An unexpected stroll through the cobblestone streets of downtown Lowell. Busco invited me to the New England Quilt Museum for the opening of their new exhibition, SILK! So I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw for an impromptu outfit of the day moment.
- Vintage 1980’s knit dress (thrifted)
- Vintage 1980’s patent leather check-style bag
- Banana Republic open-toe heels
- Betsey Johnson knotted belt
- Goldtone cuff and earrings
- 14K gold necklaces
Dance, Dance, Dance!
I made a stop at the Museum of the City of New York for the Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced exhibition. I hate to admit that I wasn’t aware of Mr. Burrows’s work prior to the exhibition. But I was excited to learn what he was about, and how his work contributed to a fascinating time in fashion history, at least for me.
I invited C to come along, thinking that he would appreciate and be inspired by the designs. I didn’t feel so bad when he didn’t know about Steven Burrows either.
What made this exhibition interesting was how, through the use of fashion, you could see cultural as well as style transitions. From the structured mod styles of the 1960s…
….to the free-flowing drapey ease of the 1970s Disco dresses.
In the gift shop I learned that Mr. Burrows would be at the museum for a book signing the next week. Not to be deterred from autograph collecting by the logistics of time and space, I asked C if he were able to come back and have my newly purchased exhibition catalog signed for me. And he came through like a fashion trooper.
Although why he signed it “2017” I”ll never know. Unless he’s a fashion Oracle, and is trying to tell me something.
In The Mood
For aspiring and established fashion designers, as well as for pop culture fashion junkies like me, Mood is Mecca. Once I tried to find it on my own but was unsuccessful. Housed on the third floor of a nondescript office building, I would never been brave enough to walk in and look for it, even though I googled it and was standing right in front of the building in the address. But this time I was invited by C, who shops there for his own creations. It felt like I was about to enter a speakeasy.
There were some similarities to the fabric stores that I would go to with Mom. But this was a fabric store on steroids. You really don’t appreciate how little 30 minutes is when you’re looking for fabrics at Mood during a Project Runway challenge until you see the scope and range of what is available. Waiting for a fabric to speak to you can be quite time consuming.
And then I saw the designer fabrics. I wondered how many Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs, and Oscar de la Renta (by The Sin Embargo) dresses Mira Menos could make for her own collection.
The Project Runway reference didn’t just stop at Mood. Two minutes into being there we spotted Rami Kashou fabric shopping, and Kooan Kosuke (from Season 10) was working there. As much as a celebrity hunter as I am, I can never be too forward to ask for a picture or something, mostly because I could see they were busy. Unless I’ve had a couple of drinks. But this was my second time seeing Rami out (once before in LA), so in my head we are already friends. As I’m leaving, I pick up a flyer for workshops, and you see a picture of Nathan Paul (also from Season 10) teaching a workshop!
I left a couple of TheSinEmbargo business cards on the table as we leave. But even if no one picks them up, I was so glad to be able to set foot in a place where fashion dreams are made reality, at least for the past 8 years. Thank you, Mood!
Dress code at work is pretty flexible; business casual. But I don’t want to get to casual, so I’ve adopted a more “creative business casual” approach to dressing for work. I seldom wear jeans to work, even though they are allowed. And when I do, it’s a dark wash. Co-workers have been very nice in complimenting my style, and not only do I appreciate the good vibes, it keep me wanting to raise the bar. And I can always pretend that the walkway between cubicles and offices is a runway.
- Vintage 1960s Sweater Dress (thrifted)
- Prada baguette
- Sterling Silver hoop earrings, cuff/bracelet
- Zara platform booties
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HEARD In Grand Central Station
As I resume my monthly pilgrimage to New York, the first thing I wanted to do this time around is see Nick Cave’s HEARD.NY sculpture/performance art installation at Grand Central Station. I got to New York Saturday morning and went directly to Grand Central Station (my regular mode of transportation leaves me in Chinatown), since the performance was schedule to start shortly. For some reason lugging my suitcase around didn’t seem like a bad idea, since I was going to a place where many people carried around luggage. Unfortunately when I arrived at Grand Central Station, it was mobbed with people, and the concourse where the performance was held was cordoned off. So I decide to come back the next day, very early, to secure my spot.
I arrive at Grand Central Station a little after 9am, and it was empty, except for the occasional passerby and the security guards. This was fine with me, because my anxiety quickly subsided, and I could take pictures without people in the background.
I found my way to some benches, and sat for an hour, but was kicked out by security because that space was reserved for children. I instantly thought of my niece, who
I could use as to get a better view would enjoy the performance in such a prime location. And then I thought, Once again I was robbed of a childhood experience for being born at the wrong time. But that didn’t stop me from going back to my “go-to” age in my head (8 years old), and enjoy the magical moment that I knew was coming, and which I anticipated with excitement.
I created this story in my head about how these magical horses lived in Grand Central Station, were asleep most of the day, except for two times a day, when the all simultaneously awakened. I imagined how they would roam the city, and how everyone would stop for them, give them passage, as they are so special that they captivated the hearts of everyone.
The moment comes when they awaken, and roam.
My camera started capturing these snow-like particles. Some might think it was dust particles reflecting off the light. I say it’s horse magic.
Then, the front and rear segments disengage, for a vibrant display of dance.
The segments rejoin, and return to their playful gaits and trots, and ultimately to their state of slumber. I’m sure I’m not the only one there who wanted to bring one of these beautiful creatures home with me.
Sinspiration: Jody Watley - Still a Thrill
I was very excited to hear that my friend P was going to see Jody Watley at Yoshi’s in San Francisco last week. I’ve only seen her perform once in Boston, long before the concert-going compulsion I developed in the last 5 years. I was going to one of the local gays bar on a whim. There was no standing for hours to get a spot at the front. There was no CD cover in my pocket for an autograph. No pictures taken. I was too cool for school, and it’s on my list of concert-going regrets.
I enjoyed her music very much, but my taste in music changed in college, so music from my childhood and adolescence became background music to the music I was listening to at the time. One day on the hunt for CDs, I came across a house music compilation CD with a remix of Saturday Night Experience. Being the househead that I was at the time, I was able appreciate the idea of her working with house DJs like Little Louie Vega and Ron Trent. I bought it the compilation CD just for that song, without even listening to it. I knew I’d like it, but I was wrong. I loved it. Soon thereafter I bought Midnight Lounge. The jazzy, vibey, house-tinged CD was very current, very contemporary, and a great CD, but I appreciated her vision and evolution as an artist and musician.
In retrospect, this was nothing new for her. Looking back at early career music videos and images on the internet, she has been quite the forward-thinker with her music and personal style throughout her career. I read a magazine article once where she described how she styled her looks for album covers, I became impressed at how multi-faceted she is regarding to her style, image, and artistic identity. I remember once in high school my cousin describing a look she wanted to put together, to which I replied “Oh, like Jody Watley.” It stuck with me because it was one of the few times that you can ascribe a look to a musician. Cyndi Lauper had the skirts and hair, Madonna had the mid-drifts and bustiers, and Jody had the powersuit and hoops.
My favorite look (and music video) is Friends. Not only does she serve Eastern influence, but the video was also very fascinating. Runway, drag queens, voguers, hip-hop dancers, and of course, the incomparable Rakim.
So It was only fitting that I style Mira in the spirit of Jody Watley, another one of my all-time style favorites. I follow her blog and on Facebook, and am very hopeful that I get to see her perform again. But this time I’ll be front and center. With a sharpie, some vinyl and a CD cover in tow, but I will bring my excitement, most of all.
- Blazer (thrifted)
- Sparkle & Fade palazzo pants (Urban Outfitters)
- Fergilicious patent platform heels
- Vintage 1960s silver clutch (thrifted)
- Vintage 1960s Las Vegas feather headpiece (thrifted)
- Sterling silver hoops; thrifted pearls
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Meet Your Makeup
My good friend, comadre, and soon to be blogger Cara-lista, asked that I join her for a make-up event at the Prudential Center in Boston. We signed up through Facebook for consultations at the Makeup Forever Makeup Bag Remix Tour. I was familiar with the brand through Cara-lista, who is quite the makeup connoisseur and loves their products. She has been obsessed with makeup since she was about thirteen years old, so I consider her a makeup expert.
The event brings makeup education to cities around the US. They teach techniques and best practices that work for your face shape and skin-tone. And did I mention it was free?! I liked that they asked that we bring our own makeup bag to teach how to properly use makeup with products we already own.
Truth be told, I was a little intimidated. Mixing foundations and concealers on your own to get the right color for your skintone? Unheard of! And not to mention the hundreds of color choices and combinations! But with Cara-lista by my side, I knew I wouldn’t be swindled into buying things I didn’t need. With Busco’s help on what would be an appropriate outfit for a sunny cold Boston day, I spent the day playing with makeup.
- Forever21 Cardigan
- Vintage 1980s leather skirt (thrifted)
- Viktor&Rolf for Samsonite luggage bag
- Guess black leather boots
- Red Plastic Bangles, Forever21 earrings, Vintage 1980s green belt
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Last week I had the opportunity to visit the UNH Museum in Durham for the Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail exhibition. My “volunteer boss” at the New England Quilt Museum (more on that in a later post) suggested it and provided me with the contact information of the museum’s curator. She graciously invited me to visit the archives as well as the exhibition.
Irma Bowen was a faculty member at UNH in the 1920s who taught sewing. She amassed a large collection of antique garments as a teaching tool for technique and history. When she died the collection stayed with UNH. The collection is now being more formally documented and cared for. The curators were kind enough to pull some garments not in the exhibition, including a silk quilted petticoat, a housedress from the late 1700s, and some Victorian bonnets and hats that recalled contemporary references like Stevie Nicks and Phillip Tracey.
The first dress right outside the main gallery is pre-Victorian. This gives the viewer a starting point on how fashion began to evolve from mid to late 1800s. It’s the jump-off dress.
One of the hallmarks of a Victorian garment are the embellishments. Underskirts are made with a common fabric such as cotton, and then lined at the bottom with the luxe fabric. Lace trim lined the cuffs of long sleeves, as to give the illusion of a full lace under blouse. Unbeknownst to me, this sort of faking the funk was commonplace. But it speaks to other Victorian values of things not being what they seem if you go below the layers. Still, with the high cost of clothing, I appreciate the hustle.
And the feast of satin, silk, wool, trim, ribbon, piping, applique, and lace begins…
The austere upper part of this dress (featured on the website) suggests that there may have been a cape or other type of outerwear that would have matched the ornate detailing of the lower part.
This dress is considered to technically be trimless or “not embellished”, as the fabrics used to make the dress are the only materials that already exist in the garment.
My favorite garment of the collection. Victorian butterfly collar on pretty steroids.
Mourning dress, for those funerals where you just want to shimmer in the light.
Bonnets, and capes, and corsets, Oh my!
Embargowatch: Tapered Shift Dress
Following the Sinspiration of the tapered chevron dress, we wanted to call out the retro silhouette that is new again: tapered shift. Comfortable, forgiving, and thoroughly modern.
- Vintage 1980’s Nicole Miller tapered shift dress (thrifted)
- Obsession Rules booties
- Vintage 1960’s turquoise color chunky beaded necklace (thrifted)
- H&M tapered green metallic hoop earrings
- Polished goldtone finish cuff
We couldn’t help ourselves to call out the similarities in the textile design of Mary’s dress with a vintage dress we recently thrifted. Not an exact match in term of pattern and silhouette, but you get the trend gist. We would’ve wanted to recreate the set of Ellen, but that would have meant buying a blond pixie cut wig.
- Vintage 1980s chevron tapered batwing dress (thrifted)
- Arden B. platform strappy heels
- Vintage 1980’s patent leather envelope clutch (thrifted)
Tibes in the Temple
Centro Ceremonial Indigena de Tibes, in Ponce. Only 15 minutes away from the ranch, we made it just in time for the last English tour (the kids aren’t very fluent in conversational Spanish).
I first learned about Taino indians when my father took me to a different ceremonial park about 20 years ago in Utuado. On this tour I learned about the four populations of indigenous people: Arcaicos, Igneris, Pre-Taino and Taino. We learned about the tangible (tools, pottery) and the intangible (life expectancies, ceremonies). I also learned about the digs and some of the politics. I didn’t understand why archeologists would leave pieces of what I thought would be valuable pottery shards. I guess they weren’t as valuable as I thought. Regardless, we had a great time learning about the pre-colonial history of our ancestral indigenous patriarchs.
- Old Navy v-neck t-shirt
- Tuleh shorts (thrifted)
- Fendi multi-colored baguette (thrifted)
- Kenneth Cole platform heels
- Silvertone “bamboo” earrings, sterling silver cuff, bracelet and necklace
- Gucci prescription sunglasses
Made in Puerto Rico: Just Like Home
Husband and I make it a point to go to Puerto Rico every two years. Not only do we get to visit family, but I want my children to familiarize themselves with our culture, all the while escaping the frigid New England winters.
Our first stop was a restaurant that the son’s godfather T recommended called Made in Puerto Rico in Isla Verde. It’s a jibaro-themed restaurant (Puerto Rican redneck or country folk). The staff interact with that delicate balance of familiar & rude, deliberately using Puerto Rican slang, colloquialisms, and terms of endearment like condena’o to make you feel at home. T told us that when he called to make reservations the attendant on the other end said in Spanish ”what the hell do you want?!” He was caught off guard at first, but he went with it.
Traditional Puerto Rican country music performed live
Screens project images of vintage Puerto Rican life. I was enthralled, and kept thinking how Mother would’ve enjoyed seeing them.
Replica of El Morro fort sentry tower which cleverly disguises the restaurant’s projectors and other equipment.
Political commentary on the IVU, a recently passed and implemented tax law.
Vintage horse race game referred to as pica, played during festivals/carnivals. This probably wasn’t the original intent, but it’s good to see there are alternatives that don’t include live animals for sport.
On the way to the bathroom…
I’ve seen perfume dispensers, etc., but this was a first for me. Fight tropical humidity with a curling iron rental!
The placemats, with a recipe for mofongo with fried pork.
Husband’s dish: Churrasco (steak) with white rice and beans.
My dish: Chuletas Kan-Kan (pork chops wrapped in bacon, topped with sauteed onions) with white rice and beans. Tostones (plaintain fritters) as an added side dish.
The servers were in country garb (girls housecoats or day robes and hair rollers, men in guayavera shirts, clam diggers and straw hats). This particular server had a terrific smile and when I saw she matched her lipstick with her outfit, I had to take a picture. The happy accident? Me wearing my vintage night gown as a maxi-dress.
- Vintage 1970’s night gown worn as maxi-dress (thrifted)
- Wood bangles, layered gold necklaces
- Kana espadrilles
A Fishtail To Tell
I’ve had this dress for a while, but hadn’t worn it. I love the back design, the graphic print, and the structured shoulders (even with removed shoulder pads). But when I tried it on at home, it felt like a little too much dress. So after putting my head together with Busco, we decided the remedy would be to hem the dress. Thus, a new Do-It-Myself (DIM) quick project was born.
I’ve been changing hem lengths on my dresses for years. However, this dress has a row of buttons down the back that I didn’t want to loose. So we decided to do a fishtale hem, which was a new way of hemming for me. I did a quick check for online tutorials, but they all left the skirt unhemmed. This could work for some fabrics, but not for this dress. So I measured, pinned, cut, pressed, and sewed with very satisfying results!
Busco had been wanting to style me in a “neo-global tribal” look since we started writing the blog. It’s not really my style, so I had been politely putting it off. But he brought it up again from being inspired by the dress, so I could object no longer.
- Vintage 1980’s dress with customized hem (thrifted $1.00)
- Vintage 1980’s Carlos Falchi clutch (thrifted)
- Nine West suede heels
- Betsey Johnson black knotted stretch belt
- Vintage 1980’s red hoop earrings, bangles, Puerto Rican camandula bead necklace worn as bracelet, handmade animal bangle by The Sin Embargo
Sinspiration: Channeling Chanel
We haven’t found one of the holy grails of a thrifting (a Chanel bag), but a recent vintage find reminded us of a bag used in Chanel’s SS 2013 collection. Recreating the entire look would’ve meant putting Mira in a bathing suit in January. Instead we pulled the fakiest Chanel-looking outfit, and got “sinspired”. We learned that the bag was actually made with real hula hoops. Hula hoops are a no brainer to find on the cheap. Now if only we can find a couple yards of Chanel leather and hardware.
- JCrew black ruffle button down shirt
- Vintage 1980’s jacket (thrifted)
- Vintage 1980’s Liz Claiborne skirt (thrifted)
- Vintage 1980’s Echtes Leder Handverarbeitet leather bag (thrifted)
- Jean Michel Cazabat sequin open-toe heels
- Vintage 1960’s daisy brooch; Jessica Simpson oval-shaped goldtone earrings
As Fitting As McQueen
One of the turning point moments of me deciding to change careers was the three-part visit to the Savage Beauty: Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I went three times, because I have a dash of obsessive compulsion, I wanted to share the experience with others, and yes, it was that amazing.
I went alone, to scope it out. I learned there was a 1/2 hour to an hour wait, but if you joined as a member, you could skip the line. I joined right away, because I knew I’d come back to see it, and somehow I had a premonition that there would be big visititation. Little did I know how bad it would get…
A family excursion with Mira, our cousin Y, their daughters, and our cousin E. At this point the lines were much longer; a 2-3 hour wait. I flashed my membership card, and we past the line, and walked right into the exhibition. Gallery after gallery packed with people. And of all the exhibitions of all the museums of all the times to go, I ran into a former supervisor. I had a difficult time adjusting to the job, and one of the things we connected about was fashion. She is from the old school, where you dressed up for EVERYTHING. She never disappointed with the statement jewelry, makeup matching her clothing, and sets. Everything was a set. Unfortunately she wasn’t my supervisor for very long, so it was nice to bump into her.
P came to the East Coast to visit his family, and made a stop in NYC. I had mentioned how amazing the exhibition was, and that he needed to see it while he was in NYC. Even though I was a member I suggested he buy a ticket online and early, to guarantee him access. When we arrived at the main entrance, security guards were turning people away, telling people that the galleries were closed for the day. As we walked away disappointed, we noticed a line of people at the entrance for school groups. We instinctively walked towards it. And there is where we met Merle. Merle was 100 if she was a day. She was there alone, dressed to the nines, and then in one of those walkable leg casts. Being the social butterfly he is, P immediately struck up a conversation with her. As much as I cringe at the idea of meeting new people, I knew from P’s concert experiences that this has worked in his favor. So I decided to go with it, and in my head create an origin story for her.
In my head she was a classic NYC: old school grand dame with a dash of grit. Apartment in the Upper West Side that she’s had for centuries. A deceased husband that left her so much fortune that she just shops and visits museums all day. Her injury resulting from a slip on the marble floor of her in-suite bathroom.It wasn’t long before P decided that we were all there together, so In my head created a back story for us. I decided P was her grandson or grand-nephew, and I was the sassy Latin boyfriend who Merle had much affection for, despite the objection of elitist members of her family. I figured it would be good to have a story if the security guards would question us.
By the time we get into the museum, we were told by security guards that the McQueen exhibition was closed due to high volume of visitors already in line. Again, I felt disappointed, but something in me decided not to resign, but instead to make my way up there anyway. So we ignored the security guard and made our way to the second floor. We walked by the almost infinite line of visiting hopefuls, snaking its way around the galleries. We make it to the entrance of the gallery, and with our best “this may be meemaw’s last exhibition” face, they let us in with Merle.
Photography wasn’t allowed. As much as a stickler I am for following the rules, I couldn’t resist. By this time, I knew my way around the exhibition, and with the amounts of people in the galleries, the security guards had their hands full just with traffic flow. It was a calculated risk that felt so deliciously sinful. So I subtly held my iPhone at waist height, and started clicking away.
We ended up losing Merle as soon as we got into the gallery. I would’ve love to have seen her again, thanked her for humoring us by letting us stay with her until we got in. But it was one of those New York City moments (which at some point I’ll write about) that I won’t soon forget.