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HOMETOWN Kingston OCCUPATION No-holds-barred hockey commentator

HIS SECRET Monster collars

Love him or hate him, you sure can't say Hockey Night in Canada 's Don Cherry shirks sartorial matters. From his near-ecclesiastic shirts to his trademark double-breasted suits, there's care in every detail, whether's he's jousting with Coach's Corner cohort Ron MacLean or coaching the Mississauga Ice Dogs. Cherry's most-watched recent ensemble is indelibly etched onto Canadian viewers' retinas: the uber-patriotic, red-and-white-festooned attire he wore for the gold-medal men's hockey game. You could almost hear the phrase "the clothes maketh the man" ringing true.

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First off, I'd like to know everything about the patriotic outfit you were wearing at Canada's gold- medal hockey game. Head to toe.

That blue suit was made for me by Frank Cosco Custom Clothiers. Frank has been tailoring my clothes since 1985. Donna, his wife, does the final little adjustments to fit nice and tight. The custom shirt was made by La Camicia. It is like all my shirts, triple-thickness with 3½-inch collar -- very uncomfortable, but as [the actor]Fernando Lamas said, "Better to look good than feel good." My shoes were Silvas. My socks were Princess Margaret wool knitted by my mother Maude, to keep my feet warm by the ice. The tie was sent by a fan. My lucky C. C. M. cuff links, -- they're about 50 years old -- are in the shape of hockey skates. What else? My shorts -- none of your business -- and a white rose.

How important is it to you to show your colours that way? Have you always done it? Are you a collector of such garb? I find it very important to wear the colours. More Canadians should. I have always done it, and if I see a tie that has a Canadian flag, it's mine.

How did you pack for the Olympics? How many outfits did you take? After years on the road, have you worked out all packing kinks?

I took five suits to the Olympics and six shirts, 10 pairs of shorts, two pairs of shoes, six pairs of socks. I brought so much clothing that MacLean said, "What, are you staying for eight weeks?" When I arrive at my destination, I always get everything pressed, that's why I look so sharp.

Tell me how you would describe your personal style. Has looking good always mattered to you? I consider my style that of the men of the 1930s, where men had an elegant style, tight suits, tight collars, lots of jewellery, a clean sharp image. I must admit my style has been called foppish, but I like it. I also heard on the radio the other day that I looked like a gay because everything was so clean and neat and all jewellery. Love it!

What are your trademarks and when were they cemented in your style?

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I started the high collars in Rochester, N.Y., when I coached the Rochester Americans of the AHL. The plaid jackets made their appearance there too. I always tried to look sharp even when I was in the minors earning $4,200 a year. The kids might have been barefoot, but I looked good. Just kidding. In L.A., I decided to make fun of hockey in La La Land, so I put on a long earring, sunglasses, a white hat and acted gay. We got a lot of heat about that one. Hey, maybe the woman on the radio was right.

Are hockey players by nature stylish? Who are the most stylish?

The Montreal Canadiens were always the sharpest. The organization bought them blazers, shirts and ties with grey pants. They always wore their outfits to a home game and away travelling, they were beautiful, they dressed first-class and were always a first-place team. Sadly, their dress now reflects their standing in the league.

Do you think the rules about wearing suits travelling to and from games has made the game more stylish?

The rules are very lax now. Some come in turtlenecks, open shirts, et cetera. A few teams still demand shirts and ties, New Jersey being one of them. Strange, they have been in the finals the last two years and won a Stanley Cup once in the two years -- makes you wonder. You look first-class, you play first-class.

Which team has the best jersey?

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Mississauga Icedogs in the OHL and in the NHL the Boston Bruins for obvious reasons [Cherry used to coach them] except their third sweater, which makes them look like the bear Winnie the Pooh.

Where do you shop? Any special people who help you out -- salespeople, friends, family? Do you have any sponsors?

I buy my own clothes, nothing is given to me, except the odd ties that a fan will send to me. Nobody picks out my clothes but me!

What's the most important item in your wardrobe? Why?

Without a doubt, my shirts. A lady asked me, "Why do you wear the Collar?" I said, "Why? Because I look good." She said, "It looks like you have something wrong with your neck."

Tell me about the way you tie your ties.

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I tie a Windsor knot, but it's different, it's tied backwards and it's a single knot not a double Windsor. The only other person I've ever seen tie it this way is Bobby Orr. Two greats.

Who did you learn about style from?

My father, Del Cherry, who was 6 foot 2, 234 pounds, with a 34-inch waist and a 17½-inch neck. He wore custom-made shirts, Dack shoes, a diamond stick pin, naturally, custom made-to-measure suits by Tip Top Tailors -- at this time Tip Top was one of the top Canadian tailors of the time -- tight vest with a gold watch chain, long black mackinaw coat, white silk scarf with D. J. C. embroidered on it, black tight leather gloves, a long Dunhill cigarette holder with extra long Buckingham cigarettes, topped off by a gray Homburg hat worn at a jaunty angle. Sensational. I get chills describing him, I was proud walking down the street with him. You knew he was somebody; he turned heads.

What makes a woman stylish?

A clean crisp appearance, to me it makes no difference what a woman wears as long as it's pressed and clean, and the way a woman carries herself gives her style. Style is something you either have or you haven't, it can't be taught, although black stockings and stiletto heels -- black of course -- can help. Ever wear a single-breasted jacket?


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Pinstripe suits: How many do you own?

I have five pinstriped suits.

Jewellery on men: What are the essentials?

Cuff links, stick pin, gold bar for shirt collar. We never see your shoes on camera. What are they?

Always Silvas. With extra thin soles, not like MacLean, who wears shoes for stomping out forest fires.

Whose style do you admire?

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Who can go to the penalty box for their style?

R. MacLean.

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