Debbie Does 70

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I wanted my 70th birthday celebration to be like a giant hug to myself, my family, and my dearest and closest friends. My beloved garden would set the stage for an enchanting evening filled with love laughter and joy. I wanted my look to coordinate with my glorious surroundings and reflect my gratitude and appreciation for my beautiful life. When I was acting, I’d be transformed into a character through wardrobe, hair and makeup – but this is me, Debbie Zipp, wanting to look like an elevated version of myself. And while I have always been a pretty serious shopper and felt confident about putting myself together, for this special occasion, I decided to do something I’d never even considered before. I gifted myself a stylist to create my head-to-toe celebration look. Woo Hoo!

I reached out to Felicia, with a story idea about creating a lookfor my party. I had long admired Felicia’s style, and she was, after all, the LA Stylist for my newsletter. So, I didn’t find it difficult to trust her taste and guidance especially with her lifetime of experience and vast expertise in the world of fashion. Felicia had also styled my friend who looked stunning for her daughter’s location wedding. She created 2 looks, (rehearsal dinner and actual wedding), that were classic and exquisite. My friend said that she never felt more beautiful. Plus, Felicia showed her how to integrate her beautiful new pieces into her wardrobe so she can wear them again rather than watch them collect dust in her closet.

The Journey Begins…

It started with a phone call. We discussed concept, budget, and non-negotiables like comfort and arm coverage. I could feel Debbie beaming when she told me about a photo of her in her favorite dress from when she was a 19-year-old in the 70’s, a light-hearted, fearless spirit flying through the air. She wanted her look to re-capture the essence of that confidant, soulful girl with the twinkle in her eye while also reflecting her 70-year well-lived life. The goal was to come up with a beautiful, elevated look that brought out her best features with a good splash of colour and whimsey.

If you know Debbie Zipp, you know she’s the ultimate entertainment Anglophile; all British all the time (think Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, etc). With this delicious bit of knowledge, on top of what we’d discussed, plus a few other thoughts that I kept to myself I came up with, “Bridgerton meets the 70s.” Now that I had a visualit would be easy for me to get started on my hunt for the perfect dress.

Because of Covid, we wanted to do as much as possible online. I took the next few days to gather images of dresses to show her at our lunch meeting at the end of the week. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, then moved to my den where I shared the visual, that I used for inspiration. She loved it!  With that in mind, I navigated my iPad to the dress section of a website and asked her to scroll through and put everything she liked in the shopping cart. Long story short, she stopped on one dress that came in 2 colours and chose the white version.

Before she put it into her cart, she hesitated then asked if I thought she could pull it off? I grabbed my phone and showed her a photo of that very same dress, (a gorgeous, long flowing white dress with giant red, fuchsia and yellow roses), I had originally chosen and asked, “Why don’t you tell me?” We both screamed, jumped up and down, laughed, hugged, and knew that we could check the dress off of the To Do list.

Next, we spoke about hair. She told me that she wanted to wear it uplike mine but she didn’t think it was long enough. I reached up to the top of my head and pulled off my messy bun scrunchie, pulled her hair up and put it on.  She had no idea that something like this existed. She was thrilled. Check, check.

The next topic to discuss was undergarments. I explained that without the right undergarments. the most beautiful, expensive dress will look like dreck. I suggested a nude-coloured, push-up, strapless bra and nude Commandos, they have no banding and don’t roll. Body shapers not only give you a smooth line and better posture, but they also give your back the much-needed support to get through a long evening.

I asked Debbie to call when the dress arrived and to please wait for me to open the box.

The Fitting …

Debbie, clad in the proper undergarments, slipped on the dress. I pulled her hair up into the messy bun scrunchieand accessorized her with long strands of tiny white, faux pearls that I wrapped into a thick chokersimilar to a ruff, worn by the Elizabethans in the 16th century. I attached a big red rose pin to it to frame her face, draw the eye upward, and to add to the overall, WOW factor. She looked at herself in the mirror and was stunned…stunning. I suggested we shorten the dress in front to the top of her foot so she wouldn’t trip on it and graduate the length backward into a trainfor a bit more drama.

The Night Of…

What I wanted, I got. And so much more. I glowed inside and out. I glided all night throughout my beloved garden among cherished family and friends as if on a low-flying carpet. I was that girl from the 1970’s photo in that wonderful dress, soaring through the air, but this time at age 70 in a different but equally wonderful dress. I felt bold, confident, ageless and free-spirited. I truly felt beautiful and…sexy. Yep! Sexy. It was one of the happiest and most memorable nights of my life. I wish that every woman could feel like that on their birthday, no matter what their age.

I have to thank Felicia. I could not have achieved this without her. I had the perfect dress for my body type, the perfect accessories, and my hair and makeup looked natural and elevated. My looklike my celebration, was magical. Felicia’s enthusiasm and sincere appreciation of my unique beauty was contagious throughout the process. I was infused with confidence. I stood taller and my self-esteem went through the roof. I will continue rocking 70 exactly the way I did on the night of.

What I Learned from my stylist…by letting myself go

  •  It’s not about price rather what makes you look AND feel good
  •  How we see ourselves is different than how others see us
  •  Fashion and style are ageless
  •  You don’t gain weight on your clavicle bones so expose them
  •  Less is more, and natural makeup is best
  •  Eyebrows are important. Get the right colour pencil /powder/wax and use a good brush to shape
  •  The right undergarments are essential and are most versatile in nude. A good fitting strapless bra and the right body-shaper will make you look and feel wonderful. Commandos are my new best friend
  •  I wore a hairpiece for the first time, the perfect hairpiece for me and it was so easy peasy it almost knocked my socks off
  •  By letting go and trusting Felicia’s talent and expertise, I was taken on an exciting journey far beyond my normal wheelhouse

Follow Debbie and Felicia on Instagram

Debbie Zipp 3T LA Life Editor &

Felicia Arlin LA Fashion Stylist



  • Debbie Zipp

    The Three Tomatoes LA Life editor, Debbie Zipp is your friendly guide to the best of everything in LA with a tomato style perspective. Debbie is an actor, producer, and writer. She is best known for her recurring role as Donna on the CBS series "Murder She Wrote" starring Angela Lansbury. She has had many other TV and stage roles and has starred in over 300 national TV commercials. As head of In The Trenches Productions, Debbie produced, directed, acted in many short films for her company. Her book, The Aspiring Actor's Handbook: What Seasoned Actors Wish They Had Known was recently published. Buy her book: The Aspiring Actor's Handbook: What Seasoned Actors Wish They Had Known

  • Felicia Arlin

    Felicia Arlin’s work as a stylist and costume designer has been featured in print, tv, film and on the red carpet. As a 20+ year veteran designer/merchandiser in the LA/NY garment industry her work has graced the racks of every major department store and specialty chain in the country. She is passionate about helping women look and feel confident no matter their age, shape or socioeconomic status. Her hope is to empower other women by sharing some of the things she’s learned along the way to better cultivate and express their own individual and ageless style.

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