It's been some time since Gregory Peck played the executive suited for success in Sloan Wilson's 1956 classic, "The Man with the Gray Flannel Suit."
At the time, the gray suit was a staple of the businessman's wardrobe. If a man wanted a successful career, he gave in to uniformity and dressed like a walking tombstone.
No doubt, gray means DREARY boring and conservative. Add a buttoned-down, white cotton shirt and rep stripe tie to the average gray suit, and what you get is the opposite of excitement.
In recent seasons, designers around the world have been fighting with some modicum of success to steer men away from gray by adding color to their collections.
But for those who can't break conditioning, the news is good. Menswear collections for this spring and fall substitute dull grays with livelier, unexpected interpretations.
New hues this year vary from light to dark: slate, silver, charcoal, cement, steel, dove, stone and smoke. And they're being injected into knits, trousers, sport coats and the latest suit silhouettes.
Although gray just recently came into view, myriad shades of gray are prevalent in the fall collections of several New York-based menswear designers.
Andrew Fezza offered wool cabans and double-knit wool sweater pants in charcoal, as well as oversized sweaters, patch pocket jackets and double-breasted suits in salty grays and clay tones.
Last fall, Isaac Mizrahi made cashmere swagger coats and high-buttoning wool jersey cardigans standouts in pale gray. Slate and dove cotton chambray blazers, overalls and pinstriped wool suits turned up for spring. For fall '91, Mizrahi turned his fancy to charcoal as a base color for double-knit, double-breasted jackets and hourglass-shaped gray flannel suits with slim pants.