Your Style: Dr. Paul D. Scanlon

Dr. Paul Scanlon for Style
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Motto:Create your own style and it won't be outdated.

Pulmonologist and medical director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine, Dr. Paul Scanlon says, "When I wrote the foreword to Dean Riggott's book of Rochester photographs, I began with Randy Newman's lyric, 'I was born right here.'"

With his characteristic humor, Dr. Scanlon notes that he was born on Halloween and if one had the choice of a birthday, he would highly recommend it.

After leaving Rochester for college, Dr. Scanlon returned as a medical student. Then, following a residency in Baltimore and a fellowship in Boston, he joined Mayo Clinic — 30 years ago this summer.

Dr. Scanlon has served as president of the Rochester Art Center Board as well as of school and civic organizations. He and his wife Maggie have two adult children, both nurses. His hobbies include bicycling, skiing, kayaking, arts and architecture, antiques and local politics.


Please introduce us to your style?

Professional when needed, casual when permissible.

Has your style changed over the years?

I had essentially none when I was younger. I was a dead ringer for Napoleon Dynamite when I was in my 20s.

Who has influenced or inspires your style?

My wife has a good eye for colors and design, and my daughter is always willing to point out deficiencies of style. My colleagues, Rolf Hubmayr and Joe Rodarte, were both inspirations to me.

Neither my father nor my grandfathers were very conscious of clothing style, although they all wore pretty cool felt fedoras when they dressed up. My father inspired me through his intellectualism and his surprisingly liberal parenting.

Both of my grandfathers were picaresque characters. (I could tell you a few stories.)My mother was, and is, a very beautiful and stylish woman, likely a greater style influence than the men in the family.


Does your style reflect your professional role?

When I'm at work. I hope that if you see me away from work, you won't think I look like a doctor.

Is there a purpose to your professional style?

To instill confidence in my patients. Voice, mannerisms, compassion, knowledge and skill are ultimately more important than looks, but the old saying is, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

How does your professional style differ from your casual?

Totally. My casual attire is just that. I try to be interesting while comfortable.

I am told you appreciate shoes. Please tell us more?

I don't like to think of my shoes as a collection — I limit the numbers and keep them for a long time.My oldest is a pair of Red Wing linesman's boots that I bought in 1969 that are still in near-perfect condition. I have two pair of custom cowboy boots by Craig Bartels of Staples, Minn., (Buster & Co.), one made of American alligator, the other of kangaroo. Among my other favorites are a pair of black woven leather shoes I bought in Florence, Italy, and a pair of caiman loafers I bought at O&B Shoes.


Today, men's shoe options are expanding by leaps and bounds. Do you have more athletic shoes today than previously?

Again, I try to limit, but shoes are so specialized. … I have separate pairs of shoes for most of my bicycles (different pedals, cleats, etc.). Also, although I've been a bicyclist my entire adult life, we didn't have mountain bikes, cyclo-cross bikes, "fixies" and "cruisers" back then. And, there was only one style of cycling shoe and one style of cross-country ski boot.

What should every well-dressed man have?

Materials for proper shoe care — polishes and brushes. Shoes not only look much better if well cared for, they last much longer.

Is there something in your wardrobe people would find surprising?

I have lots of hats that I wear occasionally — top hat, bowler, numerous fedoras, Panama, other straw hats, berets, hats and helmets for sports; and of course baseball caps. (I am invisible in a baseball cap.)

Do you have a favorite color to wear?

No real favorites and I wear most colors. I used to think I didn't like green. … My brother and I were "Irish twins," same size, only 12 months apart. Mom dressed us similarly and it seemed I got the green version of anything we both wore (shirts, sweaters, etc.). I had a chip on my shoulder about it until I realized green is OK after all.

Do you have a pet or pets and, if so, any relation to your style?

Our cat, Hobbes, died a few years ago at age 21. We have a "grand-puppy" (our daughter's dog, Reef)) who spends a lot of time with us. Neither cat cares (or cared) much about fashion unless it includes treats in pockets. My pet snake (Sssylvia) objects to my lizard skin cowboy boots, but did not get to vote on the purchase.

Do you believe Rochester has style?

I thought of Rochester as pretty boring in the past (ala Guindon cartoons from the 1970s). Mayo Clinic's dress code can be a bit Orwellian. Both have become far more diverse and interesting recently.Sixty-eight years ago, Newton Holland wanted "… to make Rochester a cultural center worthy of its scientific achievement." That is becoming a true statement.

Parting style advice?

Avoid boring. Also, avoid being overly trendy. If you think you'll hate something next year, you undoubtedly will, and probably sooner.

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