Upstate with Sara Elbert
5 years ago by
Oh man – Sara is the kind of woman I could have a couple of margaritas with and laugh the whole night through. She is so full of life. We also share a love for utilitarian jumpsuits and that says enough for me (I have a weird thing for Amelia Earhart. Ask Veronica, she’s still trying to figure it out.) Sara and her husband left the city quite some time ago after meeting in Brooklyn and are now the proud owners of the undeniably, delicious restaurant, Brushland. A cosy little spot that sits right in the middle of the main street in Bovina, New York. This golden beauty is the real deal. A hustler by nature and the only host you will ever want to have once you meet her and step into her little, beautifully curated world. Meet Sara!
Describe your style in 3 words.
Classic, functional & upbeat.
What’s most important when it comes to style: comfort, beauty, or innovation?
Comfort, with one caveat – it should make me feel beautiful, too.
I appreciate clothing that I can get through my whole day in without restricting me or making me feel ‘fussy’ – if it’s not comfortable or functional, it’s distracting.
Most valued thing in your closet?
Old tees that my parents collected throughout their 20’s & 30’s. There are a few in particular that I wear with so much pride – a blousy Third World concert shirt & a very flattering cap-sleeved tee with pastel palm trees from the Carnival on St. John are two I can’t stop wearing. They have so much character, they were so loved on.
Do you have a fashion muse?
My mom in the 1970’s & Caroline Bessette – I remember seeing photos of both women and thinking, ‘chic should always look this natural & effortless’ Their styles were not forced or contrived and can stand the test of time.
Are there things you don’t wear?
I don’t wear many bright colors or large prints – I favor warm neutrals, denim, black & white. Although, I’m a sucker for a vacation look and will take cues from a locale – most recently it was on my bachelorette party in San Juan. Hot pinks, embroidery & a dangly earring all made so much sense beneath palm trees, rum punch in hand.
I only spent a day with you and I can already tell that there is so much thoughtfulness and care in everything you do. You are a truly genuine individual and the type of person I want to continue to surround myself with. How does this very raw way of being translate to your wardrobe when it comes to color palettes, silhouettes, craftsmanship, etc..?
Firstly, I am overwhelmed by your kind words. I love taking care of people and it means so much that you felt welcomed to our little pocket of paradise.
Taking care of people – feeding them, making our guests feel at home – is priority. I don’t have a lot of time to shop for it alter clothing, so I seek out brands that are making thoughtful pieces that I know I can kind of just throw on and go – Everlane‘s mid-rise denim hits me just above the ankle and hugs all of the right places, so I go back to those over and over. Well-made is important to me, for the same reasons – I’d rather spend my time tending to happiness than chasing & replacing fast fashion.
I’m the most confident and consequently the most productive when I feel like myself, which starts in the morning with the clothing I put on. My fiancée and I run Brushland Eating House, so the jobs we do in a day run the gamut from cleaning the dining room to checking guests into our rentals, weeding the garden to picking up ingredients from farmers – I wear muck boots half the year because of how cold or muddy the ground is, but I also pull on a pair of my favorite jeans and a flattering tee that I roll the sleeves on. It’s functional, but my booty looks good! I can bend and reach and maybe get a little dirty, but when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror I’m still feeling put together. A slouchy button down with the sleeves rolled, a slightly shrunken cashmere sweater, a new pair of white canvas sneakers & a few pieces of gold jewelry says ‘I thought about this, but it’s not the only thing on my brain’
You mentioned that the most important piece to you in your wardrobe is a concert t-shirt you have of your dads (which you happen to be wearing here with this amazing jumpsuit!!) What is the significance or the reasoning behind this? Can you tell us the story of how you discovered it and why it has become your most coveted item?
Ever since I was little, I pushed hard against wearing new t-shirts —— they felt rigid and boxy and unloved. Once I stumbled upon a bin in the back of my dad’s closet when I was about 12 (I had gone looking for his LL BEAN slippers to snuggle into) it was like ‘oh, this is what cotton should feel like’ and there were no other options going forward. I’m grateful that once I found one, I learned about 10 more.
I also feel really lucky that these little pieces of history were preserved the way they were, thanks to my mom. Little details like extra-fine ribbing at the collar or a hem-less cap sleeve is so indicative of a time and place, which you can’t recreate today without losing the whole story. I think about their travels and the people they met and concerts they went to every time I wear one of these shirts. They are really special staples that I hope I can wear until I’m 90 —— imagine that!
Good taste comes naturally to you, from the lovely flowers your placed on the table to big ticket items like your vintage leather couch. Has this always been the case or have you learned to choose wisely along the way? How do you approach the way you decorate your life when it comes to not just style, but interiors as well?
I have to tip my hat to a few people here and reiterate that so much of what I choose to purchase or spend time and energy on is for the benefit of the people I love – making them feel special.
My mother, that ever-present muse of mine, was a ‘put the special embroidered tablecloth on, let’s snip some hibiscus from the backyard, turn up the Earth, Wind & Fire, fill a bowl with chocolate & berries. It’s Thursday!’ kind of woman. She cared deeply about celebrating everyday and surrounding herself (and us) with beauty. I see a lot of that in my soon-to-be husband, Sohail, too. He hawks estate auction websites, waiting for furniture or light fixtures with gorgeous lines or intricate details; he can see a well-made piece of pottery under a pile of garbage at antique shops; his food! You’ve seen it… it’s art ——— all of our spaces are a product of his talented eye. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such aesthetes as their choices have undoubtedly informed mine, quietly encouraging me all the while to dial in the details.