Businessman says 9-to-5 wear is all-white with him

April 22, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Before Michael Smith began working for the White House retail chain, his white wardrobe consisted of three things: socks, shirts and underwear.

Today, of course, it's a different story. As the vice president of operations for the 27-store business that sells all-white clothing and accessories for women, Mr. Smith wears white from 9 to 5 -- and beyond.

For a man, that's no easy feat. Wherever he is, Mr. Smith, 36, is constantly on the lookout for a find. Although he shops at Nordstrom in Towson, he says Miami and Los Angeles are the hot spots for menswear in pure white.

Shopping is sometimes a chore, but Mr. Smith, who lives in Severna Park, looks on the bright side.

"Thank goodness," he says, "I'm not working for the argyle house."

Do you ever feel strange in white, especially during the depths of winter?

No. You get used to it. Before I started working for the White House three years ago, I was this pinstriped-suit person for 12 years. This is a nice change from having been a conformist. Occasionally I'll slip in some dark clothes. But I'm out in the stores a great deal, and you have to practice what you preach.

What's your inventory?

I have 20 different white shirts and about 12 pairs of pants, from white to ivory to cream to beige.

Which pieces are your favorites?

My favorite white shirt is a loose cut Hugo Boss from L.A. And I have a pair of Armani ivory pants that I like a lot.

And your most unusual white garment?

A white linen suit by Hugo Boss.

It's loose, unconstructed. I wear it about once a month. It always make you stand out in a crowd.

How do you build an entire wardrobe out of white?

Through mixing different shades and different styles. I'll wear a classic trouser and a funky shirt, then accessorize with other colors like brown shoes and a brown belt.

One thing I enjoy buying is shoes. I have 25 pairs. My favorite designer is Kenneth Cole.

Any white pairs?

No. Pat Boone, I'm not.

How did you get interested in clothing?

Fashion is something I've always enjoyed. My mother was a fashion designer and had a business for a number of years.

On the weekends, what do you wear?

Blue jeans and a black T-shirt. It's my decompression period. When I'm not working, I look for comfort in my clothes.

Who would you most like to see wearing something you own? And what would it be?

Jack Nicholson. He dresses in a hip elegant way. And he's very cool. I have a great pair of white Armani socks that I'd like to see him in.

But I'm funny with the rest of my clothes. I won't lend them out.

What's the last thing you gave away?

A pair of ivory bell-bottom jeans that my wife bought me a year ago. Her fashion sense is more extreme than mine. She's wearing platform shoes now, but I won't . . . ever.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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