Menswear designers are moving away from the bold prints and three piece suits of wealthier times in favor of simple lines, solid colors and basic fabrics for spring.
Runway shows previewed spring trends in men's fashion last August, weeks before Wall Street's epic meltdown and bailout. At the time, designers like Thom Browne and Etro were pushing ankle-length kilts as the antidote to boring slacks. Since then, the economic reality has set in and classic colors and cuts have usurped the reinvented man skirt. Here's what men should look for at stores this spring:
Basic khaki suits: Every man should own one this year. Skip the pleats, stick to one or two buttons and don't be afraid of shades that are more brown or white. You're likely to find the best deals at Banana Republic (see above), a unit of Gap (Stock Quote: GPS). Men willing to invest a few thousand dollars should check out versions by Marc Jacobs or Calvin Klein, which is part of Phillips-Van Heusen (Stock Quote: PVH).
Maison Martin Margiela is making a statement with an all-white suit worn with a matching cotton shirt and summer scarf. Dolce & Gabbana came out with a powder blue version, and added a micro-tie and beige driving shoes. Other designers expressed the same look using black and even canary yellow.
Cheap chic: Designers have long profited from their labels and logos, particularly on the brassy accessories that have defined a generation. But this year men are hitting mainstream retailers for high-design pieces such as checkered organic cotton shirts for $29.90 at H&M and $135 MacAlister Suede Boots at J. Crew (Stock Quote: JCG).
Gingham: The pattern typically associated with picnic blankets is also this year's signature pattern for spring. You might already have a retro-style shirt that has stayed in your closet since college. If not, check out Ralph Lauren's Rugby line (Stock Quote: RL). For dressier options, try on blazers by Dsquared2 and oversize shirts by Commes des Garcons.
Lighter leather: Nothing says sexy louder than a leather jacket. Tapered cuts and thinner material are making leather wearable for spring and summer. Rag & Bone offers tailored '50s-style jackets, and Prada is selling a sportier waist-cut version. Look for jackets with minimal pockets, zippers and embellishments, which could have you looking more like Freddie Mercury than Marlon Brando.
Wide or stretched collars: Men shouldn't be afraid to show off a bit of skin this spring. Toss out crew-neck sweaters and pick up Versace's asymmetrical T-shirt or an oversize V-neck from American Apparel (Stock Quote: APP). The look works best with a casual suit or slim-fitting jeans or khakis. Hairy men shouldn't shy away from the look; just make sure the fur doesn't go higher than the collar bone.