Narda Francfort Carroll didn't develop a sense of style. She was born with one.
So says the 32-year-old daughter of a window dresser (her father) and buyer (her mother) who wears everything from Edwardian dresses to baseball caps. She considers shopping a treasure hunt, particularly since "clothes with a history" interest her most.
Ms. Carroll, a Southwest Baltimore artist who works at the Baltimore School for the Arts, never has to scale down her wardrobe either. That's one of the benefits, she says, of living the way she does -- in a former furniture factory.
How has your art influenced your style?
I enjoy creativity and imagination, doing things that haven't been done before. I like to produce things that are innovative in my art and dress.
So there are similarities between the two?
My lifestyle is pretty varied. I can go from riding a motorcycle in full leathers with my husband to wearing the most fanciful, frilly thing. My art can be that varied, too.
How would you sum up your style?
Eclectic. I wear anything, from the Edwardian times to the 1940s to a flowered bustier with a full, pleated sheer skirt that's more contemporary.
What sets you apart from others?
I'm not inhibited. I feel secure with what I like. I have this gut instinct about what I put together.
Where did that come from?
I think I was born with it. My father, my mother and my Auntie Woodsie were always instilling in me, "Keep your mind going, keep that creativity flowing. It gives life that spark."
What's the average shelf life of any article you own?
.' Forever. I store them away and
bring them out five or 10 years later. There are things I've saved because of the workmanship involved. I have Claire McCardell ++ dresses that my mother owned.
What can you wear better than just about anyone?
Nothing. I have fun with my get-ups. One thing that's not involved is any kind of vanity. They are little treasures that I've picked up along the way. Whether people accept it or whether I look good doesn't matter.
What kind of reaction do you get?
It varies. A lot of times I'll get admiration for what I've done. Other times, it's, "Only you can wear that," and it's said kind of sarcastically.
What do you wear when you're in a funk?
The black turtleneck, jeans and cowboy boots are an easy standby. I always pull an accessory from somewhere.
What's been your most traumatic event involving clothes?
When I was robbed in 1982. They even walked out with my clothing. But I'm not materialistic about things. I said, "There are more treasures out there."
With whom would you most like to shop?
My husband Rodney. We have the best time shopping. It usually involves some kind of adventure.
What's been your greatest find?
I found this wonderful little hat at the Paris flea market. It was almost like this old priest hat -- black felt with a dome top and a loop at the top. It was a bottom-of-the-barrel treasure. I also found a Claire McCardell dress at a garage sale.
What do you wish you had more of?
Velvets. I like their antiquity.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St. Baltimore 21278.