Glimpsed: Mike Gordon-Tennant

March 21, 2010|By Sloane Brown | Special to The Baltimore Sun

Mike Gordon-Tennant has very different clothes for work and for play. The 30-year-old Pigtown resident spends six months out of the year on a ship for his work as a marine engineer for the Waterman Steamship Corporation. "I wear work jeans and clothes like a mechanic would wear," he explains. But on his own time, Gordon-Tennant is a swing enthusiast, and spends many Monday nights at the Charm City Swing events at Club Baltimore on Pulaski Highway. That's when his "fairly modern with just a splash of retro" style comes out.

The look: White button-down Ralph Lauren Chaps shirt. Red satin Tommy Hilfiger tie. Black braces. Black wool double-pleated Emanuel slacks. Black felt short-brim fedora. Black leather Aris Allen dance loafers. Red bandanna. Red silk pocket square. Hamilton Ventura watch.

Where it came from: His shirt, tie and pocket square came from Macy's. He found his braces at Lord & Taylor. His slacks are part of a suit that was a gift. He bought the hat at Hats in the Belfry, and he ordered the shoes from He purchased the watch on eBay.

A nod to the past: "A friend of mine explained to me once that swing dancers are people in a time warp. ... I'm a fan of the modern clothes that we have now, but I like a bit of a throwback to something a little more elegant. ..."

His standout pieces: "A lot of times, I'll put on a vest. Not just because it goes with what I'm wearing, but I'll see my reflection and it makes me smile. ... Braces. Most clothes don't have those buttons [you need to fasten braces to your pants]. I go out and get buttons and sew them on. ... My hat. It was a long process to find one particular hat that I liked. Your hat is like a pair of glasses. It has to suit not just your face, but also your style. ..."

How he shops: "In my line of work ... I'm away for three months at a time. ... I'll pick up something from Japan or Korea. I'll get a shirt that has Asian writing on it or Asian calligraphy ... [In] Singapore, they have great suits ... They have tailors who will make suits at reasonable prices. ... When I get home, I usually go to little vintage shops I find on the Internet, or I'll go to department stores like Macy's or Filene's Basement."

His casual gear: "... Generally, jeans and T-shirts are my staples. Calvin Klein jeans fit me very well, with a tee from American Apparel. If I'm going to wear a shirt with writing on it, I like for it to be from somewhere I've been."

His style rules: "Make sure your shoes match your belt. Sometimes the simplest things are the most elegant - like a tie with a matching pocket square. ... I hope my clothes say, 'It's not the suit that makes the man, but the man who makes the suit.' "

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