Personal Wardrobe for Him
We're all for a return to more classy traditional dress codes in business offices. Suits are on the rebound because many "men are currently more serious about what they wear to work. There's a more conservative feeling—and men know the days of khakis are over." To which we have to say, "Yeah, right!:"
Nonetheless, all across America, newspapers and promoters are pushing power suits again—in stripes, paired with striped dress and sport shirts, including a tie—also striped. Even the Gap got wise and has a "wear to work" section in their stores. Saks offers a seminar on career wear and Men's Wearhouse helps customers select what fits their profession best. Of course, this is what Conselle does best, having the Personal/Professional Style Scale® to teach with.
Supposedly, it's "fashion, fashion, fashion" men are seeking. They focus on whatever is in fashion, whatever manufacturers are promoting. Younger men are into the flavor of the moment when it comes to clothes, including jeans. Denim is a never-fading fashion—an American classic.
There's a brand out there that will fit every body and a place in the life of every body where jeans will fit. Just don't limit yourself to jeans. Men who hasten to adopt the "he-she" or "she-male" costumes are among the next wave of fashion victims. For example, guys who wear a gal's Chanel jacket look more "cuckoo than Coco." And we'll shed no tears when those males who deck themselves out in tough-guy clothes tottering on stiletto high heels take a tumble.
TV and film are rapidly shaping ideas of who we are and how we dress—and it's not always pretty. What's happening in the music industry also drives the fashion industry. Rappers and hip-hop heavies are wearing suits on MTV and at the awards shows.
Taking a cue from the music world, Justin Timberlake made fashion news at the Grammy Awards when he abandoned his usual knit beanie hat and active street garb in favor of wearing an updated suit, shirt and tie—all in tonal (think monochromatic) eggplant.
Outkast's Andre 3000 polished up his dark denim jeans and lime-green bolero jacket with a patterned tie. Fans will follow suit. Even hip-hop stars admit that dressing up is part of growing up. When you're 30, it's time to look mature and clean-cut, with classy, contemporary fashion options to choose from.
Many retailers have yet to see suit dressing come back with a vengeance. Instead, they are seeing more dressy casual wear and suit separates in solids and patterns. It's wearable alternatives the 25-50 year olds are looking for, and suit separates fill that need. Suit separates are being sized S-M-L-XL, and shown in the way a customer hangs them in the closet—alternating a jacket with a couple of woven shirts, a knit shirt, and then pants. It's "cluster" dressing for men.
The practice of mixing different elements of apparel—tailored, casual, athletic, and formal—to create a look that falls somewhere between dressed up and casual has transcended the red carpet and moved to mainstream America. More and more guys are taking an individualized approach to dressing by layering casual sportswear with everything from cashmere knitwear, and tailored outerwear to designer suit jackets, colorful dress shirts and vintage inspired ties.
Retailers, eager to capitalize on a profitable trend that promotes higher-price point items like tailored clothing and designer sportswear, are bending the rules of traditional merchandising by mixing dress and casual classifications—"dressuals."
"This is the way a modern guy dresses." says Michael Macko, director of fashion merchandising, men's, at Saks Fifth Avenue. "Jeans, a dress shirt, maybe a tie, and a pair of cufflinks." Slack manufacturers are blending dressy and casual influences, city and country, in the effort to capitalize on the increasingly blurred lines between the formal and the relaxed.
Today's emerging 20-something customer often teams a serious chalkstripe suit coat with jeans, or a velvet jacket with distressed premium jeans. Anything goes? Don't you believe it!
Another part of the dressy/casual crossover concept is all about clothes that do double duty—such as a shirt that doubles as a jacket, or a soft coat that works as a sport coat worn with more formal or more casual clothes—whether they work or not. "What the heck, it's all about play and pretending."
It's really just another part of the casual Friday thing, and now the under 40 customer is running with it and writing his own rules as he goes—plays. Nonetheless, they're all part of a new classification of performance clothes that's based on versatility. Women have always had options. It's about time for men to have more options.
Style Lines & Shapes
- Silhouettes are closer to the body, made more comfortable in stretch-blend fabrics.
- Double-breasted is always an option, but appear more fashionable this season.
- Berry, burgundy, and browns are top fall fashion colors for men. Rose pinks are in place to coordinate creatively.
- Nature-inspired soft greens, like pistachio, are also getting more attention in menswear. Yup, that's a little different, but so were lime and orange—popular colors for summer. A lot of men are becoming more adventurous with color in their clothes. Nonetheless, don't go ditsy.
- Of course you'll find traditional grays, gray-blues, moody blues, baby blues, and charcoal—in muted, subtle harmonies
- Strong black, navy, and white are standby colors.
- Techno-fabrics are what men appreciate. Look for stretch fibers mixed with natural fibers for easy care. Check out the synthetic shearling and non-bulky quilted jacket fabrics.
- Jos. Banks and Brooks Brothers are offering more and more wrinkle resistant and stain resistant fabrics in dress shirts and polo shirts. Ask for them.
- Corduroy pants just get better and better, available in wale widths from narrow to jumbo. Favorites are high end wool cords—fantastic.
- Velvet for men? Yes, velvet in pants and shirts. Try it on.
- Other options include the usual twills, dobbies, and nailhead weaves. You have options.
- Fur is becoming a "guy thing" on jackets and coats for winter.
- Pass right on by any offers for mismatched color and stripe combinations.
- Choose from a wide selection of pinstripes, chalkstripes, Glenplaids, and Donegal plaids, tweeds, and herringbone patterns. Again, you've got options.
Details and Trims
- Top-stitching and pick-stitching is featured on jackets and suits.
- Pockets inside and out—especially on the chest, falling in line with trendy military looks.
- Just like the ladies, you'll fine collage cut-and-sew techniques.
- No, a suit jacket does not go with your jeans! It makes a negative "anti-statement you can seldom afford if you're serious about your life. Don't make the mistake of becoming an obvious "fashion victim."
- Jackets are cut short to the waist, with others hemmed just below sportcoat lengths.
- You can't go wrong in a classic navy blazer paired with a striped shirt.
- New are the large numbers of shirt-jac/slacks coordinates. Check out Paul Fredrick and Bachrach catalogs and stores. They look terrific, available in black, charcoal, brown, and tan. Shirt-jacs are also available in tweed and herringbone patterns.
- They tell us vests are on the way back into menswear in a big way. Start looking for one you like. Wear it under a sport coat or casual suit, with casual jeans or slacks.
- Sportshirts have become the staple of men's casual business clothes. Layer two shirts if that's a look you'd like to try.
- Striped shirts are a terrific addition to any man's wardrobe.
- A high collar and French cuffs make a white dress shirt special. That means cuff links as a detail of personal style.
- Guys, low-riders, such as Levi's "Offenders," only serve to make you look silly. And pants with the crotch at knee level look more like wet, weighty, diapers.
- Check out the microfiber pants for a variety of new looks and easy care.
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