Fashion In Bloom

Cover story

April 03, 2005|By Helen B. Jones | Helen B. Jones,SUN STAFF

For some folks, being fashionable is as easy as breathing. They have an innate knack for putting together clothes and accessories that turn our heads and dazzle our eyes. Whether they're in casual wear, business attire or evening togs, they always make a fashion statement. If only we knew their secrets ...

Well, we found four local sharp dressers and got them to tell us how they got so fashion-forward, to give up the names of their favorite stores, to reveal where they got that great bargain and more.

Stephanie Ann Hall

When Stephanie Ann Hall arrives at work every day, her colleagues are always glad to see her. For sure, she's a valued employee in the NAACP's national headquarters in Baltimore, where she works as an executive assistant, but she also brightens up the place - a lot.

Yes, she wears a suit every day, but not just some ho-hum, men's-look number. Hers are "traditional with a twist; a bit of the unexpected." They're elegant, feminine outfits in colors from chartreuse to purple to peacock blue to "red, red, red." And they're always paired with her favorite accessory, pearls.

She owns 40 summer-only suits and 60 to 70 winter-fall-spring suits. She doesn't have a favorite designer, she says, "because I like so many different styles. I go with what looks good on me."

Her best bargain was a French couture suit that she got for $15 at Newbury & Smith, a Mount Washington consignment shop. It was marked down from $125.

Suits are her favorite outfit, she says, because they're so versatile. They're even part of her casual wear. "You can always put the jacket with a pair of jeans, or a sweater set with the skirt," she says.

In Hall's office, it's not just her suits that dazzle the eyes of her co-workers. "I love that brooch. I'm going to your house and raid your jewelry box," one woman once jokingly told her.

Hall, who is in her 50s and lives in Northwest Baltimore, says she got her sense of style from her mother and both grandmothers. "They were always dressed top-shelf," she says.

And judging by the way she turns heads, Hall is right up there with them.

Favorite color: "Don't have one, but everybody says red looks good on me."

Best fashion tip she ever got: Never leave home without your lipstick.

What she plans to buy on her next shopping trip: Black pumps

Dwight Harris

Dwight Harris is a real creative guy. For 20 years, he's been making stained-glass art, and he produces mosaic-tile designs, too. So it's not surprising that he makes an artistic statement when he steps out. But it doesn't declare that he's an artist going his own way with strikingly original fashions. He's a conservative dresser and proud of it.

Harris, a 56-year-old Baltimore resident who works full time as a train conductor for CSX Transportation, loves going to jazz shows and jazz clubs in Baltimore and Washington. And he loves dressing up to go out. His typical making-the-scene outfit: pleated slacks, a nice dress shirt and a sport coat.

Years ago, Harris worked for a few years as an assistant tailor and later as a buyer for the Tru-Fit clothing store in East Baltimore.

There he noticed that "styles changed so quickly; it was too much." There's nothing like "a nice three-piece suit, a button-down shirt and a bow tie," he says.

His favorite stores include Pendleton in Towson and C-Mart in Forest HillHe found his best bargain ever at C-Mart: a "very nice wool coat" that originally was reduced from $1,100 to $75.

Harris loves finding good-quality clothes at discounted prices. "Clothes are truly overpriced," he says.

Who better than he - a former tailor and retail buyer - to know?

Favorite fabric: Wool

What you'll never see him in: A white suit

Biggest fashion mistake men make: Chasing new styles


As her name implies, K-Swift is a woman on the move. As a disc jockey on 92Q (WERQ-FM), she's either doing her radio show, working one of the many local events sponsored by the R&B/hip-hop station or attending some out-of-town industry function.

Not surprisingly, she goes for a simple, unfussy look in her clothes. "I'm at DJ events five days a week, depending on the season," says Swift, a 24-year-old Baltimore County resident whose real name is Khia Edgerton. Those events include nightclub gigs, high-school proms, homecoming dances and talking to students about her job.

"I wear clothes that fit my lifestyle," she says. "I wear lots of jeans outfits [but] when I need to dress up, I will."

At her regular stints at Hammerjacks and Club Choices, she often spins beats wearing airbrushed T-shirts with her jeans outfits. She gets them at D&D Airbrushin' in Security Square Mall.

Sometimes, it's a leather-jacket day for her. She actually collects leather jackets, and has them in lots of colors, but only one style - hipster.

A big fan of jewelry, she buys diamond watches, earrings and necklaces at RK Jewelers in Mondawmin Mall. "I love the ice look," she says. "It brings your face out. It makes you real flamboyant."

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