Who says it never rains in Southern California? At Melrose Umbrella Co. in West Hollywood, you can always get a good downpour of drink.
With warm lighting that glows like candlelit shadows, textured walls, exposed brick, rustic wood accents, and a homey white picket fence around the outside, the bar gives the feeling of a historic venue. It all makes sense considering the actual building went up around that time. Along the walls, 13 upside-down umbrellas are hung, a tribute to the 13 dry years of prohibition and its demise with the promise of “Many Wet Days To Come.” The bar’s logo is a silhouette of co-owner James Melrose’s grandfather, known as the Grand Old Man and the mayor of York, who regularly carried an umbrella instead of using a cane.
Paying homage to the post-prohibition era and the celebration of the cocktail, Melrose Umbrella Co. offers a wide selection of craft cocktails and small bites to eat. The music is played for ambiance, not overbearing, so it’s great for conversation. The venue also offers coffee service, pastries, and sandwiches in the daytime hours. There is Wi-Fi if you want to just move in for the day – hey, my office doesn’t look this good!
What I Wore
On a warm summer evening, nothing beats grabbing a refreshing cocktail in a floral vintage dress. I picked up this beauty on the East Coast and paired it with a vintage basket-weave handbag and gold mule heels. This outfit can take me day to night – just like the Melrose Umbrella Co.!
What to Wear
Get out your summer florals before it’s too late with this bright splash of colorful petals on a white vintage reproduction swing dress. Pair it with a royal blue handbag and easy gold heels for an outfit that embodies the free spirit of the season! Click the links to shop* this look!
Hey ho, let’s go! The Ramones have been one of my longtime favorite bands. I’ve been a punk since my high school years and this band gave me strength to let my misfit flag fly. As one of the originators of the punk movement in the late 1970’s, the Ramones are iconic for their breakneck sound mixed with hints of ‘50s bop to their look of shaggy hair, leather motorcycle jackets, torn jeans and high top black sneakers.
I was lucky enough to interview Joey Ramone in 1995, and we kept in touch after, as he emailed me about bands he was excited about until about a year before his passing from cancer in 2001. He’ll always hold a special place in my heart for inspiring the music that got me through my formative years and beyond.
Admittedly, I was late to get to this much-publicized exhibit at the Grammy Museum, put together by Johnny Ramone’s widow Linda with help from fan collections and the estate of Joey Ramone, run by his brother Mickey. But I’m so glad I caught it before it was over. Filled with loads of memorabilia including Joey’s leather jacket and Marky’s iconic black high top sneakers, handwritten lyrics, backstage passes, rare photos and much more. I loved the portraits of each member by artist Shepard Fairey and reading the behind-the-scenes notes on each album on the discography wall.
For any Ramones or punk fan, this is exhibit is worth catching in its last week at the Grammy Museum.
What I Wore
While punk is about tough leather and all black, which Joey told me, “Hey, we wear all black because it gets dirty walking around New York City!” Punk also had a thing for the dorky coolness of a striped t-shirt, so my striped sweater was in order. (You can’t see but I do have a Ramones t-shirt on underneath!) And what better place to wear some rebel leggings by Christopher Lee Sauve for Ona Saez that I picked up in Buenos Aires (of all places!), a black mini skirt and some Chelsea boots.
What to Wear
You just gotta have a moto jacket to achieve the punk look but why not give it girly twist in a powder blue color. The requisite Ramones t-shirt also gets an update with some sparkle lettering. And nobody is going to mess with you when you have spikes on your skinny black jeans and classic Dr. Martens combat boots. Click the links to shop this look.
One thing vintage enthusiasts share is a love for the aesthetics of eras past in architecture, design and fashion. We love the quality, the attention to detail, the textures and elegant sensibilities that we just don’t see in buildings or clothing style anymore. With such a disposable culture all around us, it’s nice to find a few places that still appreciate old world charm. One of those places is the recently opened Edmon Bar.
Located inside the Hollywood Historic Hotel, built in 1927 by architect S. Charles Lee, the Edmon invites those who long for an atmosphere of sophistication. The hotel itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is worth a peek inside the red lobby. Definitely take a selfie in front of the stunning, ornate red and gold double door entry. The Edmon is the adjacent bar that was lovingly brought back to life, fully embracing its historic past but modern enough for today’s trendy crowds and studio folks who work just down the street.
I went with a pack of my vintage-loving gal pals who have been curious about the Edmon since we heard rumors of it bringing back the original Art Deco style of the building. As soon as we entered from the awe-inspiring elaborate iron door, we knew we stepped foot in heaven. From the elegant lighting of gorgeous chandeliers and sconces to the massive bar with vintage fixtures to the details design on the columns, we were wrapped in the elegance of a bygone era.
The wait staff was friendly and accommodating. While they have a generous list of signature cocktails, the bartender was happy to whip up a special drink for me when I mentioned I had a craving for something creamy and festive.
Classic jazz music played in the background at a volume suitable for conversation (thank goodness they didn’t spoil the setting with techno!)
The place is perfect for a romantic dinner date or a stop in for a classy drinking experience. The night we went, it was crowded but still comfortable to hang at the bar, where they will also serve your meal if can’t pull yourself away from the illuminated view of the wall of alcohol. You can also watch the bartender climb a ladder to reach for a special libation.
What I Wore
Out for dress-up night with the girls, meant pulling out something special. I went with creamy winter white in a brocade swing dress with belted waistline. Gold heels and a vintage gold handbag with rhinestone detail played off the golden shimmer of the brocade in my dress. A vintage red velvet wrap with tassel trim and gold silk lining completed the look.
What to Wear
With Valentine’s day coming up, I highly recommend the Edmon for a romantic dinner. While I normally don’t advise going too matchy with your outfit and accessories, it’s the one night you can truly be the lady in red and look just right. A red, off-shoulder, wiggle dress with fishtail hemline is the perfect sexy look. A heart-shaped purse is a playful touch while red and black, lace-trim heels add just the right touch of romance.
The Edmon is located at 5168 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
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.
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!
People bustle through packed aisle ways, bright neon lights beckon, and the smells of spices, meats, and coffee beans tempt your taste buds. A stroll through downtown LA’S Grand Central Market is not only a cornucopia of new taste sensations but a window into the history of the City of Angels.
Grand Central Market opened in 1917 on the ground floor of the Homer Laughlin Building in what is now considered the historic core of downtown. It was a place for local residents in the Victorian mansions on the hill to go for their groceries in the open air arcade. The market runs through the entire floor and has entrances on both Broadway and Hill Street.
When I worked as an editor at the LA Times a few years ago, I often had my lunch in the market, or just passed through it for some eye candy on my way to the charming (now closed) Angel’s Flight Railway to catch a lift to the California Plaza.
Back then the Market had an international feel with an abundance of exotic foods and the ingredients to prepare them. Small business delis, butchers and produce vendors also made up the Market. Today it feels a little more gentrified with trendy stalls such as Press Brothers Juicery, G&B Coffee and EggSlut, which has a perpetual line wrapped around it. But it’s no less interesting with the variety of choices and plenty of people watching.
The grounds also hold events such as movie screenings, live music, book readings, cultural lectures, even drag queen bingo nights!
Just as Los Angeles changes with the ebb and flow of the economy and people coming and going, so does Grand Central Market. Whatever you fancy from Asian fare to German sausage, to just some fresh fruit or a cup of joe can be found here. The Grand Central Market is an LA institution not to be missed for a slice of authentic city history.
What I Wore
During the hot summer months in Southern California, the air feels like a hair dryer and it’s hard to keep your cool. A breezy, light, sundress is the only way to go such as this salmon spaghetti strap number that’s one of my faves. I pulled my hair back with a retro inspired, martini-print scarf and added some vintage coral-colored earrings and cuff bracelet featuring iconic movie starlets.
What to Wear: Hot Summer Style
When the weather heats up, stay on the bright side with pastel striped, full skirt, sundress. A cheery yellow head scarf keeps hair pulled back on sticky days, pink heeled sandals adds a touch of sweetness while a cuff bracelet grounds the look with a bit of boldness. Click the links to shop* this look.
In the dim lighting that picks up the rosy hue of red leather booths, red tablecloths, and brick walls, everyone looks a little bit more attractive as they sit down for some traditional Mexican fare at Casa Vega. It also provides a discreetly private atmosphere for the many celebrities who frequent this restaurant that has been serving the stars and the locals since 1956. Arched doorways of traditional Spanish architecture usher you into rooms lined with Mexican paintings and tables overflowing with sizzling plates of food. The bar near the front is bustling serving a large variety of jumbo-sized signature drinks, which goes down great with hearty serving of hand-chopped guacamole and chips or a full-on plate of enchiladas.
Casa Vega has been a family-run fixture on the corner of movie studio adjacent Sherman Oaks, which might be why one of their first customers was actress Jane Fonda. George Clooney was known to bring his dates there, and celebrities continue to stream into the relaxed supper club setting. It was also the perfect place to meet a gal pal for cocktails and girl talk like I did the other night.
What I Wore
When I think of Casa Vega, I always think of the red glow of the interior and the restaurant’s logo, so a red vintage dress was in order for the night. This sharkskin dress is one of my favorites because of the deep red hue streaked with black, and the sheen of the fabric. I always like to give it a touch of rock ‘n’ roll with a studded black leather belt, a gun metal silver vintage reproduction purse, and some spiky stilettos. I let my hair go wild after a dose of steam rollers, and did a simple sideswept pinup do.
Summertime calls for spending time on the beach. While this city girl doesn’t go frolic in the sand too often, despite my close proximity to the coast, I did feel the need to put on a cool summer look and go for a concert on the Santa Monica Pier when I heard the Psychedelic Furs were playing.
The Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909 and has had various incarnations following the Great Depression and multiple natural disasters. It was rebuilt into the grand amusement park of today in the 1980’s. The attractions include a Ferris wheel, the original carousel hippodrome from the 1920’s, an aquarium as well as shops, restaurants, and bars. People can be found fishing from the west end of the pier, and the walkway is often lined with performance artists hoping for their big break, or at least some tips.
The Pier has always been a great stage for entertainment and Twilight Concerts began a few years ago as a way to see some big name acts on the gorgeous coastal setting. For my show, it was an extremely hot summer day in L.A., but down by the beach, it was comfortably in the 70’s. The parking situation around the Pier is a bit crazy so we parked a few blocks down, where the lots were cheaper, and took a lovely 20-minute walk on the boardwalk along the water to get to the Pier (we Uber’d back after dark.)
Getting to the concert area was a bit of a challenge when we were directed to walk all the way up to Ocean Avenue to enter the Pier under the main sign on Colorado and Ocean. But we made it and were ready for some “Love My Way” from the Furs. The stage is large and well lit and it’s easy to see without standing up close and getting smashed in the crowd. Large, multicolor, pastel art installation balloons flew in the sky giving a festive touch. The sun was just going down providing the perfect golden glow over all of the amusement park rides spinning and zooming in the distance behind us.
Just as it got dark, the Psychedelic Furs came out and did an amazing show! This band was my first concert in my teens and has been a longtime favorite of mine, so it brought back special memories. Singer Richard Butler was as joyful and energetic as ever as he sang, jumped, pranced, and did his signature undulating moves to every lyric. He seemed genuinely happy to be there. And that feeling was felt throughout the crowd, who weren’t rowdy as I feared they might be, but just fully into the music. It was a thoroughly delightful night under the stars!
Here’s a little flashback to some of the Furs’ biggest hits
What I Wore
Though it was a casual evening on the beach, I still wanted to look stylish for the concert so I pulled out a little ‘80s inspiration, which always makes me think of the pinstripes and flowing scarves that a lot of my favorite bands wore. I slipped into some pinstripe shorts, a black tank top, and topped the look with a pop of an ombre “Pretty in Pink” long scarf. My new floral print Dr. Martens boots completed the look and made it comfy to walk along the boardwalk. Since the beach air was bound to put my hair in a tangled mess, I pulled it up in an oversized bun with double pin curls, and put on some artsy, big, silver swirl earrings.
What to Wear: Summer Look
Don’t reduce your summer look to frumpy, shorts and beat up tee shirts. Style it with these cute, polka dot shorts, a crisp, cool white tank, and a pretty, light floral scarf. Since it may cool down in the evening hours, bring a big tote to carry a sweater and your beach essentials such as this too-sweet-for-words, pink bow backpack. Keep your feet cool and comfy in some pink oxford flats and complete the look with silver floral disk earrings that play off the design in the shorts and scarf. Click the links to shop* this look!
Summer in California can be magical. The sun is so bright it seems to make everything sparkle. On a Saturday afternoon in Santa Monica, the vintage-loving crowd didn’t really need any help looking bright and cheerful in their retro threads as they gathered for a rare daytime event that included a fashion show from Unique Vintage and entertainment from the Satin Dollz, and wild, swingin’ dance moves from the Hollywood Hotshots.
Taking place poolside at the Shangri-La Hotel, with the sweet sounds of the Dean Mora Band and DJ Dr. Nate playing in the background, the acts rotated from singing numbers, the fashion show and dances. It was never a dull moment and I’m not even counting the great people watching in the fine-dressed crowd. The leader of the Satin Dollz took a moment to thank everyone for coming and marking their 10th anniversary by stating Los Angeles has the country’s best vintage scene. Well I can vouch that it certainly is a lot of fun! And it was a good opportunity to wear my new Voodoo Vixen spectacle-print dress with the cross-strap detail I love! Check out the pix:
Most ladies know, a good pair of shoes is an art form. But self-taught designer Chris Francis takes shoemaking to a whole level. Creating awe-inspiring footwear from a variety of materials and found objects, he turns mere shoes into sculptural pieces.
I attended the opening reception for his current exhibit at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), and felt like a little girl in a candy store – so many beautiful, theatrical pieces that stretch the boundaries and blow your mind as to what a shoe could be. From big chunky leather platform boots to delicate pieces with colorful textiles, each piece was a delight.
I especially loved the punk-inspired shoes, layered with scraps of leather to look like a motorcycle jacket, dotted with a Sex Pistols button, and giving attitude with broom bristle spikes. Reminded me a bit of my own mohawk back in the day (see image here!)
It’s not surprising to see such a piece from this designer, a former punk himself, he still carries himself with rock ‘n’ roll style and many of his clients include rockers such as Runaways’ Lita Ford and Motley Crue’s Mick Mars – whose last (foot mold) was seen hanging in his shop, set up in the CAFAM front room for the duration of the exhibit.
And I had to take a moment to pause in front of the shop to examine his tools of the trade. (Of course I had to wear my shoe print dress and killer heels for the event!) His shop looks like it’s a trip into a time machine of the type of craftsmanship almost left to the history books. Brushing aside the current techniques of mass production to create shoes, Francis instead uses vintage tools and makes each shoe by hand.
The results are clearly pieces made with love and passion for the art of the shoe.
Be sure to stop by and take a look at these masterful shoe creations and visit Francis in his shop there at the museum through the duration of the exhibit. Check the CAFAM website for his schedule.