Ron Barlow is the owner of Retro...


Ron Barlow is the owner of Retro Vintage Clothing, 731 S. Broadway in Fells Point. Most of his inventory comes entirely from other people's closets, hopefully of '40s or '50s vintage. "I make house calls," he commented, and there are times when he has bought the entire contents of a house. How would you describe your taste in clothing?

My taste varies. What I wear each day depends on the mood I'm in when I get dressed. It takes me as much time to put on a nice shirt and pants as it would take me to put on jeans and a T-shirt, which I never wear. I have a strong reaction to special prints -- like Hawaiian shirts.

What's the newest thing in your closet?

A Salvador Dali necktie from the '40s for which I paid $100. It's pattern called melting clocks.

What's the oldest thing in your closet?

A '20s Panama hat that I wear occasionally.

Do you have an outfit that you consider a true standby?

Yes, for summer, I wear an eggshell linen dinner jacket with a shawl collar, a pair of lightweight baggy pants, cuffed and pleated, and a Hawaiian shirt. In the winter, my standby is a '40s double breasted suit with an appropriate '40s tie.

What have you held on to for sentimental reasons?

An army jacket that is covered with souvenir patches from all over the world, that I wore during my '60s hippie days.

What is your wardrobe weakness?

Ties and Hawaiian shirts. I could buy them from now until the day I die and not have enough. Many of them are true art forms. During the '40s was the only time that New York designers had any real say in designing ties, because the major world capitals were at war.

What's the most expensive item in your closet?

An Hawaiian shirt for which I paid $200. Since most of my wardrobe comes from other people's closets, I don't usually spend a lot of money, but I bought this shirt from another dealer.

What's the least expensive item in your closet?

Some of my nickel neckties. I have a special tip on how to take care of ties. Forget a dry cleaner. Cut a tie form from a piece of cardboard, hand wash your tie, dry it on a towel, then stick the cardboard tie form in, and press the tie. My favorite material for ties is rayon, not silk.

What are your favorite accessories?

Tie bars, that I seem to acquire, rather than collect. I think they are also a lost art form. Men wore tie bars when they cared whether their ties flapped in their food.

Do you have any shopping tips you'd like to share?

People should consider wearing clothes from 30 to 50 years ago. There is still a lot of quality clothing for very little money.

Do you know some special dressers? Tell Sylvia Badger what makes them special. Write to Candid Closet, Evening Sun Fashion, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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