Actress' versatile style runs from denim to mink


If Bright Bluford wants a pair of shoes, little stands in her way of getting them.

Take her Calvin Klein leopard pumps. Never mind that one is a 7, the other a 7 1/2 and that the store wanted to return them to the designer. Ms. Bluford decided they would be hers. And when it comes to fashion, this 33-year-old actress from East Baltimore usually gets what she wants.

Among friends and family, she is known as a "shopping machine," a woman who can recite from memory the dates of sales at department stores in Baltimore, Washington and New York.

"I think," Ms. Bluford says with a laugh, "I must be a descendant of Calvin Klein."

What is your style?

It's very versatile. As a struggling actress, I may have to turn up on the set looking businesslike one day and sexy the next. The key is to have something of everything. I have stretch pants, baby doll dresses, taffeta gowns. The one designer I choose the most is Calvin Klein. To me, he's truly American.

How do you achieve that versatility?

By being a lover of clothes. I devour fashion magazines -- Town & Country, Vogue, Bazaar and Essence. I don't do a replica of their fashions, but I get inspiration from them.

What other designers do you like?

I'll branch off into DKNY. She suits my needs, but she's very expensive. I can catch a really good sale at Neiman Marcus in Washington. And I love Bill Blass. He's sexy, sophisticated, but he's too expensive for me. Since 1979, I've bought two outfits by him. My goal is to be able to afford Bill Blass and Valentino.

As a struggling actress, how do you afford these clothes?

I have champagne tastes with a Kool-Aid wallet, so I shop around. I never buy things at full price. I had a business -- a hair salon in D.C. for years -- and saved money from that. My son acts and I manage him. And I budget well.

Doesn't that kind of shopping take a lot of work?

It does, but I enjoy it. I buy something twice a week. For instance, yesterday I stopped by the Gap. It always has something on sale. I got a short sarong skirt and denim halter. The whole outfit didn't cost me but $18.

What's been your best buy?

An Adolfo full-length mink coat I bought three years ago at Saks Fifth Avenue. It was originally $12,000, on sale for $6,000. I traded in my other coat and got $1,800 for it. It was also my biggest splurge.

What in your closet is your current favorite?

An Armani dress I bought at Christmas. It's tight-fitting, leather on top with gold studs. I haven't worn it yet. I'm still looking for the right shoes. But it's very alluring.

If you're in a funk, what makes you feel better?

When I need to be uplifted, I'll wear something sexy. I work hard at staying a size 6. I'll wear Perry Ellis stretch pants with a white shirt and Anne Klein suede shoes. White shirts are essential; I have five.

How did you get so enamored of clothes?

When I was a little girl, my mother bought me beautiful clothing. I remember when I was 5 she hired a seamstress to make my clothing for Easter week. Everything has this pink and white color scheme.

What in your closet won't you wear?

I bought a leather and suede purple skirt at an outlet place that I absolutely hate. It was $40, and the suede looks awfully cheap now.

On your next shopping trip, what celebrity would you most like to take along?

Beverly Johnson or Bianca Jagger. Beverly Johnson is up-to-date with fashion. I would take Bianca because she has been a fashion guru since the early '70s.

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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