Getting Ready with Pat Kusek for Gatsby, NYFW + more GATSBY

Pat Kusek behind the scenes at our Gatsby photo shoot
Photo: Lisa Brown of Bella Rose Photography

While I was in New York in late August attending my second Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island, my friend and Gatsby Gala sponsor Pat Kusek of Kusek Financial Group was making heads turn at the 26th Annual Great Gatsby Gala in Charlotte. I guess you can say we are hitting up the Gatsby circuit up and down the coast. Turns out Pat took home the prize for 2nd place in their “Best Dressed” competition. No surprise there. She and I first became friends right around the time she took home “Best Dressed” wearing the very same cream beaded fringe dress and headpiece at The Great Gatsby Film Premiere party I hosted last year.

Pat shining at the 26th annual Great Gatsby Gala in Charlotte


We’ve gotten a peek inside Pat’s closet during her Closet Confessions video so we already know she is a woman of class and style – and knows a thing or two about a good vintage Chanel bag.

Going into her second year as the Great Gatsby Gala presenting sponsor at The City Club Thursday September 18th, I thought it might be fun to talk to Pat about her process for getting ready for Gatsby and other special events on her dance card.

Speaking of dance cards filling up, since we are just passed the one-week-away mark for the 4th annual Great Gatsby Gala, it’s right about the time when everyone is figuring out how to channel their inner Daisy, Gatsby, Tom or Myrtle for a night of Roaring Twenties reverie. If you have not found your Gatsby dress yet or have only part of your attire together, meet me at aMuse tomorrow (Saturday 1pm-4pm) at 19 South Second Street for our Gatsby Trunk Show. Milliner and aMuse owner Jan Wutkowski and I will be on hand to help style you in deco glamour from dresses to jewelry to headpieces – and with a St. Germain cocktail in hand!

As for the Gatsby circut, don’t miss coverage (below) from the Gatsby Afternoon Picnic hosted by the Art Deco Society of Virginia in Richmond, VA that Joel and I took part in this past weekend as an early-celebration road trip adventure in honor of our 10-year wedding anniversary (today).

Enjoy your weekend! Hope to see you tomorrow at aMuse. xo

Photo: Bella Rose


ff:When you are preparing for a special event, do you usually start by preparing your outfit w/ the dress or your accessories?
“Well, that depends on what type of event it is. In other words, I might want great shoes, or a special necklace to really be the center of attention. In that case, I would start with the shoes or necklace and find a dress to coordinate. If the dress is the superstar, then I’ll start there.”


ff:As a financial planner, can you share a few tips on ways to save money but still look amazing at your social engagements?
“I have learned the hard way through the years that I can actually save money in the long run by buying classic, quality pieces and paying more for them rather than buying a lot of “stuff” that I end up donating in a few years. The classics never go out of style – pearls, black leather clutch, simple gold earrings and really nice black dresses and pencil skirts. I have never given up on an expensive classic piece nor have I grown tired of it. However, when I have let myself get sucked in on the “latest trend,” it almost always gets tossed in a season or two. We have to realize that just because something looks good on a model or in Vogue, it may not look good on us or even be appropriate for our career or lifestyle. If it’s not ‘you,’ just don’t buy it!”


ff:How do you change up a look so you can wear the same dress on several occasions?
“Jackets and sweaters of ALL sleeve lengths and body lengths. When I travel for work, I can wear a one little black dress by pairing a jacket and pearls for day and taking it up a notch by changing into a sweater, snazzy necklace and fun shoes by night. You can easily change the look of just about anything with jewelry. I like to invest in vintage pieces that always catch attention.”


Photo: Bella Rose


ff:Who or what inspired your love for fashion and personal style?
“It was more of a WHAT in the beginning because I was always a woman in a man’s world and felt I needed to dress professionally at all times. Even from the years where I was on a construction site wearing a hard hat and safety boots, I wore nice khaki slacks with a blouse and blazer. It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Later in life, I have been influenced by the WHO, as in Chanel and St. John just because they became pieces I could invest in, wear every day, and feel great. Perhaps the most important WHO is my husband Walter. He’s always the one who gives the thumbs up or down on what I put on everyday. Honestly, after 28 years I can take one look at his face and tell if he loves it or hates it!”


Photo: Bella Rose


ff:Can you share with us a few of your secrets for looking so incredible at the Great Gatsby Gala and the gala in Charlotte? Where do you find your vintage-inspired dresses? What made you choose vintage-inspired over a vintage 20’s dress?
“My Gatsby style was born from the time a certain someone was hosting a Gatsby movie premiere last year. I thought how fun that would be and got a dress from a vintage-inspired retailer, but then found a spectacular beaded headpiece from Jan at aMuse downtown. That really set the bar for the rest of the outfit. Not sure how it happens, but every time the original Gatsby outfit has made an appearance, there is nothing in the room to compare. I am sure I will keep it (and hopefully wear it) forever. My neighbor also gave me the fur piece I carried last year; it belonged to her grandmother so its vintage with a personal history. I think it makes any item more special when you can imagine who may have worn it before you and where in its previous life!”


ff:What are a few of your favorite vintage finds and haunts?
“The beaded headpiece from last year’s Gatsby event, the furs my neighbor has given me, tons of jewelry from aMuse and definitely the stockings with the seams in the back! I’m even wearing them for work during the winter. In addition to aMuse, I love Second Time Around, Bargain Box and various finds from our own Style Girl Jess James, who always has a text for me when she sees something she thinks I’ll like!”



ff:Do you have any tips you can share for giving something you already have in your closet more of a 20’s vibe?
“Long pearls and fringe, headbands and long gloves always make you feel like you could be headed to a party at Jay Gatsby’s!”


ff:Which Gatsby makes your heart skip a beat? Redford or Leo?
“Of course you know it’s Redford! When you have a minute, I’ll tell you about the one time I was THIS close to planting a kiss on him in person.”





If you are in the market to splurge on something authentically Twenties, there’s plenty to drool over at LuminaGem right now. That bracelet is just INCREDIBLE.


Join Aqua Fedora at Lumina Station
for 30% off new arrivals,
20% off Style Girl Vintage
(just refreshed both racks!) +
a signature cocktail!


Gatsby video by my talented friends at Blueberry Creative




It all started with an Instagram post. Last Saturday, I noticed a particularly appealing post of candy-colored vintage Whiting and Davis vintage bags and turquoise baubles from one of my favorite vintage sellers, Raleigh Vintage. Turns out she was headed to a Gatsby Afternoon Picnic in Richmond, VA the following day to sell her wares. Say what?! You had me at Gatsby.

Since Joel and I had already been trying to figure out how we would celebrate our pre 10-year wedding anniversary (since he is working on our “real” anniversary tonight), I said, “That’s it!” I’m not sure how appealing or romantic an 8-hour round trip-in-the-same-night is for a couple that’s been married for 10 years (not quite as much to talk about!) but miraculously, he agreed to go – as long as I drove the first leg of the trip.

Now, try to imagine the faces of the women working at the Subway and the patrons at the rest stop three hours into our journey. I had to laugh (and of course snap a selfie!) when I saw my reflection in the restroom mirror – full length 1920’s nightgown turned Garden party day dress, platinum bob wig, flapper beads and all!

Nearing the Richmond exit, we were already starting to wonder why we would drive eight hours for a two hour long stint on the grass, but as soon as we walked through the gates of the Wilton House Museum, I knew it would be worth it. As Joel said, “we’ve found your people.”














Watermarked Photos: A Captured Image Photography




I just love this!
The hills are alive.
(Regram via Johnnie Sexton)


Last Look at New York Fashion Week –
one of my favorite images
via The Sartorialist


With everyone feeling a New York state of mind in memory of all those lost on 9/11, the most beautiful and hopeful image I encountered is taken by my friend Flannery Cronin on the roof of her apartment in Brooklyn last night. #regram





Fashion Editorial
NEW IMAGES Unveiled!


As you know, the 4th annual Great Gatsby Gala is upon us. So basically I am living, dreaming, sleeping, and breathing Gatsby till the evening of September 18th. And, I’m not complaining. It’s safe to say I’m in my element.

Two weeks ago, I joined the incredibly talented Lisa Brown of Bella Rose Photography (her 3rd Gatsby!) and an amazing entourage at The City Club and The Blind Elephant speakesy for our latest installment of our Gatsby fantasy.

After a 14-hour-day shoot day and an 8-hour editing session (2,300 photos – eeks!), I am crossing my fingers that you enjoy the images nearly as much as we enjoyed creating them.

Photography: Lisa Brown of Bella Rose Photography
Wardrobe Styling + Casting: Jess James
Hair: Rozy Bathon of Rockin’ Roller Salon
Makeup: Amy Kennison
Locations: The City Club + The Blind Elephant
Vintage Car: The British Taxi

Gatsby – Clark Dean
Daisy – Adrienne O’Docharty
Tom Buchanan – Troy Widmer
Nick Carraway – Ben Jamieson
Jordan – Josie Evans
Myrtle – Michelle Glauber

Paige LaWall
Jessica Baltos

Nnenne Terzian

David Walen

Big Thank You to
all of you for making our Gatsby
come to life so beautifully!

Tom (far right):
Ike Behar Parker black tux from Cape Fear Formalwear


Vintage white drop waist dress $145 from Style Girl Collection, Silver mesh headpiece with feather $125, Deco teardrop rhinestone earrings $125 – All from aMuse. Statement silver necklace with pendant and fringe chain $65 from A Second Time Around, Aquamarine and diamond ring $10,000 from Lumina Gem.
Tan Suit by Perry Ellis, White rapture necktie and Genoa espresso lace-up shoes. All from Cape Fear Formalwear.


Sheer beaded dress w/ wrap $130, Green slip $30, 1920’s beaded fringe necklace $125, Bronze boa $114, Gold wire beaded headpiece $50, Long gold chain with amber colored stones $40 – All from aMuse. Gold and amber statement earrings, vintage compact $35 and beaded gold clutch $75 – All from A Second Time Around. Shoes, stylist’s own.

After Six Riviera navy suit from Cape Fear Formalwear. Tie, stylist’s own.


Ralph Lauren 1930’s inspired silver halter gown (size 14 – pinned) and authentic 1920‘s beaded bag $110 from A Second Time Around, Blue velvet and rhinestone headpiece $85, Mesh and rhinestone statement necklace $95, Rhinestone cluster earrings $150, Gray square stone bracelet $105, Rhinestone bracelet with 3 center stones $125 – All from aMuse. Sapphire and diamond bracelet $22,000, Aquamarine and diamond ring $10,000 both from Lumina Gem.


Gatsby & Daisy take a #selfie.

White tux from Cape Fear Formalwear

Wide gold and pearl fringe bracelet $65,
Deco teardrop dangle earrings $125 – both from aMuse,
Vintage kimono, shoes and scarf, stylist’s own.


Jessica McClintock red/orange dress size 2-4 $85, Chandelier earrings $25 and Starburst clip-on earrings (worn as dress clips) from Lumina Gem, Copper snake belt as necklace $40 and Bracelet with gold nuggets $48 from aMuse.

Vintage Cache aqua beaded gown, Snake rhinestone necklace $25, White fur stole, Blue rhinestone drop earrings $30 – All from A Second Time Around. Gold medallion necklace with aqua stone $95, Long gold chain with purple stone pendant $55, Wide gold and pearl fringe bracelet $65, Aqua beaded fringe headpiece $75 – All from aMuse.



Vintage white drop waist dress $145 from Style Girl Collection. Silver headpiece $125, Deco teardrop dangle earring $125 – All from aMuse. Statement silver necklace with pendant and fringe chain $65 from A Second Time Around, Aquamarine and diamond ring $10,000 from Lumina Gem. Shoes, model’s own.


Vintage 1920’s embroidered shawl and mink stole, both from A Second Time Around.

Jessica (dancer):
Beaded bralette $58 from A Second Time Around, Black feathered headpiece $125 from aMuse. Beaded shorts, stylist’s own.

1960’s pink beaded fringe top $95, Silver tiered dress, Rhinestone shoe clips $50 from A Second Time Around, Rhinestone tie choker by Kramer $120, Deco teardrop dangle earrings $125, Rhinestone bracelet with 3 center stones $125, Rhinestone bracelet with center marquise $95, Long crystal necklace $115 – All from aMuse. Pink feather fan and silver headpiece, stylist’s own.

Paige & Porcelain (dancers):
own clothing. Headpiece, stylist’s own.


Tan Suit by Perry Ellis, White rapture necktie and Genoa espresso lace-up shoes. All from Cape Fear Formalwear. Gold deco tie clip from A Second Time Around.

Vintage 1970‘s white tiered dress (size small) $98, Vintage white heels – Both from A Second Time Around, Gold lace headpiece $125 from aMuse, Diamond and opal pendant $1,695, Switch gold filled chain $123, Pearl and diamond cuff $2,995, Tiffany and Co. 18kt yellow gold and ruby $1,395 – All from Lumina Gem. Gloves, stylist’s own.



This just might be my favorite photo from the entire shoot.
(Baz Luhrmann inspired)

Nnenne (Jazz Singer):
1970’s satin peach two piece, size small $58 from A Second Time Around, Long rhinestone necklace with emeralds (worn down back) $350, Gold deco earrings $120, Peach beaded headpiece $99, Oval plate bracelet with multi-stones $68 – All from aMuse.

Vintage print fringe scarf $38 from A Second Time Around Jean Yves black tux from Cape Fear Formalwear



The fabulous Porcelain, our burlesque dancer from the last two Gatsby Galas. The beautiful Paige, dancer/hooper Porcelain is passing the baton to in anticipation of Porcelain’s move to Seattle.


L: Porcelain
R: Nnenne (Jazz Singer):
1970’s satin peach two piece, size small $58 from A Second Time Around, Long rhinestone necklace with emeralds (worn down back) $350, Gold deco earrings $120, Peach beaded headpiece $99, Oval plate bracelet with multi-stones $68 – All from aMuse.


Vintage 1970‘s white tiered dress (size small) $98, Vintage white heels both from A Second Time Around, Gold lace headpiece $125 from aMuse, Diamond and opal pendant $1,695, Switch gold filled chain $123, Pearl and diamond cuff $2,995, Tiffany and Co. 18kt yellow gold and ruby $1,395 all from Lumina Gem. Gloves, stylist’s own



Did you hear our Great Gatsby Gala
is hosting our first-ever official After-Party
at Blind Elephant? Head there at 10:30pm!



Vintage black cab provided by our friends
at The British Taxi – give them a call
to arrive in style the night of the gala!




Join the 4th Annual Great Gatsby Gala Facebook event page for the latest hints on how you can win a Gatsby giveaway by finding the Kusek Financial Group keychain hidden around town, our “Bee’s Knees” Best Dressed Prizes, + see our most coveted items in the silent auction to benefit Make a Wish.

Carter Jewel found the Kusek keychain on this lovely vintage brocade blazer and took home this hand-sewn Gatsby headpiece from Second Skin Vintage (they have 3 more available!)


WIN IT – Saturday @ 1pm:

Find the Kusek keychain during our Gatsby Trunk Show at aMuse (it will be in its hiding place starting at 1pm!) for a chance to win these pearl drop & onyx stone earrings

(Hint: find this deco embellishment + the keychain will be close by)


WIN IT – Sunday @ 1pm:

We will provide a hint on where in Lula Balou you might find the Kusek keychain to win this KC Malhan sequin clutch from Lula Balou


WIN IT – Make a Wish Silent Auction:

14K diamond floater earrings ($500 value) from Lumina Gem




September 13
Great Gatsby Trunk Show

WHAT: Jess James and Jan Wutkowski, Milliner & owner of aMuse are hosting a joint trunk show featuring 1920’s inspired dresses from Style Girl Vintage and custom flapper headpieces by Jan, along with cases full of Jazz Age jewelry and St. Germain cocktails!

WHEN: Saturday September 13 / 1-4pm

WHERE: aMuse
19 South Second Street
Downtown Wilmington


September 18
4th Annual
Great Gatsby Gala

Pat Kusek of Kusek Financial Group presents the 4th Annual Great Gatsby Gala hosted by Jess James at The City Club inspired by the Great American Novel and the joie de vivre of the Jazz Age glamourized by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Get ready for some Roaring 20’s reverie! As the City Club’s only event open to the public, there will be an exclusive discount (80% discount!) for membership sign-up on the night of the event only.

“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate.”
– Jordan Baker


* Delicious food, Prohibition era cocktails and 1920‘s music with
Chanteuse Nnenne Terzian and The Justin Lacy Swingtet.

* Jazz Age dancers and Gatsby models in 1920‘s finery with hair by Rockin’ Roller Salon,
makeup by Amy Kennison and enchanted deco decor by Kickstand Events.

* Speakeasy: Members Only Burlesque show with nationally renowned burlesque dancer.
Sign up that night to enter!

* Portraits in the Garden with Artist Kat Christian +
Photo Booth with Bella Rose Photography

* Coveted Charity Raffle Prizes benefiting our local Make A Wish

* “The Bee’s Knees” Wardrobe Contest – Shop Gatsby attire at Gatsby Sponsors aMuse,
A Second Time Around, Lumina Gem & Cape Fear Formal Wear

* Official After Party at The Blind Elephant Speakeasy!

Thursday, September 18th
VIP Hour in The Gardens: 6pm-7pm
Event: 7pm-10pm / After Party starts at 10:30pm at The Blind Elephant



The City Club of Wilmington
23 South 2nd Street

On sale NOW
Click Here!

General Admission: $60 in advance / $75 at door
(includes heavy hors d’eouvres + 2 complimentary drinks)
VIP: $130 in advance / $150 at door
(VIP Cocktail Hour in the Gardens with Master Mixologist + entertainment.
City Club will waive new membership initiation fee for VIP guests!)

1920’s, “old sport!”




September 20
4th Annual
CARE Project Gala

The CARE Project is an official 501c3 public charity.
Hosted by Dr. Johnnie Sexton, Audiologist,
founder and Executive Director of The CARE Project.

Official Partner Hotel:Wilmington Riverside Hilton
Special Celebrity Guest: Project Runway Finalist Justin LeBlanc

Project Runway Finalist Justin LeBlanc with
Style Girl LLC’s Juliana Williams at Charleston Fashion Week


The CARE Project raises money to provide retreat weekend counseling
experiences for families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Musical Entertainment: Jack Jack 180

Featured Chef Stations with:
1. Top Chef Contestant Chef Keith Rhodes/Catch
2. Southern Smoke BBQ/Matthew Register
3. Wilmington Riverside Hilton Carving Station
4. Pine Valley Market

Live Auction Featuring:
* Custom designed gown by Jessie Williams/Edge of Urge: value up to $1,500
* Pig Pickin Beach Music Party for 75 People from Southern Smoke BBQ: value $3,000
* French Crepe Dinner Party – up to 14 people (incl wine + limo)
from SouthnFrance Bonbons: value $2,000
* 2012 Club Car Golf Cart from Meekins Auction House: value $2,500
* Original Bald Head Island Marshscape Oil Painting by Xris Kessler: value $1,700
* Frying Pan Towers B & B Weekend for 2 (incl roundtrip transportation): value $3,000

Saturday, September 20, 2014
6-11 p.m.

Union Station
502 N. Front Street
Downtown Wilmington

Tickets: $45 – To get yours,
Click Here!


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