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Classic clothing touched by whimsy IN FASHION


As a commodities trader, sculptor and mother, Amy Boebel leads many lives. Just look in her closet: There are casual T-shirts from the Gap, designer blouses from Cross Keys and funky accessories from craft shows. But Ms. Boebel has a distinct advantage over the rest of us in pulling it all together: She worked in retail for years -- including a stint as a buyer for Hutzler's department stores.

As she gets older (she turns 41 this year), she finds her style continuing to evolve.

"I don't feel the need to make a bold statement in my clothes anymore," says Ms. Boebel, who lives in Roland Park. "The older I get, the softer I get. I'll even wear pastel shirts now."

You've described your style as classically eclectic. What does that mean?

I have a lot of classic clothes, but I try to keep things a little whimsical. I wear few prints, lots of black, white and red. I'll accent things with funky belts or a weird pair of earrings or red shoes. I also like to wear a lot of linen. It's my favorite material.

The wrinkles don't drive you crazy?

Really nice linen still looks good even when it wrinkles. It still has a nice flow.

How does your work affect your style?

I've gone through a lot of transitions. Right now I can wear pretty casual clothes. I can go to work in anything from shorts to a double-breasted suit. One thing I do is pass my clothes on. After I wear them awhile, I invite my friends over and give them my clothes. I have a couple friends who get first dibs. We go through my closet. It's kind of like girls' night out.

Where do you shop?

Ann Taylor, Jones & Jones, the Gap and Tweeds catalog. I pick up accessories at craft fairs and shops.

What would you think twice before buying?

I probably would never get anything that's polyester. It doesn't breathe on my body, and it's uncomfortable.

What's been your biggest splurge?

A Nicole Miller shirt with zebras on it. It's a great shirt. I wear it with black linen shorts or a skirt or a pair of leggings. It cost more than $150. That's close to my limit. I usually don't spend a lot on my clothes. I'll buy a few nice pieces.

And your best buy?

I have this pair of black linen pleated shorts that I got for $25 at Britches for Women. I've worn them for four years now. They've started to look faded, but I might try to dye them. Sometimes I'll buy something and not know why I've bought it. Then two or three months later, it will become a pivotal part of my wardrobe. I bought this weird turquoise tunic. I didn't wear it for a year. Then I started putting it with black leggings and a beaded belt. It was great.

Is the opposite ever true for you? Do you buy things that never leave your closet?

Those go directly to my friends. If I haven't worn it in a year, I give it away. I recently gave a friend a long denim jean skirt that I could never make work with anything. Sometimes, I get sucked into an image that isn't me, or I buy something because it's a great bargain.

What do you believe you can never have too many of?

If you asked my ex-husband, he'd say my shoes. I don't think you can have too many interesting earrings or belts. I feel fun when I wear them.

If you could trade closets with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Katharine Hepburn back in the '40s. She had real style -- a classical look with a great feeling of independence. She was like a cat. She did her own thing.

What wouldn't you be caught dead in today?

Lots of things. Short shorts with a silly shirt. Although to celebrate my 40th birthday, I bought my first bikini last August. I've worn the top out back in the garden with a pair of shorts. I'm working up to the bottoms. It's going to be a process.

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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