Michael Tisdale likes a fashion challenge. It's not unusual to find the 42-year-old developer building an entire outfit around a pair of snazzy socks. His other secrets to dressing well: Avoid fads, buy quality fabrics and stay in shape. The Reservoir Hill father of two has weighed 170 pounds (give or take 3 pounds) for the last 17 years, a feat that allows him to keep suits for a decade or more.
What sets your style apart from others?
I buy mostly one-of-a-kind things. A lot of people buy things they see others wearing first. I like to try new things. I'll go out and find a tie, some socks and search for a suit after that. It's a crazy way to shop, but I like it.
Where do you shop?
Marshall's and T. J. Maxx. I look for bargains. I had a sweater I bought from T. J. Maxx for $99. At another known store it was $525. I'm ultra conservative. I stay away from stylish clothes. I have suits that are 10 or 15 years old.
What's been your best buy?
Jos. A. Bank Clothiers had a big warehouse sale one year. I got suits that were originally $475 for $29. I bought 15 of them -- wool, linen. I bought a tux. I couldn't believe it.
What's the last thing we'd ever find in your closet?
Bell-bottom pants. I think they were the ugliest things ever made.
How do you decide what to wear in the morning?
It depends on what I'm doing. I usually like my blue or gray power suits for meetings. For luncheons, I'll wear brown. Evenings, I go with brown or olive green or a mixture.
And on the weekends?
In warm weather, I like linen shirts and pants. I never wear socks. No ties, either. In the winter, I like corduroys and wool pants.
Who would you most like to see wearing something you own?
My 23-year-old son Michael Jr. But he's with the new trends. He wants to be, as they say, a ladies' man. He doesn't like to wear ties. You catch him most of the time in jeans.
With whom would you most like to shop?
Bryant Gumbel. He is sharp, head to toe. I like his color combinations, how he matches things up. It's all together. I'd like to know what he buys first. Does he go with a tie first? Or buy a suit and bring everything in?
Say your idol, singer Sade, called and said "I'll pick you up in an hour." What would you wear?
Black linen pants, a black linen shirt, a white linen jacket and suede shoes. No socks. That comes across as sort of laid back. It tells her that I'm calm and sure of myself.