Frock Fashions encompasses high quality, classic pieces transition-able from season to season and wearable for years to come. The class and versatility of Frock Fashions apparel is impressive enough, but it gets better. Frock Fashions offers affordable prices and fashion lines that few if any other boutiques carry and products discovered and “handpicked” from markets across the country by General Manager Jacqueline Holmes and her 16-year-old daughter. Walk in the Madison or Starkville, Miss., store and you will see chandeliers, a dress form covered with classy and funky jewelry and a dressing room/lounge area decked in lime green zebra print. The store’s décor is indicative of its fashion: classy with a refreshing twinge of modern. As original and eclectic as the store’s décor is, it cannot compare to the spirit and heart of the store: Frock Fashion’s apparel and products. Frock Fashions has it all: outerwear, denim, shoes, basic, sorority fashion, and of course frocks (dresses.) Entire outfits are laid out, as well as jewelry and accessories that coordinate with particular pieces. It’s a dream. Convenient shopping in a boutique atmosphere for beautiful, classy fashions at affordable prices. Ahead of the trends and other stores, products are selected six months prior to being available to customers. Holmes tells us about the story behind Frock Fashions, why this store is like no other, what new pieces we can expect for Fall, and the art of retail shopping. For Frock Fashions, its not just about selling clothes, but educating people about fashion.
How did you and your daughter come up with the concept of Frock Fashions?
HOLMES: When my daughter was younger, we had a hard time finding clothes that she liked and that fit well. I have always loved fashion and from there, it evolved.
I love the concept of a mother-daughter team scouring the country for products worthy of the Frock Fashions brand. What is it like working with your daughter?
HOLMES: It is great to work with my daughter. She has a wonderful sense of style and can put her own spin on things as well as check merchandise quality.
It is very helpful in finding merchandise that appeals to a wide range of customers. At the Madison store, the demographic is from age 12-60. In Starkville, the mindset there is geared more towards the college student. (A majority of Starkville’s population is made up of Mississippi State University students.) But we hope to extend the target audience in the upcoming year.
How would you describe the style of Frock Fashions?
HOLMES: Classic with a cool twist. The entire store is a juxtaposition of a little lower and higher end. There is a bit of a throwback to 60’s style. I don’t like super trendy. Frock Fashions has pieces that you can wear the next year. It is not Forever 21. The store is very organized with entire outfits laid out for you. Frock Fashions is very inviting, clean-cut and botiquey. No clutter. Our customers appreciate convenient shopping.
On your website you mention New York fashion and retro style. What style or pieces do you look for when you shop for Frock Fashions?
HOLMES: A lot of dresses. We are known as the place to go if you need dresses. We have to remind ourselves to buy tops and bottoms. We do sell formal dresses for homecoming and prom, but usually, it’s the everyday dresses that can be worn for a wide range of occasions. The Frock Fashions store in Madison, Miss., offers dresses for weddings. We carry a lot of jewelry in the Starkville store. Because many of our Starkville customers are college students, buying a necklace or one distinctive accessory is more affordable than a dress or entire outfit. Currently, we are helping girls find the perfect (sorority) rush-appropriate dress. Four girls in the Miss Mississippi pageant came to us for their arrival and interview outfits. When shopping at markets, you really have to have jurisprudence and only buy what you absolutely love. Racks and racks of left over clothing are a sign of poor buying skills. We look for pieces that immediately catch our eye. We want things that are reasonably priced but look much more expensive. Research is key. For a reference point, we go to high-end boutiques and then markets for a lower price point.
Wow, there is an art even in the way you shop for Frock Fashions. How do you select where to shop for what? Is it more likely for you to find a great piece after careful research or just coming across something that screams Frock Fashions?
HOLMES: All the time, we run up on something and think, “We have to have this!” but there has to be a consumer market for it as well. For a reference point, we go to stores like Saks and Barneys to see what the designers are doing. What details (beadwork, trim) did that $115 jacket have? Some stuff is so Avant-Garde. People think that going to market is so fun. I don’t shop for myself but others-consumers-many consumers. That’s the difficult concept.
What pieces and outfits are currently available in Frock Fashions?
HOLMES: Pieces that transition. Now we are getting in sweaters. You can wear a dress by itself, and to carry it through winter, layer on a sweater or leather jacket, or wear shoe booties and tights. The goal is to teach people to shop so if they spend a bit more on a piece, it is wearable for the next couple of years. Good quality means things hold up and wash well. I have pieces in my closet that I got 15 years ago and that would devastate me if they fell apart. As you get older, you should start building your wardrobe.
To build a wardrobe, what pieces should one start with?
HOLMES: A good pair of slacks-skinny or wide leg. You can throw on a funky jacket for a completely different look. Everyone needs a black skirt that you can wear with platforms, sandals or heels. There are certain staples that everyone should have-pieces that you can literally wear forever.
Frock Fashions’ shoes are in styles and shades that work for any outfit, and I love the idea of how footwear can give the same outfit a different look.
HOLMES: Yes, the first thing you notice about people is their feet. That is how you take your basic blouse and adjust it into your personal style. If you buy the right pieces, you don’t have to ditch them.
Great advice. Quality over quantity. Aside from the fine quality, how is Frock Fashions different from other clothing stores and boutiques?
HOLMES: I don’t think there is any store exactly like us. We have tried to set ourselves apart by having fashion lines that others don’t have, excellent and honest customer service and a variety of price points.
Frock Fashions has its own models. Can you describe the model recruitment process and what you look for when recruiting?
HOLMES: Each year, we do a model search and have a model squad in Madison for fashion shows. We are looking for several models for Starkville. Our models are paid and get store discounts. They must be able to do runway and be photogenic. We prefer models to have something going on in their lives. One of our models is an excellent ballerina. Another is a recording artist in Nashville.
What about sales and discounts? Are those fairly frequent for Frock Fashions?
HOLMES: We are not a big sale store. We have discount coupons and Frock Fridays where tops might be 20% off. I would rather offer customers descent prices instead of them waiting for a sale. I don’t shop on sales racks and don’t want leftovers. When it comes to Frock Fashions, I want the newest thing to hit the door and I want it first. We don’t mark up an item up 30% just so we can later mark it down 30%. At Frock Fashions, if you don’t buy it when you see it, the piece will be gone the next day. I only buy one pack of merchandise. I don’t want 30 girls wearing the same top.
How has Frock Fashions evolved since it was first opened?
HOLMES: We have plans for expansion in the future. Madison’s Frock Fashions is in a new, bigger location. For the fall, I would like to go back to more of a high and low-end price point variety for the Starkville store. When people think Frock Fashions, they should think quality. There won’t be $100 items, but possible $70/$80 unique game day pieces, many in maroon that would instantly make you the coolest girl at Mississippi State football games.