Whether donning gloves and a bonnet to shop downtown with her mother, or putting on her Sunday best to attend the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Jeanne Tsakalos knew from an early age that dressing for the occasion was crucial. Today, Tsakalos, who frequently attends weddings, showers, christenings and other festive affairs in Baltimore's vibrant Greek community with her husband Nick, is a whiz at finding one-of-a-kind cocktail dresses, gowns and Sunday suits.
Tonight, when she serves as the event chairperson for the American Cancer Society's "With One Voice" dinner and auction to benefit breast cancer research, expect Tsakalos to look her best -- as always. ("With One Voice ... A Spirit of Healing, A Vision of Hope, A Community of Love" is sold out.)
What is the basis of your clothing philosophy?
Greek culture is a very formal culture, and everything that's done is formal. The church service is formal, the sacraments are formal, as are receptions and galas.
It sounds like you have a very busy social/fashion life!
Everyone is on everyone else's guest list. We're always invited to slew of dressy affairs. At weddings, my husband and I are often asked to be best man and best lady. The word for that is kounbari. And so I always need to look for dressier outfits. And then it's customary for the newly married couple to ask the kounbari to be godparents to their first child, so I need to find something to wear at the christening. Greeks do everything big!
On your travels, do you make it a point to shop?
I always do bring extra luggage. I always try to find something special for myself. We see the same people at all of these affairs, and I don't like to wear something more than once. So I just try to find unique things. And wherever we go, Europe, Mexico or the Caribbean, I enjoy finding things that represent the culture.
Do you shop with friends?
I have a friend whose son will be married in June and she asked if I could go around with her. But in Baltimore, shopping options are becoming more and more limited.
Where did you find success?
We just discovered a place last week, Doneckers in Ephrata, Pa. It's near Lancaster. You wouldn't believe all the designer names! between helping my friend, I found three magnificent cocktail dresses. It's a family department store, but they even have a restaurant and a bed and breakfast as part of their whole complex.
Do you like to shop?
It's a stress reliever. I think nothing of going two and a half hours away to find something unique. I like to go to New York a few times a year, too.
Do you have a weakness for any particular clothing detail?
I do like details, even in my everyday common wardrobe. I like embroidery on my shirts. Someone even asked me once, "Do you have someone who embroiders your clothes?" But I don't.
Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.
Pub Date: 5/07/98