Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Summer Style: Men's Suits Feature Soft Lines, Natural Colors

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Summer Style: Men's Suits Feature Soft Lines, Natural Colors

Article excerpt

MEN'S FASHION for summer is on neutral ground. The splashy colors and prints of Gianni Versace aside, most menswear designers went to the fields for earthy tones: wheat, sage, flax, oat, grain, stone, sand and slate.

These natural colors soothe the soul, and there are enough new design elements this season to keep neutral from seeming neuter.

Suits take on a new silhouette with soft, rounded shoulders, high-button gorges (where the collar meets the lapel) and patch pockets. Many of this season's new suits are lightweight and unconstructed.

In shirts, it's all about textures and collar treatments. Shirts make do with short pinpoint collars or, in the case of the banded collar, none at all. Fabrics include fine weaves in cotton, linen, knit and even suede. Pants are loose, comfortable and cuffless.

Sporty pieces such as drawstring jackets, cardigan vests and rumpled pants add a more casual dimension to menswear.

If all this seems a bit familiar, that's because American designers debuted their spring/summer '94 collections last July. That gave the knock-off artists and contemporary companies that produce inexpensive clothes plenty of time to manufacture goods and beat designer merchandise to the marketplace.

But there's nothing like the real thing. Three designers - Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Joseph Abboud - set the standard this season for American menswear. Their offerings were the seed for all the major trends in the menswear landscape.

Calvin Klein: Picture a small group of men vacationing in Havana in the 1940s, chasing women, playing cards, swigging wine and smoking Cuban cigars. Their clothes would be dressy, yet casual, cut well enough to flatter their physiques, but loose enough to be worn all day and long into the night; clothes that look just as good rumpled as pressed.

There you have Klein's '94 collection, based on the romanticized Havana of the '40s.

The master of neutral classics, Klein is in his element. Wheat, sand, bran, cocoa, hemp, tobacco, flax, khaki, bark and stone are his colors. Linen, gauze, silk tweed, wool gabardine, knit and silk are his fabrics.

The clothes cut from fabrics in his color palette are drapey and dreamy. …

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