When BSO gala organizers were looking for a woman who knew hats, they turned to Marilyn Poindexter. And why not? She has been donning berets and caps for some 35 years, collecting nearly 50 during trips with her husband, BG&E; chief Christian Poindexter.
Such experience will come in handy as she and other volunteers finalize plans for "Hats Off to the BSO," the anniversary benefit to be held Sept. 11 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.
Ms. Poindexter, 55, who lives in Arnold, downplays her ability to wear a hat with panache.
Her only unbreakable rule? "Once you have your hat on," she says, "don't take it off."
How did you get interested in hats?
I've collected them over the years. I've always enjoyed wearing them. I probably started wearing them when my husband was a student at the Naval Academy back in 1957. At that time, everybody wore hats and gloves. It was part of your wardrobe.
Which is your favorite?
I don't have a favorite. Mine are very basic. I have big straw sun hats and small berets. I don't have anything that's highly decorative. The one I wear most often is a small brimmed black felt hat. I can wear it with a black evening suit or with blue jeans.
Do you pack them on trips?
They're difficult to transport. I learned my lesson after taking a few to the Kentucky Derby three years ago. We were going with some other couples in a small commuter plane, and the pilot told us we had too much luggage; all the hat boxes had to go. So everyone put hats on. We asked other passengers and ended up passing hats through the plane. Everybody was very agreeable, even the men. But that was it for me. I said, "Never again will I bring them along."
How would you describe your overall style?
Classic. I wear suits and basic dresses. We travel a great deal. If you stay with a basic style, you can go anywhere and blend in.
Which outfits do you rely on the most?
My favorite basic black dress is silk with long sleeves. It's easy to dress up or dress down. And I have a black knit suit with a waist-length jacket and straight skirt. My favorite length is right below my knee.
Who or what most influenced your style?
My mother. She was the total opposite of me. I didn't care for anything she wore and I thought her hats were awful. She liked very closefitting hats and ones that were asymmetrical. Her style was dowdy. When she went to work, she dressed in what looked like housedresses with tiny prints. My own style was a reaction to that.
What can you never have too many of?
Shoes. My goal is to have as many pairs of shoes as my husband has golf shirts. I have 25-30 pairs, but he's definitely ahead.
Do you wear other accessories besides hats?
I wear a lot of scarves. I like a big shawl scarf draped over one shoulder. I found an artist in Annapolis named Ruth Orton who paints scarves, and I have three or four by her. Most people complain they can't hold a scarf in place. I always anchor mine either with a pretty pin outside or a safety pin hidden underneath.
What's been your biggest clothing misadventure?
I've had a hat blow off and roll down the street in New York. I just watched these men run down the street chasing it. I decided to let it go. It was really rolling. Someone caught it and brought it back. It was embarrassing then, but I laugh about it now.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.