Sloane Brown of The Baltimore Sun lends men a helping hand on how to fare this fashion season from the runways to the realities.
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Let’s face it. Men’s fashion trends aren’t exactly biggies. But, look a little more closely, and you will see that they do exist. Sure, there are the extremes seen on some runways, and on the streets of uber-trendy fashion capitals like New York and Paris, i.e. those skinny ankle length pants. On men. But this is Baltimore, where a fashionable guy likes to be laughed with, not at.
Not to worry, this fall brings some interesting ways a man can update his wardrobe without feeling silly.
“Suits can’t change much. It’s a jacket and a pair pants. But, you can change the silhouette,” says Edward Steinberg, president of J.S. Edwards in Pikesville. “This season, the biggest word in men’s fashion is ‘modern.’”
A more fitted two button jacket with side vents and narrower lapels. Pants are flat front and a little slimmer. Both trends have around awhile, and may not seem like such a big change. Not so, says Steinberg.
“For the average person out there who hasn’t bought a suit in a couple of years, it’s a completely different thing.”
He says that means ties are also narrowing a bit, going from 10-centimeters wide to 9 or 8.
Charcoal, or “char-brown,” Steinberg’s take on a brown with black or charcoal in it, are this season’s strong suit in suits.
As for the return of a three-piece suit, Steinberg says you may have seen it on some runways, but you’re not going to see it make a big return in local stores yet. And that’s all about the economy.
“It’s so cost prohibitive. In mainstream America, a vest might add $150-$200 to [the cost of] a suit. So, a lot of retailers said no. Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have thought about it twice.”
You will see some vests in sportswear, though, as part of a trend to ratchet up a casual look.
“Blazers and vests are very popular. It’s kind of a dressier look that you pair with jeans,” says Nikki Reese, the menswear manager at the Federal Hill shop Whimsy/Reason.
Lindsay Buscher, owner of Harbor East’s Urban Chic, clarifies this fall’s “in” look further.
“We’re going back to the Dead Poets Society time frame, which is an amazing look. Classic dark denim, classic plaid blazers, lots of tweed, herringbone, darker colors. That old school Harvard Yale, back in the 50′s and 60′s [look].”
Reese says, along those lines, shirts in small gingham checks are strong items this fall 2009.
“The other big thing is military jackets, in all kinds of different fabrics and colors,” says Buscher.
“The military style is in,” agrees Reese, pointing to apparel accents like epaulets and zippers.
Dressing up a casual look is one trend. Dressing down office attire is the flip side of that fashion coin; fashion flexibility, in Steinberg’s words.
“The sports shirt has evolved to become a mainstay, so we’re pushing casual office wear. But, it’s still important to look professional.”
That’s why sport shirts with added detail continue to be strong in men’s fashion. Steinberg says Robert Graham is still the number one label in that field, with the shirts in one pattern; inside the collar and on the cuffs another.
“If you wear it to the office with a jacket, with cuffs buttoned and the collar buttoned, it looks pretty much like a regular sport shirt. When 5 o’clock comes, you take the jacket off, you unbutton the top button, turn up the cuffs, and you’re ready to go out.”
Etro, and Duchamp, are also going strong with bold prints in dress shirts.
For those who like to step out a little more fashion forward, accessorize.
“This is the year of the hat,” Steinberg announces. Narrow brimmed fedoras and porkpies are the look this season.
The “fashionisto” also owns more than just that old winter scarf he wears with his topcoat. He’s buying several, in various color combinations, to throw onto an outfit, even when it isn’t cold outside.
“I personally like it when the scarf is open and draped around the neck, rather than tied,” says Buscher.
Finally, there’s this fall’s hot color – purple, but not all over. It might be the color of the pinstripe in a charcoal suit, or an accent color in a shirt, tie or socks. Sorry, Ravens’ fans, that means wearing a Ravens jersey still won’t qualify as high fashion.
Top menswear trends for Fall 2009
* Go “Modern.” Slimmer, trimmer, more fitted silhouettes. Two button jackets, slimmer lapels, side vents, and flat front pants in charcoal or dark brown.
* Old School/Military. Tweedy jackets, checked shirts for that 1950′s, early 60′s on-campus look. Or make them snap to attention when you sport a military style jacket with your jeans.
* Versatility. Clothes that can take you from work to out on the town, and vice versa. Hot item: the Corneliani ID Jacket. It adds an extra collar when you wear it as outerwear. Zip out the liner, and you’ve got a sports jacket.
* Hats. When Hugh Jackman pairs a narrow brimmed fedora with his swimming trunks, you know he – and it – are “hot.” (Okay, this isn’t a fall look, but we couldn’t resist…)
* Scarves. The new must-have accessory for men. They’re not just to keep your neck warm anymore. Make a statement with a lightweight multi-color scarf tossed over – or under – an open neck shirt.