Heather Narwid has been at this since high school, when she and friends would cut school and take a bus from New Jersey to New York City, haunting thrift shops looking for unique clothing treasures for her and her friends. Her first find at her first thrift store was a KISS belt buckle for her sister’s boyfriend. He still has the belt buckle, of course, but not the relationship. That’s what can happen with a good belt buckle.
Decades later, Narwid finds herself doing the same things, rummaging through clothing, looking for gems, not for herself or her friends, per se, but for others. And she’s made a business out of it. After seven years owning and operating the Sideshow Emporium & Gallery in Dolores, Narwid is moving her mostly-vintage, “carefully curated” clothing shop to Durango, at 501B Main Avenue.
With a dear fondness for Dolores and the people of Montezuma County, Narwid is excited about moving to the big(ger) time and its broader and more diverse style spectrum. It’s nothing against Montezuma County.
“It’s not like these people are lacking anything. It’s just a population factor, just a diversity factor,” Narwid said. “Here there’s not a lot of 18- to 25-year-olds.”
In Durango, she believes, the clothing she finds, purchases and resells will have a larger audience, where her selections will suit someone out there perfectly.
“I’m excited for the more diverse levels and types and subculture styles that there are (in Durango). Like cute girls under 25 who if you put that same outfit on a lady who was 70 it would look like an old lady outfit.”
DGO spent some serious time with Narwid amid her relocation, and boy did she let loose as only she knows how.
Where do you get the clothes you sell?
Anywhere. Everywhere. Individuals, big sales, after market, new, sample sales, merchandise mart, lots of individuals, estates, auctions, if there’s a big lot of something. Really, anywhere I can get a garment that’s wholesale to me or enough of a margin I can make a little bit.
How do you select the clothes for your store?
I’m out and I’m looking for all those different people’s little esoteric elements that they like. I’m looking for the punk kid, looking for hipster boy. I’m looking for a young girl who likes to dress like an old lady. I’m buying stuff for these people.
That’s why it’s fun, doing this kind of clothing, where it’s so diverse and there’s so much stuff and there’s one of everything.
What’s the most difficult aspect to it?
Looking at a thousand items to want two. It’s hard because it’s time-consuming. You’ve got to think on the fly. You’ve gotta be like, “Who wears this?”
(In Dolores), I don’t get things that I really want to have because I think they’ll sit forever. It’s going to open it up more going somewhere where there’s more people and more style, more ages.
Why do some things work for one person but not on another?
I think it’s the thoughtfulness they have about it. And how they’re putting their outfit together as an artistic choice. People do that if they’re artists or not. If they’re thoughtful about what they’re wearing, all those principles of art is what they’re using. Like, proportion and color theory.
I think it depends on if they have a super-refined style, if they’re super-thoughtful about it, they’re taking risks, having the confidence. That’s the main thing. People say, “I could never pull this off; I could never pull this off.” It’s because you’re saying that is why you can’t.
What drives you crazy when it comes to fashion?
My sensibilities get offended pretty often. Like, if it’s the pajamas thing, wearing the pajamas in public … literally what they’re saying is “I’d rather be in bed. I’d rather be asleep than talking to you.” Me, I spend my life thinking about this crap, so I have a shamanic level of fine-tuning ...
What else drives you crazy?
Grown women who dress like toddlers, as far as a toddler-amount of bling on every component. Like, sparkles head to toe. I see ladies sometimes and they look like … it’s beyond age-appropriate. It’s like they’re in drag, like teen drag. Or I see young girls who are dressing like frumpy grandma and it makes them look weird because it’s not fitting their youthful being of under 30.
Men who dress like boys where you would pop that outfit off that dude, shrink it and put it on a toddler and it’s totally right.
And same thing about dressing too young. There’s a lot of women who are older that dumb it down too much and they’re not mining their hotness of a certain age and all that confidence that you cultivate where you get to a certain age and you kind of don’t give a shit.
What are some of your favorite fashion principles?
It’s not like (I have) a bunch of rules about, like, “Oh you’re this age ...” It’s just about if you like it, if it’s who you are, if it fits good.
I avoid trendiness. Everything comes back anyway. So if you just concentrate on those classic shapes, they’re going to come back. You can throw one trendy thing in and that’s the same for someone who’s 80 years old. Throw one thing in but don’t be head-to-toe with that trend because you’re going to look silly.
As you get older, you just become more comfortable in yourself and what you want to wear and how you like to look and you find that look that’s really jibing with what you’re saying, who you are. It’s like people with very extreme, almost confrontational styles. They’re communicating, too. They want you to get through something that’s not off-putting necessarily, but just confusing, like you’re just not used to it.
The easy answer is the stupid printed T-shirts that say crap like “Your boyfriend was checking me out.” There’s those stupid things like … don’t make your T-shirt pick a [expletive] fight with me. Come on, you know?
A non-modern example would be the advent of pure, Sex Pistols-style punk look in mid- to late ’70s. That was unseen before and people didn’t know how to deal with the makeup and spikes and Mohawks and political wordage on things.
What are you trying to say with your style and clothing choices?
I dress for work and I own a clothing store, so I need to look like a person who looks like an expert in choosing and selling clothing. That’s the main thing, dressing my part here. I generally like to overdress a tiny bit. Fit is No. 1. It has to fit right. It doesn’t matter how much I love it, if it doesn’t fit my body shape and the cut of the thing, it’s just going to be weird and that’s where the discomfort thing comes from. Everyone says they want to be comfortable, bad fit is the No. 1 cause of being uncomfortable.
How do you feel about trendiness?
I don’t want to be overly influenced by trends. I just want to identify what I think is great. And maybe it started as a ’20s shape, and maybe they redid it in the ’60s. You know what I mean? There are these every 20- to 40-year redos of all these styles. There’s only like 20 clothing shapes. They just keep redoing them a little bit different.
What pisses me off about modern stuff is that it’s garbage and it’s meant to not ever last. It’s built to destruct. And the clothes, just cheaper methods, everything made (in) substandard facilities with slave labor. (Vintage stuff) is just made better. The seams are better, better designed, it uses more fabric. That’s the main thing, why cheap clothes look like crap is they don’t use enough fabric … There’s so many crappy things they do and people don’t realize because that’s all that’s on offer.