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Veteran tour guide is herself a Baltimore attraction


You can't miss Linda Segal. Just look for the lady in red pumps, hat and jacket.

A 15-year veteran tour guide for Baltimore Rent-A-Tour, she says it pays to dress in fiery hues when you're shepherding dozens of people around Fort McHenry, Camden Yards and Sherwood Gardens.

Her uniform also includes blue and white, which makes for a decidedly patriotic ensemble.

"Some days," says Ms. Segal, 56, of Pikesville, "I feel like I should get up and start singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' "

How does being a tour guide affect your style?

I think my style affects being a tour guide. We have to wear a blue skirt, red jacket and white blouse. I try to keep it in good taste with pretty white blouses and tailored jackets. We also wear red hats. I probably have about eight and a pair of red rabbit ear muffs.

Were you a hat person before? Never. There's nothing worse than hat hair. But I've realized it's something that helps a tourist appreciate the tour. Occasionally, I'll have someone try to take my hat. They try to be funny and pull it off.

That seems awfully rude. How do you handle it?

I just smile and say, "If I lose my hat, I lose my job." You can't be rude to tourists, but you can be firm. They usually get the message.

What's your funniest fashion mishap?

I had just started touring, and I had on a red straw hat. It was raining, and the dye was running down my face like red tears. I didn't even realize it until I got home and looked in the mirror.

In a uniform, how do you distinguish yourself?

I've made a charm necklace from tourist spots around Baltimore. It's a real conversation piece. A lot of people don't remember my name, but they'll ask for the woman with the charm necklace.

In the spring, every school child seems to take a tour of Baltimore. I wear fun tights with comic strip characters on them. I don't want to be their teacher, but I want their attention. That seems to help.

To many people, you're a symbol of Baltimore. Do you take that into account in your clothes?

I do. I don't want to look like someone running around in tennis shoes and sweats showing off the city.

How would you describe the look you're after?

Tailored with a flair for accessories. I wear a lot of jackets and solid-colored clothes so it's easy for me to coordinate. I like handbags that are different -- either in the trim or fabrics.

How did handbags become a passion for you?

It's one way of expressing my own personality. My most interesting is a tapestry bag with cinnabar trim. It's subdued but eye-catching and goes with lots of things.

What works for you and what doesn't?

What works is trying to dress monochromatically. I try not to buy a magazine and wear what the fashion people say is in.

Shoes must be important in your work. How many have you tried? And which do you like best?

While I'd like to wear Keds, I wind up wearing low-heeled navy or red patent pumps. It's very difficult to find a shoe that's comfortable and sturdy yet good looking. I've tried at least a dozen pairs.

Where do you shop?

I love Nordstrom for trousers, That Handbag Place for bags and white shirts from the Gap. For cocktail dresses, I have great luck at C-Mart. There isn't any other place you can get an $1,800 evening dress for $300.

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