Is Darren Easton a meticulous dresser? Consider the facts: He irons his own shirts because he doesn't trust the dry cleaners to do them properly. He tries on socks before buying them to see how they look on his legs.
And he owns just one pair of blue jeans, which he wears only in his back yard.
The 29-year-old president of Darren Easton Illustrative Design, a marketing and advertising company in Ellicott City, believes that appearances matter, whether it's the style of an ad campaign or the executive presenting it.
"It all boils down to taking a creative approach," he says. "With me, what you see is what you get."
How you do make your style stand out?
I dress for my clients. I have one client who's totally into my socks. I find myself buying a new pair whenever I have an appointment with this person. I also like trendy jackets, plain shirts and trousers paired with wild belts. If I'm humdrum in my appearance, that disappoints people.
What's your trademark?
Socks and ties. With socks, I have to try them on before I buy them. I like the sheer style that looks almost like hose. But they look different when you put them on. I don't like straightforward ties. I have some that are mosaics; some have cigars, animals and watercolors on them.
I've given two ties right off my neck to clients who said they liked them. One had a subtle metallic thread woven through it. The other was a mosaic.
Did you wind up with those accounts?
I already had them. I would be afraid to give them the ties otherwise. That would be a terrible schmooze -- like I'll give you the clothes off my back for this work.
What outfit do you consider your greatest achievement?
An ecru linen jacket with dark brown trousers, a banded collar shirt, sheer checkered socks, suede shoes and a light brown belt with a large silver buckle.
Have you always cared this much about clothes?
I went to the Maryland Institute, [College of Art] and our group tried to outdo each other in dressing all the time. For three or four of us, it became a fashion show. Even before that -- in high school -- I was neat. I was voted "Best Dressed," which I wasn't sure I wanted. It didn't exactly make you a tough guy.
What's been your real extravagance?
Right after I graduated from college, I blew $600 on one outfit. It was a Hugo Boss shirt that I had no business buying. Pants, a jacket, a belt. I didn't look at a single price tag because I was a young guy, and I didn't want to look like an amateur. When I saw the total, I decided I couldn't tell anybody I spent that much. For a week, I thought I should take some stuff back, but I never did.
What's been your cheapest find?
My wife Deniz finds me all the bargains. It's usually casual wear -- polo shirts, shorts. I'll pay $15 for a pair of socks. She recently bought me a pack of 8 for $10.
Where do you shop?
Hyatt & Co. and Brooks Oliver.
If money were no object, what would you wear?
I'd buy Bally shoes, Hugo Boss shirts and Armani suits.
When it comes to dressing well, what do you wish you were better at?
I wish I was better at coordinating ties and socks. My problem is patterns. I'll mix too many, and they fight each other.
How does your style change on the weekends?
I have been accused of being overdressed a lot. We went to a crab feast recently and I wore a silk shirt, pleated pants and suede shoes. People kept coming up to me and saying, "Aren't you a little overdressed?"
What would you add to your wardrobe to make it complete?
Good shoes. I only have two pairs of brown and two pairs of black. I'd also like to add more color to my clothes, especially my jackets.
Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.