Ten Minutes With Nicole Niehaus // Stylemaker and Sweet Dealer

By Kerrie Houston Reightley

Nicole Niehaus co-owns Sweet Deal with her partner Jen O’Neill. We talked with her about Bainbridge Island “chic,” which seems to be a case study in contradictions. Women wear North Face jackets over Lululemon tennis skirts or designer jeans with Forever 21 tops. Men wear the same Levi’s 501s from high school, khakis from Costco, and occasionally indulge in haute couture from Seattle’s Butch Blum.

Are you a fashionista?

I don’t consider myself one. I think people would be mortified at how I dress most of the time.

A French Canadian woman quipped that my North Face trench coat screamed “soccer mom!” How can moms avoid this cliché?

Scarves can change a look. They are glamour with ease. And don’t ever forget earrings.

Should we take fashion seriously?

No. I mean yes. It’s an expression of yourself, in the same way your home décor is. Fashion evolves. So should you.

How can we get men to dress up more?

Men spend 90 percent of their time in trousers. They need to invest in one expensive pair of jeans, and know that they can look dressed up in an untucked shirt. Oh, and buy People magazine for fashion tips.

If you could, how would you dress Channing Tatum from “Magic Mike”?

He has too many muscles to cover.

How about our hometown Mike, the lead in BPA’s popular “The Full Monty”?

A tight pair of Diesel jeans.

In the fall runway shows, we saw trends from the 1940s, like jewel-toned gloves, sexy trousers and swinging ponytails. Will that take hold here?

Seattle is three years behind in fashion. On Bainbridge, maybe more.

What are your fashion predictions?

Sadly, ’80s-inspired clothing in bright colors and prints. Elastic waistlines.

What would you prefer?

“Mad Men,” late 1960s. I’m a mixologist. I originally envisioned opening a super posh, mod, swanky Martini Bar, with people walking around dressed in clothes from that era. We’re way too comfortable here, and don’t have enough sparkle.

What are some of B.I.’s fashion faux pas?

Too many Merrells and too much polar fleece; tights with sandals; ratty T-shirts; jeans with white tennis shoes; and gardening shoes at restaurants.

What’s your fashion philosophy?

I want to put up a sign in our shop that reads: “No, you’re not too old to wear this!” Have fun with your clothes. You don’t need designer clothes to look good. Look for good deals.

How can one get out of a fashion rut?

Don’t buy one-time outfits or mom jeans. No single style withstands the test of time. Get some sparkly earrings. For men, know that khaki pant styles change. Pleats aren’t always in.

What will we see at this year’s prom?

I hope long, glamorous gowns instead of short dresses and stilettos. Bainbridge women aren’t too “Vegas-y.” But for some of their teenage daughters, it’s a different story.

Ten Minutes With Nicole Niehaus Stylemaker and Sweet Dealer

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