On Style: with Caroline Cook-Frers

Charlotte native Caroline Cook-Frers is a Presby Baby. “It’s a thing!” she says. (Technically, it’s a born-in-what-used-to-be-called-Presbyterian-Hospital thing.) She graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts with a concentration in theater. Cook-Frers then went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, and her career includes stints at Carmen! Carmen!, Dean & Deluca and Trader Joe’s. She owns Frock Shop on Central Avenue, which she started “to introduce vintage to folks who didn’t have an affinity for it.” She lives with her husband, Adam Frers, in Charlotte.

Q. Why do you specialize in vintage?

A. Because I think incorporating vintage into your wardrobe is a grand way to show respect for where fashion has come from, and to set yourself apart from where fashion is today.

Q. What’s the first piece of clothing you remember choosing yourself?

A. It was from Montaldo’s – the thinnest suede, camel-colored trench coat. I wore it to pieces.

Q. What are your wardrobe staples?

A. Your little black dress, because that is a canvas for vintage jewelry. A skinny pant. It is all-season and, if done correctly, it is all sizes and all ages. I love a bootie.

Q. Why?

A. If you take a vintage retro dress with stockings and booties, you’ve brought that look into today. The bootie is a modern thing.

Q. You’re a bargain hunter, but on what do you splurge?

A. Shoes and coats. I like to go to the mountains and I want something that is stylish and functional. Take Hunter rain boots. If you look deeper, the reason they are a trend is because they are highly functional in a wardrobe.

Q. What does style mean to you?

A. It is an awareness of and a respect for the surroundings you are in. For instance, if you go to work, and you are out of the style of your workplace, not only is that a disrespect to the people who have employed you, but to yourself, because you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you are going.

Q. What would surprise people about your style choices?

A. They vary widely and I like to play with it. I love a well-done preppie look, just as I love a rock-star/punk-rock look.

Q. What’s a fashion mistake many make?

A. Putting things together is something a lot of people see as difficult. It’s the ability to identify a style and put pieces together, and create a balanced look from head to toe.

Q. What piece of clothing can’t you live without?

A. Proper underpinnings. Every woman needs a collection of bras that fit: a black, a nude, a white, and one of each in strapless – so six.

Q. Tell me more.

A. You need proper underpinnings for white garments, or for a backless dress. I’m a very adventurous person in style. I don’t want to limit myself to things I can’t wear without proper underpinnings.

Q. What does your hair say about you?

A. That I’ve learned CQ it. I am no longer fighting what is happening to my hair.

Q. Finish the sentence “I don’t have fun when ...”

A. “... I’m hangry.”

Q. Do you have a fashion muse?

A. The past.

Q. Tell me about your earrings.

A. They are by my friend Marissa Jones, who does Bead Diva. The pink elephant is my spirit animal. It’s the thing in the room that no one is talking about it, but I am always talking about it, which can make for awkward social situations.

Q. What is your favorite line of clothing?

A. Leslie Fay. The company designed women’s career wear from the 1950s to the early ’90s. Those fabrics and patterns are amazing, so what I like the most is to revive them. We have our own line of clothing called Revival, where we take vintage garments and rework them into current styles.

Q. Describe a favorite pair of shoes.

A. Tsubo open-toe booties. They are beautiful leather, and have gel padding on the heel and ball of all their shoes. The heels are not super thin, and they are show stoppers.

Q. What do you require in a purse?

A. I like them to be leather. The same with shoes, for the reason that you can take care of them because they will last forever and age gracefully.

Q. Tell me three things in your purse.

A. “The Cave of Time,” which is the first “Choose your own Adventure” book. Hand sanitizer for your thrifting adventures. And a flash drive for one thing, and one thing only; it has my karaoke songs on it.

Q. Do you have any particular fashion quirks?

A. Solid white tennis shoes. Vanilla Ice did me in on that.

Q. Tell me about your bracelet.

A. It’s an Eco Cuff from Green Market Girl. They put out collections of all different colors, and at the shop here I requested natural wood ones.

Q. What was your biggest splurge?

A. This Sans Maps bag. I gave Corey Dergazarian the leather coat – it was awesome, but it had a couple of tears. She kept one of the pockets, and lined it with this amazing men’s shirt from the ’70s.

Q. Your best bargain?

A. Vintage is the bargain. They don’t make it like they used to. Silk is nonexistent anymore in your average shopping experience. That is a commodity. If you buy decent clothes and take care of them, you can always resell them. You have to look at it as an investment.