`I don't have to stand out to look good'

CANDID CLOSET

Candid Closet: Richard J. Shaw, city firefighter and church trustee, says he prefers a traditional look.

September 02, 1999|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

The first thing you should know about Richard J. Shaw, a Baltimore city firefighter and trustee of the Sweet Hope Free Will Baptist Church, is that he is not the one calling attention to himself.

That would be the doing of his wife, Hattie, who proudly describes how her husband was mistaken for a celebrity on one of their annual cruises with their group of friends, called the FunSeekers.

"Well, I guess she probably likes the fact that I'm somewhat tall, and I like to think I look pretty nice in a suit," says Shaw, who lives in Pikesville. "I try to pick clothes that look good on me more than clothes that are in style." But, Shaw, 50, still maintains, Hattie's pride in his looks is mainly because "she thinks the world of me."

What do you pack for a cruise?

We dress for dinner each day, so a jacket and a tie for each day.

Do you buy clothing on your trips?

I'm sort of a hat person. I might buy a straw hat at the market.

Where do you shop in Baltimore?

I like some of the local stores, and to catch a sale at Hecht Company.

I'm not one to put value in spending a lot of money. I place value in spending less money and looking good. I also shop at K&G's Men's Mart on Whitehead Road, and I occasionally look through Brian Lefko's on Reisterstown Road.

How would you describe your style?

I think I could be fair in saying I like traditional clothing, more the traditional business look opposed to the mod suits with funny collars -- or lack of collars.

How did you acquire that sense of style?

I more or less came up the hard way. Poverty breeds a different thing in different people.

At the time, I didn't know I was poor, but I made a promise to myself that I would look good when I could afford to buy my own clothes. I do overspend on shoes. I buy more than I admit I need.

Looking good and looking trendy seem to be two different things in your book.

I think some people have the gift of being in tune with trends and designs.

I simply want to look good and presentable. I don't have to stand out to look good.

Do you dress for work?

I used to go to work with starched clothes on. But at Engine Company 29, that didn't work too well.

Our company has the busiest company in city medic runs. I might have to change twice in the course of a day, crawling through basements and all. It's a dirty job.

Is there anything on your wish list?

To be honest, there is nothing I really want for.

I guess I have more suits than I could even wear, and I could change shoes almost every day of the month. The more you have, the less wear and tear you put on anything.

Do you dress up for going to Ravens games?

We wear the traditional sweatshirts or a Ravens T-shirt with a turtleneck. We make it a festive occasion.

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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