Friday, January 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022
49° F Dallas, TX

THE BOYS OF SUMMER

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Meet 10 among you who are participating in the annual rite of wishful thinking. Hot with spring fever, they’re summer-bound. And while the blasting heat of July is incontestable, the easy rays of April may make for the best summer of all-a fantasy summer, the one we’re going to have. The perfect summer.

This spring’s fashion for men anticipates those golden days with the same enthusiasm and variety as our brave lads, from pristine stripes by Barry I. Bricken to Robert Molnar’s black organza jacket covered in white silk hair. Diversity runs higher this season than it has in seasons past. The look is quirky, spontaneous and comfortable.

From the rolled pant legs of the Fifties to the pin-striped oxford jackets of the early 1900s, menswear is living on borrowed time. Elements of the new, the old and the ancient are being mixed, matched and mismatched. Toss out your mother’s adamant advice about smoothly blended colors and sensible shoes, but hang on to Dad’s college cardigan. Treasure the grab-bag look, from easy, elegant linens to off-the-wall graffiti prints. Think pastiche, but don’t get sloppy about it. The best of the new men’s fashion combines sundry styles but unifies them with a classic sense of balance, simplicity and dignity. Color is in; constraint is out. The clothes are fun-even frivolous-but always smart.



IT’S FASHION HERESY, really, the fact that this spring and summer there’s no reason -no excuse-for looking like everyone else. You pick your style. Your style. The designers have brazenly picked theirs, and few previous seasons can recall such a breadth of choices, from the architecturally emphatic blacks and whites of Armani to Perry Ellis’ capricious California colors. If anyone’s following a trend, it’s the trend toward juggling and juxtaposing a wide array of styles, colors and fabrics. So your own inspirations and instincts can be nurtured, rather than neglected to fit the fickle edicts of Seventh Avenue.

After years of trial and error, we’ve discarded the ridiculous and salvaged the sublime. Color has made a comeback, but detail. Long-discarded prints are back with a vengeance, as if to say, “You left us on the shelf too long.” In shirts especially, you’ll see checks, mosaics, geometries, polka dots, floral prints and paisley, paisley and more paisley, much of it larger-than-life and loud. Color runs the gamut from rich, muddied hues to screaming green and yellow psychedelia. And flecks of the fluorescent craze have landed on the stodgiest designers’ palettes.

Prints on prints, over stripes, under solids-patterns and shapes are now flying at one another in a fearless spray of friendly fire. Designers and the fashion-savvy are daring the world to scream “clash,” while redefining our concepts of visual harmony. Those tourist-trap Hawaiian shirts are hot, as is the vintage-clothes look. Trailblazers in London and New York have invited mens-wear to adopt the baroque veneer of goopy prints under drippy brooches and heavy brocade, and even to try skirts. (Kilts are already passé among the campers at the Starck Club.) But for the more conservative, it’s the hints of the bohemian and the eccentric that make the season so fresh.

Extravagant togs seem to be sharing the fashion hot seat with amazingly simple designs, such as Calvin Klein’s grandfather Western shirt in prairie cotton and his white cotton jeans. Comfort counts in almost all of the new designs, with oversized shirts, loose slacks and lighter fabrics. Jackets have taken on a slouchy nonchalance, but nothing just hangs. Casual wear is frequently rugged, taking its cue from such archetypes as cowboys and bikers. Combining the dressy with the dressed-down, such as a white cotton T-shirt under a white dinner jacket, makes a fetching look.

Monochromatic combos are still in the center ring for several designers, and the most popular variation on that theme-white on white-allows creative mixing of textures and an oft-forgotten emphasis on the person wearing the clothes. Even the busier print shirts and striped pants serve as a sort of fashion history shorthand that relieves us of the need to make a statement and retrieves the masculine ease of the basics. Only now the basics can be shuffled.

Ease may be the key to the new look for men. It’s active without looking like an ad for an aerobics center, comfortable without being careless. This also goes for grooming. Although long hair is making a comeback, most men are keeping it short on the sides and letting the top blow as it may. An unshaven face-at the right time and in the right place-is deemed sexy. Wrinkles are almost de rigueur with linen (if you move, it wrinkles). And untucked is not unseemly, if it’s done with confidence.

-Tim Allis

A BOXERS SHORT

I DIDN’T, BUT my father did. Sometimes I do now, but they look different. My sister can, but my mother can’t imagine it. I’m talking about wearing boxer shorts, the last vestige of Victorian dressing and the hottest men’s fashion surprise on the market.

But the starchy white boxers of Dad’s day lie limp in the face of a new multicolored wave of boxers that jump up and demand attention. Pin-striped or plaid, covered in hearts or flowers, plastered with paisleys, it’s as if these undergarments haven’t heard about the outer garments destined to hide them. From the elegant to the goofy, boxers pack a punch, and who, it’s so tempting to ask, gets hit?

Boxer shorts? What happened to the modern simplicity of the basic brief? Or the daring thrill of the French bikini? They’re going, perhaps, the way of so much of fashion: backwards, to a more stylish, more languorous time. Boxers are elegant. They certainly connote maturity, and many of the new ones, made of fine cottons and silks and gilded with neat stripes, imply wealth. Being loose but squared, they’re more flattering to most men’s bodies. And looseness, it need not be dwelled upon, has other advantages as well.

But perhaps most appealing about the new boxer shorts is their implicit exhibitionism. The unmentionable not only mentioned but shouted. The hidden revealed, then celebrated. And now-are we surprised?-the bravest of our sex are wearing their boxers (the heavy kind) on the streets. (Women were doing it last year.) Public displays of underwear? Why not? If the guys in the ads can do it, you can too. Right?

-T.A.

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