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Your Style: Marv Mitchell

January 14, 2019
Marv Mitchell for Your Style

“I don’t have a singular interest or passion,” says Marv Mitchell, chairman of Mayo Clinic’s division of Media Support Services. “I love to cook and bake. I play in a band. I am a huge movie and TV buff and have trivia awards to prove it. I enjoy museums and art exhibits and history. I guess that describes my eclectic fashion style as well. Dress for whatever the day brings.”

Mitchell grew up in St. Paul, graduating from Central High School in the same class as baseball great David Winfield. He attended the University of Minnesota and Brown Institute, and served six years as an electronic warfare officer in the U.S. Navy, including two combat tours in Vietnam.

Then it was back to St. Paul, to a career at KSTP-TV, where he first repaired two-way radios in the news cars. That was until Mayo recruited him in mid-1986 as the first employee of the newly formed Video Communications unit. And the rest is history, he said, noting that he became division chair in 1999.

How do you describe your style?

Bifurcated urban — suits and ties during work hours, a cross between slovenly and a Jimmy Buffet album cover after hours.

Where did your style originate?

In the Navy. Having to wear uniforms most of the time, dressing up was required and dressing down was a luxury. When working in the civilian world, I just traded one daytime uniform for another, but tried to refine and hone my slovenliness.

Sources of inspiration?

Henry Fonda in the Grapes of Wrath. Actually, I would have to say it was the great Mayo administrator Bob Fleming. Bob was a mentor to me. He told me that if I wanted to advance my career, I needed to dress for the job I wanted, not the job I was in. He also said that Rochester is a place where you can turn a corner and be face-to-face with the CEO — dress appropriately! About six weeks after I started, I rounded the corner in the grocery and ran into, literally, Gene Mayberry, the Mayo CEO. I was NOT appropriately dressed.

How has your style changed with your life?

As my career has grown, I can buy better suits. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to accessorize with fun ties and socks. I threw away my last white dress shirt 20 years ago.

What do you hope your style communicates when working and in other settings?

At work, I hope the way I dress imparts an aura of approach-ability. Outside of work, my style is all about casual and colorful. My job requires suit and tie, but I tend toward brighter, more colorful ties, like the Jerry Garcia brand. Always bright, colorful, fun socks — one of the few ways I have to express my inner clown.

The most essential components in your wardrobe?

Sandals. I love sandals. When the temp goes above 45, I’m in sandals. I tend toward closed-toe sandals because I’m convinced I have ugly toes.

What should every well-dressed man have in his wardrobe?

A funeral suit — dark grey or black. One pair, but only one pair, of knee length dress socks. Shoes that don’t make your feet hurt. And at least one necktie with Homer Simpson on it.

Do you have priceless sentimental items?

I have a small collection of T-shirts from important moments in my life, going back to my KSTP-TV days and up through recent events. I seldom wear them, but just having them in my closet helps me keep connected with how I got to where I am today.

Anything surprising in your wardrobe?

The jumpsuit I wore when I attended a week-long session at the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. That or the “Stranger Things” hoodie my stepdaughters gave me last Christmas.

Things your family, friends, colleagues joke about?

My collection of comic nose glasses. I have four or five pair in my desk drawer at work and other ten or so at home…

Preferred season in terms of clothing?

Oh, summer for sure. I can come home from work, throw on shorts, T-shirt and sandals. In winter, you have to be much more intentional. Do I have my gloves? Are the Yaktrax in the car? Where are my thermies? Summer is more in sync with my personality.

Something especially “Minnesota” about your style?

If you mean shorts and knee-length black socks, then I’d say no. If you mean warm, friendly and approachable, I certainly try.

Advice for readers?

Know where your thermies are at all times.

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