Who would have thought that the Iranian government could be so fashion-forward?
When 15 British sailors were released this month after a Persian Gulf standoff, each male detainee was outfitted in a gunmetal grey suit. The baggy fit wasn’t the best, but the colour was spot on.
Think spring fashion, and lighter colours come to mind. But this season, designers everywhere are deciding that grey matters. “Shades of grey are huge,” said Playboy magazine fashion editor Jennifer Ryan Jones. “It’s more dressed up than khaki and more sophisticated than seersucker. It’s still a masculine colour.”
With names like ‘steel’, ‘stone’ and ‘pewter’, the monochromatic look is modern and polished, said Target spokesman Joshua Thomas. He calls grey “arguably the new black”.
Various shades of grey can be worn together from head to toe or be brightened up with a bold, dotted tie. “That’s where you bring in the colour,” said Macy’s spokesman Kamal Bosamia.
Or nix the tie and add a colourful pocket square, Jones suggests in an article about the “new urban wardrobe” in the May issue of Playboy. She maintains that the look is appropriate for the office, but still casual enough for night-time socializing.
To add another subtle dash of colour, suits by upscale designers such as Paul Smith, Ted Baker and Etro are often lined in plaid fabric or other bright shades. “It’s unexpected,” Jones noted.
Other good news for fashionable men: The line between casual and dressy is being blurred even more than earlier. It’s now acceptable to dress down a more formal look. Combine a business suit with a T-shirt emblazoned with a tattoo imprint, for example.
“It’s not Miami Vice, but it’s not stuffy or formal,” said Dillard’s trend expert Gregory Mills. “It’s a relaxed way to dress up.”
Or dress up a casual style: Mix denim jeans with a white linen shirt or add a sportcoat over a hoodie with jeans and sneakers.
“Casual dressing is less sloppy now,” Jones said.
Another sign of the melding of business and casual: a wide assortment of suit jackets in cotton or linen, which adds a more casual look to a dressy outfit, said M Penner owner Murry Penner.
Some designers are taking the mix of casual and formal one step further by featuring a suit jacket with dress Bermuda shorts—a look that is not likely to transition from the runway.
The same thing goes for the shrunken suit that has got noticed in the fashion press. Pioneered by designer Thom Browne, the suit is cut above the ankles and wrists, making it look a couple of sizes too small for the wearer.
While such a drastic look likely won’t be embraced any time soon, the subtle effect is already showing up in a slimmer cut in many new suits, with narrower pants legs, a slightly trimmed lapel and softer shoulders.
“Everyone from Oxxford and Zegna to Dolce & Gabbana is showing a slimmer silhouette,” Penner said. “It’s not going to hit you in the face that it’s slimmed down, but when you wear it you see it. These are subtle changes, but the overall look is great.”
Many shoppers wouldn’t think of a cardigan as an option for spring, but designers are showing lots of lightweight cover-ups at all price levels, ranging from a short-sleeved Bottega Veneta jersey cardigan to a Keanan Duffty crested cardigan at Target. Playboy’s Jones believes the cardigan can even double for a suit jacket, adding a casual detail to a business look. Or it can be worn with jeans and a T-shirt. “It works on both sides of the professional and casual wardrobe,” she said.
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