When you're 5 foot 10, blond and you wear short skirts, people remember you.
At least that's what Nancy Wampole says.
She should know. Ms. Wampole, the director of marketing and promotions for the Volunteers of America, Chesapeake Region, has made mini skirts and high heels her signature.
"Working for nonprofits is competitive," says Ms. Wampole, 29, a mother of two who lives in Owings Mills. "In today's business world, it's important that people remember you. If clothes help you stand out in a crowd, all the better."
What's most important these days is getting the public to donate used cars, boats and recreational vehicles to the organization's fund-raising drive, she says.
She makes no apologies for "using her assets" to help do that, although some bosses have objected to her attire. "It's the '90s," says Ms. Wampole, a part-time model. "I should be able to wear whatever I want."
Is the point of wearing short skirts to be sexy?
I guess you could say so. I was blessed with long legs, and I don't mind showing them off. But short skirts are comfortable for me, and I still look professional.
How do you achieve that?
I wear jackets and turtlenecks. I don't wear a lot of jewelry. And I wear pantyhose that are always the same color as my skirt. I
never wear nude hose. I hate them.
What's been the reaction from other people?
I've had a couple bosses who were ultra-conservative and who told me I shouldn't wear them. The first was a woman who dressed rather matronly. Things became really tense between us. She ended up leaving. And I had a male boss recently who told me it was wasn't appropriate for me to represent the hotel I was working for at a trade show in a short skirt because all the men would come to our booth just to look at my legs.
What did you do?
I stood up for what I believed in. I didn't look sleazy, so I never really changed my style. I don't think it's a boss' place to tell you to wear a skirt that's six inches below the knee. I personally start to feel a bit like Olive Oyl when I wear some of the fashions in vogue. So many dresses today have no shape to them. They're like bags.
Are there disadvantages to wearing short skirts?
In the winter, it can be chilly.
How did you learn to dress the way you do?
I always wanted to be a model. I still model occasionally for magazines and brochures, and I teach modeling at Sears in White Marsh. I realized early on that you have to have your own style. I'll probably still wear short skirts when I'm 40.
Where do you shop?
Nordstrom, Hecht's, Sears and Deb.
What's been your best buy?
I spent under $100 recently and got six blazers and six skirts. The jackets were $5. It was all winter stuff, but that's fine with me. I can hang it in my closet for next year.
And your biggest splurge?
A steel gray suit for $400. It's has a double-breasted jacket and a long box-pleated skirt. I was in Nordstrom. I had money, and I saw it. It was an impulse purchase.
Have you ever regretted a purchase?
I have this one god-awful dress that's black with hot pink flowers on it. It has a lace collar and ends around mid calf. My daughter Stephanie (who's 6 1/2 ) loves that dress. She asks me to wear it occasionally. I have to break her heart, because that's not coming out of the closet again.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.