'Ivy-Tech' look can help guys join the menswear revolution

June 20, 1996|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

I am 32 and have a job as a salesman with a software company. My problem is my girlfriend. She nags me constantly about the way I dress.

She is ambitious for me and says I'll never be promoted because I dress too conservatively. She says there's a revolution going on in menswear and I should get with it.

I can't imagine facing clients without a tie. Don't I need a suit for my clients to take me seriously?

Your girlfriend is right, at least about the revolution going on in menswear.

For advice I turned to David Chu, the designer at the New York menswear company Nautica. His cutting-edge fall collection combined high-tech fabric with a '60s Ivy League look. He called it "Ivy-Tech."

He suggests that you loosen up. "Your image should be a combination of the new tech look and the traditional corporate suit. An easy way to go is to start with a sports jacket and combine it with different shirts and pants.

"There are lots of exciting ways to go -- knit shirts in different styles and pants in many high-performance fabrics.

"Once you start experimenting, you'll enjoy having a new image. It will also tell your customers you know how to dress in today's world."

I am 5-foot-1 with a petite figure but a full bust. I have a problem finding jackets that suit me and am wondering if I should try one of the new cropped styles. My question is, will it suit me?

If not, what shape should I look for?

A "cropped" jacket is not for you. It will cut you off at the waist, emphasize your bust and make you look too top-heavy.

At Liz Claiborne, Karen Greenberg advises you to look for a jacket that accents the waist: "A jacket with a fitted or belted waist will visually balance your top-heavy figure.

"If you want a short jacket, then find one that falls just past your waist and sits nicely at the top of your hips. This will give you a short silhouette that will be comfortable as well as flattering.

"Avoid detailing, wide collars or pockets on the bust. Also,

remember that a monochromatic color scheme works well for petites. It creates a long, unbroken line that visually adds height."

My husband's first wife is a fashion plate, and everyone in town comments on her style. Recently she told a friend of mine that when it comes to fashion I don't have any taste at all.

I admit I've never been particularly concerned about fashion, but after that comment I've decided to learn. This season the "with-it" ladies seem to be wearing lots of different prints, sometimes mixing them together and sometimes putting them with solids.

I don't think I've worn a print since grade school. How do I start?

Your husband's ex-wife sounds "fashion-forward."

Prints in bright colors are big news this season. But they can be tricky to wear, so I turned for advice to a fashion-forward store, Barneys New York.

"It may take time to learn to wear prints," says Bonnie Pressman, executive vice president. "Start by putting together what best suits you -- whether lots of prints or just a hint of prints. It's a great way to develop a personal style."

Pressman points out that color is very important when you mix prints:

"Keep to uncomplicated, tone-on-tone combinations, and choose similar or complementary colors. Then you won't go far wrong."

Pressman suggests that if you find you're not ready to mix patterns, try taming them with solids.

"Make it easier by wearing a print top with a solid bottom or vice versa. We'll see a lot of that in the fall. For example, printed velvets can work really well with a black jacket or bottom.

"Try solid jackets and pants with ethnic tops or mix elaborate knitwear with an ethnic skirt to create an Indian feeling.

"Either way you'll have a stylish outfit."

Elsa Klensch welcomes questions from readers. While she cannot reply individually, she will answer those of general interest in her column. Send them to ELSA KLENSCH, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, 218 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90012.

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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