Men likely to pick over new styles

January 04, 1996|By Jean Patteson | Jean Patteson,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Men craving a new look for the new year will have several from which to choose, including big game hunter, dandy, country squire and cyberpunk.

The safari jacket, the favorite of author Ernest Hemingway, will enjoy one of its periodic peaks of popularity in 1996, according to the annual Fashion Futures Survey conducted by the National Association of Men's Sportswear Buyers. So will elegant and highly accessorized outfits, comfortable knit clothing and -- for the trendiest young men -- garments with futuristic, plastic finishes that are reflective or translucent.

Also, men can expect to see suits with waist definition, V-shaped necklines and banded collars -- not only on shirts but also on suits, sport coats and jackets.

Every year the association of sportswear buyers invites several hundred retailers and college faculty members to evaluate the latest trends in men's fashions and predict which will catch on.

"Our survey confirms the image of the American male as someone who accepts new ideas slowly but surely," said Jack Herschlag, executive director of the association. "Heading into 1996, he shows a keen appetite for the dressy-casual middle ground in fashion that serves him around the clock, seven days a week, for most business and social occasions," he said.

In other words, men are likely to be buying clothes that strike a happy medium between casual and tailored. Also, they will summon up the courage to try a few new items. Will they actually dress head-to-toe in safari gear or punky plastic? Not likely. But they may venture to throw a bush jacket over T-shirt and jeans, or team pants with a shiny finish with a V-neck top and knit sport coat.

In the early 1990s, men revolted against workplace dress codes under the banner of "Fridaywear," Mr. Herschlag said. For the coming year, "the revolution has become an evolution, an ongoing, general change in the way men dress -- with comfort, sophistication and flair."

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