During H. Mebane Turner's 30 years as president of the University of Baltimore, the North Baltimore resident has become known for his transformation of UB, his aid in revitalizing the city's Mount Royal Center and -- his bow ties!
That's why the 69-year-old Turner's long and energetic tenure will be celebrated Saturday with the Bow Tie Ball, a gala benefiting UB scholarships at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor. (For more information about the event, which includes a reception, auction, dinner and dancing, call 410-837-6147.)
What is the history of your bow tie penchant?
Maybe I've gravitated to them because I spill a lot of things on my ties. Actually, my father wore bow ties, my uncle wore bow ties, my grandfather wore bow ties.
I started to wear bow ties in college and then when I went into the service, my father took all my ties. He did them in -- this is back in the late '50s -- and bow ties had kind of gone out of fashion.
Then, I was visiting my parents in Richmond, and going down the main street, I saw two polka dot, blue and white bow ties.
Since then, I've been buying principally bow ties. They're easy and fit almost every occasion. They don't clash as much if you make a wrong choice, and I must admit when you wear bow ties, people seem to give you more ties.
By now, you must be able to tie them in your sleep.
Tying them is like tying your shoes backward. Everyone thinks it's so complicated.
Do you have many casual days?
When I was in college, wearing a coat and tie was a pretty standard thing. The style at the University of Virginia was pretty much sport coat and khaki pants.
I got really comfortable wearing a coat and tie. Now that tradition is gone down there. I have just kept it up. I keep a coat and tie in the closet. You never know when someone is going to invite you to lunch. So aside from gaining a little weight and wearing suspenders, I look the same, clothes-wise.
Do you have a tuxedo for the ball?
I got a tux, and I'll have no trouble with the bow tie.
Where do you shop?
I haunt the Rack at Nordstrom and Jos. Banks. Sometimes I'll take my mother-in-law. She's my critic; she lives across the street.
Do you look for sales?
There are so many sales now, sometimes I wonder if they just put a high price on clothing one day and lower it the next.
I am a believer that good stuff lasts longer, so in the long run you spend less money. But I do look for sale opportunities.
Do you have a weakness for shoes?
Well, I do seem to have a number of them. If you get them repaired, they'll last a long time. And I polish my own.
Have you taught your son, Hal, how to polish his shoes?
I haven't gotten around to that yet. He's 13. (I also have a grown stepson.) We have to hold Hal down to get him in a coat and a tie.
Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.