A fixture on TV for her relatable fashion tips and tricks, longtime Philly resident Lilliana Vazquez spends much of her time in New York these days, juggling a weekday reporting gig on New York Live and appearances on the Today show, E! News, Rachael Ray, and Bethenny. But her new book, The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style: Secrets to Shopping Cheap and Looking Chic, has brought Vazquez right back to where she began when she launched her blog of the same name, doling out advice on budget-friendly shopping, in 2008. Philadelphia Style recently caught up with Vazquez at the equally stylish Main Line restaurant and bar Avenue Kitchen to discuss all things food and fashion.
You recently discovered Avenue, right? LILLIANA VAZQUEZ: Yes! The tuna tartare with avocado and crispy shallots is off the charts. And I love the meat and cheese board. I’ve been a fan of owner Dana Farrell for a long time: I’ve eaten at Harvest many times and used to go to The Classic Diner when I appeared on QVC. I love that she’s a female restaurateur and a smart businesswoman.
Speaking of smart businesswomen, your first book is coming out soon.
LV: The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style will be out this fall. I feel like I get to have an amazing conversation with women every day on my blog—all ages, demographics, and backgrounds. But it’s only 100 or 200 words devoted to a post. This book is a longer conversation about the best ways to save on shopping and styling tips.
Readers might be surprised to know that you produced the book from right here in Philly. LV: The centerpiece of the book is a 32-page full-color insert, all photography. I have this amazing studio in Fishtown, so we shot the entire book here. Every single item in the book was pulled from a store in the area. I wanted to show that we really have amazing shopping here, between the city and the suburbs. Shooting at home felt very natural and familiar to me. This is where I started my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Philly [embracing me].
You must have had a big celebration dinner when you heard you were going to add “author” to your résumé. LV: My husband, Patrick, and I went to Barclay Prime. We tend to go there if we’re celebrating something. I love red meat. I grew up in Texas and my family is Mexican, so everything had chorizo in it: eggs for breakfast, rice for lunch, stuffed in a bell pepper for dinner. If I want Mexican in Philly, it has to be Tequilas. The food and atmosphere feel very authentic to me. The guacamole is one of my standard orders. They make some of the best around. And the chicken with cheese served in a hot stone bowl [molcajete de pollo] is just like I had growing up. It’s really comforting to see a traditional dish like this in a city like Philadelphia.
People must be surprised to learn that you are a huge foodie. LV: If I didn’t work in fashion, I would definitely work in the food business. Garces Trading Co. is one of my favorites. There’s such a great selection of wine—the waitstaff really encourages you to try new things. We like to go out with our parents or friends for the family-night special. And I have a serious infatuation with the pasta at Amis.
You will be reaching a whole new audience of women with your book. What do you want potential readers to know about you? LV: The book was a chance to share who I am as a person—how I was raised and what my views are on fashion and money. I was never a fashion editor for a magazine, like many of the people you see on TV. But I’m on these shows just as much, because I’m giving advice to real women with real budgets. Also, never underestimate the power of belts! [Laughs] They define your waist and make you slimmer. Belts are my secret weapon.