Preppie at work, but parties bring out '70s

CANDID CLOSET

September 21, 2000|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

As a preppie kid in Weejuns, a Naval Academy cadet, a Marine Corps artillery officer and now a community affairs representative with the Federal Reserve Bank, Frank McNeil has assumed several formal identities. But at the annual Retro Dance Party, a benefit for Chase Brexton Health Services, McNeil, a board member and Retro Dance chairman, puts on that '70s show. Last year, he sported an Afro wig, aviator shades, a vintage jacket too garish for words, a large hoop earring and a necklace of shells.

But McNeil's Afro was nothing compared to that of another reveler, whose hairdo made him look like Link from the "Mod Squad." His 'fro "went all the way out to the shoulders. He looked like a giant mushroom walking around," McNeil says admiringly.

Afro wigs are easily found, he adds. "You go to any of these beauty supply stores, and they'll have them in all kinds of sizes, as big as you want," says the 38-year-old Guilford resident.

For this year's Retro Dance Party, happening Saturday from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Waxter Center, McNeil is doing the '70s thing again, in a colorful shirt found in Vancouver, platform shoes, bell bottoms and "the ever-present Afro wig."(Admission to the dance party is $35 in advance; $40 at the door. For information, call 410-752-0954.)

What is your "year 2000" look?

Normally, I tend to go toward Italian blazers and stuff like that. My favorite place to shop is in Tyson's Corner. It's called James Clothier. I have an athletic build, and I have to buy the blazer separate from the trousers, and they sell separates like that.

What is the dress policy at your workplace?

Recently, we went to casual clothing. It's really great in summer, because you don't want to schlep around in a suit and tie. When I visit nonprofits, it's kind of strange to show up in a suit and tie, as if, "I'm here from the government to help you." You want to go and be casual and meet them on their terms.

What kind of shirts does that mean you wear?

Mock turtlenecks or zipper collars. I usually tend to wear linen shirts in the summer. They look nice with seersucker suits.

Growing up in musical Memphis, did you fancy a flashy appearance?

I can show you a picture of my grandfather and my father and pictures of me, and we're dressed alike. My dad instilled in me the sense to spend money on clothes, but clothes that have a lasting style. Don't get the latest thing.

What are you all wearing in those family photographs?

We're all dressed in khaki pants, Bass Weejun shoes and a polo shirt, very collegiate. I had a kind of square growing up.

You didn't have to worry about what to wear in the Naval Academy.

I had all these suits and couldn't wear them. And then I was a Marine officer for nine years. I gravitated there because they had the sharpest uniforms.

Do you know a Snappy Dresser? Write Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St. Baltimore 21278.

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