Textures and colors


Men of the '90s, bless them, are a lot more conversant with fashion than their fathers dreamed of being. We can attribute that to TV (you've heard men trash Sam Donaldson's ties) and major ad campaigns by designers (most men recognize a Polo logo) who have discovered that men care and spend on their appearance.

There are hurdles though, when fashion takes a new twist. Tweeds, which haven't been a factor since the late '50s, are a new test of fashion savvy.

Tom Julian, fashion director of the Fashion Association, knows all the subtleties of male attire. However, after some sophisticated conversation about how to mix and match tweed, he narrowed it down to two general guidelines:

* Tweed works best with other fabrics with a soft or nappy finish. That means tweed will blend well with soft polos or sweaters, corduroy trousers, brushed cotton or flannel shirts, suede or leather vests or other tweeds. It also pairs naturally with old denim shirts and jeans because age gives denim a soft brushed finish.

Keep textures to a related degree of fuzziness. For example, a sueded silk shirt would work with a nubby crepe, but would be overpowered by a hairy Harris tweed. What looks worst is putting tweed with flat-weave creased pants or starchy dress shirts. What looks newest, and takes guts, is pairing tweed with thermal waffle-weave long johns as Ralph Lauren has done.

* When it comes to color, and tweeds may be a blend of many, the easiest way is to pull out the dominant color and go with accent shades. For example, if you start with a cocoa brown jacket, choose a rust shirt and dark contrasting slacks. Forget trying to match, because it is very difficult to make browns work together. And, yes, it's OK to wear brown with black or dark blue, very sophisticated actually. Easiest blending, however, is to coordinate browns and the new greens because they have that natural woodsy coloration.

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