In semi-retirement, Sigmund Eckhaus has expanded his fashion horizons. He's now wearing colorful bow ties, suspenders and bold sweaters -- options he never considered as a full-time chemical engineer.
As a consultant, though, he's relaxed his style and discovered an unexpected benefit:
"People may not remember my name, says the Owings Mills grandfather, "but they remember the guy with the bow tie."
At age 67, you must have seen many styles come and go. How did you decide what to try and what to pass on?
I'm generally conservative, but I like color. I probably didn't wear zoot suits, but I try to keep up with what's in. When the suit style went to double breasted, I got a couple. Or when men wore cuffed pants, I did that, too. The biggest thing I did on my own was to start wearing bow ties when I retired in '86. The last time I had worn them was when I went to high school 50 years ago.
Were you making a statement?
I don't think it was a statement, but it was different, exclusive. It gave me some individuality.
Which tie is your all-time favorite?
I've got about 60 of them. Originally I wore the conservative-looking ties. Now I wear flashier ones. You have to have small patterns to get them to show up on a bow tie. I have dots, diamonds, flowers and squares, but I don't have one favorite.
Aren't they a hassle to tie?
They're very easy. It's just like tying your shoelaces. I often say that and look down and realize very few people wear shoelaces anymore.
Did you really give away all your long ties?
I probably had 50 or 60. I gave them all to my son and son-in-law.
It sounds like you're serious about this.
I'm very conscious of clothes. I went to a concert at the Meyerhoff the other night. I was very disappointed in the way the men were dressed. People came in wearing T-shirts. Maybe it's some reflection of the times. But somehow I think standards of dress were good for us.
How would you describe the look you're after?
The Duke of Windsor. He dressed elegantly, but he always looked colorful. He thought nothing of wearing a green shirt and orange pants. He carried it off very well. People remember you that way.
What do you wear when you want to feel your best?
A blue suit with a fine red pinstripe, a pair of suspenders and a gray and white striped shirt with a contrasting bow tie.
You have a reputation for loving clothes. Where did that come from?
When I was a kid, I worked in the men's furnishings department of what became Hecht's. I also had an uncle who had a men's store on Baltimore Street. He was a very good dresser. I probably styled myself to some degree after him.
Where do you shop?
I order from the Lands' End catalog. I also like Kavanagh's, Gage Menswear, Hecht's and Macy's.
What famous person would you most like to offer some fashion advice?
Michael Jackson. I'd tell him to start dressing like a man instead of a caricature.
Do you have any thoughts on Mayor Kurt Schmoke's new taste in ties?
No, but I see him without his jacket a lot. He ought to keep it on. And he ought to try bow ties.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.