When you plan some of the city's biggest soirees, you need a way to unwind. If you're Stella Vavas Sabracos, you shop.
In between orchestrating events such as the All-Star Gala and the Mayor's Pre-Inaugural Ball, Ms. Sabracos, a producer at P. W. Feats party planners, slips out to the store.
"My greatest source of relaxation is shopping. I love to go to a mall and get lost. It's like spending six or seven hours in a trance," says Ms. Sabracos, 26, who lives in Mount Washington.
Work and play do come into conflict at times, like when she found herself throwing a benefit in Towson Town Center.
"It was fun but distracting," she says. "I kept wanting to go shopping."
One of the greatest challenges many of us face is deciding what to wear to a big party. You do it nearly every day. How do you pull it off?
Most people think we have an endless wardrobe of sequin
dresses. In reality, we don't. I have a few basic black outfits. Literally, we have 15 to 20 minutes to get changed. And we can't wear something that wrinkles because there's a good chance it will have to be stored in the car. We strive not to compete with guests; we stay in the background. With a nice black silk pantsuit, you can do anything.
I understand you have different closets for work and fun.
I have three closets. All my gala clothes are in a spare bedroom closet with shoes stacked to the ceiling. The other closet has business and everyday clothes.
And the third is from IKEA. That's where I keep all the things I can fold -- including about 150 T-shirts I have collected from fund-raisers. I have to stay organized with my clothes. We're always running. We'll come home at 2 a.m. and get up at 6 a.m. I have to stay organized or I'll never get ready in the morning.
What have been some of your more memorable party outfits?
The All-Star Gala was great. We got to wear an Orioles jersey and black shorts.
To the Maryland Science Center's Solstice, I wore a black Liz Claiborne pants outfit with rhinestone earrings.
How does planning parties affect your wardrobe?
It's toned me down a little bit. It's caused me to make sure my clothes are functional.
Pockets are my saviors. My biggest thing is I wish someone would come up with something that could hold a walkie-talkie. It's hard to find a dress you can clip a walkie-talkie to.
You must see some wild clothes on the party scene. What's the Baltimore gala fashion scene really like?
Baltimore surprises me. Some people really get all decked out, and then others dress down a lot. Overall, I would say people dress well -- conservative but not tasteless. The wildest outfit I saw was on a disc jockey at a gala.
She had this huge wig, a gold bustier, gold hot pants, gold stockings and gold platform shoes. She looked dynamite.
How would you describe your taste overall?
Conservative and classic. I like simple, bold, clean colors, not a lot of fussiness. Straight cuts. And things that are slightly oversized.
Where do you shop?
Anywhere I can. I like Towson Town Center, but I'm also a Macy's shopper.
I also love finding things at smaller boutiques like The Bead.
Anything in your closet you refuse to put on these days?
I used to wear flowered stuff. I have a one-piece floral jumpsuit that I don't wear. I look at it and say, "Why did I buy it?"
If you could change one thing about the way you dress, what would it be?
I'd learn how to wear scarves better. I've seen so many people do interesting things and I've never taken the time to learn how.
Say you were throwing a party for British royalty. What would you wear?
I think I'd have to go out and buy something new.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.