Dressing up: At Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Abigail Rutherford pairs a Courreges dress with a Chanel handbag and a Gap turtleneck.

Earlier this year, 26-year-old Abigail Rutherford was hired as the head of vintage couture at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers with a little help from her mom, but not in the way you think. “I heard Leslie Hindman was having a private tour of its upcoming vintage auction goods for Platinum members of Gen Art Chicago, so I took along my mom and wound up teaching her all about the history of the clothes.” An art history major and Vogue buff, Rutherford was also taking fashion courses at the International Academy of Design at the time. Her knowledge so impressed the people at Leslie Hindman that she ended up landing a job interview.With her first auction now behind her, Rutherford knows which items she likes to watch sell. “The Hermès Birkin bags, absolutely. Once the bids hit $20,000, I start sweating.”Rutherford Styles It

Since Rutherford has vintage shoppingdown to a science, we asked her how she would wear thesepieces from a recent auction. The heartbreaker? They’ve already been sold, but the next auction is on September 26th. (For a preview, see www.lesliehindman.com.)


Black flapper dress: “I have this rule about wearing only one piece of vintage at a time. To keep things from getting costumey, I would pair this with modern shoes, as Proenza Schouler did in its twenties-inspired fall 2007 collection.”

T. Jones cream dress: “I love transition pieces that get me from work to cocktails. For work,
I would put a turtleneck underneath this, and
then just go bare arms for cocktails.”

Moschino Kiss My Patch dress: “A person could easily wear this to an event, but as an alternative, if you had a little girl, you could put this on a dress form as a decoration for her room.”

Pauline Trigère red tartan ensemble: “I think it’s boring to wear suit pieces together, so I would break this up. I would put this cape with skinny pants and the skirt with a simple black top.”

How does it work? Auctions are free and open to the public, but arrive early if it’s your first time-you’ll have to do paperwork to register for a paddle. Otherwise, you can bid live via the Internet or telephone, or make an advance absentee bid. (Rutherford recommends the last option if you don’t want to get caught up and spend too much.)
Why is this better than eBay? “A huge benefit that comes with buying at auction,” Rutherford says, “is that you know what you are getting is real and authenticated.”


Photography by Katrina Wittkamp