Architect's view: how to build a better wardrobe

Candid Closet

February 03, 2002|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun Staff

"When I was growing up," says Baltimore-based architect Rolf Haarstad, "my main impetus in life was to be a man who takes a shower before work instead of afterward."

Meaning a professional who has less dirt under his fingernails than on the bottom of his shoes, and a suit or two hanging in his closet. He's made it, and if you ask his wife, fellow architect Kathleen Lechleiter, she might say markedly so. His closet is twice the size of hers, and he has plans to add onto their Towson house, turning 8-year-old daughter Elsa's current bedroom into a big closet (don't worry, she gets a new room).

"I don't think I'm excessive," says Haarstad, 43, who also has a 5-year-old son. He usually goes without a tie and has a "fair" number of suits and sport coats. But he admits he is into nice shoes (Cole Haans are his favorite).

Here are some of Haarstad's tips and thoughts on dressing well:

Best bargain shopping tip: If you aren't so tied into what's happening at the moment, you can always buy clothes the season after -- cold weather clothes in summer and vice versa. The sales are great.

Best stores for menswear: Brooks Brothers and Jos A. Bank. They have the kind of clothes I like, especially Brooks Brothers now that they're making more casual clothes, but still classic and well-made. And Jos. A. Bank always has great selections.

Best color to wear: Black, definitely. It's easy, it always looks good, and you can wear it to anything.

Style influences: I don't really emulate anyone, but memories I have that really affected me were from the movies American Gigolo and The Pope of Greenwich Village when the actors were getting ready and laying out their clothes. I thought that was really cool, the whole ritual of it, the way they sort and match.

Fashion pet peeves: I don't like argyle socks with suits -- I've never liked that one -- and I'm not a big fan of short-sleeved dress shirts. They look like they need a pocket protector.

Most-of in the closet: I have a ton of dress shirts; I probably have eight or nine different white shirts, with different collars and stuff like that. The beauty of this whole philosophy is that if you have the basics, you can switch shirts out and change the look easily.

Favorite thing in the closet: A black cashmere sport coat; I can wear it with anything.

Favorite events to dress for: I really like black-tie events. I just love getting dressed up.

Best reason to care about your clothes: It shows people that you respect the situation and you care what they think.

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