Rhapsody in blue bASIC NAVY STILL OK, but aqua and teal newest bright spots

March 18, 1992|By T.J. Howard | T.J. Howard,Chicago Tribune

TC Menswear has the blues. Colorwise, that is.

Granted, nautical themes surface every spring in men's sportswear, but this year blue moves far beyond conventional navy. From azure to zaffer, blue hues for 1992 surface everywhere from raincoats to neckties.

Conservative businessmen and sailing jocks are not to worry; there still is plenty of navy to go around.

Attracting the most attention right now, though, are royal blue, aqua and teal -- pigments with more personality. "In suits, the big word is 'petrol,' which is a brighter mid-blue. It has almost an iridescent quality," says George Gray, regional merchandise manager at Nordstrom in Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, Ill.

Pat Scaccia, men's sportswear buyer at Bigsby & Kruthers in Chicago, links the new blues to the increasing popularity of denim. Washed indigo colors are showing up on linens, silks and viscose, giving these dressier fabrics a shot of casual chic, says Mr. Scaccia.

Environmental awareness is another factor contributing to the blue fever. Last year, greens and earth tones made men's fashion news. "Now the focus has moved to the sea and sky," says Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training in Seabeck, Wash.

Retailers are upbeat about blue since men have historically had a soft spot for the color -- even in its more offbeat shades. "Blue has always been a safe color for men to like. It's associated with a strong work ethic, responsibility and longevity," says Carlton Wagner, a Santa Monica, Calif., color psychologist. "Even in Victorian times, when colors began to take on different sexual connotations, blue has never lost its respectability."

Blue is more flattering to men than any other color, say retailers. Green can make many skin types appear sallow, but "I don't know a man alive that doesn't look good in blue," says Dennis Abramczyk, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at P.A. Bergner & Co., parent of Carson Pirie & Scott.

"Blue gives skin a healthy glow," agrees Colby McWilliams, men's fashion director at Neiman Marcus. "Especially in dress shirts, it's one of the best colors to go next to your skin."

And here's good news for the colorblind: Blue is one of the easiest colors to coordinate, says designer Andrew Fezza. "You can't do anything wrong with it." Mr. Fezza uses blue with other blues, blues with natural shades and blue with black. "It has replaced black in my collection," he says.

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