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Chris Marlowe’s closet lives inside the curved edges of his iPhone 7.
Watch Marlowe unlock his phone, click the photos icon and select the album entitled “2018-19 Wardrobe,” and you’ll find 88 images of jacket, shirt and tie combinations he chooses from when he’s going to call a game. The photo gallery acts as a digital closet. There are so many options, Marlowe could wear a different one to each regular-season game and still have six left over.
Marlowe’s preference for a Tuesday nighter against the Sacramento Kings in late October? A navy and orange sport coat, a baby blue gingham shirt and a spotted tangerine tie. The ensemble is of one of the warm weather choices in his photo gallery. Originally, Marlowe paired the coat with a burnt orange tie before his wife, Laurie, talked him out of it.
“I was just about ready to walk out the door. I said, ‘How does this look?’ And my wife said, ‘Not very good.’ I had to go back upstairs — me, my wife and the dog — and we got out this tie,” Marlowe said. “It’s not as busy as the other tie. It looks busy. But it reads kind of solid. It’s bright enough that it kind of carries it.”
In four decades as a sports broadcaster, including the last 15 as the Nuggets’ play-by-play announcer for Altitude TV, Marlowe has mastered the tricks of his trade. His biggest piece of advice: Pore over the pronunciation guide. “That’s probably the number one element,” Marlowe said. “Don’t screw up the names.”
Another important lesson he’s learned along the way: A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to looking good.
The invention of the iPhone has made Marlowe a more thoughtful dresser. In the pre-smart phone days, he’d just throw together jacket, shirt and tie combinations hours before game. He tried to avoid repeating outfits, but sometimes he didn’t space them out enough. That’s in the past with his new system. Now he mashes a heart icon every time he chooses an outfit to help him remember which ones he’s already worn.
Marlowe estimates he has 10 suit jackets/blazers/sports coats, 10 shirts, 10 pairs of pants, 100 ties and 40 pocket squares/lapel flowers he mixes and matches together. How formal he dresses depends on weather and venue. Marlowe is likely to bring out a suit during the Nuggets’ annual pilgrimage to Madison Square Garden. But say they’re playing the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center? He’ll likely go with a tweed sports coat.
This season, the Nuggets have nine games being broadcast on ESPN and Altitude simultaneously. They are considered special occasions.
“If ESPN’s in the house, or if we’re doing a side by side, I’ll make sure I’m dressed to the nines,” he said.
As far as hard and fast fashion rules, Marlowe has only two: Don’t wear the opposing team’s colors, and don’t wear the Italian leathers in the snow.
“Walking from the parking lot in the Pepsi Center into the building, sometimes you could be in a foot of snow, and it’s just really hard on them,” Marlowe said. “My really expensive, nice shoes I try to wear on the road if I can because there I don’t have to walk into the building through the snow. We take the bus underneath the building. Your shoes don’t get smashed.”
Marlowe almost exclusively shops at Andriesen Morton, a luxury menswear store in Cherry Creek. He upgrades his wardrobe before the start of every season. He describes his style as “conservative with a little bit of flair.”
“He does like to stand out a little bit,” Laurie, his wife of 26 years, said. “He’s not afraid of brighter ties. He likes things that catch your eye. He’s not conservative like a banker. He’s got a little Hollywood in him I’d say.”
Cinema is in Marlowe’s blood. His father, Hugh Marlowe, appeared in more than 30 films and was a regular on the NBC soap opera “Another World” in the ’70s. His grandfather was the director Sam Wood, a three-time Academy Award nominee. Marlowe dabbled in acting before ultimately deciding to pursue sports broadcasting.
There was a time in Marlowe’s career when he prioritized comfort over appearance. He went through a period in the early ’90s when he wore swim trunks and sneakers while calling professional volleyball games. The camera didn’t catch what Marlowe wore from the waist down, so he figured it didn’t matter. His opinion changed after an NBC employee who worked behind the scenes said something.
“Somebody came up to me and said, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ I said, ‘Well, it doesn’t make any difference if they’re showing me from the waist up,'” Marlowe recalled. “He said, ‘What happens if Dick Ebersol is in the crowd?’ He was the president of NBC at the time. After that, I never wore sneakers again. You’re not just on display for the television audience. You’re on display for the fans in the stands, and I’m representing Altitude Sports and Entertainment. I want to look as good as I can.”
The way Marlowe sees it, there are two ends to the NBA broadcaster fashion spectrum.
Calvin Murphy, Clyde Frazier and the late Craig Sager are on one — flamboyant dressers with personalities to match. Those who are on “the deep end of going all the way.”
Opposite of them are those who take their fashion cues from the 2003 NBA draft class. “Poor dressers,” Marlowe said. “The pants don’t fit. The jackets don’t fit. They don’t look good.”
Marlowe considers himself “in the upscale group of play-by-play men.”
Marlowe is not a superstitious dresser aside from one irrational belief. He wears his Silver Styler outfit, which consists of a silver jacket, silver shirt and a red tie, when Denver desperately needs a win. He’s not overly attached to one particular combination of the 88 in his digital closet either. In that sense, he’s like a high school kid picking out what they’re going to wear on the first day of school: novelty matters above all else.
“The best outfit is always the newest outfit,” Marlowe said. “What looks good? What looks new? What’s fresh?”