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A short and snappy answer to 'What-will-I-wear?'


It's summertime and the dressing is easy for Lizzy Beckley. Whether she's exercising or socializing, Ms. Beckley, an area volunteer, has one style of dress: casual. And why not? Summer, after all, is the season to pare down and pass on the pantyhose.

For her, though, the attitude has remained year-round. Black-tie dresses hang in her closet unworn in years. And she even keeps some clothes -- a rack of jackets actually -- in her kitchen, a set-up that makes grabbing one on the way out easier.

"I think too much is made of image," says Ms. Beckley, 47, who lives in Stevenson. "I care more about what I can do than how I appear."

How casual is your summer style exactly?

Real casual. Most of the time, I'm in a bathing suit or a pair of $9 shorts from T.J. Maxx, a T-shirt and tennis shoes. I like bright colors, and my shirts are really fun. They have designs -- swirls or flowers or pelicans. A lot of shirts are given to me. I have one from Boston, another from Colorado and a bunch from Hawaii.

Why this approach to dressing?

I do it in order to be comfortable and to express who I am. I don't want to have to do anything anymore.

Friends say they've never seen you in a dress or skirt.

Not in a while. In the winter, I'm cold. In the summer, if there's air-conditioning, I'm cold. Out of respect for some event, I will wear a dress. I mean, if I have to go to a wedding or funeral, I'm not going to be wearing shorts. But I prefer to be comfortable. I usually look presentable but not real adult.

Why not adult?

My clothes are very youthful. It might be a resistance to growing up.

Accessories are where you make your mark, right?

Through my earrings and the smile on my face. I like long dangly ones. I'll go anywhere for them -- from Jones & Jones in Cross Keys to the Dollar Store.

Where else do you shop?

I like Nan Duskin, too. I buy my shorts on sale there. They're the ones I can wear anywhere. And I love Gems & Jewels in Pikesville. I don't like department stores. I find them depressing.

What's been your most recent splurge?

I bought a pair of really pretty earrings -- faux emerald and diamond -- at a festival for $30. They look like they cost a couple hundred dollars. I think that's a coup. I also just got two new watches and a fabulous sweat-shirt from my daughter Katie [a 21-year-old college student] for my birthday. The shirt says University of Hawaii Mom. It's forest green with flowers and it's gorgeous.

Do you and your daughter share similar styles?

I come from a family where a lot of people care about clothes. I think they look real pretty, but that's not me. My daughter dresses like a fashion plate. If I really care about what I'm going to wear, I'll ask her opinion. She's always telling me I don't match. I say I blend. I love red and pink together. She hates it. She wants every pink to match every other pink.

When did you last get really dressed up?

Maybe four years ago. I wore a black tailored wool pantsuit from Jones & Jones to a show at the Mechanic.

What would you change about your style if you could?

My attitude. The clothes, I like. The body? I always want to change the body. I'm working on getting to like myself. I don't want to be overly concerned with what I look like. I want to be concerned with who I am.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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