University executive is schooled in classic style


September 02, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Sheldon Caplis may work for a university, but don't expect him to dress like a kid.

As the vice president of development for the University of Baltimore, he makes a point of bypassing fads for classic fashions. Looking professional is part of his job, says Mr. Caplis, 42, who oversees fund-raising, public relations and alumni relations.

His family gets most of the credit for influencing his attire -- albeit in sometimes contradictory ways. His wife, Jamie, has toned down his taste, while the couple's 15-year-old daughter, Allison, and 12-year-old son, Jon, encourage his wilder side.

How does working on a college campus affect your style?

I'm working with the business community. While I want to be stylish, I don't want to be the most stylish. A person who comes into an office asking for money shouldn't be wearing an Armani suit. Otherwise, why's he asking?

I wear suits, rarely a sports coat. My shirts are usually white, blue or pinstripe with tab collars. My ties are what I have the most fun with. I bought more bold ties this year than ever before. I went through my closet: The old standards were OK, but I wanted to make more of a statement. Ties are noticed more than anything a man wears. It's rare that anyone ever says, "What a nice white vTC shirt you have on," but a woman recently said to me, "Gee, I like that tie, but it's not like you."

Who do you think dresses better -- you or the students?

Well, I think there are some law students who dress better. But you can tell when interviews are going on. Students in shorts start showing up in business attire.

What back-to-school purchases have you made?

A couple of ties: One is blue and white with small polka dots that I got on sale at Nordstrom; another is a "Where's Waldo?" print. That's a conversation piece. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have bought it. I think it comes from having more confidence now. Besides, I think I've always liked clothes. That's my vice.

Is there anything the younger generation wears that you wouldn't dare put on?

A tank top and cutoffs. I guess it's just that I'm not a kid anymore. I love to wear shorts and shirts, but I think tank tops look lousy on most men. I'm one who says you generally look better in clothes. You see a man in a tank top and you want to say, "Get serious. Cover yourself."

What's your price limit?

For a suit, $295. Ties $50 -- although I generally spend $30 or less. And shirts around $35. I'm not an executive making a quarter of a million a year. I'm the guy who walks through Macy's, Saks and Nordstrom to get ideas about what's out there this year.

What's been your biggest splurge?

A Burberry sports coat I bought five or six years ago. We were walking through Macy's. It was on sale for 20 percent off. It was near my birthday. So I treated myself.

And your best buy?

Suits from J. Schoeneman. They cost $225, but they'd retail for $400.

How does your weekend style differ?

I try not to be shirt and tie at all. In the summer, I'm in shorts and sports shirts from outlet stores in Lancaster, Pa. I am one of the few men who actually enjoys shopping for clothes.

What's your funniest clothing story?

We were in New York, and I went shopping for new suits on the Lower East Side. It was exciting and I ended up with a navy suit and a green suit that they altered and mailed to me. It was one of those situations where I thought the buy was better than it really was. The green suit in particular was a bust. I call it "my bad weather suit." When it snows or rains, I wear it. Whatever happens to it is OK with me.

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

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