A DASH OF COLOR Green tie adds zip to men's gray suit


QI am reacting to your advice to a young prospectiv interviewee. You advised wearing a gray suit with a white shirt (fine) and -- alas! -- a dark green tie. If he had been in Italy or France, this combination would have caused heads to turn and smiles of uncertainty to disapprove. What about a matching gray tie? Or a blue or burgundy (or even red) tie, especially on an azure shirt or light gray shirt?

A: I did not suggest a green suit or a green shirt, but merely deep green tie as a departure from the expected blue or red necktie every interviewee seems to wear with his gray suit. I reiterate, a green patterned tie -- or the newer teal -- combines wonderfully with a white or blue shirt and almost every gray suit. It is also terrific with a navy suit.

Today, when men's clothing has been revolutionized boverscaled and exaggerated necktie patterns full of wit and humor, it is surprising to be concerned with something so tame as color. Still, in an interview, the traditional -- or near traditional -- is expected.

Your comment that green is not considered appropriate iEurope reflects the same narrow attitude as the European man's oft-proclaimed disdain for yellow foulard ties -- so well-loved in America. Certainly, it pays to be aware of such taboos if you are doing business in Europe, but I don't see why European sensibilities and stereotypes need influence a man's clothing or color choices at home.

Incidentally, a gray tie is not a good match with a gray suitbecause gray dyes have overtones of blue, green, or purple. Two grays almost never work well together. The only gray ties that work with a gray suit are vivid stripes or patterns boldly contrasted with color, such as gray with red or charcoal with white. A perfect gray-suit tie is a colorful pattern on a black background (the darkest shade of gray). Somehow, although every man owns a gray suit, he often overlooks the novelty and sophistication of a black-ground tie.

Send your questions or comments to Lois Fenton, Today in Style, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Ms. Fenton welcomes questions about men's dress or grooming for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.

Ms. Fenton, the author of "Dress for Excellence" (Rawson Associates, $19.95), conducts wardrobe seminars for Fortune 500 companies around the country.

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