This month's vintage lover is Holly Rhode of Chicago. Holly is the proprietress of Lucitebox.com, she blogs at Holly Gab, and has a Lucitebox Facebook page. - How long have
you been collecting vintage clothing for?
interested in vintage clothing for more than a quarter-century, although
I've never really considered myself a collector in the truest sense. I
buy vintage to wear and sell. I have friends and colleagues who are
hardwired for collecting, and they happily spend copious amounts of
time on research, acquisition, and organizing. While I do that for Lucitebox.com, ultimately, I
just buy what I love. If there happens to be a recurring theme, it’s an
added bonus. I feel like I'm a student of fashion history: Learning
about the stuff is one of the responsibilities of handling and dealing
with garments that have such rich histories. And it’s fun, too!
- What got
you into vintage clothing?
I was 17 and had recently started my first
part-time job. My mom and I were shopping together at Goodwill when she
found a dramatic '40s coat she loved, but it had a fabulously high price
tag—even for Goodwill! It seemed so unlike anything she'd normally
wear, but she was crazy about that coat. That Christmas, I surprised her
and used my first three paychecks to buy it for her. At the time, it
felt like a ton of money, but we really needed some holiday cheer around
the house because that was the year my parents separated.
I think that was
the first time I realized that clothes have transformative power. The coat
made my mom feel glamorous at a time when things were really grim. And
there's something really wonderful about putting on something that has a
sense of history built into it. I like knowing that my mom and I are,
in some tiny way, linked to the lady who originally wore that fabulous
coat more than 50 years ago.
- What are
your favorite eras of clothing?
I'm not good at pulling off an entire
outfit from one particular time period. However, if you look inside my
closet you'll see that the bulk of my clothes are from the late '40s to
the late '50s. I love classic designs that somehow don't look their age
or seem all that vintage-y in the context of everything else I have on.
I'm like anyone, I think. I like to mix things up based on my mood; I
don't often plan what to wear. I typically try to include at least one
"statement" piece that is vintage. That one thing—be it a flashy jacket,
a novelty print skirt, or wacky hat—gives my outfit that special little
twist that makes me feel happy and stylish.
I'm an equal
opportunist when it comes to adding vintage eras to my wardrobe. If it
looks good on me, I want to find a way to make it my own. It doesn't
matter how old it is. Right now, I'm enjoying an '80s blue-gray A-line
dress made by an Asian American designer, Yeoh lee Teng. When I bought it,
all I really knew about her was that she was an important but somewhat
lesser-known designer. I carefully considered the purchase because the
dress is staid and even at a resale price, it was a little spendy. But I
opened my wallet because it's just so perfectly crafted and right.
After I got it, I put it away for about 10 years. I'm now pairing it
with a chunky, gold vintage '70s necklace, tall leather boots, tights,
and a ’60s cropped faux-leopard-fur jacket. I feel like it looks fresh
and interesting. I'm sure I'll find plenty of other ways to rev it up
with vintage pieces in the future.
- What do you
like about clothing from these eras?
There are some
people who are just meant to wear certain eras based on their body type
and general style and attitude. Now that I'm in my 40's, I think I'm a
lot more attuned to that. When I was younger, I don't think I had the
same sense of restraint I have now. That's a blessing and a curse, I
suppose. I used to wear things that would have made the Sartorialist recoil in horror,
but I was a lot more fearless with fashion; I mixed it all up with
abandon! Now I think I get a little too caught up in trying to wear
what’s appropriate—for my age, for the occasion, for the weather! I used
to believe that the more outrageous I looked, the better.
These days, I don't
like clothes that don't fit right. The clothes that happen to work the
best on me are from the later part of the ’50s. However, they require
foundation garments and really good posture, and I'm not about to walk
around town in a waist-cincher and a girdle
every day. This is why I need to pull in things from many periods and
seek out clothes I love based on the unique characteristics of the
- Who are
some of your favorite vintage designers?
I love the sculpturally extreme clothes
of Charles James. Gilbert Adrian's another designer
I'd consider a favorite. I like my fair share of kookiness, and Schiaparelli's Surrealist
designs fulfill that requirement quite nicely. In a past life, I must
have gone to Reno for a quickie divorce in the ’50s because I'm crazy
for vintage western wear. Naturally, the master designer of stage wear Nudie Cohen is my favorite.
Then there are the giants of the '60s like Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre
Cardin, and Geoffrey Beene—their clothes
don't entirely suit my body type, but I sure love to look at them. And
I'd be remiss if I left out the American ladies I love: Claire McCardell and Bonnie Cashin. But as much as I
appreciate these two legendary sportswear designers, I'm just as
interested in the kinds of clothes that the average woman wore and could
afford. There were so many great, lesser-known manufacturers before we
started having everything made cheaply overseas. I'm always taken aback
by the amount of detail in a moderately priced dress from the past. As
they say, "They don't make ’em like they used to." Really, though, the
label doesn't matter that much to me. The style is in the details, the
textile, the construction, and how the garments look on the body.
- Who are
some of your favorite modern designers?
Ralph Rucci blows my mind
because he makes clothes that are so perfectly constructed and elegantly
refined. I really can't think of anyone as significant today who does
things with such grace and exacting detail. Inside me is a closeted
minimalist who fights like hell with the woman who loves the opulent,
vibrant textiles and the decadent, over-the-top fabulousness that you see in haute couture by John Galliano.
- What would
be your ultimate vintage find?
I honestly don't know. I have a feeling I'm
like a lot of people who love vintage. It's hard to pick out a single
holy grail. The list is long because I love a lot.
- Where do you do
the majority of your vintage shopping- garage, estate and rummage sales,
thrift stores, vintage stores, online vintage stores or eBay?
I shop anywhere and
everywhere, but lately my primary sources are vintage stores. It's often
much more relaxing to shop in an atmosphere that's already organized
rather than battle the Chicago thrift-store mania. (When I'm in the
right mood, though, I love thrift stores!) Shopping in new towns is
great. It's fun to discover little vintage boutiques that clearly
underscore that the proprietor has style and taste. Antique shops appeal
because I'm interested in more than just the clothes one might find
there. Estate sales are often fabulous, but they hurt my psyche. I
sometimes leave them feeling really drained and saddened—even when
there's good stuff to be purchased. It feels pretty unsettling to be
inside someone's house digging through their lives, so I have to gear
up mentally to do it.
- Is vintage
clothing popular in the city that you live in?
In Chicago, it
really depends on what neighborhood you visit. Over the 12 years I've
been in my neighborhood, I've noticed a lot more people in vintage.
Many younger people are into '80s and '90s vintage. We have a diehard rockabilly scene
here, but I really don't see that much everyday vintage on the street.
Maybe I just need to get out more!
- Who are
some of your favorite style icons?
Franciose Hardy, Lauren Hutton, Julie
Christie . . . oh, gosh. Lots! I do have a newish discovery who's a
style maven that I adore—Iris Apfel. And Cyndi Lauper and Annie Lennox
made huge impressions on me during the '80s. Huge. Oh, and I love
looking at the wise and silver-haired set on the blog Advanced Style.
Really, anyone can be my style icon if their clothes express something
about them. I'm deeply interested in self-expression and all the little
nuances that go into that. What I'm not interested in is a style that's
somehow above it all or cooler than thou. It seems so forced and
- What are your
favorite vintage movies, music and television programs?
I enjoy period
films—I like watching contemporary designers approximate a different era
onscreen. Very few period movies seem to get it right, but when they
do, it's absolute bliss. I went berserk over A Single Man. Tom Ford's
first movie is replete with gorgeous interiors and great style. In fact,
it's almost too perfect, but then again that would follow for the guy
who made those Gucci commercials, right? As for television, half the
time I can't remember the plot of Mad Men because I'm so mesmerized and
distracted by the clothes and set design. I don't watch a ton of old
movies, but I do try to keep a few in my Netflix queue at all times. I
think one of my favorite vintage movies is Midnight Cowboy. Oh, and All
I mostly listen to
indie-pop music, but I also like old classic country, girl groups from
the '60s, and '80s new-wave music. My taste is eclectic. I can't help
but turn the radio up when a Led Zeppelin song comes on. And don't get
me started on how thrilled I am when Johnny Cash is on the jukebox.
- Do you
collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
I am a bona fide
'50s and '60s kitschy crap hound! At times, it terrifies me because as I
mentioned before, inside me there's a minimalist who wants nothing more
than to have a clean, spartan living space. My apartment is furnished
mostly with mid-century modern commoner design. (I don't have anything
against the big-name MCM designers, I just don't own any of them.) My
place is small, so I have to work hard to rotate my stuff. I'm at the
point where I don't feel good about bringing in a new vintage piece
unless something I already have gets rotated out. It's not easy to live
this way because I really am attached to things; I love stuff. It's safe
to say I'm not going to be able to retreat to a Buddhist monastery any
time soon, and I'll never be asked to serve as the poster child for the
Thanks to Holly for answering our Style Council interview questions
You too could be featured on Lulu's Vintage Style Council!
Just email me- lulusvintage (at) yahoo.com a quality photo of
yourself wearing vintage (it can be a modern outfit accented with
vintage accessories or a complete vintage ensemble) and answer my
- How long have you been
collecting vintage clothing for?
- What got you into vintage
- What are your favorite eras of clothing?
What do you like about clothing from these eras?
- Who are some
of your favorite vintage designers?
- Who are some of your
favorite modern designers?
- What would be your ultimate vintage
- Where do you do the majority of your vintage shopping- garage,
estate and rummage sales, thrift stores, vintage stores, online vintage
stores or eBay?
- Is vintage clothing popular in the city that
you live in?
- Who are some of your favorite style icons?
What are your favorite vintage movies, music and television programs?
- Do you collect any other types of collectibles or antiques?
Please also include your name, city and state or country of