Thursday, July 23, 2009

Style: Nikki, the Sentimental Thrifter

dress: Austin, TX; Belt found at estate give away in the Haight

One doesn't have to compromise on aesthetics to "live green". Nikki is a perfect example of this. She combines eco ethics with great fashion and home décor. This social worker always sports stylish thrifted outfits and adorns her beautiful Cole Valley home with furniture and bric-a-brac scored at small town antique stores, flea markets and garage sales.

Objects are always more than they seem to be. In this consumers' society, they are signs of status, wealth, social class, of whichever identity one wishes to display. But for Nikki, collecting objects is about much more than just owning valorizing stuff: every piece has a story to tell, a memory attached. Like Proust's madeleine, they transport her through time, and she can remember the circumstances, the people, the place, the smells, the weather, the sensations. She has also learned from her loved ones the art of scavenging, mending, repairing, and creatively turning used objects into something new. She's the sentimental thrifter.

Blue vintage suitcase: Portland, Oregon,
Blue polka dot dress : Austin, TX; Necklace : New Orleans


Why do you shop used?
I like treasure hunts. It's rewarding to work, to sort, to dig for that diamond in the rough. It's less wasteful to buy something second hand than to consume something new. It's more cost efficient. I like to give discarded things a new home where they will be loved (just like Joey my Chihuahua).

Joey the Rescued Chihuahua

Where do you shop?

I grew up shopping at the Goodwill in Cupertino. I still make pilgrimages back to San Jose to hit this little known goldmine. Many things in my home town have changed over the years, but the Goodwill still stands. Besides finding great stuff there, I like shopping in the same familiar building I roamed as a teenager.

"reading is sexy"
Skirt : Haight street Goodwill; Shirt: Buffalo Exchange on Valencia;
Patent belt: Austin, TX; Shoes : Goodwill Haight street
Antique chair: Alameda Flea Market

I also frequent the Goodwills in San Francisco. A friend turned me onto Savers in Daly City, which has become a favorite also. For home items, I scavenge Building Resources in the Bayview. There is a women’s shelter in my neighborhood. The residents leave all sorts of things out on the street as they are in transition. I guess you could say that I ‘shop the street’ regularly.

Sun dress: Painted bird, SF; Bandana: Williamsburg, NY


Skirt : Haight street Goodwill; Tee-shirt: Buffalo Exchange Market street;
Belt : found on street in Bayview during bike ride


What are your favorite pieces?
Many of my favorite pieces have an adventure associated with them. The thrift items become wearable souvenirs from trips I’ve taken. Like some people’s tattoos, they remind me of different times and people in my life. The pink necklace from New Orleans, the polka dot dress from Austin, the gold brooch from Portland- they are all bits of my special memories.


Red shirt: Crossroads Haight street, Marilyn skirt: Alameda flea market;
White beads : Cupertino Goodwill; Suspenders : Buffalo Exchange, Haight street


Rooster bell scored at the (sadly) now closed Pickled Hutch
in Noe Valley


Do you use stuff for other purposes?
Yes, it's good fun. Mom’s pitcher holds cooking utensils. Dad’s toothpick cup now offers Qtips. Soup pot becomes garden pot. Spaghetti jar becomes vase. The possibilies are endless.


Mom’s pitcher holds cooking utensils

What do you suggest for recycled gift ideas?
I make cards out of flyers I find, out of scrap paper, ribbons and out of old magazines.
I like getting dishware at garage sales and filling them with a home made food treat.
Old glasses can be shined and served up on a vintage tray. A lonely piece of crystal from a broken chandelier transformed into a gift necklace.


Nikki's apron collection

Nikki's homemade cards made of reused materials

A gift for a friend: this chandelier part is now a vase

Do you mend?
Bien sûr. And staple and tape and pin. Whatever it takes! Grandma’s sewing machine is a girl’s best friend for mending and alterations.

Knit shirt : Savers Daly city; Pleated skirt : Goodwill Cupertino;
Broche : Goodwill Portland;
Shoes : Goodwill Haight street; Sparkle belt Austin, TX


grandma's sewing machine, vintage fabric

vintage fabric

What are your tips to earn karma points?
Growing my own food.

Nikki's garden (here: zucchini plants)

herb garden


this over 10 y.o. plant was saved and is now thriving

Dad's lilies

the seeds of this corn were a gift from a squirrel

Nikki can be found walking her chihuhua Joey in Cole Valley, training for triathlons in the chilly San Francisco Bay, sharing with friends some home-made rosemary-infused vodka, or in a cute vintage apron, cooking elaborate vegan dinners with Queer Food For Love.

1 comment:

bfosbrook said...

oh gosh, this is amazing! i heart queer foodies.