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Kelli Agresta (Photo By Chris Marksbury)
Posted: Thursday May 31, 2012, 2:30 PM
By Heather Zwain

Kelli Agresta describes her style as funky boho chic. She prefers to wear flowy dresses or sheer blouses over tank tops for a layered look, and she likes the occasional glitz that sequins add.

"I don't wear anything super form-fitting," she says. "Around the house, you can always find me in a casual T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops."

Although Agresta likes current fashions and favors designers like Haute Hippie, she loves vintage pieces because of their unique quality.  

Keeping it local when it comes to shopping is something Agresta tries to do. Her favorite stores are Neiman Marcus and Marcia's Attic.

"I know I can always find a new pair of jeans or a great shirt at either one of those stores," she says. "I must admit, I was a total fashion victim of the '80s." These days, Agresta dresses in a more mainstream manner than she used to.

When it comes to a go-to, she has always had an affinity for jewelry.

"I'll leave the house without makeup on, but I'll be sure to put earrings on," Agresta says. "To me, jewelry is wearable art, and I prefer those pieces that have character."

Even when it comes to home décor, Agresta chooses antique over modern and finds pieces when she's not looking.

"Stamford, Conn., is good for antiquing," she says. "I discover some wonderful finds at the Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus around the Christmas season."

Agresta also values heirlooms and proudly displays a couch once belonging to her grandparents.

"I found the couch in their basement years ago and had it recovered," she says.

When Agresta isn't at home, you can find her spending time at bergenPAC in Englewood, where she sits on the board of trustees. She helped create the Kidz Cabaret series for 2- to 8-year-old children and the Music Speaks class for infants to 4-year-olds.

"Our local arts center, bergenPAC, has so much potential and our beyondEducation program has grown by leaps and bounds," she says. "Our arts education programs will reach over 30,000 young people this year alone."  

Agresta and her husband, J, also support Joe Torre's Safe At Home Foundation, International Surgical Mission Support Operation Kids and Covenant House New Jersey.

Agresta has always had a knack for music. She remembers watching her grandfather play the organ and piano in their local church and going home singing Barbra Streisand songs to her mother into a candlestick, which she used as a microphone.

She started her schooling at Ithaca College in musical theater, and after getting an agent, later transferred to Fordham University, where she graduated with a B.A. in theater. Agresta then performed at many regional theaters around the country, including Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, and ultimately went on to Broadway, where she played the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Eponine in Les Miserables.

"I've always done musical theater," she says. "I love to sing."

Taking precedence over everything, though, are her two children and her husband, who owns Benzel-Busch in Englewood with his family.

"I cherish the time with my children because I know just how fast it goes," she says.

Agresta is looking forward to the summer, when they travel to one of her favorite places: their Lavallette home.

"This house has been in the family for years," she says. "It's a very comforting and family-oriented town where there is no scene – everyone says hello – and one of those places you always go back to."

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