Kaitlin Murphy

glimpsed downtown

December 14, 2008|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,Special to The Baltimore Sun

It's almost impossible to miss Kaitlin Murphy's stylish individualism, even when she's behind the griddle at Sofi's Crepes at the Women's Industrial Exchange. This 23-year-old crepe maker doesn't believe in buying into the mainstream fashion mentality. "I don't spend money on clothes because you never know what's going to happen to them. You might spill stuff on them, or lose them or someone might steal them," she said. The Station North Arts District resident rarely goes clothes shopping, and when she does, it's usually at a thrift store. It's not that her clothes aren't important to her. It's just that their value goes much deeper than the dollars involved.

Self-described style: : "Found."

The look: : Gray Batman graphic off-the-shoulder cotton T-shirt. Cobalt blue bra. Brown and cream cotton floral skirt. Plum acrylic leg warmers. Brown split leather ankle moccasins. Burnt orange, bordered kitten-print silk scarf used as headband. Multi-earth-toned wool and cotton muffler. Black sunglasses.

Where it came from: : When she moved into her apartment in January, it was a "total mess." But, she found the T-shirt under a pile of trash in one of the rooms. She made her skirt out of fabric she found at a thrift store. She got the leg warmers from a guy who was liquidating a warehouse full of stuff in West Baltimore a couple of weeks ago. The moccasins were too big for a friend of hers, so she traded a silk-screen print she had done for them. She doesn't remember where she got the scarf - "probably a thrift store." The muffler was her first weaving project in college; a sampler of all sorts of different stitches. The sunglasses were 35 cents at Village Thrift.

What she hopes her style says about her: "Simplicity and creativity, but there's obviously way more to me than just what clothes I wear. ... I hope that people don't look at me and think that I spent an hour picking out my outfit for the night or think too much about what I look like."

The ebbs and flows of her fashion: : "I kind of fluctuate every other year. I'll be into dressing more feminine for awhile, usually when I cut my hair short. Then I'll get sick of it and wear the same jeans and T-shirt every day, then I'll get sick of that and wear a skirt. ...

She "creates" her look: : "I used to screen-print a lot. Pretty much every T-shirt that I wear is a design I made."

She'd rather swap than shop:: "I pretty much never [shop]. Maybe twice a year, and at a thrift store. ... A lot of stuff that I have actually are, like, hand-me-downs from my friends, or I just find them on the street. ... or thrift stores ... or I make them."

There's a message to her manner: : "I think that not a whole lot of people stop and think about where the clothes that they wear are coming from; who's making them and if they're making enough [income]. If you wear clothes that you've found in a thrift store or taken out of the trash, you've taken yourself out of the economic cycle of exploiting people."

What doesn't matter:: "Just because a dress was $1,500 doesn't really make it any better than a dress that you found in a thrift store that was handmade by somebody's mom in the 1970s, or a scarf that a friend hand-made for you."

Some of her most valuable pieces: : "A sweater that my boyfriend wore a lot before we were dating and now I'm wearing a lot. A sweater that my mom knitted when she was in college and she gave to me when I was in college. A T-shirt that I made and screen-printed myself; any article of clothing that I made myself. The muffler [I'm wearing]; a lot of people have asked me if they could buy it off me. I put a lot of time in that and I don't know when I'll be able to weave again because looms are really expensive."

Her clothes keep her warm in more ways than one: : "It's kind of nice to be physically surrounded by something that reminds me of people that [I] love."

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