Reporter on a budget moves in fashionable circles


LaWanda Edwards moves in well-dressed circles. As a reporter covering media, retail and advertising for the Daily Record and Warfield's Business Record, she has some of the most stylish sources in town. Even though the 31-year-old Baltimorean doesn't have the clothes budget that they do, she still dresses the part.

"The key," she says, "is to hit clearance sales."

You write about some pretty style-conscious professions. How has that affected your own look?

I know that these people are high-profile, so I try to look the best I can. I certainly can't spend the money they probably do, not on a reporter's salary, but I don't necessarily think you have to. I won't spend $200 on a pair of pants. I'll wait until those pants go down to $30 or $45.

What are your limits?

The most expensive item I bought was a $150 dress. I looked at it for two months. It's red with a '60s flair. I've worn it at least six times. The least expensive was a $10 turquoise-colored dress I got at C-Mart last year.

What are your best bargain tips?

* Look for places with good reputations.

* Be patient. If you can't spend $100, wait. All stores have sales.

* Be willing to shop out of season.

* Buy classics.

How would you describe your style?

Classic is the word. That means blazers, linen dresses, vests and nice pumps. I have three suits -- navy, black, and black and gray. I wear those only if I have to be formal. They're kind of stuffy. We journalists are not fashion gods.

Do you have a favorite outfit for tough interviews?

The navy suit. Every time I've worn it for a job interview, I've gotten the job. It has a long skirt with a slit up the back and a collarless jacket with gold buttons.

What's considered workday attire?

I get a lot of wear out of my black jumper-pantsuit with white polka dots. It's comfortable. If I have an interview to do, I can dress it up with a blazer. If I'm going out after work, I can make it more casual with a pair of sandals.

Have you ever been caught dressed inappropriately for the occasion?

Last summer I tried to get an interview with a local radio executive for weeks. One Friday I was in the office in stretch pants and a T-shirt. She called to say she could see me now. I had to be honest and tell her I wasn't dressed for it. She said, "Honey, I have on a pair of shorts." I went over, and she did. But ever since then, I've kept a pair of shoes and a dress or jacket in my car.

What media type -- local or national -- do you think dresses well?

Oprah does pretty well, especially since she's lost weight. Locally, [Channel 11's] Carolyn McEnrue always looks put together.

Where do you shop?

Nordstrom, Ann Taylor, Marshall's and T.J. Maxx. I get some good stuff at Marianne. Their clothes are a mishmash. But for fun things, I think they're underrated.

What's the toughest thing for you to find?

Navy pumps. I have been looking for just the right pair since last year.

What in your closet do you refuse to part with?

I have this one dress -- it's cotton with mod psychedelic colors -- that I love to death. It's says LaWanda, but it's old.

Where did your knack for dressing come from?

My grandmother and aunt were snappy dressers. I also worked in retail for six years, as a manager at Gantos and then in sales at Nordstrom.

What would you give anything to own?

A Chanel suit. But I certainly can't afford one now.

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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