He's a `free to be me' kinda guy


Candid Closet: Forget the dull and boring. When it comes to making fashion statements, Phillip Atwood is a burst of color.


July 27, 2000|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

To Phillip Atwood, fear of color is a grave thing, something the 29-year-old hair stylist would like to wipe off the planet.

"A lot of guys are afraid of color," he says. "They think color's not macho. A lot of guys just do khakis and dull greens. I think people are stuck in a rut."

From his golden-blond-tipped spiky hair to his tomato-red shirt, Atwood clearly loves color, the more unexpected, the better. "This shirt," he says, tugging at the wide collars, "was a must-have. It signifies independence and freedom."

FOR THE RECORD - The writer of the Candid Closet profile that appeared in yesterday's Today section was misidentified. It was written by Robin Tunnicliff Reid.
The Sun regrets the error.

Finding colorful, stylish clothes that are affordable is as much a science for Atwood as mixing up the hair potions for his clients at Joye's in Hampden. To size up the feel for the season, he tears out photos of good looks in magazines such as Details and Gear, and takes his pile of "must-haves" with him when he hits his favorite stores in hopes of finding the real thing or at least a reasonable facsimile. Then he digs.

"You've got to have good hand-eye coordination," he says as he flips through the rack of men's pants at the Salvation Army on 36th Street. He pulls out a pair of flat-fronted, pale blue trousers and holds them up to himself. "These break nicely on my shoe, I'd wear them with a black wife-beater (tank-top T-shirt.)"

But he puts them back because he doesn't love them enough, one of his cardinal rules of shopping.

Do you spend a lot of time in a store or not much?

I'm really efficient. I use time-management skills. I go looking for one thing, and I shop with the intention of loving it. I used to have a closet full of staples, and the stuff just sits.

What was your first favorite piece of clothing?

My Aquaman Underoos that my mother bought me when I was 5. I always wanted to be a superhero. I felt so cool.

What was your most expensive buy?

I will spend money on things that don't look like anything else. I'll spend for quality. I bought a $245 black silk shirt, a Versace. It's awesome. That doesn't go out of style. As long as you feel it's stylish, that's what matters.

What was your best buy?

I got a $1,400 Versace suit at the Saks outlet in Virginia for $200 or $150. It's a light blue pearl. I'm tired of it now, though, and I'm ready for a new rock 'em, sock 'em suit. I'll go to New York to find it.

When is it time to get rid of something?

I start to feel blah ... At the end of the season, you have to get rid of stuff. I believe that by clearing out the old and making way for the new, you'll find that favorite clothes will magically replace the old ones.

What do you do with your old clothes?

The guy who trained me to cut hair when I was about 20 would give me all of his hand-me-downs - Armani, Versace, all these high-end clothes. So now I give all my stuff to a friend who's an apprentice in a salon.

What style or look do you like?

I'm really into the '70s. I love how things were fitted and yet they had a freedom to it. I just got a burnt-orange leather jacket from the '70s, and it's the hottest thing in my wardrobe. I found it for $40 at Ten Car Pile Up in Towson, then I saw it in GQ for $2,700. These clothes just keep coming back. The first day it goes below 70 degrees, I'm wearing it.

Have you always been a bit of a maverick dresser?

About five years ago, I took a more light-hearted look at clothes. I also started working out at the gym, so I started wearing tighter clothes to show off the form. You don't want to hide behind the clothes.

Favorite colors?

I love all shades of blue, I love red, I love primary colors.

Least favorite colors?

Dull greens, brown and tan.

What's the best store to find good stuff?

Ten Car Pile Up. The owner is like the "Ask Jeeves" of vintage clothing. He'll know what exact year every item in there is from, and he'll tell you what was going on at that time. It's almost like giving you this sense of purpose when you wear it.

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