Fall Fashion Flair


November 11, 1990|By Dave Barry

As a fashion-conscious guy, I recently became concerned about what I'm supposed to be wearing this fall, now that it's half over. So I got hold of GQ magazine ("For the Modern Man"), which featured an article entitled "Fall Flair." The first sentence is:

"This fall, we celebrate a clever conflation of luxe and loose moods."

Ha, ha! You can always count on professional fashion writers to make things clear. I bet they had quite a brainstorming session at GQ, trying to come up with the fall concept:

"OK, how about: 'This fall we celebrate a clever concoction of duck and moose foods.' "

"Nah. How about: ' . . . a clever convention of schmucks in puce shoes.' "

"Nah. How about . . . "

And so on, until finally they hit upon it, "a clever conflation of luxe and loose moods," which is exactly what you men out there are celebrating this fall, right? Liars! You don't even know what "conflation" means. I know I don't. It sounds like a medical condition ("I'm sorry, Mr. Johnson, but you have a conflation of the spleen").

But after carefully analyzing the photographs in GQ, I have concluded that what they mean by "a clever conflation of luxe and loose moods" is:

Brown suits.

This makes me very nervous. I have always dressed according to certain Basic Guy Fashion Rules, including:

*Both of your socks should always be the same color.

*Or they should at least both be fairly dark.

*If, when you appear at the breakfast table, your wife laughs so hard that she spits out her toast, you should consider wearing a different tie.

*When dressing for a formal event, always check the armpits of your rental tuxedo for vermin.

*Always wear black shoes after 6 p.m. except during months ending with "R" unless you are a joint taxpayer filing singly with two or more men on base.

*When you wear shorts, your underwear should not stick out the bottom more than 2 inches.

But the most important fashion rule that has been drummed into guys is: Never wear a brown suit. Only two kinds of guys wear brown suits:

1. Your Uncle Wally, the retired accordion broker who attends all family functions -- weddings, funerals, picnics -- wearing a brown suit that he purchased during the Truman administration and that he has never had cleaned or repaired, despite the fact that the pants have a large devastated region resulting from the time in 1974 when he fell asleep with his cigar burning and set fire to his crotch, and Aunt Louise had to extinguish it with eggnog.

2. Ronald Reagan.

All other guys have been trained to wear only dark blue suits and dark gray suits, taking care to never wear the pants from a blue suit with the jacket from a gray suit, or vice versa, except in low-light situations.

It has taken some of us guys years to absorb these guidelines. And now here comes GQ, introducing a completely new fashion concept, brown, which raises a whole raft of troubling questions, such as: Does this mean we also have to wear brown shoes? What about ties? What about green suits? How many questions make a "raft"? And what will the fashion directors tell us to wear next?

The alarming answer is: perfume. Yes. Oh, they don't call it perfume. They call it "fragrance for men," and they give it guy-type names like "El Hombre de Male Man for Him," but it's definitely perfume. This is even more alarming to me than brown suits because I grew up in an environment where, if you had shown up at school wearing a fragrance, the other males would have stuffed you into a gym locker and left you there for the better part of the academic year.

The scariest part is that you can be exposed to male fragrances against your will merely by exercising your constitutional right to jTC leaf through magazines. For example, while leafing through GQ I was attacked by an aggressive Calvin Klein male-fragrance advertisement that deliberately spewed fragrance molecules onto my body, and for several hours I was terrified that I might have to make a trip to a masculine environment such as the hardware store for an emergency toilet part or something, and the clerks would pick up my scent:

Clerk (sniffing): Smells like a moose conflated in here! Is that you?

Me: Yes, but . . .

Clerk: Hey wait a minute, isn't that Calvin Klein's Obsession, the fragrance that used to be advertised with pictures of a bed with enough depressed-looking naked people lying on it to start a Co-Ed Naked Depressed Person's Softball League?

Me: Yes, but . . .

Clerk: You got any more?


My current Fall Fashion Plan, as a Modern Man, is to squat around in my boxer shorts until spring.

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