Style Self: A Celebration of Form

With a dash of earthy and a touch of funky, this fashion maven has a look all her own.




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Photograph by Kevin Fleming


Deanna Wagman is a fashionista—a fashionista who isn’t into shoes.

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Or accessories.

Or bags.

Or even jewelry or perfectly coordinated pieces for that matter.

She is, however, desperately in love with the simplest, most basic element of fashion. “I love clothes,” she says. “It’s always been all about the clothes.”

Wagman, 57, holds a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising from what is now Widener University. Her romance with clothes has lasted as long as she can remember. “I even used to make all my own clothes in high school,” she says.

Clad in a pair of simple form-fitting jeans, low-heeled black boots, and a killer, vintage-inspired black jacket fitted to the waist and spangled with lace and iridescent beading, she illustrates her own golden rule perfectly: “A woman’s body should be shown. You shouldn’t hide yourself.”

Her sleekly styled hair is short, not quite to her shoulders, and vibrant, curling playfully at the end. Very no-nonsense, but versatile. Wagman credits Steve Maybroda and Tony DiMaio at Spa by the Sea in Rehoboth. “They’re fabulous,” she says. “I walk in and let them do whatever they want.”

Though she didn’t take a straight course in getting there, Wagman owns Deanna’s, a boutique in Lewes that caters to customers from their mid-20s to mid-70s. “After college, I was a stewardess with American Airlines for 11 years,” she says. “I was always noticing the fashion I saw on the planes.”

Once grounded, she decided to open her shop. Wagman stocks her boutique with pieces that flirt with funk and exude conservatism. One hanger offers a shimmery shawl with leopard-print accents that could caress the shoulders of a Manhattan socialite. Another showcases a fitted, nautically styled houndstooth and velvet jacket that even Ms. Hepburn would not have been able to resist.

Wagman’s own style personifies the earthy-meets-urban vibe of her store. “I can easily go from conservative to funky, just with the addition of a jacket or big belt,” she says. “I wear a lot of long skirts with boots and sweaters. I absolutely love jeans with a funky jacket.”

Not into what she calls the “name game” of high fashion, Wagman supports labels like Sandy Starkman, Tribal, Willow and Curio. She can find everything she needs in Lewes—and she explicitly does not mean the outlets on Coastal Highway.

One of Wagman’s favorite trends is the resurgence of leggings. “I love the leggings-and-tunic-top look,” she says. “It looks so cute on the young ladies, and it flatters older women as well.”

One can wear summer whites in winter, pair black shoes with a brown hemline or even sport socks with sandals without a second glance from Wagman. Yet one thing will raise her perfectly arched eyebrow: women who wear their clothes too big to hide what they deem “flaws.” “I hate the Annie Hall look—big everything,” she says. “Women should celebrate their bodies.”

For women who feel they need to swim in their clothes in order to steady themselves against the ever-changing tide of fashion, Wagman suggests a quick fix:

“The longer a pant, the thinner and taller a woman will appear,” she says. “Pair that with a jacket that grazes the waist.” —Amy Kates

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