Jack Farrell has strong opinions about wine — and fashion. The chairman and CEO of Haskell’s has traveled the world visiting elite wineries, dining with Italian nobility and shaking hands with the last three popes, including the current Pope Francis. (“He should go back to wearing red shoes,” Farrell quipped. “Black oxfords look terrible with that white cassock.”)

We caught up with the jet-setting connoisseur to ask his opinion on everything from the way Minnesotans dress to older men and fashion.


What are you wearing? “I have on a custom linen double-breasted sport coat with a large checked pattern, a light wool collared vest, black slacks and alligator moccasins. And a bow tie. Today I have kind of a dull color on. I usually like fairly bright colors, but this jacket is so loud I thought a bright color would make me look like a clown.”

Who’s your favorite designer? “I’ve always liked Polo men’s clothes. I think Ralph Lauren is a very good stylist for men and most of their stuff I find classic.”

Do you always wear bow ties? “All the time. I have a big collection of bow ties — maybe 200. When the price of neckties went up to $10, I switched to bow ties. You can get soup off a shirt, but you can’t get soup off a silk tie.”

Why should men over 50 bother with fashion? “My mother once told me when I was a young man, ‘When you have an old barn, keep it well painted.’ So now that I’m old, I’ve got to be well painted all the time.”

How do you dress most days? “I don’t want to sound braggadocio, but I’m fairly well turned out every day. I always wear either a sweater vest or a vest and a sport coat.”

How stylish are Minnesotans? “In Minneapolis, the overall dressing, in my opinion, is absolutely abysmal. Whoever started Casual Fridays ought to have been hung up by their thumbs. You see people walking in the skyways on Casual Friday and you wouldn’t clean your garage gutters dressed that way and they were coming downtown to work. The well-dressed person is the exception, certainly not the rule.”

Do you ever dress down? “I can wear shorts and a polo shirt like anyone, but I do not like T-shirts and baseball caps, particularly when worn inside.”

What’s your summertime drink of choice? “I drink wine all the time. However, in the summer in Minnesota, we shine with a drink called a bootleg. It’s the great-grandfather of the mojito. It’s made with lemonade, rum, club soda and lots and lots of mint. It’s very refreshing. You don’t hear of it anywhere but in Minneapolis.”

Why is style so important? “If you look like you just fell off a turnip truck, I don’t think you have as much credibility selling wine as you would if you are well turned out. It just makes you that much better at what you’re doing, whether you’re selling shoes or iPods.”