She's well-schooled in business style

Candid Closet

Exemplary: Elizabeth Turner, principal of Tench Tilghman Elementary School in Baltimore, sets the tone for students with her professional wardrobe.

January 28, 1999|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

For 15 years, as principal of Tench Tilghman Elementary School in Baltimore, Elizabeth Turner has set a tone for students that extends from her leadership style to her classic, professional wardrobe.

"We talk a lot about the need to dress for success with children; that the way they dress affects the way they work and the way people perceive them," she says.

Turner, 50, makes certain she is a role model who wears what she preaches. Tilghman students wear uniforms -- which Turner says have positively influenced their sense of discipline and attitude toward learning.

In her own version of a uniform, Turner wears ensembles that say, "Let's get down to business," in a smart, stylish way.

Turner, who lives in downtown Baltimore, is also the song leader at the St. Jude Shrine, where it is also important for little ones to dress well. "It doesn't have to be fancy," Turner says. But when children are attired for church, they will behave accordingly. "If they're in shorts and a T-shirt," they're dressed for the playground and will also behave accordingly, she says.

What do you tend to wear on the job?

I'm somewhat traditional, in terms of jumpers, suits, dresses. Recently, I have begun to wear more slacks, but only dress slacks. I don't wear jeans. I have never liked jeans. Even as a child, I wanted to be dressed like a little girl.

Do you treasure any older pieces?

The first thing I think of is a crocheted evening gown that I've had for over 30 years. My mother made it and I wore it to my prom. I've worn it on cruises and trips. It's a wonderful thing that packs easily and remains stylish.

Wear do you shop?

I like to go shopping at the outlets in Secaucus and in Flemington (N.J.). I have excellent luck there. I particularly like Harve Benard and there are Benard outlets at both malls. I bought an elegant Benard pantsuit with a really long jacket. I'm not a Laura Ashley person. That's not my style.

Do you shop in New York?

I love New York City. I don't have the same apprehensions about going there as some do. I enjoy looking at the windows on Madison Avenue. And I like to shop on Orchard Street and to watch people bargain.

What do you wear at St. Jude?

The shrine is very multicultural and intergenerational. St. Jude is the saint of the impossible and pulls people from everywhere in the world. I wear a robe when I sing. When I first started out, I did not, and it was necessary to be very conscious of what I wore, especially with the new liturgy that placed me in front of the congregation.

It's not always easy to appreciate the importance of first impressions.

It's just the way it is. What you wear is not who you are, but in order for people to find out who you are, you have to get past their initial contact. In certain situations what you look like is going to determine opinions. And I really do believe that dressing well makes you feel differently about yourself.

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

Pub Date: 1/28/99

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