One woman, two wardrobes


Candid Closet: Diane Hartley keeps home and work separate.

April 15, 1999|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Diane Hartley, co-chair of the Cathedral Ball on April 24, will actually wear a tiara to the event, a benefit for the School of the Cathedral. Lest you automatically presume that Hartley has royal aspirations, know that the ball's theme is hats -- the more unusual, the better.

From her north Baltimore home, Hartley, the 40-year-old mother of two young daughters, also runs a marketing consulting firm for large law firms around the country. Her job and mother duties require "two entire wardrobes," Hartley says. "Because I need to meet with my clients in their offices, where men and women dress as conservatively and professionally as you would expect," Hartley says she needs to "look at least as professional, if not more."

When Hartley's being the mother, she's strictly casual, but always colorful. When speaking with clients by phone, "You only have to sound like you have a tie on," she says. "I tend to do much of my consulting over the phone in tennis clothes or heading over to my daughter's first grade class to help at the Halloween party lunch." (The Cathedral Ball takes place at the Founders Club on the former USF&G campus in Mt. Washington. For more information, call 410-433-6204.)

Where do you shop for your work suits?

You are talking to a retail shopper. Time is very valuable to me. Finding a bargain has not been a priority as much as knowing you can go and find just what you want. I go to Nordstrom, or buy from Worth, a private line sold by local distributors. And a couple of favorite boutiques out of North Carolina, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

You are said to have a penchant for handbags.

I bought several small handbags to match my professional wardrobe. I got kind of hooked. All you need is a small wallet, small brush and a lipstick and you've got everything you need. You won't see me with a shoulder bag or a clutch. When I travel, it doesn't make sense to schlep a brief case, suit case and bulky purse.

Suits have changed since the '70s "dress for success" look.

When I started my career in my early 20s, I wore the Brooks Brothers suit and button-down blouse. As I have grown more confident in my firm and in my skills, I would like to believe that I now seek out those suits that add some flair.

Do you wear pants suits?

I never would have done that up until about two years ago. Now a number of my clients are women and we've worked together for four years or so, sometimes 12 hours at a stretch in a hotel room. So I feel free to wear pants suits in those situations.

When I meet with men, (never in a hotel room!), I dress slightly differently. I wear skirts and dress like a top female lawyer would be expected to dress. When I meet with women, I wear flat shoes. With men, I wear high heels.

Do you have a tennis dress code?

I play tennis at the L'Hirondelle Club, which has an all-white rule. But I take my more colorful tennis clothes with me on vacation.

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

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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