Teacher stages preppie rebellion


Candid Closet: `Not everything has to match all the time,' says reading specialist Maggie Kennedy, of Phoenix, whose eclectic wardrobe includes a Cat in the Hat outfit


June 03, 1999|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Maggie Kennedy, a reading specialist at Medfield Heights Elementary School, would much rather rave about all the students who have met the "100 Book Challenge" than talk about her wardrobe. Kennedy can chat forever about her school's enthusiasm for the Abell Foundation-funded program, but if pressed, she will also allow that she likes to shop.

Kennedy, 44, commutes from Phoenix to Medfield in Baltimore, and you can count on not being able to predict what she'll have on -- except that it will be comfortable and washable. Her style is a deliberate departure from the preppie look of her Towson youth, when "everyone had Pappagallo shoes and Villager whatnots. That's probably why as an adult I have spread my wings and made some independent decisions not to look like a Towson resident. Prep clothes are fine, but not everything has to match all the time."

What is rule number one for dressing for work?

I don't like to dress the same way every day. I do try to wear things to school that are practical. Especially with the "100 Book Challenge," I'm on the floor a lot, on benches, chairs that are too small. I learned early in my teaching career 20 years ago, when I wore a nice linen jumper, and a 5-year-old promptly took a red Magic Marker and ran right into me.

That must apply to shoes, too.

I would say that the casual footwear of choice at Medfield is Mootsie Tootsies or What's What or Aerosoles. I like shoes a lot. My husband calls me Imelda. My philosophy is, whether I go up or down in dress size, my shoes always fit me.

What is your shopping strategy?

I don't buy retail, or very rarely. Most teachers can't afford it. But I like nice things. I shop at the usual places: TJ Maxx, Marshall's, the Rack at Nordstrom, at sales.

Do you remember a particularly good deal?

I have an $11 Liz Claiborne formal dress that I got at TJ Maxx that I've worn to numerous occasions. It's one of my best finds.

Talk about that Cat in the Hat costume you don from time to time.

I wear my Cat in the Hat outfit on festive occasions like Read Across America. The Cat in the Hat has also made appearances on Halloween. And sometimes he will appear in your classroom at school. It's just stunning. But it's a little warm today for the Cat in the Hat.

Do you accessorize?

I like funky earrings. My friend Sharon Waters makes glass earrings that I like to wear. And there's a place down in Bethany Beach where they sell neat earrings made out of plastic. I like those.

Do you shop for books the way you shop for clothes?

When I'm in Price Club or some place where they sell paperbacks reasonably, I like to stock up. I have a stack of books on my bed stand, about 11 different books. I read a lot during the summer and can just get lost in a book.

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

Pub Date: 6/03/99

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