Inspiration comes from far-out clothes


Charlene Rene Clark may dress in paint-splattered basics, but open her closet doors and watch out. You may get hit by a purple corset.

That's if the Eva Gabor wig cap doesn't get you first. You name it -- hats, gloves, long-line bras -- Ms. Clark collects it. Not to wear, mind you, but as inspiration for her paintings and papier-mache art. Being surrounded by leopard-skin collars, vinyl boots and fishnet stockings often helps the 41-year-old Baltimore artist accurately depict her imaginary subjects -- show girls and exotic dancers.

"When I feel a lot of pressure, I'll dress up and walk around the house," she confesses. "But I never go out."

Do you really collect underwear?

I have underwear sitting out just for inspiration. I started collecting it 10 or 11 years ago. Falsies, long-line bras, pasties, a girdle that belonged to my girlfriend's dead mother.

My grandmother was obsessed with foundation garments. "Gotta have a good bra," she used to always say.

How long do you spend getting dressed in the morning?

A minute and a half. I sometimes wear what's on the floor from the night before. I try not to wear a black bra underneath a white top, but it can work out that way.

How would you describe your style?

RF Utilitarian. The clothes I wear just have to be things that I feel

comfortable in. I don't want to wear a sack, but everything ends up with paint on it, anyway.

What's your wildest outfit?

MA A magenta sequin tube dress with a fox stole, black stockings

with a seam up the back and black five-inch heels. That's the most Hollywood.

What could you use more of?

Stockings with reinforced toes and good corsets. I subscribe to the Corset Newsletter. You have to train to wear a corset properly.

What outfit would you most like to own?

That dress Marilyn Monroe wore in "Some Like It Hot." It's spangly and shimmering and very tight. She couldn't even sit down in it. It's the whole tease thing: Are you seeing what you're seeing or are you imagining it?

What clothing experience would you most like to forget?

Wearing a uniform at a private Catholic school for nine years. I eventually got thrown out. I hated it. It was gray with saddle shoes and a white blouse. To this day, I can't wear gray.

Is your inventory of shoes closer to Imelda Marcos or Cinderella?

Imelda. We are kindred spirits in the shoe world. I have 45 pairs -- gold mules, black bedroom slippers with clip-on mink puffs I bought from the Sexy Shoes catalog.

What do you wear when you're stressed out?

A tiara and rhinestone choker. Some people drink, I wear my tiara. I think I've always wanted a crown. It's like some sort of movie-star fantasy. I know the work's going to get done. I just want to have fun getting there.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Candid Closet, Sun Features, 501 N. Calvert St. Baltimore, Md, 21278.

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