Always ready, sartorially speaking

Candid Closet

October 02, 1997|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Marco K. Merrick and his signature bow ties are so much of a piece that a friend once made up a business card for him illustrated with a spiffy red-and-white striped specimen.

Merrick, the public information officer for Maryland's Department Labor, Licensing and Regulation, jokes that if you pulled his tie, all his clothes would fall off.

As a PIO, church organist, free-lance wedding coordinator and Baltimore arts activist, Merrick must be sartorially ready for anything. He's had Saturdays that have included a funeral, wedding, a meeting and the BSO, and as many clothing changes as events. "I'm always ready," says Merrick, who favors conservative suits, crisp white shirts, cuff links and braces with his brilliant ties.

Where do you shop?

Anywhere. Department stories, yard sales. I love, love yard sales and consignment shops. I paid $4 for these lace-up Bally shoes. They would cost $185 to $200 new. You've got to know where to go.

Do you like to shop?

No. I do not like to shop. I haven't hoarded things. My clothes are things I have accumulated. Once a year, I go to C-Mart for suits. If I hit, I hit.

What kind of suits do you prefer?

You can't have too many navy suits. I have a few pinstripes, and navy and gray suits, too.

And accessories?

Accessories are most important. Otherwise your outfit will not make a statement.

Your hit-and-miss shopping still translates into a definite style.

I dress for me. Today is casual day, but I don't casually come to work. My presentation bodes well for my work.

What do you tell the dry cleaner when you bring your shirts in?

Heavy starch, hangers. And I'm the only person to bring my wrinkled shirts back on hangers.

For example, how fastidious are you?

I shine my shoes every day. My sister taught me how. She was in the Army. It's a routine.

What have you splurged on?

I once had four fur coats, but I sold one. I bought them new. That's a nice investment, but I was even rolling a deal on those. I told the furrier that I would send him new customers. I designed my first one with the furrier. It was mink. I have them glazed and cleaned every year. The one I sold was a Canadian lynx. It was too cumbersome and flashy. My wardrobe is like my home. I invest in a few, very nice things.

Do you feel you have to justify the time you put into your appearance?

I have no vices. I don't drink or smoke, and I don't play the lottery. We all have to choose. It's not how much money you make, it's how you spend it.

Do you search for vintage pieces?

Ascots and cuff links. At yard sales, I find beautiful jewelry that I couldn't afford to buy. Cuff links with beautiful stones.

Those are smart gold-rimmed glasses.

I have a collection of frames. I wouldn't wear these gold cuff links with pewter frames.

You like hats, too.

Fedoras, pork pies and a beautiful Panamanian straw my dad gave me with a flat top and a rather generous brim.

Did you learn a lot about presentation from your parents?

I was the youngest of seven children. We never had hand-me-downs. I remember wearing knickers when I was a kid and beautiful shoes, but no bow ties. My parents fostered an appreciation of owning one good suit or other garment, rather than several of inferior quality.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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