For funky, it's denim and Kente cloth

CANDID CLOSET

September 08, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Sun Staff Writer

In Jean Tucker Mann's wardrobe, classic and funky co-exist.

As human resource director for Community Building in Partnership Inc., a group dedicated to revitalizing the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhoods, she often must dress the part of executive. But when her high-pressure day is done, she likes to unwind in bright hues, flowing fabrics and unconventional styles.

"I work 10 to 12 hours a day," says Ms. Mann, 57, who lives in North Baltimore. "When I relax, I want to go all the way. My clothes help me do that."

Friends praise your diverse wardrobe. How would you describe your different styles?

For the office, I'm traditional. I have a basic wardrobe of suits and dresses. When I'm relaxing, I like very colorful, loose-fitting clothes that reflect my ethnicity. I like to wear Kente cloth and accessorize with beads. I love a funky look. And I have to add that I'm a denim freak. I have denim suits, shirts, skirts, dresses, jumpers and vests.

How did color become a passion?

It's happened as I've gotten older. When I was younger, I only wore darker colors. Now those colors make me feel dated.

What made you adopt these various looks?

I come from the old school. I went to a teachers' college. When we did field work, we wore white gloves. It made me feel there's a certain professional look. But I used to dress to fit how folks perceived me. Now I dress to please myself. I'll be more daring.

What's your funkiest outfit?

A two-piece gauze outfit that ends around my ankles. It's taupe, moss green and deep orange with a pattern of abstract swirls.

And your most traditional outfit?

A burgundy Ellen Tracy suit. I wear it with a gun-metal gray blouse and low-heeled black pumps with burgundy trim.

How did you learn to dress the way you do?

My mom was a seamstress. She was very clothes-conscious but very conservative. And she had an eye for matching colors. When I began wearing funky clothes, she walked around saying, "You're not going out in that, are you?"

What in your closet will you never wear again?

My formal dresses with lace tops and flowing skirts. I've had some for 10 years now. They make me feel old and boring.

What outfit have you gotten the most mileage out of?

I get the most mileage out of my gray and cream plaid suit. I wear it with a cream blouse and low-heeled gray pumps. It's been a good travel outfit. It doesn't wrinkle. I put it on, and I'm good to go.

What's been your most embarrassing clothing moment?

I went to a wedding reception a couple years ago wearing a wrap skirt. The inside button came undone and I was walking around with half my skirt dragging on the floor. Folks must have thought I was creating a new style.

What fall purchases are you planning?

I need a couple pairs of shoes, a few lightweight wool dresses and some slacks. But quantity isn't important to me anymore. If I have three or four outfits that look good, I'm happy.

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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