For most of the school year, Beverly Dove, a secretary at Charles Carroll of Carrollton Elementary and Middle School, dresses the part of a "conservative secretary" in smart suits and color-coordinated accessories.
But come February, Dove, a life-long Baltimore resident, is an African queen from head piece to toe. When students ask about her regalia, "I tell them, 'I'm expressing my black heritage,' " Dove says. "It makes me feel proud."
Over the past 25 years, Dove, 51, has accumulated a closet full of African clothing, which she also wears to Afro-centric weddings and an occasional night of line dancing at Courtney's, a restaurant and club in Randallstown.
Were you always particular about coordinating your clothing?
No. When I was a kid, I just appreciated anything anybody wanted to give me. I was the middle child, and the youngest and the oldest got the brand names. I was grateful for the hand-me- downs.
Where do you find your African attire?
The orange and black African-print outfit I have on today, I've had for over 25 years. I used to do spiritual musical plays at my church and I had to buy these outfits before they became popular. I bought this at a small boutique on Eutaw Street that no longer exists.
Is it hard to find African clothing?
It's much easier now. There's a boutique on Read Street called Africentrics. And believe it or not, Gallo Clothing has gorgeous African clothing for $10 a piece.
Do you buy one piece at a time?
All of my outfits have to be the complete set, the head piece, big top and skirt or big pants.
How do you wear the head pieces?
I wrap my hair in them. I have two that set up like little crowns and a head piece that's white and gold and has a crown that matches the suit.
What do the children say when they see you?
They say, "Ooooh, Miss Dove, you look like a queen!"
Do you wear your African dress to church?
At church, Shiloh Christian Community Church, we have a heritage day in February. Everyone wears African attire that day, even our babies.
Do you actually have a different outfit for every day in February?
Yes. Luckily we only have 15 to 20 days of school that month!
Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.
Pub Date: 2/11/99