The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling Marilyn (Again) for 2016

New Year’s Eve is probably one of the most stressful nights of the year.

All that anticipating of finding the perfect outfit to welcome a new year is no easy task. Suddenly, everything in my closet transforms into rags and staying in bed sounds like a better idea.

On New Year’s Eve, I made a last-minute attempt to find the perfect dress by visiting my local thrift store. I was fortunate enough to find this brand-new, floor-length gorgeous golden gown. Best of all? It was only $16.

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This dress instantly reminded me of Marilyn Monroe, of course. Who could possibly forget that other iconic dress she wore for “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” in 1953?

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According to old Hollywood style expert Kimberly Truhler, that famous “sunburst” dress was originally designed by William Travilla for fellow blonde bombshell Betty Grable, who wore it in 1952’s “Dreamboat.” When Monroe saw it, she allegedly loved it so much that she insisted on wearing the piece and it ultimately became hers. The fit looks so spectacular on the star because she was apparently sewn into the dress.

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While I wasn’t sewn into this piece, I might as well have. It was about two sizes too small, but who cares? I felt fabulous.

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Photo by Jordan Race

As for New Year’s Eve? Would you believe I didn’t go out after all? Well, now I have a brand new gown to debut any day of the year. And I can assure you, this is no rag.

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Photo by Jordan Race

 

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Getting Snuggly (Like Jane Russell)

I’m not a fan of winter. At all.

You can keep your snowy winter wonderland, mugs of hot chocolate, and endless holidays (alright, I’ll take the hot chocolate). Me? I prefer being a beach bum somewhere on a tropical island.

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It’s bizarre, I know. I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised. Winter should be as natural as swearing, hailing a cab, or caw-fee. But I’ve never been a fan of the cold. By the time fall comes, I’m already depressed. During the winter months, I want to hibernate all season long. In springtime, I’m skeptical, but then summer? Party every day!

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Jane gets it.

Unfortunately, I cannot completely escape the winter this year, so I might as well make it as stylish as possible. So when I found this oversized, super cozy Karen Millen cardigan at a thrift store, I was delighted. I felt warm and stylish. It’s a winter fashion miracle!

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It got me thinking about Jane Russell, the brunette beauty from the 1940s and 1950s. While she was a sizzling pinup on the big screen, she didn’t shy away from sweaters and other wintry looks. And while her pieces could have easily made anyone else look like a swollen potato, Jane Russell made them look fabulous?

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Her secret? Sure, she’s got great genes, but Jane also plays up her face. This means that no matter what she wore, her makeup was always immaculate. From lush lashes to a red hot pout, Jane always looked camera-ready for any occasion, even if it was as simple as cozying up with a good book, hot chocolate, or lover.

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Winters will always be here and, depending on where you live, you cannot avoid bundling up unless you like the feeling of frost bite. But, that doesn’t mean you should toss aside your personal style. If you must wear something that’s normally not a piece you would go for, make sure you pair it with something that makes you feel, well fabulous. It can be a pair of rhinestone earrings that you always save for a special occasion, a red lipstick that always makes you feel like a bombshell, skinny black pants a la Audrey Hepburn, fake eyelashes to make your eyes dazzle – whatever. Just take it out and flaunt it. Not only will you feel more confident, but it will always be a unique way to showcase your personal style. And one big perk? You won’t freeze.

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Sure, I was pant-less in the fitting room, but nothing makes me feel as good in the winter (or any season for that matter) as wearing red lipstick. And I think this winter coming up, I might have to stay warm in this piece, all while wearing my red lipstick.

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Thanks Jane Russell for the inspiration! Now I feel like watching “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

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The Fitting Room Chronicles: Wiggle Here, Wiggle There

On Facebook, a friend of mine posted this definition of the wiggle dress:

1950s actress Jayne Mansfield
1950s actress Jayne Mansfield

A dress whose hem is narrower than the hips, causing the wearer to walk in short strides with legs close together, producing a sway or ‘wiggle’ of the hips. A fitted dress which enhances an hourglass figure. Every gal should own a wiggle dress or two or ten.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Wiggle dresses were extremely popular in the 1950s, when blonde bombshells like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield wore dangerously alluring, tight-fitting garments dresses that felt like second skin and flaunted every single curve on their breathtaking bodies.

Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield

Marilyn Monroe was even known to have dresses sewn directly on her figure. One example that comes to mind is her infamous “Happy Birthday” dress, which she wore in President John F. Kennedy’s birthday bash in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Marilyn Monroe in her
Marilyn Monroe in her “Happy Birthday” dress.

I did not find a similar piece and I won’t be impressing government officials anytime soon, but I did find this lovely nude number.

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I believe it’s from the ’50s, and in true classic wiggle fashion, it fits like second skin. Sitting? Ha, that’s just for amateurs. But the best part? It was a mere 18 bucks. Gotta love those thrifting deals.

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Ladies, you need a wiggle dress, whether it’s for date night or a “just because” evening affair involving jazz or cocktails. Most vintage-inspired clothing lines offer them (Stop Staring! and Pinup Girl Clothing quickly come to mind). Or, you can hunt for one while thrifting.

Regrets? I have none.

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

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!

Celebrating Marilyn Monroe at Pop!

Blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe would have been 89 on June 1st. Although she passed away at age 36 in 1962, her legacy has lived on, capturing the hearts of millions throughout the world, including mine. So when Pop International Galleries in SoHo was debuting a new exhibition dedicated to Ms. Monroe, you know I was going to be there. The exhibition is called “Happy Birthday Marilyn Monroe!” and it features the works of seven renowned photographers who’ve captured the many iconic and even little-seen looks of the Hollywood star. Here are the photographers you can expect to see:

Lazlo Willinger
Lazlo Willinger
Milton Greene
Milton Greene
Kashio Aoki
Kashio Loki
William Carroll
William Carroll
George Barris
George Barris
Bert Stern
Bert Stern
Andre de Dienes
Andre de Dienes

For the exhibition opening, I gave my usual corselet belt a break *gasp* and decided to go for a golden vintage-inspired dress by……drumroll……H&M.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

H&M always offers great deals, but I usually prefer waiting for a sale, where you can easily get nice pieces for half the price, which is exactly what I did with this floral cotton dress.

Photo by Alexcia Foster.
Photo by Alexcia Foster.

It seems to no longer be available, but I’m really into this one ($34.95), this one ($30), and this one ($24.99).

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The lipstick I’m wearing is Revlon’s creamy Certainly Red. It’s less than 10 bucks and lasts beyond glasses of wine and savoring French cheeses at a gallery.

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

This photo was taken when I was nearly photobombed by Mike Myers. You might know him from films, like “Wayne’s World,” “Austin Powers,” and even “Shrek” for you youngins out there. Of course, I didn’t say anything. I’m a New Yawker. We don’t do that. It’s all about the quick glances, WTF stares, and quiet smiles of acknowledgement.

Yeah, I know.
Yeah, I know.

The evening ended with a quiet stroll through Washington Square Park in the Village.

Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park

The “Happy Birthday Marilyn Monroe” exhibition ends on July 1st, so go check it out pronto!

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

Becoming Beyonce (for a Night)

Beyonce Knowles and I have a lot in common. We’re both occasional vegans. We’re so over Destiny’s Child. We’re also mega pop stars dressed by Thierry Mugler.

Fierce.
Fierce.

Alright, that last part just applies to Beyonce. But there’s one other thing we do have in common. We’re all about the finer things in life.

That Carbone cheesecake is looking mighty fine right about now.
That Carbone cheesecake is looking mighty fine right about now.

Beyonce and her husband, rap mogul Jay Z, are one of many reportedly spotted at Manhattan’s hottest restaurant: Carbone. Anyone who’s anyone dines at this old (but fairly new) school joint. Upon entering, you’ll feel as if you’re transported back to the 1940s and Frank Sinatra is serenading to you while Ava Gardner is caressing her champagne flute nearby.

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Frank and Ava.

It’s a culinary palace where girls are  giddy as their lovers order rum-fueled mai tais, your servers or “captains” wear Zac Posen tuxedos, and a sea of plump lobster ravioli fills your tummy.

My mai tai and I are getting along quite nicely.
My mai tai and I are getting along quite nicely.

It’s no wonder Bey and her posse come here to eat. For my night out with Jordan at Carbone, I wore this red hot chiffon dress by Walter Baker, a New York City-based designer whose pieces can be found in retailers, like Bloomingdale’s and Saks. He hasn’t dressed Beyonce, but it’s because Rihanna took that spot.

Photo by Jordan Race.
Photo by Jordan Race.

But just like Queen Bee, I paired my ensemble with a bottle of Armand de Brignac, also known as Ace of Spades. You could get a bottle of the coveted champagne for around $300, but if you have over two grand, consider their more extravagant 30-liter bottle of rosé. I hear it’s quite fabulous.

Photo by Jordan Race.
Photo by Jordan Race.

Beyonce was spotted pouring the pricey bubbly in a hot tub for a music video (come on guys, that’s just water, right…right?!), but I donated mine to the beau instead. He apparently felt head over heels for its crisp, golden apple notes.

Baller.
Baller.

Unfortunately for me, I only discovered excess notes of creamy butter, which was a bit too rich for my taste (no pun intended). Perhaps I’m just a Dom girl like Marilyn Monroe, but I’m not opposed to exploring Armand’s take on rosé for another night.

Sometimes you need something more than diamonds.
Sometimes you need something more than diamonds.

So Beyonce if you’re reading this, hit a girl up. We can toss some bubbly, go shopping, and argue over who runs the world. I’m going with girls. Just saying.

Photo by Jordan Race.
Photo by Jordan Race.