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Sweet looks don't cut it with funky hairstylist

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When clients visit the Michele Lamantia hair salon, they're eager to see two things: their new hairdo and the owner's outfit. And Ms. Lamantia -- who considers Granny Clampett a fashion role model -- gives them an eyeful while they set and dry.

"I think I dress very normal," says Ms. Lamantia, 33, who lives in Cub Hill.

Really?

"Well," she says, reconsidering: "I do often wear two outfits at once -- like leggings and a man's undershirt underneath a dress."

Describe your style.

Eclectic. I can be preppie one day, grunge the next and mix them together the third.

How do you mix those?

Very carefully. Usually if I buy something preppie, I won't get out the door in it without adding something else. I feel too sweet. I felt that way about a pair of silk shorts and a jacket I bought, so I added a pair of black combat boots.

What kind of reaction do you get?

Lots of double takes. People laugh.

How has being a hairstylist influenced your look?

It's a very creative job. I can get away with nearly anything. There's never been a dress code where I've worked. You just had to be clean.

What are your wardrobe favorites?

I love to wear dresses, especially florals. I also like to wear a lot of black and plum. One dress in particular that I really like is a silk DKNY. It's bone-colored, straight with a high waist. It flows. I wear it with boots, socks and jewelry that I make myself.

What's your jewelry like?

I have this fascination with vintage glass. I buy old necklaces and break them apart. Sometimes, I accent the glass with metal or Austrian crystal. I like jewelry that looks old and ornate.

Where do you shop?

I give a lot of clothes to Goodwill, and I get a lot from there. I also like C-Mart and Nordstrom Rack. When I go to the Rack, I usually mosey up the escalator and check out the other levels of the store.

What's your funniest clothing story?

The story of my wedding dress. I did not want to be a bride in a big white dress. It just seemed so typical.

I wanted a Victorian dress. I drove to nearly every state around Maryland looking for one. I finally found what I was looking for in Virginia. It was this pink dress made of two layers of netting with scrollwork and fringe. It was made for someone who's 7 feet tall, and the dress had about 30 holes in it. I showed it to my mother. She took one look at it and said: "You wearing THAT?"

What lesson about dressing have you learned the hard way?

I wore some very tall shoes once. They were five- or six-inch heels. It didn't work out. I didn't fall, but I could see it coming. I sat down a lot for the few hours I wore them.

Who's your fashion role model?

I have three. When I was a child, I loved Granny Clampett. As I got older, I loved Lucille Ball and Bette Midler. Bette because she used tacky in a really great way.

And your fashion motto?

Never, ever too sweet.

How would you complete this: I'll know I'm a great dresser when . . .

When my mother sees me and says: "Now, that looks good."

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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