortable in and rock effortlessly.

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Photo by Jordan Race

When it comes to buying dresses, there are plenty of fish in the retail sea. You’ve just gotta catch something made for you.

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Walt Disney Studios

And really, why should I be Ariel when I can be Stephanie? I hear she’s quite the catch. Yes, I’m speaking in third person (well, writing). Fin.

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Going for Flower Power

I’ve have a long fascination with the styles from the ’40s and ’50s. However, during one brief moment in my life, it was all about embracing my inner hippie.

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Janis Joplin

At one point in college, I thought about living in an actual community farm in California where I can grow my own vegetables, listen to Janis Joplin all day, as well as wake up every morning with flowers in my hair and tie dye on my skin. As you can imagine, this phase was, well, just a phase.

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I also wanted to be a cast-member of the 1973 rock opera movie “Jesus Christ Superstar” – AND I STILL DO.

But my love for flowers? Well, that’s been a lifelong affair. Nearly my entire closet is a massive bouquet. I need floral prints in my life to feel alive, to feel like me. I have no explanation for it, I just do it.

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Who wouldn’t want to look like Lana Turner?

One day while shopping for some accessories at H&M, I spotted this floral mini dress on sale, which reminded me of that one brief moment when I was going to go by Gardenia (my favorite flower) and live on the fruits of my labor.

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Although it was a breezy $15, I decided not to take it. The dress just didn’t do anything for me. I wasn’t excited. I didn’t imagine swanky parties, boozy brunches, casual get-togethers, or exhilirating nights to rock this dress. I was just left with a reflection of something that was no longer me. So I left it behind. My wallet was thrilled.

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Like that random moment in my life, this dress came and went, but ultimately, it just wasn’t for my closet.

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However, you best believe I will never give up on Janis Joplin. True love never dies.

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So tell me, have you ever had any random fashion moments in your life?

Finding Glamour in Maine: Part 2

Check out Finding Glamour in Maine: Part 1

One thing I loved about my visit to Maine? The food.

Jordan ready to stuffed his face (even though he doesn't like seafood like moi).
Jordan ready to stuffed his face (even though he doesn’t like seafood like moi).

Buttery lobster, crispy halibut, pounds of steamy mussels drizzled with freshly squeezed lemon juice – it’s a seafood lover’s paradise.

One of my many lobster rolls with a pasta salad.
One of my many lobster rolls with a pasta salad.
Jordan's veggie stir fry.
Jordan’s veggie stir fry.

But it’s not just fresh seafood this petite state has to offer. Wild berries, thirst-quenching cocktails, and mountain-sized ice cream cones covered with “jimmies” are just some of the many treats to be found here.

Wild Maine blueberries.
Wild Maine blueberries.
Maine sangria with local blueberries.
Maine sangria with local blueberries.
Night ice cream.
Night ice cream.
Day ice cream.
Day ice cream.

I’m pretty sure I gained a few pounds – just in time to keep me warm during the chilly winter months to come.

Anyway.

While staying at The Lighthouse Inn & Carriage House, I decided to go nautical with a navy dress featuring white stripes (Jack White not included – I’ll be here all night, folks).

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

My dress, which was thrifted, features a wrap-around piece, which i chose to ignore. I like to break rules.

Posing with sand-covered slippers. Photo by Jordan Race
Posing with sand-covered slippers.
Photo by Jordan Race

For a similar look:

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

For days when I felt like lounging around, I decided to add comfort to my wardrobe with a touch of glamour, all thanks to Hollywood bombshell Eva Mendes and her New York & Company collection.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

I ADORE Eva’s dresses because the fit is super comfortable, they’re designed to enhance your natural curves, and they have a vintage look/feel with modern fabric and tailoring. It’s the best of both worlds.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

This dress is from a previous season, but you can get some (or all) of Eva’s current designs at a New York & Company near you.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

The view wasn’t too shabby, right?

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Don’t forget to come back next week and find out how I made it in Maine!

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Azul Rooftop Bar at Hotel Hugo

If you’re new to my blog, here’s one thing you should know: one of my besties (Francis) and I are big rooftop fans. We’ve made it our duty to visit every single one in NYC.

On top of Hotel Hugo.
On top of Hotel Hugo.

So when we learned about the new Cuban-inspired Azul at Hotel Hugo between SoHo and the Hudson, we just had to check it out.

Photo by me.
Photo by me.

In typical fashion, we met up after 5PM for cocktails and decided to first explore the tranquil Hudson Square neighborhood. I love it because it’s quiet and picturesque, yet just blocks away from bustling, supermodel-loaded SoHo.

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

Remember when I was channeling my inner Golden Girl in the fitting room? Well, this is the dress.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

The piece is a v-neck ensemble from H&M featuring a soft rayon fabric and a gorgeous jungle print. It’s currently on sale for $20.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I completed the look with gold jewelry, like this panther necklace, also from H&M. It’s no longer available, but I would have also worn this decadent chunky gold chain, also from the popular retailer. Of course, vintage cat-eye sunglasses, black pumps, and one of my signature reds, Sephora’s Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, also made an appearance.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

When we finally made our way to Hotel Hugo, we first explored Bar Hugo, the rooftop bar below the rooftop. With cocktails like Giggle Juice and Lavender Daisy, it was quite the crowd. We briefly stopped by to enjoy the view, but soon quickly went upstairs to see Azul.

Francis channeling her inner Marilyn at Bar Hugo.
Francis channeling her inner Marilyn at Bar Hugo.

Imagine escaping to a breezy, sun-soaked island where the beats of hip-swiveling salsa greet you at the door.

Azul Rooftop Bar at Hotel Hugo
Azul Rooftop Bar at Hotel Hugo

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You’re then welcomed with slushy passionfruit mojitos to quench your thirst.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

It’s a brain-freezer, but its sweetness is well worth the pain and packs a major punch for a tantalizing, downright delicious drink. Don’t just get one, trust me.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

You can relax with a laid-back crowd and savor all of downtown Manhattan from sunset and beyond.

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

We soon decided to hang out by the pier to watch boats and yachts float by.

View from above at Azul.
View from above at Azul. Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Bagel, anyone? This is NYC after all.

Bagel art in NYC.
Bagel art in NYC.

Hope you’ll join us at the next rooftop outing!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

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.

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!

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.