She builds a wardrobe on blocks of black and white

CANDID CLOSET

March 18, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

When Suzanne O'Connell goes shopping, she follows her own advice: Stick with the classics.

That's been her fashion philosophy for the last 10 years, and it's allowed her to build a wardrobe with a long shelf life.

As the sales manager for the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, she considers looking good part of her job. It's so important that Ms. O'Connell, 35, won't wear the same outfit more than once every three weeks.

Her signature style: black and white separates; colorful scarves.

Why only black and white?

I wear other colors, but I try to stick with black and white. You

can mix and match the pieces that way. They're plain but classic. I have five black skirts, five black sweaters, five white skirts and many white polo shirts. I spice them up with accessories. I get more mileage out of things this way. In the summer, I like the all-white look. It's crisp and clean.

Any colors you won't wear?

Red. I don't have anything that's red in my wardrobe. It doesn't look good on me. It's bold and bright. I just don't think that's me.

Are there disadvantages to your approach?

A disadvantage is that someone could think I'm boring.

How did you get started dressing this way?

I grew up in a large family, and I didn't have tons of clothing. I learned to mix and match so it would look like I had a lot more than I do.

What about these scarves?

They're my trademark. I'm always wearing scarves or pearls. People come up to me and say, "Don't you have a neck?"

So many people are intimidated by scarves. What's your secret?

Research. I look through fashion magazines -- Vogue, Mirabella and Harper's Bazaar -- for unusual ideas on how to wear them.

Of the spring looks, which will you buy or ignore?

I like the look of T-shirt dressing. The '60s look is faddish to me. And I don't like the flowery dresses either. I'm discretionary about what I buy.

Do you follow the same philosophy on the weekends?

Yes. I love jeans and a white shirt, loafers and a blazer. To dress up jeans, I'll wear a scarf. In the winter, I like black stirrups and a sweater.

Where do you shop?

Neiman Marcus (I lived in Dallas for six years), Ann Taylor and C-Mart.

What's been your biggest splurge?

That's to come. I want to buy a $250 Hermes scarf with a shell motif. That's a pretty big splurge for me. Sometimes my scarves cost more than anything else I have on.

And your best bargain?

An ivory two-piece suit that I bought for $20 three years ago.

Who would you most like to take on a shopping trip?

Kelly Klein. She's athletic, but she's also feminine. I love when people look like they don't try too hard.

you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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