Scarves tie up her look


Candid Closet: Martha Cahill has learned that accessories and layers are key to keeping a hectic lifestyle under control.


March 16, 2000|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

When an event becomes a tradition, you have to make sure it stays the same even as it changes a little every year to stay interesting. Accordingly, this year's Rites of Spring, the 14th annual benefit for Union Memorial Hospital, will offer something old and something new when it takes place at the Maryland State Fairgrounds from March 31 through April 2. (Call 410-554-2662.) Among other innovations, co-chair Martha Cahill and her committee have accessorized "2000 Blooms" with a "perennial fashion show," which will flourish amid a townhouse garden. Models will wear casual togs from Talbot's to garden in, as well as garden aprons and clogs from Watson's Garden Center.

Cahill, a busy at-home mom and fund-raising professional, knows how to take something traditional from her wardrobe and dress it up. She extols the transformative powers of a pleated or knotted scarf. Cahill has also learned to accommodate her independent style with pragmatism. With three kids in three schools, and a busy schedule of meetings, "My wardrobe is really casual and comfortable," the 41-year-old Ruxton mother says. "I'm in the car so much at any given time, and I'm always watching my clock. I have to be extremely organized to juggle it all."

If you have a full day of kids and work ahead, what will you wear?

I can layer, or take off a jacket and be a little more casual, or add jewelry to an outfit. I have always loved scarves; they can dress up an outfit pretty quickly. And I've gone to pants or a pantsuit. That works better than if I drive to Washington to meet my husband for dinner and my dress gets wrinkled.

How would you define your look?

I'm pretty classic. I've always liked to have my own style. I made all my own clothes for high school and never cared about trends. I liked what I liked.

How did you learn to sew?

I grew up in a wonderful family of four girls in Lutherville, and we all took sewing lessons. Styles came and went. I couldn't wait to make my prom dress at Dulaney High so it could be different. Today, everyone will be wearing black, and I'll have on a red dress. I just don't care, that's just me.

Describe your prom dress.

It was lemon yellow and had a big, wide collar. It was a sleeveless halter dress. I still have it. It was very different from what anyone had on. I was so proud that I didn't buy it.

Do you still sew?

Now I make some of the kids' clothes for one-eighth of what they would cost.

Do your sisters sew now?

One of my sisters is a fabulous quilter. I'm a really detailed sewer. One sister makes pottery and another sister does needlepoint. We all took a piece of learning how to sew, and we do our own thing.

What accessories work for you?

I love scarves. My mother-in-law used to call me up and say, "Come and tie my scarf." Scarves are a classic; they never go out of style.

Have you bought any scarves recently?

I bought three pashmina scarves in New York recently.

Do you have good luck shopping?

I don't shop for bargains. But when I'm in the Nordstrom Rack, I seem to be always successful. I always seem to hit. But you never see me wandering around the mall. Even if my husband says, "Go out and buy yourself something."

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

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