The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

When I was growing up, I thought Elvira was the coolest undead broad around. She was wickedly funny, had a Ronnie Spector beehive for days, and let’s be real, the woman has a seriously banging body.

What’s not to love about this sinfully seductive ghoul?

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Several years ago, I had the ah-mazing opportunity to interview Cassandra Peterson, the woman behind the iconic pinup. Everything about it was kept top secret, and rightfully so. As you can imagine, there would be some mass hysteria among her growing fans if anyone knew her of her whereabouts. However, Cassandra was one of the most sweetest women I’ve ever had the pleasure to spend an evening with. We spoke about her encounters with Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, and the memoir that I kept begging her to write and publish.

It was truly one of my favorite interviews of all time.

The ageless Cassandra Peterson
The ageless Cassandra Peterson

So when I found this slinky black dress during one of my thrifting adventures, I fell in love. I mean, just look at it. I could easily be a macabre mistress. All I needed was the hair (which I could easily achieve if I wake up and don’t brush my hair/slather on coconut oil/empty out my hairspray), and pat on some Manic Panic Virgin White Powder from my teenage goth years.

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For about $12 bucks I believe, this dress was as va-va-voom as it could possibly get. And would you believe it was from the very modern Madonna for Macy’s collection? I wasn’t going to take it home with me, because really, when will I ever have a moment to wear this? But friends thought I was crazy for leaving this behind. I went to the thrift shop the following day and sure enough, it was still on the hanger, waiting for me.

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I have yet to rock it, but with Halloween approaching, it could be my own take on the Elvira costume. And the lady herself sells plenty of accessories to make your Halloween devilishly delightful. The sleeves aren’t certainly the same as the real thing, but let’s just say the other assets work. And with Elvira’s fabulous hair, people will get the picture.

How will you be daring this Halloween?

Fourth of July (Also Known as the First Time I Wore an Apron)

Fourth of July is the American holiday made for honoring one’s pride by watching fireworks, having Lana Del Rey on heavy rotation, and filling your belly with BBQ while enjoying golden rays of sunshine on the beach.

Tell me I'm your national anthem...with the perfect Instagram filter.
Tell me I’m your national anthem…with the perfect Instagram filter.

I’m all about that life, but for one particular Fourth of July weekend, I celebrated with cocktails.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Not too long ago, I was invited to a special celebration hosted by Pinnacle Vodka where we learned how to pair seasonal summer dishes with playful libations. It was held at My Cooking Party in Chelsea and the special guest was the lovely Claire Robinson from the Food Network. This woman knows how to throw a fun party and maybe someday, I can host just like her.

Chef Claire Robinson
Claire Claire Robinson

Robinson shared some of her go-to party recipes, which you can easily recreate at home. My personal favorite was her creamy icebox cake, which you can top with your favorite berries. And what’s more patriotic than strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream?

Sugar & Spicebox Cake
Sugar & Spicebox Cake

Here’s how to make it:

Chef Claire Robinson’s Sugar & Spicebox Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 9 to 12 chocolate graham crackers, broken into squares
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Strawberries and blueberries (optional)

Preparation

  1. Beat 2 cups cream with 6 tablespoons sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until it just holds soft peaks. Reduce speed to low, then add cream cheese and mix until combined.
  2. Spread 1 1/4 cups cream cheese mixture evenly in bottom of springform pan and cover with graham crackers. Spread with another 1 1/4 cups cream cheese mixture, followed by graham crackers in the same manner. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture on top. Smooth top, then cover pan with foil and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer from freezer to refrigerator and chill, covered, until a sharp knife inserted into center cuts through softened graham crackers easily, about 8 hours.
  3. Pulse remaining graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground.
  4. Beat remaining cup cream with cinnamon and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar using electric mixer at medium speed until it just holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and side of pan and frost cake with cinnamon cream. Serve cold.
  6. Decorate with whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries on top.

Renowned mixologist Niccole Trzaska was also present to show us how to whip up celebratory cocktails.

Mixologist Niccole Trzaska
Mixologist Niccole Trzaska

She taught me how to make this festive drink. While I was pretty impressed with my mixing skills, I should probably stick to my day job.

My Red, White, and Blue cocktail.
My Red, White, and Blue cocktail.

Because there was some cooking, erm, mixing involved, I wore an apron. You guys, this was my first time ever!

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

Here’s another look because who knows when this will happen again:

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

For the event, I wore a grey Calvin Klein sheath dress, which means that it’s designed to be fitted for your body shape. A sheath dress shouldn’t fall no where below the knee, making it great for the summer season. I’m also a fan of Calvin Klein couture because he’s very forgiving in the sizing department. You don’t have to be a model to fit into any of his clothes.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez
Photo by Francis Rodriguez

I purchased this dress at a thrift store in the West Village, but there seems to be a ton of similar looks on eBay, all by Calvin Klein. For other Calvin Klein picks, here are my favorites: There’s the belted sheath dress in charcoal offered by Macy’s for $89.98, an A-line variation with faux leather by Lord & Taylor for $66.55, another cotton-printed sheath by Macy’s for $88.99, as well as an all-while moto ensemble from Calvin Klein’s actual online shop for $108.

And if you missed the ’90s, rocking some Calvin Klein is the perfect way to rekindle some of those memories from the era without appearing dated.

So tell me, how did you celebrate the Fourth?

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