When was the last time you saw an artist in a fringed bikini, a violinist don a leather jumpsuit, a marketing consultant sparkle in a sequined bustier?
Well, if you've seen Andrea Ratajczak, who works in all these professions and owns all these clothes, you've seen it all.
Tucked away in two closets and the attic of her Irvington home is a wardrobe that's as eclectic and versatile as she is.
"I'm not voluptuous," says Ms. Ratajczak, 34. "I'm short and small-boned. What I've been able to do is dress in a way that's tasteful and yet a little bit on the provocative side."
How would you define your style?
I have a lot of different looks. It's very eclectic. I'd definitely describe myself as a mood dresser. I'll decide at 8 a.m. that I'm in a particular mood to wear something, so I'll start hemming a skirt or taking in a dress moments before I have to leave for work. If I have an important business meeting, I'll be conservative. But if I don't, I'm looser. I like flowing outfits, things that are feminine and feel good.
What are your favorites?
My favorite outfits are a long skirt with a vested top or a doubled-breasted jacket with a lace-up back and pleated sheer pants.
Yes. They're definitely sheer. I use good taste, but I like the element of surprise. I had one client tell me I looked like I was wearing his grandmother's drapes.
What's the philosophy behind your style?
I always wanted to be a model, but I'm 5 foot 2. It just didn't happen. What I can do is do the most with what I have. So why not be a little flamboyant? I have nothing to lose by having fun.
Have you experimented with other styles?
When I first joined the work world, I bought two extremely conservative suits. But after 15 years, you gain a certain confidence. You don't need to wear a gray flannel suit to tell people you know what you're talking about. It actually helps in advertising to show your creativity. I'm an artist, too, so I think of my attire as an extension of my art.
What's been your traumatic clothing event?
We were having a surprise birthday party for my mother and I wore a khaki-colored form-fitting dress. The only thing is I'm not a big girl in the bust area. So for the first time, I used "enhancements." I pinned these cups in my dress and one side came unattached. I have a lovely picture of myself with one side looking very normal and the other side looking like I have a big lump on my shoulder.
What do you wear when you're in a bad mood?
It's important to look great when you feel bad. People tell you you look great and before you know it, the day has fallen into place. If I'm in a bad mood, I'll put on a long, crinkly Indian skirt and a black bodysuit with a black belt.
And if you're in a great mood?
I have black bell-bottoms with a black bodysuit and a long white knit vest. Then I throw a chain belt around my waist and some big dangling earrings.
How do you know where to draw the line?
I don't think I'd wear a sequin bustier with bicycle pants and a jacket for a meeting with a new client. But I might wear it to dinner at the harbor.
Where do you shop?
Every Saturday at 9 a.m., I check out thrift stores. I'm very frugal. I believe everybody can look fabulous for $15. $20 tops. I love to go to Nordstrom and eye up what's hot; then I reproduce the same look with thrift store and mall buys.
What's your next fashion frontier?
I have been toying a lot with designing my own things. That's something I'm going to work on.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.