A lawyer look with playful panache

CANDID CLOSET

Candid Closet: Thomas Faulk of West Baltimore has attorney attire down pat, but he doesn't take his wardrobe too seriously.

May 27, 1999|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Thomas Faulk, an assistant attorney general, has mastered the natty barrister look: Crisp and pressed with a playful mix of colors and patterns. Faulk, 37, suspects it's a style that transcends that of your typical corporate lawyer, who tends toward white shirts and a limited suit palette.

Faulk, who lives in West Baltimore, attributes his attention to appearance to his grandmother, and to his heritage. "Clothes are an important part of the black experience," he says. "It's definitely something that's stressed in terms of how you present to the community, a reflection of family ... I was raised by my grandmother and extended family. She definitely impressed that upon me from a very early point."

What are your memories of shopping with your grandmother?

I was raised in Cincinnati, which has a pretty developed downtown area. I went shopping with her at a very early age at department stores. Having a Brooks Brothers there was something very important to her. Very early on, she trusted me to make my own decisions.

What was your first lawyerly purchase?

My first suits were a couple of bargains that turned out well. They were of an English cut, double vented and double breasted, and I think they fit me nicely. A gentleman who had worked for APEX cleaners for over 40 or 50 years altered them for me. He had been, for years, the person who did alterations for Baltimore's mayors and judges.

What about after work?

I have an extensive group of friends who do a lot of social things: concerts, dinner, parties. For a summer party, I might wear a nice pair of linen pants and a nice short-sleeve print shirt.

Where do you shop?

I like to shop mainly at some of the smaller discount stores like Marshall's. And I shop at department stores when they have sales and to a lesser extent, smaller boutique stores. Also, Filene's Basement; there's one in Philly and in D.C.

How do you forge a personal look?

It's difficult to develop a style that incorporates what I would call "dressy casual clothes." The market pushes you toward the Gap look, which is more dungarees and down the dress scale. I think stores like Banana Republic give you clothes that are casual but dressy and in some ways a lot more versatile. You can wear them to work on a casual Friday, to a party, or throw on a blazer with what you've got on and you're dressed for a nice function.

Are men as susceptible to marketing ploys as women?

I think that men are used to not seeing a lot of advertising. The market for women's clothing is so much larger. Men, over time, aren't as sensitized to the advertising. That possibly puts them in a better position to develop their own style.

Are there ways of bridging youthful and more mature styles?

In Prince Georges County over the weekend, I happened on a store called The Butter Shop where the clothes were very hip-hop, but nice. They definitely bridged the generations. It was something in the middle.

Sounds like fashion cross-generation pollination:

It's fun, as the industry opens up a little bit more, there are a lot more options.

What's your fashion rule of thumb?

You have to be open to all different types of different clothing and styles, depending on what you're doing. It really is fun; you can't take yourself too seriously.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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