The Curated Closet: Karissa Crawford aka Black Manhattan, Vintage Clothing Curator and Insurance Case Manager
I want to go shopping with Karissa, aka Black Manhattan. By day she manages cases at an insurance agency, and by night and weekend she styles, curates, and sells her vintage and secondhand clothing.
Check out her items for sale (mmm boots and outerwear!), her closet, and her preloved tips, including my favorite— wear it all with confidence because, as Karissa says, “trust me, you’re killing it!” Don’t you want her hanging outside the fitting room while you try on a vintage Sonia Rykiel skirt? …I do!
So, who are you? :)
Hey! My name is Karissa! I’m 29 and as it stands right now I live in Connecticut and am a case manager for an insurance agency. When I am not assisting clients as a case manager, I am hunting down gems in thrift stores and vintage shops, obsessing and favoriting items from online shops (so I can be notified when the pieces go on sale and plan my attack) and styling outfits that create a conversation…good or bad.
How do you describe your style?
This is a tough question because it’s really a feeling that I go off of. Most of the time I ask myself what do I feel like I want to exude for the day….maybe a 70’s powerhouse of woman or maybe a really chic mechanic. It’s all about a vibe for me.
What has stayed in your closet? What have you happily parted ways with?
My style is constantly evolving. Over the years I’ve become more aware of what fits my body and what flatters me most of which I believe is a never ending lesson. I’ve learned that just because something looks amazing on another person does not mean it’s going to look fabulous on me. The two things that have always stayed in my closet are good outerwear and shoes. Statement coats and shoes are a keeper but pants are a whole other story. I’ve recently been getting rid of women’s pants in my closet. I’m finding men’s jeans fit me so much better and my legs can breathe!
What is your go-to look?
My go-to look consists of something easy at all times, whether a dress or a t-shirt but the constant will always be a statement coat and a statement shoe. Lately I’ve been into wearing a statement coat, vintage tee, a good skirt, and a statement shoe. I’ve found some gorgeous statement coats at Nostalgia in Providence, Rhode Island; Pretty Penny Clothing online; and Savers Thrift Stores. For shoes The RealReal is my go to, where designer shoes are available for up to 90% off retail. They take almost all of my money every payday.
What's a piece in your closet you wear to make more of a statement?
To make a statement, only one thing is really needed and that is a shoe that talks while I walk. Yes, great outwear is essential but I live where all four seasons come my way year round and I don’t necessarily have to wear outerwear all the time—that’s why my shoes get the crown. Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten, and Vetements do it for me time after time in the shoe department. Catch me at Saks Off Fifth and The RealReal looking for the shoes of my dreams.
What brands do you love?
Brands I love apart from Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten, and Vetements for shoes...I am in shock to say that I don’t have any! I spend the most money on outerwear and shoes, other than that I’m in a random antique shop, thrift store, or Etsy store. A lot of the pieces I have are brands from a different time, vintage brands that I don’t consistently see unless of course it’s a high-end designer brand.
What's your advice on buying vintage or thrift for a newbie and building a closet you love?
The best advice I could give to someone looking to get into thrifting is don’t be scared. It can be an overwhelming experience initially and even a little off putting. Make it an adventure and try on everything! Even if you don’t think it will fit, try it on. Know your measurements if you’re shopping online to ensure best fit. Take a step further and buy a bigger piece if you’re in love with it and have it tailored custom to your body. And clean, clean, clean the clothing. Last but not least, wear it with confidence. Trust me, you’re killing it!