Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s Charles Alfree III on His Signature Style

Delaware Symphony Orchestra Director of Development Charles ‘Ebbie’ Alfree III prioritizes comfort.

Describe your style:

Easy and comfortable. I don’t shop a lot, so when I buy stuff, I wear it forever. The oldest thing in my closet is a black John Varvatos jacket that I call a conductor’s coat; it’s a little longer than a regular sports coat. I do love a good Hawaiian shirt.

Go-to accessories:

I have a lot of hats because I’m bald. I love bucket hats, particularly in summer. I also have a lot of ties.

Prints and solids:

I love both; it’s so fun to mix. George Meldrum [senior advisor for government and community affairs at the Nemours Foundation] is so good at mixing patterns, and my boss, J.C. Barker, is also really good at it. They inspire me.

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Style icon:

I love Jordan Roth, the Broadway producer. I’m always intrigued by what he wears. [At this year’s Met Gala, Roth wore a Valentino cape showing the life cycle of a flower, from blooming at the head to decaying at the bottom.]

Favorite fashion era:

I love the 1970s. The disco era is so much fun, and the punk look is fun too. I would have loved to have gone between Studio 54 and CBGB.

Value of vintage:

I have a sports coat that I bought in a Philly vintage store years ago. It’s probably from the ’50s. I wear it at Christmastime and to the DSO holiday concert because it’s a red-and-green plaid.

Elevated style:

I always wear a tie clip from sculptor Andre Harvey to all the DSO concerts. It’s a gold frog with emerald eyes. It was a gift. And I wear a cuff bracelet made by local jewelry designer Olga Ganoudis.

orchestra
Charles Alfree III. Photo by Joe Del Tufo

If money were no object:

I’d buy a John Varvatos suit. His clothing is so beautiful. Years ago, I was in New York and stumbled on his men’s clothing store next to the Mercer Hotel. I got a couple of pieces, and then he blew up and was in department stores, and now he has a store in the old CBGB.

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Symphony style:

I like to look nice and inviting at the concerts as I welcome patrons. I wear a jacket but not a suit—I don’t think I have one right now.

Dress attire for concerts in 2024:

It’s all over. Some people dress up, and some people are in jeans and a shirt. I’d say business casual. We want you to come and enjoy the music and feel comfortable. I remember in the ’80s, when my aunt would buy a new outfit to fly on an airplane. Now people wear sweatpants. But I don’t like to be sloppy. You should have some pride in what you’re wearing. I often wear a blue bead necklace that I caught in New Orleans during a Southern Decadence parade. It’s not the traditional beaded Mardi Gras necklace; it has smaller translucent beads in different shades of blue.

Related: Indigo Gruswitz Dishes on Retro Goth Style in Arden

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