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You never outgrow a desire to dress with dash


Charolette Martin may be a senior citizen, but she doesn't feel old or dress old.

At age 68, she favors leopard prints, fur vests and skirts that often end above the knee. That's simply her style, says the retired teacher who lives in Northwest Baltimore.

But a mature woman wearing three pairs of earrings at once does occasionally attract attention.

"I don't think I'm outlandish," she says. "That's just me. . . . When I'm much older, I'll tone it down."

How would you sum up your style?

I like to dress with a flair. I like to put my personality in my clothes. Some of my friends say I dress off the wall, but I don't let that bother me.

What sets it apart from other women your age?

I don't think age is a factor. It's how you feel about yourself. I don't dress dowdy. But I would never wear anything common or cheap either.

What do you -- and don't you -- wear?

A miniskirt is questionable, but if you put it with the right boots and tights, it can work. I'll also wear wool shorts and tights with a blazer. I wouldn't want to look like I was flaunting anything, but if it has an air of class, I'll wear it. I'm not grandly proportioned, but I make the best of what I have.

Where do you shop?

I used to go to all the old stores -- Hutzler's and Stewart's. That's when stores were really stores. There was quality. I'll go to C-Mart and upscale thrift stores. But I like stores where people wait on you. Too many clothing stores today are like grocery stores. You push a cart around.

Which outfit of yours most stands out?

I made a vest from an old mink coat. The coat itself had dry rotted and was not worth salvaging. So I ripped it apart and made a vest and pocketbook with the material that was left. I wear the vest with an avocado green corduroy skirt and sweater.

What purchase do you regret making?

I bought a two-piece blue casual suit last year. It was a good buy ($9), but it's dull. I haven't thrown it out yet because I think it's salvageable. I'm on the lookout for something to dress it up.

What most influenced your style?

When I was young, kids made fun of me. I was cross-eyed, snaggle-toothed and skinny. I didn't have much going for me. We didn't have much money either, so in June I would still be wearing a wool skirt. Things like that make you stronger in the long run. It motivated me to want the finer things.

How would you still like to fine tune your style?

There's always room for improvement. I'm taking a sewing class at the Pikesville Senior Center to learn to sew better. There's where I made my vest.

What's your best piece of fashion advice?

There's nothing better than a good basic outfit. Look for something that has quality and is well-made.

What would you give anything to one day own?

I buy what I like, and I've got lots of it. I'd just like a large closet for it all.

Do you know some dressers? Write to Mary Corey, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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