Pamela Watson, dean of the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing, didn’t grow up with aspirations of becoming a nurse. She was a high school cheerleader in her hometown of Westport, Conn., was voted class sophisticate and made most of her own clothes. One of seven siblings, Watson went off to college but came home after one semester to test the waters in the real world.

She landed a job working for a doctor’s office where she took X-rays, EKGs, assisted with minor surgeries and handled all the billing. It was during that time the groundwork was laid. Watson went on to obtain her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and eventually her Doctor of Science from Boston University.

After arriving at the medical branch 12 years ago, she realized that her jaunts across the vast campus would require some sturdy, but fashionable shoes, so she traded in her stilettos for moderate heels, her favorite pair being her Ros Hommerson black and white snakeskin she bought online at

Watson’s closets house everything she needs for not only island-wear but also foul-weather when she travels north to see family. Her favorite coat is her black, reversible, mink-lined raincoat. Her second favorite coat is her L.L. Bean red raincoat, which comes in handy when she walks her dog, Roscommon, on damp days. Viola, the cat, prefers to stay inside.

Most of Watson’s closets contain her business suits, tops, sweaters, shoes, scarves and belts. Her favorite suit designer is Calvin Klein.

“But I only buy those if they are on sale,” she said.

A lot of Lululemon (for yoga) and Nike (for power walks and dog walking) can be found in her leisure closet.

“I love my Nike walking shoes in all those fun colors,” Watson said.

A closet full of dresses and evening attire mostly come from Talbots and Ann Taylor (purchased on sale).

“Ann Taylor opened its first store in New Haven when I was in high school, and I’ve shopped there ever since,” she said.

Two years ago, the medical branch’s School of Nursing launched its Holiday Style Fashion Show & Luncheon to benefit the Nursing Honors Program. The gala, which features haute couture from high-end Houston retailer Tootsies, is popular among the island’s fashionable and this year raised more than $150,000 for scholarships.

Q: Do you ever pay full price for anything?

A: Just my Louis Vuitton purses or when I buy Gucci shoes. I’m a bargain hunter.

Q: How would you describe your fashion style?

A: Classic.

Q: What influenced fashion in your life?

A: I started making my own clothes when I was 12 years old. I used to go into Bonwit Teller in Boston to the couture section where I would study the way the Chanel suits were made, then go to Chinatown and buy fabric to make my own. I sewed all through nursing school on a Singer Featherweight (no longer made) that I recently gave to the Honor Society for a benefit auction and they got $450 for it.

Q: Do you still sew?

A: No, I don’t have the time anymore.

Q: Describe some of your fun clothes.

A: My white Calvin Klein crochet sundress with spaghetti straps. Every time I wear it I get many compliments. An ivory-colored lacy Talbot design; a black and gold ensemble by Lauren Michelle; and a black full-length, low-back gown with oval cutouts and silver accents.

Q: What did you wear to the recent Holiday Style Fashion Show & Luncheon to benefit the School of Nursing Honors Program?

A: A black Nicole Miller gown and the year before I wore a rosy red Nicole Miller.

Q: Jewelry favorites?

A: I have an assortment of pearls and beads, but I particularly like my silver butterfly necklace and another one made of petrified wood. I also like to wear pins and have a cameo made of lava from Mount Vesuvius.

Q: What sort of items will you be looking for this spring?

A: I’m always looking for new tops and shoes that will look good with my suits, but I’m trying to adopt a procedure where I discard something when I buy something new.

Fashion Tally

1 dozen evening bags

5 closets

2 dozen belts

12 cashmere sweaters

15 purses

40 scarves

50 business suits

3 purse items Watson can’t live without: magnifying mirror, lipstick and lip liner.

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