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Heaven, With Hangers

Some people are happy with a few hooks and a sweater shelf. Others feel a little more strongly about where they keep their clothes.

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Sean Crowley
Tie Designer, Fort Greene

Tell us about your closet.
I share a brownstone with my girlfriend, but this closet is mine. The books are histories and photo collections. The suits and ties are mostly vintage and English.

How many do you have?
The number of shirts is a little silly—250 to 300. For suits and jackets, 40 to 50. And I have 3,000 ties.

Why so many?
My father collects everything from sleigh bells to oil lamps. We’re cut from the same cloth. Every Sunday growing up, we’d go to the flea market together. It was our way to bond.

Where do you buy your clothes?
Thrift stores, eBay, flea markets. It’s a little obsessive. It’s become almost a part-time job.

Do you ever feel guilty when you buy yet another tie?
Growing up with collectors, you become this master rationalizer. Say you have five red-and-navy striped ties.

Why do you need five?
Well, this red is darker. Why do you need ten pairs of striped morning trousers? I could rationalize it.

Can you rationalize in all areas of your life?
Absolutely. I should learn to restrain myself a little more.

Did you dress up as a little boy?
In eighth grade, my English teacher was a complete Anglophile. He believed that if you dressed better, you’d perform better. He offered bonus points on a test if you wore a tie. It was right when I first started watching Jeeves and Wooster, an English TV show set in the thirties, so I wore my grandfather’s tail suit. It started my interest in exhibitionism.

Why the love of England?
My family is from Boston, but we’re English in many ways. My grandfather always watched English television.

You almost have an English accent.
People say that. My grandparents are old-fashioned Yankees with that soft, gentle voice that has an Englishness.

Are you happy with the closet space you have now?
Yes, it forces me to have limitations. It’s like a goldfish that will get bigger if you put it in a bigger bowl. If my apartment were twice as big, I’m sure I’d fill it with twice as much stuff.


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