I must admit something: I don’t have a TikTok account. I know. As editors, we’re always staying on top of the next It thing, whether that’s a shoe trend or the newest social media platform. But as someone who already spends an excessive amount of time tweeting about Euphoria episodes and creating mood boards on Instagram, I knew I could not commit to another social media platform. That, of course, did not stop me from stumbling upon TikTok influencer Carla Rockmore. You see, for her one million followers, Rockmore is the embodiment of rich-auntie energy meets real-life Carrie Bradshaw—something that was confirmed in her Vogue profile last year. While some of us spent the initial stages of the pandemic making bread and cleaning out our closets, Rockmore began producing TikToks. This move has served her, as she’s amassed a following for herself by creating quirky styling videos in her downright dreamy digs. (Her walk-in wardrobe alone will make you drool.)
Of course, anyone can post on TikTok, but Rockmore’s eccentric personal style and gregarious nature make her someone you want to watch. After all, who else can wear a striped Christopher John Rogers knit maxi dress one day and a Sex Pistols T-shirt with an ’80s taffeta skirt the next? Who else can make gold Marni knee-high boots an everyday staple? It’s Rockmore’s one-of-a-kind approach to fashion that compelled us to interview her. Luckily for us, she obliged. Ahead, you’ll hear from Rockmore about her approach to style, her thoughts on ageism in the fashion industry, her tips for curating a closet you love, and which spring trends she’s most excited about. Warning: She may make you fall down a TikTok rabbit hole or finally buy that statement piece you‘ve been eyeing.
Can you explain how you broke into the fashion industry for those who aren’t familiar with your work?
I went to the Parsons of Canada, Ryerson University. I’ve designed for the garment industry in Europe and North America for 25 years. After having my kids, I parlayed my passion for creating jewellery to stay closer to home. I was in Northern Rajasthan on my jewellery development trips when COVID hit. I didn’t know what was going on—I left early because the country was going to shut down.
How has your experience within the industry informed how you approach personal style? And how would you describe your style?
I don’t box myself in. The thought of labelling my style as maximalism or minimalism is too restrictive. For me, clothing is an extension of my personality. But one thread that remains consistent is my eclectic taste. I like the juxtaposition of wearing things that shouldn’t necessarily work together. I like tension in a look, which is what makes fashion personal.
As a 54-year-old fashion influencer, what style advice do you wish you would have known when you were younger?
Forget influencer. My 54-year-old self would have loved to tell my 20-year-old self to enjoy where I was and explore more. I would’ve told myself to stress less about what I looked like because 20-year-olds are beautiful with no sleep and no style. Your style will develop as you age because your confidence and knowing who you are will start to usurp the need to feel trendy or fit in. It will happen naturally, so just enjoy your looks and dress as crazy as you want to.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is rampant with ageism. What does age inclusivity look like in your eyes?
To me, age inclusivity means there’s no need for numbers. A person’s relevance should be dictated by what they contribute, not how many years they have been on the planet. I find it counterintuitive to disregard older people’s insights. The more experience you have, the more interesting you are. Why should women of a certain age narrow themselves because of the number? On the flip side, age inclusivity means older women should not dismiss young women but rather cultivate them, nurture them, and give them a chance to shine.
There are so many preconceived notions about what women “should” wear at specific ages. How do you think we can dismantle these stereotypes both in the wider world and in our wardrobes?
Listen to your gut. At a certain age, the woman knows who she is. I would not trade my years of insight, experience, and the confidence I have now for my 20-year-old posterior. If you throw away all your miniskirts at age 52 even though you still have fabulous legs, then you just become a hanger for somebody else’s ideas. I permit all women to buy the same pair of trousers in six different colours and fabrics if the styles suit them and they feel confident wearing them.
You’ve become a TikTok sensation for your fun fashion videos. Can you tell us what inspired you to start posting on the platform?
It was lockdown that inspired me. I watched Netflix for about two weeks and then realised that I could either do something creative in the confines of my house or get into bed, turn out the lights, and close the door. If I’m not making something, then I’m not doing well. I have always worked with my hands and materials I could touch. During lockdown, the only thing I had in my house was my cultivated closet of treasures, an iPhone, and a 16-year-old son sequestered in the house with me who was forced to teach me iMovie. At first, I put on YouTube videos because before COVID, I was never really on social media. I still have difficulty navigating the platforms, and I don’t often scroll.
You are definitely a maximalist to your core. What’s the styling guiding rule you swear by when wearing bold pieces?
You’re right in the sense that I love a good strong look. I love colour, and I love bold jewellery. So I guess that’s maximalism? But I just as happily gravitate toward The Row as I do with Gucci. The one rule I swear by is always to ask myself, Is this outfit projecting the way I feel right now, and is it serving me? I don’t want to work for an outfit; it should work for me.
You have an incredible collection of designer pieces in your wardrobe. When you’re shopping, what do you look for? What makes something worth buying in your eyes?
I know the piece will work when I can see multiple exciting outfits built around it without me working too hard. If the weird Rolodex of looks in my brain flashes before my eyes, then I know it’s a good piece.
What’s so fun about your videos is that you show how to style statement pieces. What’s the one tip you swear by for women who may be on the fence about investing in a hard-to-style piece?
When you design a clothing line, you’re supposed to start with the basics and then build around them. My brain never worked that way. I begin with the statement piece and then work everything else in. Those pieces have longevity if you set up your wardrobe as a collection. A statement piece that excites you will make you want to dress around it.
Although I adore the feel of a very luxe cashmere sweater, I’d rather spend on a fabulous coat or bag or boot that might be a little off-the-wall but unique. Your splurge and luxury items should reflect who you are out into the world. A simple cashmere sweater will rarely do that. It’s the vintage Lanvin pendant you wear on top of the sweater that will elevate your style.
Are there any pieces you believe are an essential part of any woman’s wardrobe?
The essential items a woman can have in her wardrobe are the ones that speak to her for decades. For me, it’s platform shoes, a pair of army-green paper-bag waist-cropped trousers, a simple T-shirt, and some sort of oversize floral opera coat in an insane colour. And I’m wearing those pieces together. I have been purchasing different iterations of that same look for 30 years. That is my style; therefore, it’s essential to me. If you don’t listen to your gut and you constantly just chase trends, you’ll end up looking like some sort of advertisement for somebody else’s ideas.
For our readers who are committed to shopping more thoughtfully, what's the one styling hack you swear by for making what you already own feel like new?
Look at the piece and think about how to wear it in a less obvious way. If it’s a form-fitted black cocktail dress you have been wearing forever to cocktail parties, buy a fabulous trendy neon blouse to wear underneath it, and add black opaque tights and a construction boot for the day. If it’s last year's slip dress that you always wore with sexy strappy heels, pair it with flat Roman sandals and a big vintage hip belt. You need to do a little work to style your pieces to see them differently. Accessory hacks are the easiest way to do that.
With spring just around the corner, which trends do you think are worth investing in? And why?
Photo:Courtesy of Paco Rabanne; Courtesy of Rejina Pyo; Courtesy of Rejina Pyo; Courtesy of Johanna Ortiz; Courtesy of Paco Rabanne; Courtesy of Johanna Ortiz
I love the trend that resembles being off the grid. I’m particularly obsessed with those graphic, colourful slip dresses by Paco Rabanne. A slip dress is seasonless because you can wear it on its own in the summer and layer it in the winter.
Photo:Courtesy of Loewe; Courtesy of Maximilian; Courtesy of Maximilian; Courtesy of Proenza Schouler; Courtesy of Maximilian; Courtesy of Proenza Schouler
Saffron is also probably the most exciting trend to me for spring. I adore bold colours and minimalist cuts. If you can find a silhouette that complements your shape and a strongly saturated hue, you will never go wrong.
Photo:Courtesy of Marine Serre; Courtesy of Louis Vuitton; Courtesy of Maryam Nassir Zadeh;Courtesy of Marine Serre; Courtesy of Tory Burch
I also love the extreme layering trend spotted on S/S 22 runways. I think a cropped jacket is the perfect way to adopt this trend, as they will be everywhere. And proportionally speaking, a cropped jacket is my favourite style for tricking the eye into accentuating your waist and elongating your legs.
Photo:Courtesy of Jil Sander; Courtesy of Rick Owens; Courtesy of Di Petsa; Courtesy of Richard Malone; Courtesy of Jil Sander; Courtesy of Rick Owens
I also love the drowning-in-drapes trend for spring. A ruched-hip or gathered-waistline maxi skirt can be a simple way to trick the eye and give an extreme hourglass silhouette. Simultaneously classic and avant-garde, a gathered crisp white shirt is worth the investment.
Photo:Courtesy of Saint Laurent; Courtesy of Peter Do; Courtesy of Chloé; Courtesy of Saint Laurent; Courtesy of Chloé; Courtesy of Peter Do
And finally, I love the idea of maxi hemlines for spring. I think maxi skirts are sensationally flattering on all age groups; I would feel comfortable spending time in this area. I still have maxi skirts from when I was in my early 20s and still enjoy them. The interesting thing about a longer length is that many women believe that they can’t wear them if they are short. It’s not about how tall you are but rather considering your horizontal lines. If you dress in tonal colours, you will look taller. With every trend and every piece of clothing, it’s not about following the rules of what you “should” wear but what speaks to you. When you do that, that’s when you’re truly stylish.