Stan, We adore your blog, especially the name - The Elegant Thrifter how did it all start?
It all really started with the book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details . I was the Editorial Fashion Director for Maxim magazine for nine years and have always loved vintage and thrift. I approached Housing Works about working together, and they signed on, and then went to Clarkson Potter with a proposal, and they bought it. It all happened fast, so in May 2007, I quit my job to concentrate on the book. The book was really something I wanted to do, but I hadn't fully developed the idea of The Elegant Thrifter until I was chatting with Allison Hemming at the Hired Guns one day about how to create a brand around what I do, and all of a sudden The Elegant Thrifter popped up. I love the name because even though we're all cutting corners these days, there's always room for elegance and fabulous-ness. Maybe we've traded in champagne for prosecco, and our silverware from the flea market doesn't match, and we bought a solid (yet ugly) thrift-store desk and painted it a bright orange for fun, but that's still all very special. Just entertaining with cloth napkins for pennies on the dollar and real glasses, (even if they aren't a prefect set!) makes people feel like they are sharing with you a unique moment.
Wow, I actually bought a second hand desk and painted it orange! We are on the same wave length. How do you define a deal?
A deal is something that you absolutely love and that you happen to have enough cash in your wallet for. (Or you can hop over to the ATM for.) When putting something on a credit card, unless you always have a zero balance (and these days I don't know anyone like that), then you defeat the thriftiness of your shopping.
We totally agree. What inspires you?
I'm inspired by people who are self-made. Creatively, I'm drawn to people who make or refashion things with their hands. I love traditional crafts that take on a new twist, like Nathan Vincent who makes masculine crochet art.You have to see it to believe it. And then the contemporary artist, Kehinde Wiley who paints contemporary personalities in settings made legendary by other great artists. I'm inspired by people who create their own happiness. Dolly Parton inspires me. She is who she is, and her fans expect none other, and Dolly never fails to deliver. Yet, she is an incredibly smart and wealthy woman who makes quite a nice living doing exactly what she loves. Even though my family never went through the hardship she did, we did cut corners really hard, since both of my parents were elementary school teachers who didn't make a lot of money. I think that's why I'm inspired design wise by Wendy Goodman's book on Tony Duquette. His designs are sometimes out-there and totally aspirational, but many are made out of everyday objects that cost next to nothing. And then, of course, I love vintage decorating, entertaining and cook books, especially ones with "Technicolor" photos and handy entertaining tips.
What are your top ten tunes on your play list?
What is the most treasured item in your home?
I have two: A bejeweled and framed Christmas tree that I found at the flea market at the Santa Monica Airport. The tree is formed out of 1940s costume jewelry, and it has working lights. I love it so much that I keep it up year-round. A bean pot that was given to my Mom and Dad on July 1, 1962 - their wedding date.
What is the most treasured item in your closet?
MyGrandpa Williams' striped overalls. He always wore overalls to work in the garden and then hung them on the back porch. After he died, I found them hanging there, and my grandmother said I could take them. They're both gone, but I have beautiful memories of those Arkansas red-clay-grown tomatoes that my grandfather so lovingly cared for. I wore the overalls a couple of times a long time ago, but now they just live on a shelf in my closet.
Do you have any fashion, home decor, or do it yourself heroes?
I love Yves Saint Laurent....the real one! I loved his personal style and the legacy he left for the rest of fashion to copy! In home decor, I admire so many people and would hesitate to name them because I am influenced by so many. Pick any designer in my book, and I can honestly say that he or she is a hero to me. However, when it comes to DIY, Alex Bandon of This Old House is my DIY hero. She's featured in the book, and I have learned so many things from her. I swear, some day I'm going to paint my kitchen cabinets just like she did.
Favorite home decor period?
That is really hard, because I like mixing styles, colors and textures. I really like the clean lines of midcentury modern furniture and architecture, but am also drawn to Louis XIV and French Empire (A trip to Malmaison near Versailles, the house that Josephine lived in when she separated from Napoleon, is staggering.) even though they are about 150 years apart. And then of course, I love all that old Hollywood glamour decor!
What do you think is the must have item for every home?
Rugs....even if you have carpeted floors. They add texture, interest, and comfort.
Famous Last Words:
Above anything else - over provenance and perceived value - only buy what you love. If you truly love something you discover you'll find a way to work it into your home. You may have to replace something you already have, but that's a good exercise to go through when shopping. Ask yourself the question,"Do I love X enough to get rid of Y?"
Fantastic advice... some of us can even apply that to men : )
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