Ham­p­den Fam­ily Cen­ter’s Hats Off to Ham­p­den Gala

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FAMILY -

Re­mem­ber the fun of play­ing dress-up when you were a kid? Kath­leen “Kat” Walsh, 44, never for­got. Nor did she ever stop.

“I’ve al­ways thought of it as a form of self-ex­pres­sion. I went to UMBC, and every Satur­day morn­ing, I would go to the pound sale at Good­will. I started to col­lect funky, fun vin­tage pieces,” said the Millersvil­le Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor of so­cial work, whose wardrobe now al­most en­tirely con­sists of bar­gain buys from con­sign­ment or thrift shops.

By the time she was out of grad­u­ate school, Walsh had a spe­cially des­ig­nated dress-up area in the Fed­eral Hill row­house she shared with hus­band Mike Gurk­lis — a room her friends also loved to visit.

“One of my fa­vorite nights was when we got all dressed up, in boas and wigs, and we all went to the 13th Floor [bar] and pre­tended we were there for a bach­e­lorette party,” she said, with a laugh. When the fam­ily moved to Red Lion, Pa., to be closer to Walsh’s job, the dress-up room moved as well … and got big­ger.

“I’ve got racks and racks of clothes and man­nequins. When Bon-Ton went out of busi­ness, I went there and res­cued sev­eral man­nequins,” she said.

Walsh said her dress-up room has be­come a big draw for friends, neigh­bors and friends of her chil­dren — Rose, 14, Evan, 10, and Liam, 7.

“If there’s a spirit day at school, [the kids] al­ways come here first. Ev­ery­one knows if there’s a themed event or some­thing they need a cos­tume for, they come here first. There are sec­tions for se­quins, vin­tage, gowns … then racks of blaz­ers and coats … then ac­ces­sories, shoes, wigs and boas,” she said.

HER ENSEM­BLE: Betsy & Adam leop­ard-print long dress with draped black chif­fon neck­line — she got for $2 at Top Drawer con­sign­ment shop in East York, Pa. Mos­simo gi­raffe-print peep-toe pumps and leop­ard-print clutch from Sal­va­tion Army. Bead and feather bib neck­lace, bracelets, cuff and cock­tail rings all from Stella & Dot — “Be­cause my best friend is a sin­gle mom and she sells Stella & Dot. So I try to get all my jew­elry from her.” Hat she made from five fas­ci­na­tors she got on ama­zon.com, a fab­ric flower re­moved from a Jo­vani dress she bought at Top Drawer for $2, and a vin­tage leop­ard-print cloche that she at­tached to a red wide-brimmed straw hat she got at the dol­lar store. Red satin stole from Good­will.

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