THE MAN WHO FALLS FOR EVERY FASHION trend is also the man who ends up with a closet full of one-season sensations. Not so for the truly stylish.
While fashion changes with the season, personal style has staying power. Witness the following three Dallas businessmen: investment manager, mortgage banker and advertising executive. These men don’t walk into a store and say, “’Dress me.” They don’t adopt every fashion whim. They don’t scour the pages of GQ. And they certainly don’t wear Nicole Miller neckties.
When SCOTT WOOD graduated from Baylor University in 1989, he had a job on Wall Street and one interview suit. After a summer of mowing yards, he took his earnings and headed to Culwell & Son, where he dropped $3,000 to jump-start his business wardrobe. “At that point,” Wood says, “I didn’t know what my style was so I relied on the advice of the sales rep and stuck to the basics-navy, charcoal and pinstriped suits.”
Once in New York, his eyes were opened to the look epitomized by the Michael Douglas character in the movie Wail Street. “I used to ride the subway and watch how people dressed,” he says. “Thai’s where I got a lot of ideas.” He also took notice of his colleagues at Chase Manhattan Bank. “I ’ ve al ways heard that to move up the corporate ladder you should dress one step better than your superiors. My bosses were wearing French cuffs, so that was my first upgrade.”
In the years since, he’s come to see the building of his wardrobe as an investment in his business. He approaches buying clothes the same way he does a financial portfolio. He buys “carefully, never on impulse” and always with an eye on finding unique pieces that contribute to the image he’s trying to project.
Now 29 and a financial consultant with Lockwood Financial Services in Dallas, Wood spends much of his workday meeting with clients in an effort to gain their trust and the opportunity to invest their money. “Attention to detail in dress is part of my professional image,” says Wood, who chooses from two sets of Tiffany cuff links, depending on the day’s color code: gold for the brown suits in his closet; sterling silver for the navy blue suits.
Wood also makes a conscientious effort to stay a step ahead of the hoi polloi. His version of the fashion food chain goes like this: “First Neiman’s has a look. Then it gets knocked off and hits the department stores, the mass market,” he says. “As soon as this happens, I start looking to see what’s new, what’s the next neat look in the classic line.” His most recent wardrobe addition, a bright, midnight-blue dress shirt, has elicited more than a few comments at Lockwood. “But,” notes Wood, “by next year those guys will be wearing it.”
STAN BOMAR loves clothes and lives to shop.
“To me, shopping is relaxing, a hobby really,” says the 42-year-old mortgage banker. He’s got an arrangement with Neiman Marcus that allows him, with a phone call, to go into the downtown store before or after hours so he can comb the racks without a salesperson shadowing him. Bomar doesn’t want to be pressured to buy. He doesn’t need to be. He’s a very good customer.
As president and CEO of Bomac Capital Mortgage, Inc., he’s reached a level of success that enables him to indulge in the handsome clothing he has appreciated since working in his family’s menswear store in Denton.
Bomar was 8 years old when his grandfather, an early fashion influence, impressed upon him the importance of appearance when conducting business. Bomar still remembers his advice about shoes: “You can tell how prepared a man is for a meeting by the look of his shoes.”
On this day, Bomar is impeccably groomed in a black pinstriped Armani suit of crepe wool, a powder pink Hermes tie- and a pair of a.testoni Italian loafers he bought at Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco. It is hard to believe that the man sitting across the table used to butt heads on the football field at the University of Texas.
Although he’s been known to drop a lot during a single shopping excursion, Bomar believes money has little to do with real style.
“Money and style do not necessarily go hand in hand,” he says. “The most expensive clothing is not always the most stylish or the most appropriate for a particular person or situation.” His favorite pieces fall into the casual category: a navy suede waist coat and chamois shirt that he wears as a jacket.
“My wife claims that I would wear a tie to the breakfast table on Saturday morning if 1 had my way,” says Bomar. who puts a lot of effort, safely two to three times that of most men, into his wardrobe. “I like to feel like I’ve out-dressed everyone in the room.”
If not everyone in the field.
His dove-hunting buddies gave him plenty of grief when he showed up for an expedition in a suede coat and pants. But Bomar wasn’t fazed. As he says, “I’m really more of a bird watcher than hunter.”
Before JIMMY KRAUSE gets around to talking about his own personal style, he wants to make a few things clear: “I don’t go running around town for clothes. I hate to shop. I can’t stand going to malls.”
The 44-year-old advertising executive calls himself a “Cro-Magnon man” when it comes to fashion trends. Philosophically opposed to designer logos, Krause once bought a gingham check shirt at the Polo/Ralph Lauren store and then had the in-house seamstress remove the Polo pony. He says he “wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything in GQ.” And yet a trip to his closet reveals a number of big-name designers and several pieces that aren’t exactly unstylish: a textured Calvin Klein suit. Donna Karan dress shirts, a row of Cole Haan shoes for every occasion.
The president of Krause Associates can’t think of a menswear ad that has influenced him to go out and buy, although he says The Gap ads-featuring Paul Newman and James Dean wearing khakis-speak most directly to his philosophy of style. “They wore their khakis in the ’50s and looked great,” he says. “It’s the well-scrubbed, ail-American look.”
In the ad biz, the creative types call those who service accounts “suits.” Krause, who falls into this category, considers himself “a rebel suit.” Believing “a coat and tie are an out-moded fashion for work.” he prefers the “rumpled, wrinkled” look instead. Because he is the boss, he can get away with a casual-Friday look virtually any day of the week. On the days he isn’t meeting with clients such as Hyatt Hotels, Sprint and American Title Co., Krause can usually be found wearing khakis and a denim shirt.
“Sometimes,” he says, “I will look around the room at a cocktail party and decide it’s time to expand my fashion horizons. But I don’t see much I’m envious of. I see men who are more conservative than I am taking bigger fashion risks.”
And Krause is no risk taker when it comes to fashion.
“When the sales rep says. This is really hot,’ you know you’re in trouble,” he says. “I don’t do ’hot.’”