Dress Like a TV Star: Be a DIY-Bargain Queen

27 Jan

{Dress Like a TV Star: Be a DIY-Bargain Queen} My appearance on The Nate Berkus Show led to a whirlwind of activities for being on the show and with limited time I needed to pull together an amazing look and in jiff.

Photos by Christopher Doherty

If you think figuring out what to wear on a first date is hard, try coming up with what to wear on a nationally syndicated network TV show!

The challenge, especially, was finding something that was going to exude the essence of who I am while also being complimentary on camera, in terms of lines and color. Although I knew shopping out of my closet would warrant success, I decided to get a little inspiration by visiting my favorite vintage boutique in Hell’s Kitchen, Arts Echo.

As fate would have it, I found a freshly acquired shimmery teal vintage dress, circa. late 1970s, early 1980s. It was a triple win: the dress’ gem-tone was perfect for picking up the light in the studio and is a redhead’s ideal complimentary color, plus it was on sale!

But I had to employ a little DIY-craftiness to really make this dress come alive.

My DIY-Dress
Both the hemline and neckline were very outdated. First, I tacked the button-rows back to create a key-hole style neckline and then I tacked the existing hem of the dress up underneath itself at alternating heights to create a soft balloon-effect.

The dress "before."

The reason I decided to “tack” the dress into these alterations was two-fold. No. 1) I seriously did not have time to do a complete alteration, ie. using a sewing machine and pinking scissors. No. 2) The material is so light weight and delicate that only a master seamstress could handle alterations without leaving trace evidence. (and for national television, I was not that confident in my skills!)

Also, I shortened the sleeves to fit my ape-like long arms. For this, I did cut the fabric then turned the hem inward and hand-stitched the new sleeve.

The shoes "before."

My DIY-Shoes
Dorothy would be proud. These are my ruby slippers … and because traipsing down the Yellow Brick Road of stores was not a timely option, I visited my closet. There I found a pair of heels I never wear — because they are not feet-friendly — that matched the style of the dress and then headed to the hardware store for a can of glossy Apple Red spray paint.

My DIY-Headpiece
Needing my third touch of red to carry the accent from my head to my toes, and with my extensive hat collection being of no help — I had to think outside the (hat) box. By no means am I a millinery, but that’s not to say that I can’t create my own artistic accessory.

I went to my material box and found some white hat netting with Swiss dots — Eureka!

I grabbed the spray paint, transforming the remnant swatch into a veil that I shaped and tacked into place using bobby pins. The rose I fondly call my “Billie Holiday magnolia” and have had it for years, but with this outfit the rose couldn’t act alone. Together the two pieces create an air of dramatic sophistication.

Secret Tip: For the show, I couldn’t wear my crowning pride and show, since it was too distracting for the camera. Yet, to maintain the integrity of “the rule of three” — accent colors should be seen in an ensemble three times, ideally at low, middle and high points — Nate’e make-up artist gave me red lipstick. So if you are not a hat person, or your still prowling for a vintage red piece, you can make your outfit’s red accent complete by using your lipstick as the third punch of color!

With Sammy Davis and Nate Berkus at the conclusion of taping "Bargain Buy Challenge."


I adore these copper & brass cuffs not only because it's my best friend of 20 years design, Luna Verde, but the details are vintage buttons! Now that's Thrifty Vintage & Chic!

How Much for ‘Dress Like a TV Star’? $40

$o Vintage Button Cuffs & Vintage Button Ring (Gifted from Luna Verde)
$0 Platform Heels (shopped-my-closet find)
$.50 1980s Avant Garde Belt (Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch Thrift Store)
$3.50 Red Spray Paint — for shoes and veil (local hardware store)
$36 1980s Teal Dress (Arts Echo)

What’s the Take-Away

It might not be The Nate Berkus Show, but we all have unexpected and big events where dressing to impress is an absolute must.

My adage in these situations is to think on your feet, be creative and always have the confidence that it will come together, and it truly is possible to pull off.

Keeping the optimism high allows you to see options that you might never had noticed before and gives you the freedom to fully express who you are, so that when you make the grand entrance you really do feel like a TV star!


4 Responses to “Dress Like a TV Star: Be a DIY-Bargain Queen”

  1. Jenn January 27, 2011 at 5:23 PM #

    Congrats! I was so excited for the episode with you and Sammy. Ever since I saw you on Thrift Wars, I couldn’t get over how adorable you were! So glad to have found your blog!


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic January 27, 2011 at 8:15 PM #

      aw, Jenn! SO happy we got connected now! Can’t wait to have your feedback on the site from now on! 🙂


  2. Dawn January 28, 2011 at 10:57 AM #

    LOVE that color on you, Robin! And those bracelets!! Simply super!Of course, the belt makes the outfit. It is so unique old-school classic…


  3. TRU @ TRU TALES FEATS February 6, 2011 at 2:48 PM #

    I wish you’d have worn the hat On the show. I love it! I became a follower of you on Networked Blogs. My stuff isn’t nearly as chic, but you’re welcome to check me out anyway.


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