Posts by Dara

Old Is New Again

imageAdmit it. When you think about shopping for vintage clothes, the following images of a Goodwill thrift shop probably come to mind: a musty, moth-balled space with dim lighting, cluttered racks, creaky wooden floors and, dare I say, cobwebs. Well, that perception will instantly change the moment you set foot inside Dear:55 – a surprisingly clean-cut boutique with a beautifully blended assortment of new and pre-loved designer threads, shoes, bags and baubles.

Run by Moon Rhee and designer Hey Ja Do, antique dealers who always dreamt of opening a vintage clothing and accessory shop with a modern twist, Dear:55 is quickly becoming the go-to destination for downtown and uptown shoppers alike. A cutting-edge gallery-like space that’s painted a blinding shade of snow white (from the white walls to the white antique furniture and the white facade), Dear:55 is easily spotted from a mile away.

Eye-catching décor aside, it’s the boutique’s eclectic mix of designer clothing that will lure you inside. Expect a stellar selection of avant-garde labels culled from Europe and Japan, including Vivienne Westwood, Rick Owens, Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang. Vintage junkies will love pawing through the racks for original ‘80’s pieces from Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. Other retro standouts I spotted during last week’s sojourn include a DKNY military jacket, a sequined cardigan, a denim bubble skirt, an ivory tunic adorned with gemstones and a black leather motorcycle jacket. But the real show-stoppers were Hey Ja Do’s reconstructed creations, ranging from one-of-a-kind handbags (fashioned from recycled fabrics), chunky beaded jewelry (handmade from found objects like lace and charms) and futuristic frocks such as an asymmetrical cobalt blue skirt and a tuxedo blouse with tiers of cascading chiffon ruffles (pairs perfectly with my new men’s-inspired wide-legged pants).

No matter what your preference, perhaps the most en-dear-ing thing about Dear:55 – all the garments are so well preserved, you can wear ‘em out the door without first stopping at the dry cleaners. 

  • Dear:55
  • 55 Clinton Street (between Stanton & Rivington)
  • 212-673-3494
  • Monday-Sunday, 1pm-9pm
  • $100-$300
  • store credit or exchange within 7 days of purchase
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Filed: Shop Talk

Fall Forward

After spending Labor Day transitioning each of my three closets (two for clothes and one strictly for my beauty booty) for the fall season, it occurred to me that I’m in serious need of a makeup overhaul. Rather than hoard dozens of tubes of red lipstick and lengthening mascara (they usually expire long before I get to use them anyway), I’ve decided to purge my stash and simplify my life with just a few of the season’s must-haves. Now if only I could downsize my wardrobe? Yeah, right.

Witchy black nails are out and automobile-like chrome shades are in. My fave new hue is Creative Nail Design’s Hyde In The Dark ($6) – a glitzy, gunmetal that looks gorgeous on short, squoval-shaped nails.

imageA punchy red pout instantly brightens-up your face and your mood. I’m hooked on Lipstick Queen’s Red Sinner ($18) – a shade so intense, it almost makes me want to go to confession!

imageWOW – a blush that does double duty for the eyes and face! With The Balm’s Hot Mama, there’s no reason to look pasty white, even when the mercury dips. This pretty pinky-peach hue acts as highlighter for the lids and adds a splash of color to the apples of the cheeks. 

imageWhen it comes to lashes, burgundy is the new black. When I want my peepers to pop, I swipe on several coats of Kitten Vixen’s Eye Put A Spell On You Bewitching Burgundy volumizing mascara ($24). Plus, the flip side doubles as a liner for lids. Can you say Cleopatra?     

imagePut down your pencils! Goof-proof liquid liner is where it’s at for back-to-school. Try Tarte’s double-sided Indelible Wink ($22) liquid formula (use the flip side as a matte shadow) for sultry, smudge-free cat eyes. Even sneezing won’t leave you with those dreadful Amy Winehouse wing tips.


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Filed: Beauti-Fixation


imageWhile my closet may suggest otherwise, finding the right-sized clothes to fit my frame is no small task. Despite the myriad of clothing boutiques at my disposal in the Big Apple, I’m rarely able to wear frocks right off the racks. Since most American labels are cut so large (can you say “Super Size Me”?), I can either fly to Europe for more petite (but pricey) clothes or try a more fitting alternative, like paying for alterations at Stanton Tailor Shop.

A Lower East Side landmark since 1993, Stanton Tailor meticulously mends everything from frayed pant hems to, believe it or not, parachutes. Having tried dozens of tailors in my time, absolutely nothing compares to level of craftsmanship offered at this one-man show. Run by my new best friend, Pablo Vargas, a self-confessed control freak who simultaneously supervises multiple fittings, repairs, customer calls and even the cash register (no computer terminals here), Stanton Tailor is one of the most unconventional businesses I’ve ever seen. The size of a walk-in-closet, this old-school shop still manages to serve more than 75 customers a day. With lines that snake out the door, Stanton Tailor is so busy they might as well have one of those ticket dispensers you find at the deli to manage the crowd. Come on a Saturday and you’d better bring a copy of War and Peace to help make the time pass. Perhaps more entertaining is watching poor Pablo balance himself on a ladder in order to pull down your alterations (which hang suspended from the ceiling).

What I love most about Stanton Tailor is that they’ve willingly reconstructed several complicated pieces from my closet such as a delicate silk blouse with a ruffled Victorian collar – items other tailors wouldn’t dare touch. They’re also one of the cheapest tailors in town. Original pant hems average only $10, practically half the price of what you’ll find uptown. Just don’t bother asking Pablo to specify a pick-up date. When your stuff’s ready, it’s ready! So long as you’re willing to put up with the chaos, Stanton Tailor will magically mend your wardrobe and just maybe, your life.

  • Stanton Tailor Shop
  • 90-96 Stanton Street (@ Orchard Street)
  • 212-353-9753
  • Monday – Saturday from 10am-7pm (fittings only from 10am-6pm)
  • $10-$200 (for major coat alterations)
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Filed: Shop Talk


imageI’ve always been a sucker for the latest hi-tech gadgets, whether it be a BlackBerry Pearl, iPod Shuffle, HD DVD and even makeup. From talking eye palettes to plug-in spray foundations, who could have predicted that technology would actually improve the way we beautify our faces every day. That’s right, it’s no longer enough for lipstick to merely paint your pout – it must also be fun and multi-functional. Among the latest of these cosmetic gizmos is Go Light On My Lips, a new line of gloss that comes equipped with a battery operated light and built-in mirror.

Unlike most of the crap you typically find on infomercials, Go Light On My Lips really works and is a brilliant way to shorten your time spent primping. Elena George, a makeup artist to the stars, came up with this bright idea so that busy gals can glam-up their lips on the go, ensuring a smudge-free Cupid’s bow. Cool and compact, Go Light On My Lips is perfect for touch-ups in dimly lit lounges, movie theatres, taxis (no more Joker grins!) and those unexpected emergencies (remember the New York City blackout a few years back?). A must for road trips, Go Light On My Lips could even save your arse should you suddenly find yourself with a flat tire on the freeway after midnight. Simply twist off the tube, click the button on the cap, et voila… the applicator wand instantly illuminates like a flashlight.

These goof-proof glosses are available in a 5 knockout shades ($19 each) including Red Carpet (a hot fire-engine hue), Chili Spice (a shimmery copper), Poppin’ Pink (a sheer glaze), Invisible (a clear gloss), Brown Sugar Baby (a glitzy bronze) as well as a lighted black mascara ($24). And if you’ve got cash to burn, you can even encrust your very own case with Swarovski crystals for a mere $250. Gimmicky packaging aside, Go Light On My Lips glosses are loaded with nourishing vitamin E and jojoba oils to keep your smooch shiny and super supple. Buyers beware: better not lacquer your lips compulsively after dark. Once the light on the cap blows, that’s it… the batteries aren’t rechargeable.

  • Go Light On My Lips
  • 718-977-0100
  • $19-$24 ($38 for one monogrammed initial)
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Filed: Beauti-Fixation

Girls Will Be Boys

imageAs a tomboy growing up in Vermont, I was obsessed with climbing trees, collecting daddy long legs and donning my older brother’s pants and oversized polos. Fortunately for my parents, I grew out of that awkward phase and have since gravitated towards more girly things like manicures and mini skirts. Ironically, with menswear-inspired frocks like Sally Tseng’s suddenly in fashion, I again find myself yearning for those borrowed-from-the-boys looks I shed so many years ago.

A Taiwanese-born fashion designer whose “man-spiration” comes from the button-down shirts she once raided from her brother’s closet, Sally Tseng meticulously tailors her androgynous garments to suit a woman’s frame. With sewing in her genes (her grandmother was a seamstress), it was a given that Sally would one day follow in her footsteps. Now in her third season, Tseng continues to make her mark with sexy day-to-night silhouettes that are topped off with a modicum of mannish sophistication. Expect signature details such as exaggerated cuffs, elongated sleeves and tuxedo pleats, all of which are coveted by style-savvy women who exude confidence. “Boy oh boy,” just wait ‘til you get a hold of her luxe, ‘20’s-inspired lineup for fall, which comes in a host of eye-catching hues like cobalt blue, mustard, burgundy and charcoal gray.

Some standouts I’m considering from the 24-piece collection include a short-sleeved silk tuxedo chemise, wide-legged pin-striped trousers, a billowy blouse with faint polka dots and a slit back, a belted shirt dress, a silver thigh-grazing tunic (a must for the holidays), a midnight black bubble dress with a racer back and a swingy A-line coat with puffy sleeves. Now if only I can convince my hubby to lend me his silk tie, fedora and antique pocket watch, I’ll have the Diane Keaton look down pat. 

Support Sally! Sally Tseng is one of 6 fashion semi-finalists competing for a chance to win a $20,000 grant from Bioré® Skincare. Help Sally bring her business to the next level by casting your vote at But don’t dilly-dally…. the contest closes this Friday, August 31st! Every click counts!

  • Sally Tseng
  • 866-811-3466
  • $190-$500
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Filed: Clothes Encounters