Sacramento’s best dressed gay men

Fashion advice from the region’s coolest style gurus

Dennis Mangers is Sacramento’s dean of dressing, known almost as much for his perfect clothes sense as for his political savvy.

Dennis Mangers is Sacramento’s dean of dressing, known almost as much for his perfect clothes sense as for his political savvy.

You don’t need a “queer eye” to find gracious, well-dressed men in Sacramento. There’s a whole crowd of them, but SN&R conducted a brief, incredibly unscientific survey to find the best dressed gay men to grace the River City. Then we asked some of them to share their insights on dressing for success, as well as dressing for fun. Contributors work in every field imaginable: the restaurant industry, politics, public service, advertising and the arts. What these men have in common is the flair they bring to their everyday appearance.

Best overall

Dennis Mangers
senior adviser to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg

Not only did Dennis Mangers top our poll for best dressed gay man in Sacramento—he also topped the poll we conducted among the other winners. We all agree that Mangers, who started as a legislator from Orange County and is now senior aide for the Democratic president pro tem of the Senate, Darrell Steinberg, knows his way around a closet. He just chooses not to live in one.

What do you wear when you’re being casual?

It’s funny that you bring this up, because I’ve got a pretty good professional wardrobe and I feel really secure about that, but when it comes to casual wear, I’m a bit more careful. I’m always sensitive to what’s age appropriate, so I look around and see what people are wearing, then remember that I’m 69 years old and adapt it. I like polo-type shirts over shorts or jeans, or I’ll wear a sweater or pullover with a shirt and slacks or jeans. Of course, I work out six days a week, so I have tank tops and workout gear.

Do clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes?

Everything starts with the person. But if you remember to keep yourself in shape, you’ll look better in your clothes and you’ll feel better in your clothes, so you’ll project that comfort. Clothes don’t make the man, but they really do help how you’re perceived in settings like this—dealing with powerful elected officials and lobbyists, it’s important to have that confidence, and the way you dress can make a big difference.

Brian Bangs (above) and Christopher Cabaldon (below) are two of Sacramento’s best dressed gay men.

Brian Bangs
student and restaurant server

Where do you buy your clothes?

Many of my clothes come from the sale rack. My grandma taught me how to shop. Plus, if on the sale rack, it sometimes means that others have found the style too offbeat and therefore it is usually right for me. I also love places like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange.

What’s most important to you about what you wear—fabric, color, style or comfort? Why?

First is comfort, not only on fit, but how it makes me feel. If I am feeling dumpy on a particular day, then I will wear something that is a bit less flashy and more conservative. After comfort is style and not any particular style—my style, which is comfortable, well-fitted and sometimes unique.

Do the clothes make the man, or does the man make the clothes?

I believe that the man makes the clothes. For instance, I have seen men with outfits on that do not “fit” their outward style. The clothes could have been amazing, but the clothes could never make the man something different than who he is. However, take that same outfit and put it on someone who is more in sync with that particular style and it works. Clothes, no matter how unique, how expensive or how well-tailored in the end do not make a man any more than who he is. A man who is true to his style can make an outfit sing regardless of how unique, how expensive or how well-tailored they might be.

Christopher Cabaldon

Christopher Cabaldon
mayor, West Sacramento

How much attention do you pay to clothes?

Not that much! I don’t like spending a whole lot of money on clothes, and there’s no rhyme or reason to what I wear. Now, in the last couple of years, I’ve gotten out of a kind of a rut of wearing what politicians are “supposed” to wear. If it’s a formal occasion, then yes, I’ll be in a suit and tie. But for other things—ribbon cuttings, casual meetings—I’m getting more colorful. I still have the white and light-blue dress shirts, but they’re not my go-to shirts.

Now, Dennis [Mangers] is the obvious choice for best dressed gay man in the area. His clothes are very high-end and gorgeous. But I’m not him. I just don’t carry it off the same way. So I’m putting more into trying to express my personality a little when I can and wearing clothes that are a little more whimsical.

What would you do different where men’s wear is concerned?

I’m on a campaign to eliminate ties. Seriously. Outside the United States, there aren’t many places with this kind of climate that insist on wearing clothes that actually make you feel hotter. If you go to places with similar climates, you see lightweight shirts worn with the collars open so that you can be comfortable in the heat and still look good. So I’m trying to use whatever influence I might have to change that.

Now, I’m also dressing more for how I feel at the moment. When I first entered this public phase of my life, I felt that I had to dress for the job every time I went out. Even if I was just running to the market for some eggs, I’d fix my hair and put on a button-down shirt, just in case. But now I’m more willing to go with moment, and I’ve found that it doesn’t reduce the number of conversations I have with constituents, but it lends a more informal quality to them. It’s more of an interactive thing.

What’s most important to you about what you wear?

I like a sense of whimsy. The exact opposite of when I started on this journey.

Eric Dowdy relies on a well-tailored suit.

Eric Dowdy
associate director of public policy, Aging Services of California

How much attention do you pay to clothes?

I think we all pay a lot of attention to clothes, whether we realize it or not. What you wear is basically your signal to society of where you come from (or want to be) in the world. It is the first visual clue you give someone about who you are without saying anything.

What’s your favorite outfit/ensemble of all time?

I used to have a black Oscar de la Renta suit that I loved. The cut was good, it fit well, etc. Unfortunately, I loved it too much and, as if often the case with well-loved fashion, it met its demise early. There’s nothing better than a well-tailored suit.

Where do you buy your clothes?

I have to confess that I don’t do much of my own shopping. My husband, Thomas, is the real fashionista. Since we bought a house, he’s been real good at working within a budget. He can zero in on the best labels at Nordstrom Rack and Marshall’s with laserlike precision. We do frequent Banana Republic, H&M, Abercrombie [& Fitch], American Eagle, Gap, etc. It’s good that Sacramento doesn’t have a Diesel store, or we would be broke.

What would you do differently where menswear is concerned?

My biggest issue with menswear is the total lack of color in a lot of the clothes. I love basic black and white, but some designers really don’t go much further. I loved it when men started wearing more pinks and purples. But I was surprised by how many negative comments were made about guys wearing pink—seriously?

How would you define “well-dressed”?

I don’t think there is a good single definition of “well-dressed,” since the concept is so subjective. To me, a well-dressed individual is someone who looks like they put some effort into what they wear. You don’t have to be a “fashion plate” to be well-dressed. You just need a rough idea of what works for you and what expresses your taste best. I think feedback from someone you trust and whose taste you admire is the best way to avoid the worst dressed lists.

Scott Hassenflu accessorizes with his collection of watches.

Scott Hassenflu
Co-owner of Haus, advertising director at Sactown Magazine

How much attention do you pay to clothes?

Quite a bit, actually. As a self-professed “clotheshorse,” I am always on the lookout for something new to add to my wardrobe that will complement what I already have. I also take good care of my clothing, i.e., dry cleaning, mothballs in storage areas, shoe trees, etc.

What’s your favorite outfit/ensemble of all time?

Wow, my favorite probably changes year to year and season to season. So, this year’s spring and summer has been Brooks Brothers khaki linen slacks paired with a white linen Burberry shirt, topped off with my favorite pair of Stubbs & Wootton plaid loafers. For fall and winter, my favorite for years has been a pair of Ralph Lauren wide-legged thick wool dress trousers, a nice dress vest (I have over 20) and topped off with a white French cuff dress shirt (I also have many pairs of cuff links).

And I always wear a nice timepiece. I have at least seven watches, and one of my favorites is an antique “bubble back” Rolex watch.

Where do you buy your clothes?

I have great jeans and T-shirts from Target, and my family is big on giving gifts cards as gifts (love them). My mom has great taste, and I usually get one from Neiman Marcus, as she lives in Texas. I just spent my birthday one last week in San Francisco. I also do a lot of online shopping, and I love shoes from

And cufflinks from And Nordstrom at Arden Fair and the Off 5th in the Folsom area are hard to beat locally. I have gotten some steals on Robert Graham shirts at Off 5th.

Do the clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes?

Both are important, but in the end, the man makes the clothes. Most men who are considered stylish take great pride in that, and it shows. They pick out the looks and take the extra measures that make them look and feel great!

Abundio Montez brings an artist’s sensibility to clothing.

Abundio Montez
merchandiser and owner of Phoenix Gallery

How much attention do you pay to clothes?

A lot. I think simply because of my background. For a number of years, I worked in merchandising and fashion for a number of high-end stores. I was at the Union Square Macy’s, but I. Magnin was my favorite. It just becomes part of life. But when I was in Washington, D.C., when I started working in visual merchandising, I was first exposed to fashion. I actually coordinated fashion shows and did styling, and became involved and kept up with it. I just like clothes.

What’s your favorite outfit/ensemble of all time?

I just like shoes. Imelda [Marcos] has nothing on me. I have my share of shoes. I must have 90 pairs of shoes, which, for a guy, is ridiculous.

But the essential element is black. A pair of nice black pants go a long way. You can dress them up, you can dress them down.

What do you look for?

Everybody has their own way of expressing themselves, and trends come and go. I look for something that calls to me rather than something trendy. You wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you. A lot of people make that mistake; the clothes wear them and that’s a big flaw.

What’s most important to you about what you wear—fabric, color, style or comfort?

The older you get, comfort becomes more important. But the most important is style. I loved the way people dressed in the ’20s and ’30s; people dressed for everything. I think style says a lot about a person. There’s a lot of relation with clothing and art, they’re very similar. Top designers and top artists are closely related: color, silhouettes, line—they all have the same lingo.

<b>The shoes</b><br>Don’t forget fashion for the feet! The black-and-white beauties are from Montez’s massive collection (left). Bangs likes the long lines of his brown loafer-style shoes (center), while Hassenflu’s are tweedy and slipperlike (right).