The second-hand and adventurous style of travel writer Nina Karnikowski

Every week, Sunday Life interviews a leading woman about her style and inspiration. Ahead, editor Georgie Gordon chats with travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

Nina Karnikowski: “I want my clothes to tell a story about the adventures I have had and the people I have loved.”Credit:Bridget wood

How would you describe your style?
Relaxed and earthy, slightly bohemian with an exotic touch.

What are the three essential elements of your wardrobe?
Vintage Levi’s jeans, Teva sandals, and patterned dresses and kimonos that I have picked up on my travels – I have a whole collection.

What’s the oldest thing in your wardrobe?
A yellow silk jacket from the 1870s – it has a corset and lace overlay. Vintage and second-hand pieces are the centerpiece of my wardrobe; I love to imagine the life they lived before saving them.

And the most recent addition?
An organic cotton shirt from the brand Byron Bay Alcana made by disabled and disadvantaged women in India. I didn’t “buy anything new” last year and this is one of the few items that I have let in my wardrobe since. With 80 billion clothes consumed each year, we need to start thinking seriously before buying new clothes.

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What would you wear …
… On the first date? A hand-woven huipil blouse I bought in Guatemala – it’s a work of art – complete with jeans, chunky Indian silver earrings and RM Williams ‘Santa Fe’ boots.
… on a plane? An oversized chocolate brown cashmere sweater that belonged to my uncle, jeans, blundstone boots that come off easily and a woven black cotton Cambodian scarf that I also use for a blanket. Comfortable, but ready for action as soon as I land.
… At the Oscars? Something from the Dutch brand Zazi Vintage. They make amazing 70s-style Ikat-patterned silk and cotton maxi dresses, hand-woven by Uzbek artisans in collaboration with the UN Ethical Fashion Initiative.

Do you have a favorite fashion designer?
I am not the creators or the trends. My wardrobe revolves around treasures I have found on my travels, vintage pieces and gifts that have been given to me and borrowed from friends. I want my clothes to tell a story about the adventures I have had and the people I have loved.

Do you have a favorite scent?
Ayurvedic fragrance oils from Ayu. They are earthy and very sexy.


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