Two shoe fans share secrets

Candid Closet

March 04, 2001|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun Staff

When Diane Becker, the director of the Center for Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins University, sat down to dinner last month with Harry Belafonte and his wife, Julie, among others, she knew she and the couple shared similar social convictions, but she soon found out they also shared something else: an obsessive love of shoes.

"Everybody else thought we were totally bizarre," says Becker, 57, a woman who actually chose to move, in large part, because she was out of closet space. "We discussed how Mrs. Belafonte puts her shoes in a large array on the closet floor and how mine are all in boxes and sorted by the size of the heel and colors of the fabric."

Here's some more about how Becker, who lives in Baltimore and believes looking good leads to feeling good, arranges her wardrobe:

What's taking up all that space in your closets?

It's full of everything. I have a very eclectic wardrobe. I love coats. I love shoes, and other than that, it's filled with the usual things: dresses and suits and blouses. The things I probably have the least of are truly casual clothes. I own one pair of jeans. That's it.

What types of accessories do you wear?

I love to collect vintage and unusual jewelry, ... nothing very ornate, but something special that can make what you have on sort of sparkle. My grandmother always told me you were really never fully dressed until you "attended to the ornaments."

How do you "attend to the ornaments" in the professional world?

In an environment like mine, which is medicine, women tend to feel being professional is looking like the men. For example, they don't just wear suits but man-tailored suits, which can be wonderful and fine, but I would add a soft scarf just sort of flung around your neck to take away the more harsh, masculine tones.

Why bother?

I think it's really important to maintain femininity and not to shy away from it. As women, we have a wonderful array of choices -- colors, soft fabrics, the shape of clothing -- which can communicate an awful lot about who you are. Why not take advantage of that?

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