Fine fabric is a given in interior designer's closet


In the world of interior design, Eileen Brown has discovered one fashion truth: It helps if you dress the part.

To this self-proclaimed "high-maintenance" dresser, that means devoting attention to her wardrobe and visiting designer showrooms in New York for the latest styles.

Fine fabrics -- particularly silk and cashmere -- distinguish her style, but she also likes clothes that show her sense of humor.

"I'm lots of different people wrapped up in one," says Ms. Brown, 47, an interior designer who lives and works in Pikesville. "I like to express that in my clothing."

How would you describe your style?

I dress for the way I feel. There isn't one overall mood. Some days I dress extremely funky and younger than I should. Other days I dress conservatively. If I'm going to work in the office all day, I may wear stretch pants and a long sweater. If I'm going to see clients, I'll generally dress in a nice pair of slacks and a blazer. I like to take conservative clothing and do something different -- like wear a gorgeous silk blouse with ratty jeans.

Q: What most influences the way you dress?

A: Reading magazines and watching what young people wear.

Q: What effect does your work have on your look?

A: That's probably why I dress the way I do. I'm around gorgeous fabrics and great design all day. I love classic furniture, but there's a bit of whimsy in my design. That's where the funky part of my dressing comes in.

Do you think people have different expectations because of your profession?

Definitely. I assume people will hire me for my talent and not for what I'm wearing. But clothing has a lot to do with it. So if it's a corporate meeting, I don't wear the same thing as I would to work with a homeowner.

Q: What's your absolute knock-out outfit?

A: I have a direct connection to New York showrooms through my sister, who's a representative to couture lines. I buy samples by Gianni Versace. The look is generally too short and too wild for here, but I tone it down. There's an incredible line of cashmere pants and sweaters. My favorite outfit is a corduroy and spandex Versace dress. It's printed with old movie stars' faces in bright blue, yellow and purple.

Q: Besides showrooms, where do you shop?

A: Everywhere. When I go on vacation, I buy things because I usually have more time to shop. I have bought things everywhere -- from Nan Duskin to The Limited. I don't like to pick through bargains. I'd rather pay more and get a selection.

Q: What in your closet won't you wear again?

A: Thigh-high stockings. When I was in New York, I bought a pair with black and taupe stripes. I wore them with a black swing jumper. The look was very cute, but it doesn't belong on anyone over 40. It was a kick, but I'll never do it again.

Q: What's been your most embarrassing clothing moment?

A: Having a heel break on my shoe while I was at a formal event at the BMA. I couldn't go home and I didn't have glue or a spare pair of shoes with me. I limped around all night. And these were high heels.

Q: How important are accessories to you?

A: I have lots of earrings and belts. Sometimes a belt is the most important thing I wear. I'm also a watch freak. I have eight to 10; they range from plastic to gold. And my handbags are huge. Right now I'm carrying a knapsack -- black leather with big silver buckles.

Q: What are you planning to add to your wardrobe?

A: I desperately need sweaters. I'll probably add a long sweater and a few mock turtlenecks.

Q: What person would you most like to take along on your next shopping trip?

A: I'd love to go shopping with Giorgio Armani. He's my favorite designer. His clothes are tailored and classic and beautiful.

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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