A designer consignor opportunity for us all

By null, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 26, 2003

I was introduced to Emmy Acton last month, and - I could just shoot myself! - I didn't notice what she was wearing. I'd have looked closer if I knew her clothes were for sale. Emmy sells her old designer labels to the underlings in the Hillsborough County Attorney's office: secretaries and government lawyers who don't earn enough to buy their own designer clothes. Emmy, who makes $165,000 as county attorney and is married to a doctor, feels their pain.

Emmy is only 5 feet 1, and not an X-ray, so I'm guessing she wears a petite 6 or 8. The average size for women is a misses 12, so squeezing into Emmy's tiny castoff Escadas might take some effort, but with these prices, who can afford not to try? (Maybe there's someone on the janitorial staff at the county attorney's office who can do alterations.)

It's true, there are designer consignment shops, but you'd never get the deals you get from Emmy. And, to shop right in the office is so totally convenient! Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?

I'd know I'd like to take advantage. I'm 3 inches taller than Emmy, so I'd have to pass on her slacks (too short), but I might be able to wear her dresses and suits. I don't work for Emmy, but now that the word is out on this perk everyone will want to!

So let's not limit it to Emmy's immediate staff. As a matter of fact, why limit it to Emmy? Why not allow the county commissioners to participate? I'd kill for Pat Frank's clothes (isn't that a St. John she's wearing in the commission's official photo?), and I think we're about the same size. In fact, I'd rather buy her clothes than Emmy's. Kathy Castor has some shoes I'd like to buy - those mules with tiny heels. And surely there are Ronda Storms-wannabes, sartorially speaking. As for Jan Platt, well, we love Jan, and she always looks nice, but I just don't think the resale value is there.

I wish when Sandy Freedman was mayor she had thought to be as generous as Emmy. I'm pretty sure I could get into her things, and I really liked her conservative but classy suits, some maybe a little too Palma Ceia for me, but always perfectly color coordinated with everything else, down to shoes and jewelry.

Apologies to Pam Iorio, but I just have to leave her out of this. Let's face it, Pam dresses like a Girl Scout. Sorry to say, those plain suits and shirts with the collars open over the lapels are better suited to someone more interested in getting a job done than making the cover of W.

I haven't been watching the City Council as closely as I should, but Linda Saul-Sena has some very nice things I'd like to buy, especially now that I'm trying to get away from black. And imagine the feeling of camaraderie it would promote at City Hall, as surely it does in the county attorney's office as the support staff haggles over Emmy's Pradas.

And what an icebreaker at staff parties!

"That's Emmy's Donna Karan you're wearing, isn't it? Let me tell you it looks a whole lot better on you than it did on Emmy! And did you see the Calvin Emmy's wearing tonight? I can't wait to get my hands on it!"

"I'd lose the shoes, though, frankly."

"Yeah, well. But hey, isn't Susie in Emmy's last season's Ralph Lauren? Look, you can see where she let the jacket out. Ugh."

Emmy doesn't pocket the money, of course. She uses it to benefit her staff - such as to throw parties at her waterfront Davis Islands home. Of course even Emmy's big house can't accommodate everyone, especially when she also invites people like judges, so sometimes the secretaries are bumped off the A list. They do get to help set up for the party, though, clean the toilets and so on and, who knows, for that maybe Emmy even tosses a Hermes scarf their way?

- Sandra Thompson is a writer living in Tampa. She can be reached at tampa@sptimes.com City Life appears on Saturday.