You can't tell a shirt by its stripes
At a recent show of men's fall fashions, eight models wearing various casual and dressy ensembles lined up center stage, peeled off their jackets and sweaters and started swapping.
Not all of the clothes fit perfectly, but that wasn't the point.
The demonstration underscored a trend in American men's fashion that designer Andrew Fezza defines as "blurring the boundary between casual and business styles."
"The word casual in fashion is losing its meaning," Mr. Fezza says. "I put my linen and silk open-collar shirts with suits and sport coats. Men want to look appropriate for a business meeting and still be comfortable. Today it's not necessary to sacrifice one for the other."
A blue chambray shirt and silk tie can be worn in a casual office or a nice restaurant. Likewise with washed silk.
The new casualness is also reflected in the revival of band collars and collarless shirts that leave men no choice but to go tieless. Just as no single hem length is de rigueur for women, no single collar style is right for men.
Besides band collars there are the traditional button-down collar, the Giorgio Armani-inspired snap collar, the straight or classic pointed collar, the spread collar and the contrast collar that peaked in the 1980s but is now somewhat passe.
Soft-collar sport shirts that lay flat without looking too awkward or that button like 1950s sport shirts are in. Even trendier is to wear wide collars over jacket lapels.
"It's one of those things that appeals to the most fashionable and the most unfashionable at the same time," laments Robert Bryan, fashion editor of M Magazine. "It's part of the horrible '70s thing." Carolyne Roehm, flanked by dressmaker's dummies and two moving vans, was spotted outside her new studio on New York's East 65th Street last week.
The designer's second-floor studio is just four doors down from Le Cirque, where the well-dressed ladies come and go. It doesn't take tremendous imagination to figure out what she's up to, and it sure isn't painting the Sistine Chapel.
Ms. Roehm, who recently closed her Seventh Avenue ready-to-wear business, has been thinking in terms of the more refined world of custom-order clothes.
@4 "I got my first order at lunch," Ms. Roehm said.