Classic Comeback

Many are rediscovering the stylish elegance of being a sharply dressed man.

September 19, 2004|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Remember the scene in Alfred HitchcockM-Fs North by Northwest where Cary Grant is being chased through a cornfield by a killer crop duster?

The clip from the 1959 classic is memorable for many reasons, but thereM-Fs one detail that particularly stands out: In that cornfield, while being sprayed by pesticides, Grant M-y the poster boy for old-school style M-y is wearing the perfect tailored suit.

You remember it. Slate gray. Two buttons. A crisp white shirt. French cuffs!

Ahh, for the 1950s, when a man was impeccably dressed, even while rolling around in the dust.

Unfortunately, like that stylish twobutton that Grant wears throughout HitchcockM-Fs famous tale of mistaken identity, over the years the well-tailored menM-Fs suit has taken quite a beating.

Khakis and blue button-down shirts have become the professional manM-Fs uniform. Young men wear jeans on first dates, and slacks and sport shirts to weddings and graduations. Sometimes even their own.

But thatM-Fs slowly been changing, fashion observers say. With each passing season, M-tdressed downM-v is becoming less and less acceptable as all-weather, all-occasion attire.

So this fall, men will find themselves in the starring role of another classically stylish film M-y but with a slight twist.

The suit is back, gentlemen.

And Guess WhoM-Fs Dressing for Dinner?

More professional

M-tIt seems like this year kind of exploded. ItM-Fs really exciting,M-v said Edward Steinberg, president of J.S. Edwards MenM-Fs Clothing in Pikesville. M-tMenM-Fs fashion has taken a turn for the better, probably the best IM-Fve seen in years. People are starting to understand dressing up again.M-v

It was bound to come to this, fashion experts say. The M-tdress-down FridayM-v of the late 1980s somehow mutated into dressdown every day. And by the M-F90s, 22-year-old dot-com zillionaires were pointedly wearing shorts and sneakers to the office, just because they could.

M-tWell, companies really arenM-Ft accepting that anymore. They want people to look a little more professional,M-v Steinberg said. M-tI think companies started to realize that they really let it go too far, as far as what is corporate casual.M-v

So the pendulum swung back.

M-tMenswear has been trending in a certain direction for the last season or two, and itM-Fs really started to hit home this season,M-v said Michael Anderson, vice president of design, menM-Fs, for Banana Republic. M-tAnd that trend is marked by a return to a more tailored dressing.M-v

Clean up your act

Like the tweed jacket for ladies this fall, the tailored suit is this seasonM-Fs must-have item for men.

But it doesnM-Ft stop there.

Men also will be wearing sport coats again, and blazers. Button-up shirts instead of T-shirts. And maybe, just possibly, even a tie.

M-tWeM-Fre in a clean-up-your-act mode,M-v said Stan Williams, fashion director at Maxim magazine. M-tI see kids in [New YorkM-Fs] East Village wearing a tailored jacket, and maybe even a tailored suit with a skinny tie. I canM-Ft remember the last time I saw kids wearing neckwear.M-v

The jacketed look is not as big and bulky, however, as most of todayM-Fs men are used to wearing their clothing. The XXL, one-sizefits- all rack at your local menM-Fs store just wonM-Ft cut it this fall.

Anderson, of Banana Republic, calls this seasonM-Fs look M-tbespokeM-v M-y a common English term that means M-tcustom-made.M-v

M-tThe last major reincarnation with blazers, they were a lot more sloppy. Now things are becoming more elegant, more refined,M-v he said. M-tEverything looks a little more fitted, more tailored. ThereM-Fs a nod toward that sort of equestrian, English, bespoke feel.M-v

To that end, many of the seasonM-Fs trendy jackets have a traditional look: herringbone, pin-striped, plaid, jacquard. Rich, old-fashioned, retro.

M-tWhat weM-Fre seeing is guys wearing it with a lot of denim pieces so itM-Fs sort of dressed down but not sloppy looking,M-v Anderson said. M-tThe denim makes the jacket look hip and the jacket makes the denim look a little more refined.M-v

The button-up shirt also is making a comely comeback this season.

Sport shirts. Woven shirts. Bold striped shirts. Wide collars. French cuffs M-y with or without cufflinks.

M-tGuys are coming in and theyM-Fre buying suits and theyM-Fre wearing them with sport shirts open at the collar,M-v Steinberg said. M-tSome are leaving the sleeves open, so itM-Fs kind of rebellious.M-v

TheyM-Fre also wearing button-up shirts with jeans, untucked generally, maybe rolled up at the sleeves.

M-tTheyM-Fre showing a little more individuality now,M-v Steinberg said. M-tGuys donM-Ft want to look like their father when they go to work. They want to show some individuality and some expression, and this is a great way to do it. The white shirt and the blue buttondown, itM-Fs still out there for the corporate scene, but thereM-Fs more choices ... now.M-v

There are more color choices as well, said Williams, of Maxim.

Guys arenM-Ft relegated this season to the traditional browns and blacks and blues. They can wear pink accents, melons, limes, turquoises and tangerines, he said. Pops of color in neckwear, accessories or in the stripes of a button-up shirt will set a man apart from his plain john buddy, or conservative cube-mate.

M-tI think designers have realized,M-v Williams said, M-tthat guys really have started caring about how they look.M-v

The new man

Here's what the well-dressed man will be wearing this fall:

Tailored suits

Sport coats

Blazers

Button-up shirts

Bold striped shirts

French cuffs

Shirts and ties with more choices of color

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