The Look – Paul Brooks

Talking bow ties and other sartorial matters with Providence's Paul Brooks

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Tell us about your look here.
I am wearing all of my favorite clothes. I’ve been wearing this same style shirt since I was a boy. I like blazers because they always look nice. Blazers, like tuxedos, seem to clean themselves when they hang in the closet.

You have an impressive bow tie collection. How many do you think you have?
I have collected bow ties since I bought my first one at age 13. That tie is still in my collection. I have hundreds of ties, and people keep giving me ties because they know I like them. I have always taken good care of things, and things tend to last a long time when you do that.

Why bow ties?
I like that you can’t drop food on them when you’re eating. They are fun because they always dress up an outfit. But I also have many long ties, too.

How would you describe your personal style?
I came to Rhode Island in 1971 to go to RISD. Dressing is like painting for me; I like to have a lot of colors to choose from. I try to be comfortable and look good at the same time. Now that I am 63, I tend to dress up all the time. No one likes to see a messy older person. Plus, you never know who you’ll run into in Rhode Island.

Are you interested in trends?

I like to follow trends, but unfortunately my body is not a trendy kind of body. It used to be for many years. I always say, “accessories are the revenge of the middle aged.” When I travel I buy nice clothes; they are my equivalent of taking pictures.

What are your favorite stores?
I like Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom here in Providence. Marc Allen has spectacular clothes that are more like works of art. I like Charvet in Paris and Duchamp in London for ties.

You’ve lived in Providence for 45 years, currently residing downtown. Tell us what you love about the city.

There are wonderful people who live, work and play here. The mindset of Rhode Islanders is liberal yet curious. I love the look of the city. There are so many beautiful things in this town. I was the chairman of the Providence Tourism Council for over five years, and I got to take the message of Providence to other cities. There’s just a richness to life in Providence that you don’t find in other places.