Style Local: Dianne Denholm, TACtile Textiles Arts Center

The fine art of matching fabrics to patterns and stitching together a one-of-a-kind wardrobe out of that marriage has been a lifelong addiction for Denver native Dianne Denholm. She started sewing when she was a kid, then put her seamstressing know-how to work later by opening D'Lea's, a drool-worthy Cherry Creek North retail fabric shop.

After D'Lea's closed, Dianne took a chance on an ambitious idea - starting up a nonprofit center for fiber arts - and the TACtile Textile Arts Center was born. Now thriving, the center is in the process of relocating on short notice, something Dianne sunnily handles as a chance to forge new goals and new directions for TACtile.

That's just the way Dianne is, and she attacks everything, including how to choose what to put on in the morning, with the same kind of vigorous outlook. Whenever I see her, she's wearing something offbeat yet coordinated (sometimes right down to the color of her toenails), and she always, always looks gorgeous. Today, she's wearing a beautiful Japanese-styled shirt in a sheer fabric that segues from periwinkle to salmon to cream over a solid T-shirt that she bead-embroidered herself to cover up a flaw. Her slacks are a periwinkle rayon jacquard, and her periwinkle sandals are a perfect match; she's also bedecked with several dramatic pieces of jewelry that pick up the colors in the rest of her ensemble.

I can only dream about what her closet at home looks like, so I asked her. A great believer in Denver consultant Debra Lindquist's Color Profiles system, Dianne does color-coordinate in the closet, but because she thinks like an artist, there's more to it than that.

"Everything has a story," she says. "It might come from a fabric I loved when I first saw it or from the pattern I used. Everything has to mean something to me, or I get bored." She picks from a palette that she can mix and match easily, and then, there's also a modicum of serendipity involved: If she sees a pair of shoes in a color she loves, whether it be periwinkle, turquoise or purple, she buys them. "My closet is my paint pot," she notes. As for her personal style, Dianne calls it "dramatic, with a romantic flair. Soft and feminine, but not too frou-frou. Sophisticated."

In the end, Dianne can't narrow her wardrobe down to one or two favorite pieces. Her sewing skills set her free in that respect, and her subsequent choices in the closet boast a depth some of us can only imagine. "It's fun to go to my closet in the morning and say, 'What's it going to be today?'" I, for one, can hardly wait to see.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd