She has mastered the power of image Style: LaTanya Bailey Jones understands how to dress the part when she must, but chooses to express herself with her clothing whenever she can.

Candid Closet

October 29, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

With a background in video production, and a career that has taken her to Maryland Public Television and WJZ-TV, LaTanya Bailey Jones of Charles Village understands the power of image.

When Jones, 43, teaches the Baltimore Youth Television production course at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, she brings to her young students a strong awareness of the media's most indelible and harmful messages about appearance and brand names and status. It's crucial to "help young people be critical viewers and aware consumers. To be aware of how images are presented and how they influence us," says Jones, the mother of two young daughters.

In her no-nonsense suits and casual wear, Jones, a self-employed "curriculum consultant" and children's television advocate, is careful to dress the part. But last night, when the children's video instruction program celebrated its fifth anniversary at a Baltimore Museum of Art gala, Jones was resplendent in a gold and black African-influenced dress. The dress, says Jones, "allows me to express my heritage in a fun and attractive way."

What do you tell children who are awash in media images of what's "cool"?

I try to tell them it's important to have your own unique style. And I try to dress so that I model that you don't have to be a slave to fashion.

We all have to wear clothing, and have to be neat. Clothing can be fun and reflect who you are, but I'm against being judged by what I wear.

I have clients and I do a lot of public speaking, so I don't thumb my nose at style.

Did you ever have to abide by a dress code?

At other points in my career, I had to wear the corporate uniform.

I'm really relieved not to be involved in that, dressing for others. And when I left law school after two years, I realized that if I had become a trial lawyer, I would have to wear hose in the summer!

How would you characterize your style?

My "mommy" clothes are loose and comfortable. I wear coordinated pants and over-sized T-shirts. I tend to dress tailored and conservatively even in my mommy clothes. My alter ego is the career woman in tailored suits. And I love silk blouses, especially in purple, my favorite color.

What's your shopping strategy?

If I need navy blue skirt, I will buy a navy blue skirt. I'm not lured by other things in the store.

Do you indulge in any frills?

I do like lapel pins. I have some "Kid Pins" sold by Advocates for Children and Youth, that represent actual children who have been neglected and need to be remembered.

Does your first grader tug at you for pretty clothes?

She's at the Barclay School, which is a uniform school. I think parents give up control of their children's choices a lot sooner then they need to. It will be awhile before my husband Isaac and I let her make her own decisions on things like fingernail polish, which I don't think little girls need.

How would you describe your fashion philosophy on a fortune cookie message?

The size of my closet is indicative of the relative importance of clothing in my life.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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