Hampden Family Center’s Hats Off to Hampden Gala
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.