Every day is show-and-tell for the preschoolers and kindergarteners where Cathy Whittier works. "I'm a shoe nut. I have 200 pairs of shoes," Whittier said, who sits on the advisory board at DSW for being a longtime shopper. "They always like to see what shoes I have on. If I ever went in with something really boring, I don't know what they would do."

Every day is show-and-tell for the preschoolers and kindergarteners where Cathy Whittier works.

"I'm a shoe nut. I have 200 pairs of shoes," Whittier said, who sits on the advisory board at DSW for being a longtime shopper. "They always like to see what shoes I have on. If I ever went in with something really boring, I don't know what they would do."

Her wide-eyed students have motivated Whittier - who used to wear simple, all-black outfits - to pull out the bold and colorful as a preschool administrator.

She collects vintage clothing and shoes and loves jewelry, especially anything turquoise and oversized rings.

"I wear big, chunky rings, and ... sometimes if it's really loud in the classroom, I'll go like this," Whittier said, raising her hand. "They think it's magic, and they all get really quiet."

Hunting for great clothing and shoe finds - at the right price - is another of Whittier's tricks. She loves rifling through the bins at MJR, a Victoria's Secret outlet in Plain City. Sorting through thrift stores, too, is a favorite pastime.

"I think people don't even realize what's there sometimes," Whittier said. "I can tell when things have been sewn by hand, and I know a lot of the names from the '50s, '60s, '70s."

She gets that from her mother, who was a fashion coordinator and seamstress. Popular culture also inspires Whittier's closet.

"I love art, and I think it's sort of intertwined," she said. "My guilty pleasure is watching Project Runway and Rachel Zoe. A lot of people don't like her, but I think she's kind of funky. Because she likes the '60s and I like the '60s, too."

THE OUTFIT:

Sweater: from MJR

Dress: Emilio Pucci, left to her by her mother's friend

Shoes: Report Signature, from MJR

Earrings: Silpada

Turquoise necklace: made by local designer Bonnie Cooper

Beaded necklace: a gift from her sister

Bracelets: vintage Lucite and Brighton

Ring: from Stein Mart

Tights: from TJ Maxx

To share your sense of style with Off The Rack, e-mail bkress@columbusalive.com