Gallery owner in her element with style, color

CANDID CLOSET

May 26, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Sun Staff Writer

When people walk into the Margaret Smith Gallery, they never know what the owner may be wearing.

A Talbots dress. A Mickey Mouse T-shirt. Purple suede boots.

They all grace the closet of Ms. Smith, 35, who lives in Oella, not far from her Ellicott City business.

More than anything else, color and comfort guide her selections. While many artists favor black, Ms. Smith prefers jewel tones that set off her black hair and ivory complexion. And if she doesn't feel relaxed in an outfit, don't expect to see her in it.

"I've often said, 'I like to buy clothing I can fall asleep in.' "

How does running an art gallery affect your style?

I have more freedom in what I wear. I can get away with a lot. People tolerate it because they've come into a creative environment.

How far can you push it and still be in good taste?

At Christmas time, I had an animation show. Things with Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny started showing up in my wardrobe. I have an embroidered Looney Tunes shirt that I wear sometimes, and a Minnie Mouse vest.

What kind of reaction did you get?

People loved it. The nicest thing about wearing goofy clothes is that it immediately makes people comfortable. People sometimes find art galleries intimidating. That's the one thing I like least about them.

How would you describe your style?

Colorful. I'm not afraid of color in the least. I used to wear a lot of black, but I love red and purple. I recently wore purple stirrup pants and a purple sweater and purple suede boots. I don't think my clothes are defined by one style. I just have an open mind and an appreciative eye for things that look good. The main requirement is comfort. If it doesn't feel good on, I'll never wear it. But I tend to be traditional. I gravitate toward Talbots.

People probably wouldn't think of a gallery owner as a typical Talbots shopper.

I know, but their clothes last forever. And you can mix some classic things with a wild pin or something funky.

What would you most like to change about your wardrobe?

I'd like to make a lot of my skirts shorter. I've noticed that many women's dresses are to the ankle now. We're all hiding in a way.

What's keeping you from shortening them now?

I'm no good with a needle.

Is there anything in your closet you'll never wear again?

I bought a hot pink, poufy dress in Cross Keys. It's not me. I look at it now and think it looks like a fruit salad.

What's been your most traumatic clothing event?

Those thigh-high hose. I don't recommend them. They're comfortable in the summer, but I was walking up Main Street and one of them was slowly walking down my leg. When it got close to my knee, I just turned a corner and quickly pulled it off.

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

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