Just walking through the doors takes your breath away. The majestic columns, the frescos on the ceilings, the ornate chandeliers, the exquisite details dripping in gilded gold embrace you in elegance as you enter the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles.
This historic downtown hotel is always a feast for the eyes and one of my favorite places to visit. Built in 1923, the hotel offers a variety of features from ballrooms to the spectacular Rendezvous Court (which hosts afternoon teas I previously wrote about, see here.) The Biltmore’s beauty has served as a backdrop for multiple movies and television shows.
I stopped in for cocktails at the gorgeous Gallery Bar recently. The golden grace of this bar is something to behold. A long granite bar flanked by golden angels serves up a sophisticated cocktail list to hotel guests and local residents to come and be steeped in Hollywood history and glamor. You can also order light fare to nosh on in secluded leather banquettes, or lounge in the adjacent to the Cognac Room with its comfortable couch seating area.
It’s a perfect place to put on your best vintage and celebrate the holidays. During the month of December, the hotel is all decked out in Christmas trees, garland and sparkles. The lobby itself is a winter wonderland of Christmas trees and a golden throne surrounded by nutcrackers for that perfect holiday selfie.
I sipped on a delicious Mango-Cucumber Cosmopolitan as I watched several scenes of people enter the bar, including a birthday party, a formal wedding party and an entire flight crew in full uniform taking photos under the giant Christmas trees.
Don’t miss an opportunity to go there for your next special occasion and take in the atmosphere, a good cocktail and people watching!
What I Wore
The evening called for some Christmas color so my green vintage, estate-sale find was the perfect dress. I love the light, flowing fabric of this 1930’s era frock with padded shoulders and art deco-style accent on the front pockets. I paired it with some texture via leopard faux fur purse and my trusty Mary Jane heels.
What to Wear
Celebrate the holidays in style with an outfit that brings back the elegance of bygone eras. This navy wiggle dress is chic and svelte with a 1940’s silhouette and dramatic (removable) snowy white faux fur collar. It’s perfect for New Year’s Eve celebrations or those office holiday parties – you’ll be the one who brings the glamor! Plus it’s versatile enough to wear anytime. Pair it with white heels with mesh side panels topped with beaded floral and rhinestone detail. Hold your essentials in a beaded, shell-shaped evening bag. Click the links to shop* this look.
The Millennium Biltmore Hotel is located at 506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Photo of the Gallery Bar courtesy of The Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles.
‘Tis the season for holiday shopping. One of my favorite places for finding cool and unique gifts is Wacko (aka Soap Plant.) This store has a long history as an icon of Los Angeles for their massive selection of pop culture-related toys, books, candles, housewares and just plain oddities. I usually find something crazy or humorous for my offbeat, rock ‘n’ roll friends.
Wacko began as a family run business called Soap Plant in Los Feliz. The store specialized in hand-crafted soaps made by founder Barbara Shire. Her husband Hank designed the graphics and their sons Billy and Peter contributed authentic leatherwear and ceramics.
Billy’s unique leather designs caught the attention of rock stars including Elton John and The New York Dolls and he earned fame for his creativity and vision. In the 1980s, Billy became the sole owner of the store and moved it to Melrose where he could see the area was becoming an explosion of unique boutiques that would soon earn world fame. Melrose became the epicenter of Los Angeles’ offbeat, rock ‘n’ roll culture, frequented by budding rock stars including members of Guns N’ Roses, Faster Pussycat, Jane’s Addition and the Red Hot Chili Pepper. You couldn’t shop or work there without being dressed to the hilt in your punk, goth or glam gear. Read more on the history here.
Soap Plant was in the middle of it all and Billy was a sharp businessman catering to the eclectic tastes of his shoppers, adding an inventory of pop culture books, jewelry, kitschy housewares and curiosities. He then opened an adjacent store called Wacko and filled it with what they called “toys with a punk rock attitude.” In 1986 they opened an art gallery upstairs called La Luz de Jesus showcasing alternative and underground art.
I distinctly remember the gallery reception parties because this was about the time I moved to Los Angeles and frequented the lively scene happening along Melrose. I would usually see an aspiring or established rock star behind the counter, most notably Andy Prieboy and the assortment of characters and scenesters who would become my friends.
Today, Wacko is located back in Los Feliz along Hollywood Boulevard and combines all of the beloved quirkiness of Soap Plant, Wacko and the La Luz gallery combined. They still host regular gallery reception parties, and it is the perfect place to find unique gifts for friends and family, whether you need a guitar-shaped spatula, a set of Tiki mugs, an incense burner or an Albert Einstein doll.
What I Wore
I stopped by recently to do a little gift shopping of my own. A day out shopping calls for a casual but stylish look such as this fun face-print dress, colorful, vintage bakelite bracelet and big pink statement earrings. I kept the purse simple with a vintage patent leather handbag and patent leather Mary Jane shoes.
What to Wear
You’ll want to dress with some personality when shopping at a store like Wacko. With its dazzling array of colorful items, you’ll fit right in with this geometric print sweater dress with a mod silhouette. Bold statement earrings balance the look. Silver booties and handbag can take you from daytime shopping to one of their evening art gallery receptions. Wacko is also open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for you night owls like myself! Click the links to shop* this look!
Wacko is located at 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
If your private jet can’t whisk you off to Paris for cocktails, you can find a worthy substitute down on Melrose Avenue at a little speakeasy-style bar called Pour Vous. Opened by the Houston brothers bar aficionados who brought us La Descarga and Harvard & Stone (click the links to check out my previous reviews), this place doesn’t disappoint when it comes to atmosphere.
The place looks like a vintage bar with old Hollywood glamour and touch of decadence with dark lighting, brocade wallpaper, velvet booths, chandeliers and retro fixtures, creating a stunning setting. On the back patio, an old red railcar serves as a private seating area, adding even more character to the interior design.
If you plan to go, keep in mind there is a dress code, so the crowd looks as pretty as the bar itself (never a problem for me dahhhlings!) So wear some stylish evening threads. The doorman will pick who is let in based on their style. That means no sweat pants or flip-flops – who does that?
But wait there’s more! Once the bar really gets going around 11 p.m., the roof is literally blown off the place. The ceiling opens up and a lady adorned in seductive lingerie and feathery finery is lowered in an oversized birdcage above the crowd. There is a variety of burlesque performances that take place every hour at Pour Vous from singers to aerial silk dancers.
Check out one of the shows here:
What I Wore
A little black dress is always an elegant choice. I particularly like this one with the crisscross detail and full skirt. I added a vintage brooch, a feathery floral fascinator and light-catching silver pumps and vintage handbag.
What To Wear
This beaded, fringe, art deco-inspired dress will put you in the mood for cocktails and some sultry burlesque. Don’t forget the long gloves for added a drama, and a faux fur wrap to keep the chill away. Click the links to shop* this look.
Pour Vous is located at 5574 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
There’s something so delightful about having a tea party. The delicate, floral teacups, the beautifully decorated sweets, and the company of girlfriends provide a sophisticated occasion to dress up for. Recently, a glamorous brigade of vintage-loving gal pals gathered at the Langham Huntington Pasadena for their Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood. The “Wedgwood” meaning the specialty teas and tailor made “Langham Rose” teaware.
The setting was absolutely divine with the grounds of the Langham Huntington Pasadena dating back to 1907. The tea room itself looks out on the rolling green yard and the tables centered around a chocolate fountain and a decadent dessert buffet. You can sweet treat yourself to your heart’s content between the chocolates and the three-tier dessert stands on every table, featuring a variety of finger sandwiches and scones. A selection of three tea flavors is poured throughout the event to keep your teacup full.
After the tea, it was picture time around the hotel. Us girls must capture our outfits of the day after all! The sweeping staircase to the back garden was the perfect opportunity to grab a shot.
Special thanks to Desi of Pinup Revival for organizing a great day!
What I Wore
Since the tea party was fall themed, I chose my most feminine, vintage, full skirt dress in fall colors. I love this dress for its circus-theme illustrations on the print and the detailed pearl beading on the neckline. I topped it with a headband made with vintage velvet leaves in fall colors and t-strap chocolate colored heels.
“I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.” Truer words were never spoken. And this song by the Rolling Stones is fitting for a little bar on Hollywood Boulevard called Loaded. An ode to rockers everywhere, this bar has it down when it comes to underground cool. With a dark and decadent vibe, a killer jukebox, and fantastic photo murals of rock idols including Keith Richards, Sid Vicious, and Johnny Thunders in their glory days, plus iconic moments in rock history such as the police storming a Ramones/Black Flag concert. There’s even a wall of concert-style amplifiers that read “Loaded” with a sneaky door where the kitchen delivers orders to the bar.
Speaking of sneaky doors, along a wall of sticker-covered metal lockers is another secret passageway to a room used for live music. On the night I attended, there was a special show by Boots Electric, featuring members of Eagles of Death Metal. But the stage setup is far from ideal. The booths and bar create a narrow standing area, and the stage is level to the floor making it hard to see the band, especially a band that packs a room like this one did.
On most nights, the bar is laid back and a great place to grab a drink and meal. It especially comes in handy for late night bites with the kitchen staying open until 1 a.m., a rarity in Los Angeles.
It’s the perfect place for your rock ‘n’ roll fix.
What I Wore
Dressing rocker style to me always means taking a cue from my rock star idols. Fitted clothing always looks tough, so tight crop pants in sharp red do the trick. I’ve seen many a musician wear pinstripes and vests, so I had to grab this one off eBay and pull it on over a black tank top. Some medium-height heels add a little flirt appeal. I added some artsy, statement earrings and a vintage handbag.
What to Wear
Embrace your rocker self with some ‘70s glam. Think of the character Penny Lane in the film “Almost Famous” (one of my all-time favorite flicks!) to get an authentic rock-lover look. Top some distressed and always chic skinny jeans with a vintage-style concert T-shirt. Red, lace-up, chunky boots with rose accents will have you stepping out in style. Stay warm while looking cool in a corduroy, burgundy, duster coat with a glam faux fur color. You might just be asked to join a band! Click the links to shop* this look!
Loaded is located at 6377 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Fall has arrived and it’s my favorite season because my birthday happens, the weather turns cooler, and the trees change their colors. Since we don’t really get a feel for it in Los Angeles with its endless summers, I like to travel every fall. This year, I headed to Colorado for the Rockabilly Expo, which happened to take place during the perfect weekend for leaf peeping in the Rocky Mountains.
Read all about the Rockabilly Expo over on the Voodoo Vixen website where I did a guest blog. It was a full day of music, vendors, and a pinup contest that takes place in Colorado Springs.
We also headed up into the mountains of Evergreen outside of Denver to see the aspen trees shimmer with a bright gold and sweeps of red. It’s so beautiful up there!
What I Wore
For the Rockabilly Expo, I put on the Voodoo Vixen “Connie” dress with the unique crisscross cut on top and retro glasses print. Some easy Mary Jane heels helped keep my feet in check for the daylong event. I added some sparkle with retro-inspired, confetti-baked Lucite earrings.
What To Wear
For an authentic rockabilly look, you can’t go wrong with a swing dress. This 1950’s cut in a warm fall color is sure to turn heads. Add a crinoline petticoat underneath to really accentuate the hourglass silhouette. Some retro inspired, t-strap heels and red lipstick complete the look. Click the links to shop* this look!
Going out for ice cream is officially a thing in Los Angeles. Unique ice cream shops can be seen with lines around the block for sweet, creamy treats. And when the hot summer weather here runs into late October, any time is ice cream time!
One ice cream shop that notoriously has lines out front is MILK on Beverly Boulevard (there’s also one in Silver Lake). I stopped by to try one of their most beloved products – the ice cream sandwich with macaroon cookies.
We got lucky going after dinner one night and happened to catch a brief moment when there wasn’t a line. Of course, as we approached the counter, we turned around and there was a line out the door! What timing! Mind you, the place is pretty tiny, with sparse décor and just enough room for the ice cream counter, a counter of baked treats and a couple of small tables and chairs. But hey, ice cream is meant to be enjoyed outside, right?
There are several ice cream sandwich flavors to choose from, While the Fruity Pebbles one looked colorful and enticing with cereal sprinkles, I opted for Red Velvet. Oh my, was it good. The macaroons were soft enough to bite into and half of it is iced so the ice cream doesn’t melt out while you hold it. Believe me, it’s BIG, so you’re going to be working on it a while!
If you don’t mind standing in line for a good thing, MILK is the place to go for an occasional diet-busting sugar fix!
What I Wore
For dinner on the town, I opted for a leopard print top, simple pencil skirt and vintage, basket-weave handbag. Retro heels and a statement necklace dress up the look .
What To Wear
Put yourself in an ice cream mood with cool separates that can take you around town for food and fun. A light T-shirt with a triple scoop of ice cream will let people know what you’re about. And if that’s not enough, how about some ice cream cone-style heels with pearl sprinkles! Grab a girly pink moto jacket to keep you warm as the night air gets cooler in the fall – and to help with any ice cream chills! Dress it all up with a modern statement necklace. Click the links to shop* this look.
Milk is located at 7290 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
There’s no shortage of cool bars in Los Angeles. One area, in particular, has become quite the cocktail corridor. Along Cahuenga Boulevard between Selma Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, you can literally go door-to-door and hit a good handful of bars with unique décor and great people watching.
One standout is Saint Felix. I went there recently for an entertainment industry mixer and they had the back bar reserved, which was a great spot with a long bar, cheerful mixologist bartender, and a back patio. I had a raspberry mojito, served in a big old mason jar glass and it was AMAZING.
What I loved about this place was the décor and how big it felt compared to how it looks from the street. The main room is surprisingly spacious with a bar, tables and chairs, and cozy round booths tucked deep into the walls for those who want a little privacy. The purple lighting, dramatic antique chandeliers, and textured brocade walls make the place feel well-styled and elegant.
There’s a full menu, great happy hour specials, and you just can’t beat the Hollywood location (there is also one in West Hollywood). You can grab dinner before catching a show at the Hotel Café across the street or put it on your must-do list for Cahuenga bar crawling.
What I Wore
Squeezing out my last bits of summer style, I opted for a bright yellow sundress and black shrug sweater, along with a vintage leopard print purse and gold mule heels. I put my hair up in a full pinup updo, with a hair flower for a sweet touch. It was a good transition outfit for our very subtle change of seasons we get in SoCal where the days are still hot but the evenings give just a tease of fall by being a tad cooler.
What to Wear
For bar hopping in Hollywood, you can’t go wrong with a flirty, leopard-print dress with a bit of swing and old school glamour. Pair it with some glittery gold heels that will have your back if you decide to bust out some dance moves. Be ready for a nighttime temperature drop with a shrug that keeps your arms warm while still letting you show off the dress. Carry your keys, cash, and lipstick in this cool kitty shoulder bag that gives a wink to the theme. Click the links to shop* this look!
Saint Felix is located at 1602 N Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028
Hot rods, hot girls, and hot summer heat made for a fun afternoon at the Pistons & Pinups event in Chatsworth. The parking lot of the Valley Relics Museum filled up with revved-up, customized classic car beauties, while the back lot featured vendors and the stage rocked with music all evening long. And it was good times for good with all proceeds going to the Rock Against MS Foundation.
I got there in time to catch sassy Maureen and the Mercury 5 bust out some sexy, swingin’ jive. They were followed by retro singing and dancing troupe The Satin Dollz, whose charm, beauty and choreographed moves always captivate an audience.
The Phantom Pomps took the stage next with some good ol’ rockabilly and a fierce pinup girl singer/drummer. As the sun went down, the stage lit up with rockabella performance artist Lillian Starr and her glowing hoop show. That girl isn’t going to lose any hula hoop contests anytime soon!
The Pinup Girl Pageant contest brought out a lineup of retro-loving babes where red lipstick, victory rolls, wiggle dresses, and heels were the dress code of the day.
The finale of the night was a performance by Gilby Clarke, best known as a guitarist for Guns N’ Roses and singer/guitarist for the pop group Candy. Though I knew him when he had the band Kill For Thrills. He’s been a solid solo performer throughout the years and brought the rock to this event into the late night hours.
One of the biggest treats of the day was the location, The Valley Relics Museum. Though the Valley has been the subject of many jokes as the uncool suburbs “over the hill” from Hollywood, there have been some historical gems located there and this museum has managed to rescue key pieces of it. For example, cars, clothing and photos from famous rodeo tailor Nudie Cohn (he made Elvis’ famous gold lame suit!) and the sign from The Palamino Club in North Hollywood, where every famous country and rockabilly performer played from 1945-1995 . The museum also has an awesome collection of retro neon and Googie-style signage, movie memorabilia, classic cars, and BMX bikes (little known fact – the extreme sport was born in the Valley!) Be sure to check it out!
What I Wore
A pinup event simply calls for some classic pinup style, so I was happy to accommodate in my cherry-print pencil skirt and accent it with a flaming red scarf and hair flowers from NiccocoCreations. I added a bracelet of fiery pulp fiction pinups from Joolz Hayworth, and a custom made handbag featuring pinup girls I picked up at a hot rod show a few years ago. I don’t know who made it but I sure would like to find her to buy some more!
What To Wear: Pinup Style
Pinup style is all about looking sexy but not overtly. It’s a flirty style in an American sweetheart kind of way that dates back to the first Calendar Girls that were published around 1889. The pinup art Alberto Vargas started painting for Esquire Magazine in the 1930s became iconic. But the best known pinups may be from the 1940’s era when they were used to boost the morale of troops fighting in WWII. Then later of course, Bettie Page came along in the 1950’s and became the Queen of Pinups, around the same time Playboy Magazine was born.
To achieve the pinup look, play-up your best feminine assets — an hourglass figure, pouty lips, wavy hair, great legs — and accentuate it. This polka dot pencil skirt is a great piece to build a look around. Pair it with a sultry peasant top and add a fierce pop of red in retro-inspired shoes and handbag. Don’t forget some red lipstick! Click the links to shop* this look.
There’s nothing like a trip halfway around the world to feel like a true getaway. I recently returned from my honeymoon (see wedding fashion news HERE) in the land down under. We took the very long flight to Sydney, Australia, which we found to be beautiful, clean and safe. There was so much to do; it kept us busy day and night. We got almost a daily eyeful of the stunning views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as we ferried to different areas to explore. We could not have been luckier with the weather, though it was wintertime there, it didn’t get too cold – a refreshing 60 degrees during the day and clear blue skies. I did need to buy a few warm clothes for nighttime when it got down to the 40’s, and that’s nippy when you’re from L.A. and out walking around seeing the sights!
We stayed in a hotel right along the appropriately named Darling Harbor, surrounded by sparkling water. We happened to be there the week of the Vivid Festival, a week-long, citywide celebration of arts and lights. We caught some of the light shows along the harbor and went to events for the Clipped Music Festival, the first festival dedicated to the art of music videos. The event took place at the multi-use space, The Works, where cheerful staff members served up coffee and snacks on the main floor. Upstairs was a theater space and lounge where you could see music videos on the big screen. By day, the top-level offices buzz with activity from resident production companies. The location was along Glebe, which is an increasingly trendy area of cafes and shops with a boho feel and an awesome Saturday market.
I had one main mission on my trip to Australia, and that was to meet a Koala. Unfortunately, I learned that petting or hugging Koalas is now forbidden due to the fact that they can spread some contagious nasties, and it actually really stresses them out. (OK, I guess I’ll just look at them.) But we went out to the Koala Park Sanctuary where you can get really, really close and they are absolutely adorable.
While there, we did get to pet and feed kangaroos, which was just as exciting. The venue has an enclosed kangaroo yard space, and you just walk in. The roos will come right up to you looking for a treat (which you can purchase at the entrance.) I was hesitant at first, putting a little bit of the dried grass snack in my hand. But my new friend just nibbled it right out of my palm and licked my fingers. Then looked at me with big brown eyes and funny little buck teeth for more. After I let him eat a bit I got up the nerve to pet him and found, much like my cat, he loved a good chin and neck scratching!
We also visited the famous Taronga Zoo to see even more animals and take in the amazing views from up on the hills that serve as a backdrop for the giraffes (my favorites!) and the cable car ride from the box office to the ferry.
I managed to get in a little shopping while I was there, picking up some souvenirs at the market at The Rocks, some vintage earrings in Newtown (which is the equivalent to LA’s Silver Lake in terms of underground hipster vibe), an awesome furry black jacket in Chinatown’s Market City, and a fantastic hot pink, long, wool coat for ten bucks at the Glebe Market.
While we were in Chinatown, we also stopped for some authentic Chinese cuisine and picked up some sweet buns that were so good I’m still thinking about them!
Whenever I travel, I always check out the local vintage shops. I didn’t find too much vintage I liked in Sydney; most carried a lot of denim and boots and items from the ’80s and ’90s. One store I liked was Zoo Vintage Emporium in Surry Hills, which had great stuff from earlier eras.
On our last night, we went for drinks with some friends we met around town at Frankie’s Pizza By the Slice, a great rock ‘n’ roll dive bar that reminded me of CBGB’s with posters and stickers covering the walls. We took over the intimate basement bar while rock ‘n’ roll karaoke took place in the main room upstairs with people getting up to sing with the house band. It was a great send off from a city we fell in love with.
Our next stop was Melbourne for a short stay with friends. Melbourne is a bustling urban city, packed with people with lots of little “Laneways” off the main streets for shopping and cafes. It made it particularly difficult to find what would turn out to be my favorite vintage store on the trip, RetroStar Clothing, which is off busy Swanston street and up on the third floor of a little arcade of shops. The place was big and full of clothes from the ‘40s to the ‘80s. I was in heaven! I wish I had more time to shop there. I did make out like a bandit in the trendy Fitzroy area and discovered my favorite store in the city, Dangerfield, that had ultra cute, slightly retro alternative styles. They were having a sale and I scored some warm plaid pants, guitar print socks, and boho floppy hat.
We were not as lucky with the weather on our last couple of days, which was cold and rainy, so we headed for indoor entertainment at the museums.
And that did it for us in the land down under. Totally worth the 15-hour flight to get there!
What I Wore
I like to travel light when it comes to clothes. (My beauty products usually take up most of the room in my suitcase!) I tend to go with things that can be mixed and matched to create different looks. I also bring a bagful of colorful vintage scarves that can be worn in my hair or around my neck to change the look of an outfit. And I leave home a lot of accessories so I can buy more on my trip , which make for fabulous souvenirs! Here I’m wearing some skinny jeans with a cute print, a Ramones tee, a leopard print scarf I picked up at one of the markets and a faux fur jacket I got in Chinatown. I also brought the pink overcoat you see in the above photos, a light sweater, a heavier sweater, a pencil skirt, and some other tees and scarves.
What to Wear: Travel Clothes
For the most part, just bringing layers is a good bet so you can add or remove as needed. The key to layers is to add interest by combining textures and patterns. As long as they are in the same color family, your look will be coordinated. If you’re traveling in winter, I like to bring base layers, which are thin leggings and tops from outdoor wear companies like Patagonia or North Face, so I can throw them on under my outfits when it gets really chilly and they don’t add bulk to me or my suitcase.
Pack a few of your favorite graphic tees like this Wonder Woman tank and a basic black pencil skirt that goes with everything and can be dressed up or down. Bring a light cardigan sweater like this one with a fun print to add texture. Top it with a colorful scarf around your neck or in your hair. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes like these low-heeled oxfords and a satchel bag big enough to carry all you will need for a day of sightseeing. Make sure it has good closure because some tourist areas can have pickpockets! Click the links to shop* this look!