When Myra Monique Manning was a student at Woodlawn High School, she didn't share her classmates' fixation with trends. "I really wasn't into dressing in the latest styles and brand names," says Manning, 30.
And yet, when she began working in the accessories department at the Hecht Co. during her junior year, the Baltimore County resident acquired a strong sense of style, one that was independent of peer pressure.
"I learned that it is best to buy basics and include accessories that are in vogue for that year." These days, Manning holds down three jobs. She's an underwriter for a local insurance company, a spokeswoman for Signature Fitness Club and recently started her own desktop publishing company, ironically called First Impressions.
Fashion's fleeting whims still don't hold sway with Manning: "Now, I see it's not so much if your outfit screams that it's Tommy Hilfiger or Liz Claiborne, but the fact that you have a professional appearance. You don't have to wear a brand name to be well-groomed and presentable."
Did your old girlfriends tease you about your indifference to what's cool?
Definitely, but it didn't bother me because I knew clothes don't make the person.
But peer pressure about clothing can be tough.
It did bug me for a while, but it made me a stronger person.
It sounds like you stood out even then.
Yes, I was the different one. I got a job early on and stayed in it. I was more mature. I knew what was needed to make it in the working world.
What do you tend to wear while wearing your many professional hats?
Basically I like clothes that are navy, black, brown and burgundy. I try to add a different jacket or scarf, or maybe a new color like gray. And Etienne Aigner shoes that go with everything.
Do you have any clothing weaknesses?
Scarves and shoes.
My boss at Signature gives me a generous clothing allowance, so I can shop at Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor. We love the same style of clothing, textured tailored suits and unusual accessories so we mirror each other when we do seminars.
With three jobs, you have to be a good organizer.
I plan the night before, unless I'm out late.
I also keep gym clothes and dress clothes in the car, because I may have to change two or three times a day.
It's my mobile closet.
Do you pack your car trunk with blazers, trousers and shoes for every day of the week?
Yes. On Sunday, I know what I will be wearing on Thursday night.
Did you join Signature before working there?
Yes. I was working two jobs and going to school and eating on the run and gained about 60 pounds. I was just miserable. I decided to do something.
My girlfriend referred me to the health club. Having a personal trainer helps keep me motivated. He would even call and make sure I would come. I've lost 40 pounds so far.
Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.
Pub Date: 1/07/99