Illustrator's clothing style gives her something to draw on

CANDID CLOSET

November 10, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Sun Staff Writer

In some cases, style is in the genes.

Take Karen Anderson. The granddaughter of a seamstress, daughter of a department store executive and sister of a stylist, she's followed in her family's fashion footsteps by becoming a women's wear illustrator.

Although her chic designs have been shown at the Capitol Children's Museum and the Washington Project for the Arts, she's yet to break into the showrooms of Seventh Avenue.

No matter, she says. Drawing beautiful clothes is a form of wish fulfillment for Ms. Anderson, 34, a part-time restaurant hostess who divides her time between Annapolis and Largo.

"My drawings," she says, "are often pieces I'd love to have in my own wardrobe."

How has illustrating fashions influenced your style?

I wear a lot of recycled clothing -- second-hand pieces or clothes that I've had for years and soiled. Then I hand paint or screen print them with my designs. It takes one garment and gives it an entirely different look. So far, I've done it with corduroy, silk, T-shirts and socks.

How would you describe your look?

Conservative but creative. For instance, I've inherited my grandmother's shoes and hand-painted them with different designs. I make all my own earrings using found objects, beads and pieces from other jewelry. I love coloring my hair. Now it's sort of blond. In the past I've been a redhead; it's been jet black. I've also been platinum blond, but I lost all my hair as a result of that. I keep it real short now.

It doesn't sound all that conservative, really.

I start with basic pieces -- leggings, blazers and black skirts -- and build from there. I want to have fun with clothing without being too faddish.

What's the biggest challenge you face in getting it together in the morning?

My clothing dreams. Last week, I had a dream that I owned a purple swing dress with a scarlet red belt and purple patterned shoes. I got up in the morning, looked in my closet and it wasn't there. I then had to make the most of what I had. But at least it inspires me to illustrate.

What do you wear when you need to look your best?

A double-breasted Evan-Picone suit. It's chartreuse and I wear it with a pair of reptile green pumps, sheer hose and a white blouse. The thing I love about suits is, once you put one on, you're pulled together.

What wouldn't you dare wear today?

I have a couple of disco sequined hats from the '70s that I wouldn't put on again. I look at them and think, "I sure have gotten older."

Describe your biggest splurge.

A pair of $95 Kenneth Cole black suede pumps. They are stiletto heels with an extremely pointed toe. They're gorgeous to look at but painful to put on.

And your best buy?

A Willi Smith raincoat that I bought for $25.

Where do you shop?

I love small boutiques, wearable-art stores and The Gap.

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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