Mantra: Practical and black


For Annlynn Best, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, fashion and design are based on the same constants: "scale, proportion and color harmony."

And yet Best, who lives in Cross Keys, is not a believer in a foolish consistency. She has traveled around the world and has been exposed to "a lot of environments and cultures." The result: an eclectic approach to dress.

There has been one key change since her previous life as a socially active young mother with a wardrobe that took her from the Baltimore Opera to the French Riviera.

"My life now is quite different," says Best. "Until five years ago, I wore a lot of red and purple. Now, almost exclusively, I wear black as a kind of backdrop to go with simple gold jewelry, or the really cool jade and coral squash blossom brooch I got in Jackson Hole, or an African bead necklace I bought in St. Barts."

These days, "practicality is more important" than an open-ended approach to clothing, Best says.

How have you changed your shopping habits?

There was a time when I absolutely reveled in shopping, and I had the ability to do it all over the world. It's not on my list of priorities right now.

How do you shop?

What I do - it sounds a little bizarre - if I find a dress style I like in, say, a Neiman Marcus or Bloomies catalog, I'll buy a dozen of them. It just works for me. Everyone has a couple of styles that really look best on them. I find that it's just a lot easier for me to go with those particular styles.

What determined your transition to black?

I traveled back and forth to California for seven years, running two households on different coasts. Two years into that stint, I really started getting into wearing black because it was so much simpler than packing different jackets to match different skirts and slacks.

When you meet with prospective clients in your interior design business do you try to dress according to their personality?

I don't really do that because I am very anxious for the client to see me as who I am. That's very important in developing rapport.

How did you develop a sense of style?

My mother was very sophisticated. She took me to New York twice a year to buy my clothes. At a very early age, I understood that there were other options as far as clothes were concerned than what was available in Baltimore.

Did you endure that '70s "dress for success" look?

I was happy with what I felt comfortable with. I never have really dressed for success. Those poor things in their navy blue suits with a tiny bit of color.

Name a favorite city for travel and clothing?

Buenos Aires is one of the absolute coolest cities in the world. The sense of vitality in the city is unbelievable. I bought some gorgeous suede there. I'm thinking of one outfit in particular: a black suede jacket lined in leather, with this enormous, multicolored flower on the front of the jacket, and a black suede skirt.

Describe a favorite accessory.

In Greece, I found this absolutely gorgeous gold shawl at a time when I was wearing a lot of silk dresses that really required some type of wrap in the evening. I bought it 18 years ago; those are the kinds of things that really are one of a kind.

Do you ever violate your black clothing rule?

I did buy an outfit from the Nein catalog. The first one was in black, a knit dress and tunic jacket. It was also available in cherry red. The black one fit, so I called and said, "Send me the cherry."

Do you know a snappy dresser? Write Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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