Dress up or down, all over the town


Candid Closet: While Carolyn O'Keefe says she's dressing with more joie de vive these days, she's not sure she can keep up with the verve of other Baltimoreans.


June 08, 2000|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

You'd be hard put to find a more ardent Baltimorean than Carolyn O'Keefe, a savvy city stalwart who helped develop the city's Police Athletic League and co-created the "I LOVE City Life" campaign with her husband, Kevin O'Keefe, managing director of Shandwick International, a Baltimore-based public relations firm.

O'Keefe, a senior consultant for Shandwick and mother of Grace, 6, and Maire, 3, is also a board member of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

O'Keefe, a 43-year-old Guilford resident, has a knack for elegance, but she's not afraid of dressing down. You may spot her at the Flower Mart looking strikingly statuesque in a sleek white suit, or being Mom, wearing hang-around clothes while dining in Charles Village with her family.

Currently, O'Keefe is in the throes of co-chairing "Baltimore's Bubblin'!" CPHA's second annual Neighborhood Nosh fund-raising party, which celebrates the activists, business people and initiatives that build strong communities.

The event takes place Saturday from 7 p.m. until midnight at the new Tide Point campus, 1010 Hull St. Tickets, available at the door, are $75 for the entire evening, or $35 for dessert and dancing starting at 9:30 p.m. Dress is "construction site chic." For more information, call 410-539-1369.

How would you describe your sense of style?

When I started my career in Boston, I was influenced by the discreet look of conservative suits for work and small printed dresses for evening. When I moved to Manhattan, my roommate, who was a beauty editor for Vogue, once asked in all sincerity, "Are you trying to deflect attention from yourself?" Obviously, that's not the path to success in New York.

She recommended solid colors and simple cuts, and I've stuck with that. I particularly love shifts cut above the knee because they allow me to dress fast and move fast throughout the day.

What do you think of the way people dress in Baltimore?

I've lived in many cities and to me, Baltimoreans, by far, have the greatest verve. I love it! When I moved back here, I was truly struck by the touches of individuality: fabulous Sunday hats, unusual color combinations, expressive scarves and hairdos that outdo Parisians'.

Has this influenced your style at all?

I genuinely admire that expressiveness, but frankly, lack the dexterity to experiment with my look. I have resolved to dress with more joie de vivre now that I've entered my 40s. If not now, when? So as one friend commented, I'm in a scarf phase. Kevin has surprised me with some really beautiful Hermes scarves. They're so pretty they can be framed. In fact, when we were on our honeymoon, we didn't like the art in our hotel room, so we covered the paintings with my scarves.

How about your daughters?

My Vogue friend's advice rings true especially for children. Kids' faces are so beautiful and expressive, I strongly believe they should be dressed in simple solids and cuts. More shifts, Mom!

What will people wear to Baltimore's Bubblin'!?

It's my fondest hope that people will dress in ways that reflect Baltimore's' personality and their different neighborhoods and interests. The reason the city is continually reborn is not because of government or anything laid down in the neighborhoods. It's because of the great character of Baltimoreans. So I expect them to dress with the same character they possess.

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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