The lizard look: a sleek, green 'costume'


Today's fashion riddle: What's long and green and looks like a lizard?

Liz Shively in one of her iguana-inspired outfits.

Not only does she love her pet iguanas Oscar, PeeWee and Willy; she enjoys dressing like them.

Ms. Shively's affection for the green creatures started several years ago during a vacation in Mexico. She returned and bought her husband one as a gift. Friends who learned of her interest began giving her clothing and accessories emblazoned with lizards.

Ms. Shively, who is the executive director of ReVisions Foundation Inc., a local group that supports mentally ill adults, does take some razzing for occasionally dressing like a scaly green iguana. One person once walked up and said, "Let's see how you look when you flick your tongue."

Lizardlike and ladylike not being mutually exclusive, Ms. Shively politely declined.

How would you sum up your style?

It's kind of unusual. You know the saying, "You are what you eat." I live by, "You are how you dress." When I'm on the job, I tend to dress in suits, silk blouses, sweaters, heels and stockings. But if I'm going to a party, I'll wear a drop-dead black spandex dress with a halter top and long chandelier rhinestone earrings. Or if I'm going to the Renaissance Festival, I'll wear a short rayon purple dress with flowers in my hair. And I'm a woman who's 45 years old. It causes me to be happy, but I know sometimes I cause a mild sensation. Someone once said to me that I don't tend to dress, I costume. I took it as a compliment.

How does your work affect your dress?

I'm appropriate to the occasion, but with a twist. When you're in fund-raising, you don't get a second chance to grab attention. Sometimes I'll use a stunning pin or unusual pair of shoes to spark conversation.

You're a serious shoe collector, right?

I'm a Pisces. They say they're drawn to their feet. I have 4 or 5 dozen pairs -- from hiking boots to polka-dots heels. I'll wear 4- or 5-inch pumps. I was teeter-tottering around in a pair of shocking neon green pumps on Christmas Day. They look just like my lizards.

What's so attractive about lizards?

It's the overall look and sleekness that I find very attractive and calming. I find myself emulating that. I have a long rayon dress with a lizard print that I call my snake dress. I know it sounds really weird, but it's playacting. For a long time, I was on the fashion bandwagon. I had hot pants; I had maxi skirts; I had mini skirts. Now more of my style comes from my interests and my life.

L When it comes to dressing, what's most important to you now?

How I look and whether it's appropriate for the activity. I really do have a strong sense of presentation, and I almost never dress down. I feel you owe it to the public, because they have to look at you. You shouldn't walk out looking like you just woke up.

You seem pretty daring. Is there anything in your closet that you won't put on again?

Quilted hot pants with a leather fly front and leather laces. I wore them with a matching quilted vest, beads and go-go boots. And over the whole outfit, I wore a white rabbit coat. Whenever I go through my closet, I think I should throw this away. But I can't. It's a symbol of my days as a renegade.

Where do you shop?

Scribbles in Security Square Mall, The Limited and Hecht's for shoes.

What do you wear when you're in a funk?

My security blanket is a big blue fuzzy robe. It's from a secondhand shop. I bought it nearly 10 years ago and paid all of $7 for it.

Most people start feeling a little grim about their wardrobes in the next few months. What do you do to keep yours interesting?

I'm going back to Mexico in January, so I'll try to get at least one new lizard something. I also try new combinations. I'll take a scrap of sentimental lace and turn it into a choker. You have to be creative, then just wait for the warm weather to return.

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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