Buyer changed Octavia's look


September 02, 2001|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun Staff

When Betsy Dugan was first asked if she were interested in working at Octavia clothing store, she balked.

"Everything in the store was too old," says Dugan, a former Ford model. "And I can't work anywhere I'm not excited about, so I said 'help me change the age of the store and the overall look and I'll do it: Make me a buyer.' "

They did, and now (seven years later) she owns the Pikesville-based shop with her husband Jay, son of the store's founder Octavia Dugan. And its merchandise, she says, is a lot more hip.

"I go to New York and see the best of the European and American designers and pick out exactly what I want for the store," she says, "which keeps me from going too overboard in my own closet."

The 36-year-old mother of two talked about her personal style, which often shows up in the store:

Describe your style.

I would say I have sort of a new-conservative look. I pick classic elements and reinterpret them to a more contemporary edge. For example, I've worn a little safari dress that fits close to the body and flares at the bottom, but I take the belt off to freshen it up. It looks very modern, but it's a reinterpretation of an old classic.

Is your style reflected in your merchandise?

A lot of it is. For fall I have this fabulous Gianfranco Ferre black and white tweed group in. There's a chunky tweed skirt that I would wear with knee-high or thigh-high suede boots and chunky turtle necks. That's going to be my uniform for fall.

What else do you like from the fall fashions?

Oscar de la Renta did a knitted fur-trimmed coat, which I can't live without, and a tweed pant I can't live without. I also love anything cut on the bias and [in the color] chocolate -- chocolate is a big statement for fall.

Any fashion don'ts in your book?

The biggest fashion faux pas is to try to wear something in your closet that's from 25 years ago. They don't make women the way they used to.

Any fashion advice?

The best advice I have is to make sure your clothes fit like a dream. No matter how expensive it is, if it looks like it's your little sister's, it doesn't work.

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