The Fitting Room Chronicles: Take it Off

Have you ever found a perfect vintage piece while thrifting, but you weren’t in love with the sleeves? Perhaps they were too tight, too puffy, or just so not right?

Here’s an idea: take it off.

You read that right, sweet cheeks!
You read that right, sweet cheeks!

Look, I get the fact that not too many people are super confident about their arms (I know I’m not). We all can’t be First Lady Michelle Obama.

Really, Michelle?
Really, Michelle?

But seriously, who cares? Your so-called flaws deserve to shine and the right outfit can make you both look and feel like a star. For some of my dresses, I have the sleeves remove to give the piece a completely different look, all while being able to still wear it with ease. And for those sudden chilly days or nights, I simply pair it with a cardigan or shawl.

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I recently found this bright purple kimono dress from the 1970s-80s featuring a fan print. While the dress itself was a comfortable fit, the sleeves were attacking my bulging biceps. What to do? I took the dress anyway and I had my tailor removed the sleeves. The result? You’ll have to wait and find out!

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Don’t be afraid to give a vintage piece some new life. Whether it’s removing sleeves, trimming it in half, or doing something completely different to enhance your personal style, I say do it. It’s a great way to have a custom-made piece that’s meant for you and you alone. Not only will you give your thrifted piece a new chance to be shown, but it will present a new angle that’s never been seen before – until you decided to make it happen.

So, have you ever altered your vintage piece to make it your very own? I want to hear all about it.

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And for some ideas, read up on how I took a Hawaiian dress and made it look super brand new by taking off the sleeves.

But wait! Here’s a sneak preview:

Photo by Alexcia Foster
Photo by Alexcia Foster

The Fitting Room Chronicles: The ’90s Are Back (Kinda)

The 1990s were all about collecting Trolls (the dolls, people!), attempting to wear baggy jeans a la Kriss Kross that were so huge, Jimmy Hoffa was probably hiding in them, Puka shells, and those jelly sandals that melted under the sun, along with your feet.

Thank the lord the 1990s are over.
Thank God the 1990s are over.

But not all of the ’90s were bad! We had the Spice Girls (Ginger will always be my girl), those pacifier necklaces that I apparently had in every color, all the babydoll dresses graced by Courtney Love, and plenty of Black Cherry or Toast of New York lipstick.

This is more like it.
This is more like it.

Perhaps I feel somewhat grossed out that the ’90s are considered vintage to some. I mean, I was alive in that era! I remember it well! That was like, 20 years ago! As if! Whatever!

Yup.
Yup.

Anyway…

On a recent trip to one of my favorite thrift stores in The Village, I found this blast from the past.

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TGI…S (it was Saturday).

Normally, I don’t go for cartoony prints or super body-hugging ensembles, but this was somewhat perfect. Back when I was a wee child of the ’90s, I remember bootleggers on the block selling these awesome Looney Tunes t-shirts that would go perfectly with Kriss Kross jeans. This reminded me of those and I was feeling rather nostalgic. Also, as super body-hugging as this outfit was, I felt like I was wearing one big t-shirt. Win.

Just me.
Just me.

Do I still think the ’90s are technically vintage? Not really. But I’m also pretty biased. Personally, anything between the ’30s-’60s is considered vintage to me, and then we’re entering retro territory (hello ’80s and ’90s). Maybe because these eras are nowhere near my lifetime and finding such pieces in near-excellent condition for a swell price is like discovering gold, they hold a greater status for me and such, can be members of the true Vintage club. Honestly, pieces from ’70s-’90s are super accessible at stores, and hello, I was alive during the ’90s! I remember grunge bands when they were still touring in Seattle!

But enough of all that. I’m just going to kick back with one of my favorite throwbacks right here:

Frasier fans, represent!
Frasier fans, represent!

Who knows, I might bring these back, too:

You're my butterfly, sugar baby.
You’re my butterfly, sugar baby.

Are you kidding me? No I won’t.

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Feeling Lauren Bacall Vibes

My friends know me best for rocking  florals, but one print I’ve always loved? Polka dots, of course.

There’s something about this classic design that purrs old Hollywood. Think of any leading lady from the past and I guarantee you she rocked polka dots. However, no one made adorable circles look so fierce quite like Lauren Bacall.

ba107c542e97a3326b7b24205dbc49db e96c9eb80cdd05ef957e78e8e298c505 1372894886101008687yZP0nuNcYes reader, I’m aware this screen siren owned The Look and no one else can go near that, but I was feeling some serious Lauren Bacall vibes on a recent thrifting trip.

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I found this label-less sheer navy dress with white polka dots and I was in love. I just felt like me…The pearls I wore to my shopping outing definitely enhance the overall appearance of the dress, but I was loving its casual, yet put-together retro style that works for brunch, a casual night out…or just because.

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The shoulder pads needed to be popped. For the record I always take off shoulder pads from any piece. I’m just not into the linebacker look. Yet, this dress was coming home with mama.

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But lately, I was feeling inspired by this fellow New Yorker. Earlier this year, FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) featured an exhibition titled “Lauren Bacall: The Look,” which was dedicated to her legacy in the fashion world, as well as her relationships with the many designers lucky enough to dress her.

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It was a real treat to stand just inches away from garments that once hugged the star.

Check out that pink French creation, a gift from 1968.
Check out that pink French creation, a gift from 1968.

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I may not be BFFs with Yves Saint Laurent, but I’m all about channeling My Look, with the help of Ms. Bacall.

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The Fitting Room Chronicles: Getting Dior for 19 Bucks (and Other Things)

Ever told yourself, “I’m only spending x amount of dollars and no more” before entering a store? I did today – and failed.

But I did succeed in other areas. Here me out.

I must say, I’m very thankful for being a thrifting fan. I probably save way more money than the usual shopper who prefers snagging their outfits at retail stores. For example, I found this majestic Christian Dior kimono gown – and it was only 19 dollars. Good luck spending that amount in Christian Dior for anything.

Christian Dior Kimono Gown
Christian Dior Kimono Gown

At first, I wasn’t going to get it because it was super wide for a size medium. I probably could create a couture tent while staying overnight at Yellowstone National Park (yeah right, I don’t camp hahahah).

Glamping
Glamping

But upon applying a leather corselet belt to cinch everything in and enhance a waist, I was in awe by its rich autumnal hues and flowy fabric, an ideal ensemble for the cooler fall months in New York City. And it’s Dior, enough said.

Dior, baby.
Dior, baby.

Oh, and for 19 dollars, it will always fit. Now that’s a deal.

Another win I earned during my shopping trip? This comfy Zara dress made out of linen and cotton. It’s super breathable for the sticky, icky summer we’re experiencing.

Zara
Zara

Beware of seemingly cool fabrics, like silk, during the summer. You’ll feel like this:

Hot potato.
Hot potato.

But for 15 dollars, Zara will keep me looking (and feeling) cool for casual days and nights out.

Winning with Zara.
Winning with Zara.

But not everything was a major success today. And I think my wallet is pretty thankful about that.

There was this dress. It looked fabulous on the hanger. But on me? It looks like I was being devoured by Ursula. And if you ever saw “The Little Mermaid,” you would know Ursula is not someone you want to piss off.

The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Noooooooo!
The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Noooooooo!

There was also this ensemble. It was a flowy Japanese waist drop dress. I love how super comfortable I felt, but I wasn’t crazy about how I looked. I don’t need guys offering me seats on the subway because they think there’s a bun in the oven.

Japanese  Waist Drop Dress (without belt).
Japanese Waist Drop Dress (without belt).

I applied my usual belt and while I looked better in it, this dress wasn’t made to be held in. Rather, it wants to be free. I’m just not sure if we’re a right match.

Japanese Waist Drop Dress (with belt).
Japanese Waist Drop Dress (with belt).

I tried it on. More than once. I decided to leave it behind. I kinda miss it, but if we meet again, I know it was meant to be. We’ll see.

Don't offer me a seat on the subway. Actually, let me sit. I'm tired.
Don’t offer me a seat on the subway. Actually, let me sit. I’m tired.

I also found this black and white dress.

It looks good...
It looks good…

But as you can see, it wasn’t exactly the best fit…

Nah.
Nah.

Well, I now need to budget myself a wee bit better. I’ve got some big plans coming up and the moolah will be needed. But at least I have Dior to dry my tears.

Fin.
Fin.

“It Really Was Raining”

For my day job, I do more writing, which includes interviewing interesting people. Like models. You know, those gorgeous sirens you see on the cover of magazines and towering billboards.

They often tell me how they always look so immaculate, as well as what shooting for those covers are really like. It usually involves dipping their near-nude figures in an ice cold beach just when the sun rises for the best lighting and wearing sweat-inducing armor for couture hours on end.

If we could all look like this 1950s model in the rain.
If we could all look like this 1950s model in the rain.

I would always think to myself, Well surely it can’t be that bad. Just look at you. The world is your giant oyster and it offers all the pearls you want.

Well, I got a taste of it. Somewhat.

While visiting South Street Seaport one semi-gloomy (and unusually chilly) Saturday during the summer season, I was compelled to be photographed to remember the time I went all the way downtown. Then, it started to rain. Jordan suggested to use the umbrella as a prop. This was the result.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

But reader, it really was raining. Fat, ice cold droplets of water were smacking my face, the wind was blowing each minute with full vengeance, and my hair provided unforgiving whiplashes. But nope. I was going to get my picture. I guess this is what real models go through.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

My dress is a vintage 1970s bohemian pink floral maxi from the West Village. The label is unknown, but I love how easy-breezy it is for the summer. The gown makes me feel as if I’m ready to stroll through the streets of Tuscany. I added a wide leather corselet belt to accentuate my waist and avoid that dreaded pajama feel.

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You can get a similar look: ’90s grunge pink maxi for $34.50, a soft rayon maxi for $39, a 1970s butterfly sleeve non-floral pink maxi for $40, or a more tannish floral maxi for $48. If you’re looking to splurge, I really like this 1970s-inspired coral maxi for $98 or this 1930s French gown from Paris for $148.25. When shopping from Etsy, always make sure to note the measurements provided on any listing and don’t hesitate to reach out to the vendors with any sizing concerns you may have. I always do.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

Even in the rain, I let my hair down (literally). But I must tell you, those Goody Spin Pins are a must-have for a quick bun. They’re less than $10.

Photo by Jordan Race
Photo by Jordan Race

And smiled, wearing Revlon’s pinky-red “Cherries in the Snow” creme lipstick. It’s also less than $10.

But in the end, there were cocktails to be found at Fresh Salt. I had the cup of rosé while Jordan sipped on a bourbon cocktail. Both were divine.

Drinks at Fresh Salt.
Drinks at Fresh Salt.

I’m certainly not a model. But at least I can now say I played one. In the rain. It was messy. But worth it. Now I can go back to eating my burger.

The end.
The end.

The Fitting Room Chronicles: Channeling My Inner Golden Girl

I may love the hunt that thrifting offers, but occasionally, I like to join every other girl as they find dangerously cute pieces at H&M. There always seems to be a sale at this popular retailer and they constantly offer stylish, yet budget-friendly selections to help me mix and match with my growing vintage collection.

One Friday after work, I decided to look around my local H&M and found this leafy ensemble:

“Insert Caption Here” -No really, I couldn’t come up with a good caption. Um, me in a fitting room? Good enough? Good.

This song originally came to mine while I was observing each angle:

Get it stuck in your head now. You're welcome.
Get it stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.

But really, I was thinking more about a southern tart. And no, I wasn’t hungry for those peach ones covered in pecans by granny. Those are good, too.

I of course, was thinking about famous bed-hopper Blanche Devereaux from my favorite show of all time, “The Golden Girls.” Aside from her never-ending list of lovers, Blanche was famous for her bedroom, specifically its decor.

Credit: BentonArtAndDesign.com
Credit: BentonArtAndDesign.com

According to Texas-based design studio Benton Art & Design, the banana leaf pattern, which transformed Blanche’s bedroom into a “wild sex jungle,” was inspired by interior designer Don Loper who, in 1942, created this pattern to “evoke the easy breezy attitude” of the Fountain Coffee Room for the Beverly Hills Hotel, which is still found today.

So back to this dress. The V-neck ensemble, which was originally priced at $49.95, was available on sale for $25. Not only is the waist elastic to maintain any unwanted pouch that apparently wants to come out and play for the summer, but its soft rayon fabric is absolutely perfect to beat the heat.

Credit: HM.com
Credit: HM.com

If you really want to go all out, may I suggest the Charlotte Olympia “Meredith” wedges? They feature a similar print. Except I believe these came out back in Spring 2012, so good luck finding them. Personally, I prefer simple tan sandals with a pedicure featuring a pop of color. You can never go wrong with classic red.

Credit: Charlotte Olympia
Credit: Charlotte Olympia

Fortunately, you can still snag the same H&M dress I fell in love with for the same sale price.

Credit: HM.com
Credit: HM.com

Get it now before it’s gone by clicking here.

Buh-bye.
Buh-bye.

Just Another Rooftop

I may be afraid of heights, but this New Yorker prefers wining and dining up in the clouds surrounded by skyscrapers. Really, why would anyone want to break a sweat in 90something degree weather in a stuffy room when you can catch a cool breeze up above everyone else?

Having Cocktails in the Sky.
Having Cocktails in the Sky.

Francis and I make it our mission to visit every rooftop spot in town, so when we were invited to culinary extraordinaire David Burke’s SPYGLASS above the Archer Hotel in midtown, needless to say we were going.

Our View.
Our View.

SPYGLASS is fantastic because it’s walking distance from many offices in the area. So whether you had a rough day at work or simply just want to kick back, this is a swanky rooftop that requires zero subway or taxi transportation, depending where you are. Just a simple stroll will do. Your nostrils will thank you if sticking your nose into someone’s armpit in a too-tight train or being glued to the chair of a cab on a sweltering day isn’t your thing.

Enjoying Ourselves.
Enjoying Ourselves.

SPYGLASS also gives you a direct view of the Empire State Building while you’re enjoying lobster dumplings, oysters, and thirst-quenching cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, the Village will always be my home away from home no matter where I am, but this local deal isn’t too shabby.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

Now for the dress. I absolutely fell in love when I saw this piece in a West Village thrift store. It features the brightest orange flowers I’ve ever seen. Seriously, you can light up any room with this thing.

Photo By Francis Rodriguez.
Photo By Francis Rodriguez.

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many details about the dress. No label was found, but it came in excellent condition and was around 25 bucks. It reminds me of a 1950s (or even 60s) cocktail dress. Since the dress zips from the back and not the side, it comes from a later period (not the 50s). That’s one trick to tell if your ensemble is possibly more modern or much older. Also, this outfit highlights a full skirt, so no petticoat is require to add some dramatic flair. Just be prepared to slap people around with your hips.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

I paired the dress with matching navy patent pumps to keep the look more uniformed. The focus remains on the dress, as opposed to dizzying anyone with too much going on.

Original Fire & Ice Ad.
Original Fire & Ice Ad.

As for the lipstick? That’s Revlon’s Fire & Ice, which was first introduced in 1952. It was reportedly one of the many shades of red Marilyn Monroe wore. You can still find it in nearly any drugstore for less than 10 bucks.

Marilyn Monroe, 1952.
Marilyn Monroe, 1952.

The lipstick is a very bold, fiery red shade, so I blotted it just a bit to tone it down. Again, I wanted the dress to be the focal point. I finished my look with champagne.

Photo by Francis Rodriguez.
Photo by Francis Rodriguez.

This was our view for the evening.

Our Evening View.
Our Evening View.

So seriously, what are you doing down there? Start rooftopping it!