Vintage Tag Archives

A Fashion Cure for the Baby Bump Blues

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With an ever-growing bump eliminating some favorite outfits from my pregnancy wardrobe, I have had a hard time feeling fashionably relevant lately.  Moreover, the general pregnancy “blah’s” enhanced by the doldrums of winter have been making it difficult to even put in an effort to dress up on some days. That being said, I know all too well that how I look has a direct effect on how I feel. However seductive (and, honestly, practical) it would be for me to spend every remaining day of my pregnancy in stretchy fabrics that transition effortlessly from daytime to sleep time, I feel a lack of motivation to seize the day each time I dress down or, more accurately, fail to dress.

For example, I have been living inside my deliciously warm LL Bean down coat because, why not? It is winter, after all. The coat is a fail proof barrier against the elements and it is the only coat I have left that actually buttons around the baby belly. But, how do I feel when a friend invites me out to a party or an event after work and I am faced with having to show up in pair of glorified pajamas swaddled by a wearable sleeping bag? I feel like skipping the outing and heading straight home to bed, is how I feel. Not so healthy for a person that, while appreciating a lot of alone time, always has an overwhelming sense of rejuvenation when out-and-about. Self isolation imposed by body self consciousness is not going to fly right now, especially when a new baby will certainly necessitate a lot of home alone time come spring.

So, when Rachel invited me to last weekend’s Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show (so thankful that she has her finger on the pulse as I have somehow lost the beat…) my mission was clear: attend show, hunt for treasures, find something that makes me feel like my “old self.” A.k.a a fashion cure for the baby bump blues.

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It only took about 20 minutes of walking around the vast room of exquisitely curated wares for us both to question, “Have we died? Is this heaven?” Needless to say our hearts were a flutter with the seriously gorgeous pieces on sale by vintage boutiques (notably Another Man’s Treasure and La Poubelle Vintage among many others).

While silk dresses, high waisted trousers and fitted camisoles called my name aplenty, the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show was not the place to shop for maternity wares. But stylish coats, big in size, easy to transition to post-pregnancy and a welcomed alternative to my aforementioned LL Bean puffer, offered the wardrobe edge I was looking for. I tried on a few coats that were totally “me,” but that were only almost able to fit around my bump. I realized, instead of donning a piece of clothing that would only make me yearn for a flatter tummy, I wanted to celebrate my current shape. It wasn’t until trying on a 1960’s stunner from Thriftwares of Brooklyn that I learned this was possible. The subtle bell shape of the double-breasted leopard coat (pictured above) offered room enough for my belly and, magically, when Rachel tried it on, proved to maintain a chic shape even on a much smaller frame. Thus, my how-Stella-got-her-groove-back coat was discovered.

Alas, today it is raining in NYC so I left my new favorite piece at home. But it is sure to bring me many joyful, winter days of pregnancy and beyond.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the next Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show will be the weekend of April 7th and 8th.

Advance tickets can be purchased here.

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Blue Suede at the Beach

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This winter has been full of surprises already. 60 degree weather, foggy mornings and feelings of spring-come-early have me all mixed up. But a weekend in the Hamptons on the beach was exactly the thing to do when the traditional and seasonably appropriate activities seem strange.

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Here, Rachel and Amanda unknowingly demonstrated two extremes of beach attire…in other words what to wear and what not to wear. While Amanda was able to frolic through the waters in her knee-high rubber boots, Rachel was land bound in her blue suede at the beach. A classic juxtaposition of fashion vs. function, you decide which look you prefer.

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Should the snows come eventually, we’ll all be tucked away inside until spring. So, for now, let’s make the most of this sunshine.

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The Way Life Should Be

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This post features photos from our makeshift reunion trip to Maine, two weekends back, where we ventured for a little bit of salt air, togetherness and to experience the way life should be. Considering we ALL fell ill during the trip in one way or another (colds + hangovers + general old age…) and I’ve spent the past week in bed recovering and avoiding the world, these images are the latest and the greatest from my photo roundups!

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The weather was a perfect vision of fall in the Northeast, if not even a bit warm for the season. Once again I got to see my hometown through the eyes of people close to my heart and, this time, had the rare opportunity to have my eyes opened in turn to things I didn’t know existed. Our friend who still lives in Portland took us to the Flea-For-All, apparently open and operating for the past couple of years, which is three stories of vintage shopping heaven tucked away on the East End. I nearly had a heart attack at the discovery of this local haunt. Clothing, house wares, accessories and all-the-in-between can be found in bounty in this curated space. True treasures abound at the Flea-For-All (think thigh-high shag boots from the 70’s, antique card catalogue, and Cameroonian feathered headdress wallhanging, to name a few). I scored a vintage Bottega Veneta bucket bag and shearling throw for myself this time around and I plan to make this a regular stop on my trips to Portland from now on!

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The beginning of November had come in like a lion for me with many projects, new responsibilities and other matters to sort through. Even though months have passed since the end of summer it has been taking me longer than usual to get into the swing of things this season and I think the trip to Maine was just what I needed to gain a little perspective on everything and prepare myself to hit the ground running through the new year. Now, with this awful cold behind me, I feel my spirits lifting in preparation for all the holiday cheer!

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I’ll leave you with this “album cover” that we unintentionally posed for at the Portland Head Light! It pretty much sums up our trip north.

 

Cheers for now!

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The “Captain” Queen of Vintage

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There may be no better story suited for these pages than that of Nicole Katherine Alexander, aka The “Captain” Queen of Vintage. It was she that became my guardian goddess when I arrived back in Brooklyn after my year teaching and writing in Korea, feeling rather lost and in need of someone to shed some light onto my life and help me to distinguish the direction of my path. In essence, by example, it was Nicole that helped me get my feet under me and start finding my way as the creative hopeful I was in the big city. I had arrived back to NYC in the late summer of 2010 and came to work during the fall at the local Brooklyn boutique, A. Cheng, where Nicole was the manager at the time. My memory of those days is filtered through bright orange mornings, the sounds of gated store fronts clattering open and the smell of Gorilla Coffee. Nicole would always arrive to work in some vision of vintage: full skirts, dramatic capes layered over functional wool sweaters to protect against the growing cold and statement pieces of jewelry either collected or created by her. We spent our days tending to the shop and, in the moments of calm that occasionally came, talking about life, art, womanhood and our city at large. Nicole was perhaps one of my first examples of a life perfectly curated. What I witnessed in her was a cultivated balance of self-love and an outpouring of creative energy that is really, in many ways, the inspiration behind Naked City Style.
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Autumn and the weeks leading up to Halloween will always remind me most of Nicole, given the fact that it is when we first came together so many years back, but also because nobody brings the fire to a costume party like she. I once attended a Halloween party with Nicole where she was dressed in a fabulous outfit carrying a giant cardboard cut out of a phone. When people would ask her what she was dressed as, she would confidently reply, “Shhhhh….I’m on the phone.” Her humor, sense of style and craftiness make Halloween the ultimate playground. This must have been on our minds when I visited her Bedstuy apartment for this shoot, because our photographs took a turn in the direction of all things witchy and whimsical. I had asked Nicole how her vintage collection was coming along—perhaps one of her longest running passions for which she has an indestructible gift—and without missing a beat she asked, “Well, do you mean clothing, shoes or bags?” Anyone who has a collection thriving enough to necessitate breaking them down into succinct categories certainly has a lot to teach the rest of us. And so, without wasting time, she began to dive into said collection to pull out the choice pieces that are featured here. Nicole tried to suggest that she wasn’t the most comfortable being photographed. The camera immediately called her bluff. If there is one thing I’ve always known about Nicole, it is that her contagious (and seemingly unceasing) energy demands attention. 

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In fact, in the years after working at A. Cheng, Nicole has found her way to the stage. A place, in my opinion, she was born to inhabit. She and her team, Solarium, perform every third Saturday of the month at The Triple Crown Alehouse & Restaurant on the border of Chelsea and Midtown. But Nicole also occasionally performs solo, like during the recent Blood Moon Kaleidoscope. There she improvised monologues initiated by the audience, all in the name of sister witches, the moon and comedy. I asked her if styling is a big part of her performance, and, while she confirmed that she has done some prop building and costuming for her shows and for the shows of friends, it would seem as though her attention to dress is a part of her life that simply and happily permeates all that she does. Spending the day at her home was a performance in and of itself, watching her flit about piecing together enviable ensembles of vintage Versace, vintage Norma Kamali and a bounty of other treasures found on Etsy (she is a self-proclaimed “Etsy Sleuth”!) and across the United States.

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It is this contagious spirit, this laughter and love of life and inherent sense of style that make her such a prime example of supreme womanhood. But, moreover, it is her fierce femininity and her desire to help bring other women up that make her an idol. In addition to her incessant vintage collecting, her improv work and her days spent at the incredibly hip LES outpost of Love Adorned, Nicole also works as an organizer for the company The Artful Bachelorette which hosts parties at which women learn how to sketch live nude male models. Her business cards read (only naturally) Nicole “Captain” Alexander.

This beauty is a beacon of serious girl power vibes each and every day of her life. The world is lucky to have her.

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In closing, it felt only appropriate that I should ask Nicole to share some of her sage knowledge with us here, straight from the unicorn’s mouth:

What are your top 5 rules of wisdom that you would share with your 10-years-younger-self or a freshly landed creative about chasing dreams? 
1. Be your own best friend. This world is cruel and filled with people that will want to tear you down…be kind to your inner self & be forever encouraging, only you can stop you.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The worst thing that can happen is a no – but I have found that in most cases, when you are clear about want you want and your intentions…the universe makes a way for it to happen.
3. Do some fucking push ups or something man!!! (I’m) slowly getting flabbier…(I) really should have gotten that base layer muscle in my twenties…
4.  Travel more. While I love the work that I do…I get ULTRA committed to it. I love being successful in my work, but am still working on that perfect balance.
5. WEAR SUNSCREEN. Why didn’t I do this????? Ladies & gentlemen, wear that shit everyday. Even though I have lived a life out of the sun more than others (I tend to burn), I still see the effects of sun damage (and old age).
When the little voice inside of you says “you’re not good enough” what do you do to quiet it?
This is a very good question…and relates back to “being your own best friend.” I’ve practiced this type of thinking since high school – and honestly it has been a saving grace in so many of life’s darkest hours. I am also sure to tell myself that everyone has to start somewhere – and if I do feel a lack of ability/confidence…I WILL FAKE THAT SHIT TIL I MAKE THAT SHIT. Then I always end up making it – truly, I do always have faith that I will. By now, I trust myself at 34, to get it done. I am very excited about what life is yet to bring…and the projects that I have yet to take on.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what are the most important items you’d take with you?

– Weed plant & weed pouch
– Beach boys ‘Friends’ album (with record player b/c they are married)
– A monkey best friend (will also accept a feathered tropical bird friend…or dolphin)
– SUNSCREEN – we talked about this
– Three HUGE shipwrecked crates of peanut m&ms
For more advice, to book parties with The Artful Bachelorette or to have the sleuth track down your most coveted vintage item, email Nicole at nka.brooklyn@gmail.com.
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Hat Tricks

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Ever since this hat (handmade somewhere in Poland) came into my life this winter, it has brought a special kind of magic with it… (more…)