BY KAREN REMPEL | This month, I went with my crew to another iconic New York literary destination, which also claims to be NYC’s oldest original bar and restaurant, Pete’s Tavern. This combined many of my favorite things: New York history, literature, yummy cocktails and food, and gorgeous quirky fashion. Pete’s is located at 129 E. 18th St., at the corner of Irving Place, in Gramercy.
Established in 1864, Pete’s has a “Friends of Libraries USA” plaque out front, in recognition of the nurturing atmosphere the tavern provided to O. Henry when he wrote his short story study in irony, “The Gift of the Magi.” The plaque also divulges that Ludwig Bemelmans wrote his enchanting children’s book “Madeline” in this locale. Inspiring luminaries indeed!
But more importantly to ordinary mortals, the cocktails are divine (I recommend Pedro’s Paloma), and the food portions generous, delicious, satisfying and modestly priced. I had to take part of my beet salad home and I’ve never been served so many grilled shrimp as an add-on by any other restaurant. It was the perfect day for outdoor dining (at one of New York’s oldest outdoor cafes at 70-plus years), and our server was charming and attentive.
Indoors, they have the splendid, original rosewood bar, well stocked with a tremendous variety of Scotch, as well as a spacious dining room and a private party room with bar upstairs. For beer drinkers, you must try their 1864 house ale.
Switching to the fashion, this outfit is my new favorite quirky combo, featuring three elements that harmonize like the Eagles, although purchased separately in time. I’ve paid homage to the fantastical Sophie Webster shoes in a previous column. I bought the crazy spotted shirt in January on a rare Bleecker Street shopping trip with a friend. It was a fun day, as you can see! No, I didn’t get the pants.
And to complete the trio, I adore this swirly Northern-lights-hued dress by 28-year-old Brooklyn designer Tyler McGillivary. I first learned about Tyler when a friend’s hip fashionista daughter was spotted at the Whitney Museum wearing McGillivary’s beloved butterfly dress, featuring a kaleidoscope of winged creatures laser-cut and sewn into layers of mesh fabric. I love the nature motifs in Tyler’s line — with flowers, insects and plants in hyper-realistic detail— and the gorgeous flow of her clothes. I admired her all the more when I learned she is one of the few designers to offer a versatile range of silhouettes, and she sources and produces her textiles and clothing ethically, both locally in NYC and also in India and Hong Kong.
But the real surprise is how I feel when I step out wearing this dress. The silky sheath caressing my body makes me feel so feminine and sexy. No other dress has ever made me feel like this. All eyes are on me, and while I enjoy the rush of channeling Marilyn Monroe, I also want to jump in a cab as quickly as possible to escape the gaze of every passing male!
• Psychedelic Cosmos swirly maxi slip dress with crisscross spaghetti straps and cowl bustline. Tyler McGillivary.
• Hypnotic-spots retro Arthur shirt in crinkly coral and turquoise box pleats with satin collar and placket. Isalis, 353 Bleecker St.
• Sophia Webster pop-art shoes in mint green and Day-Glo orange with turquoise colored ribbon. The Bay, Vancouver. Ribbon from Michael’s on 6th Avenue.
• Butterfly cheek tattoo by Karen Rempel.