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Published: 8/2/2008

Men s 2-piece ensembles can be treated as separates

BY LAMONT JONES
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
Plaid shorts and an open short-sleeve shirt are worn with a fedora. Plaid shorts and an open short-sleeve shirt are worn with a fedora.
REBECCA DROKE Enlarge

Consider the two-piece men s look.

It s not the bargain meal at KFC, but quite possibly its fashion equivalent.

It s a casual urban look usually worn by men ranging in age from the 30s up into the 50s. It s modestly priced, comfortable, easy to wear, and a go-to for guys who want to look stylish but not overly dressy for a dance, a party, a picnic, or just being out and about.

The relaxed look is becoming more popular because men want a very weekend casual feel, said Michael Davis, a spokesman for Raffia Linea Uomo, a New York-based manufacturer of the looks for 25 years. Sometimes tailored clothing is good for the weekdays and work, whereas more for the weekend men want a look that s looser and more comfortable.

The looks have been such a steady favorite among men 35 and up that the company is launching LS Collection, a new, more contemporary line aimed at younger men, said Mr. Davis.

The ensemble consists of roomy pants and a perfectly matching loose shirt, typically a linen blend for summer and microfiber for cooler seasons. The bottom is usually trousers and the shirt is typically short-sleeved, but they can be shorts and long-sleeved, respectively.

Many men seem to think they have to wear the components together simply because they match. For special occasions, some guys add a hat and shoes that perfectly match the color of the clothes.

For a child, that can be cute. But on men, it s rote and almost robotic in its lack of creative thought. The two-piece is not a suit which ought to always be worn together so it doesn t have to be donned with the same rigidity.

There s so much flexibility with the outfit, said Dennis D. Martuscelli, manager of K&G Fashion Superstore in Monroeville, which has several racks of the styles. You can mix them up. They re casual but not too casual, something between jeans and a sport coat. They seem to be an answer for a lot of our customers. Just right down the middle.

The key to being most dapper with a two-piece is to wear it as separates, breaking it up imaginatively and adding the right accoutrements. You can save money in the process.

You can get two and end up with four outfits, said Mr. Martuscelli. One guy has bought every combination that I carry.

Here are some tips to giving the simple look a fresh, contemporary, and altogether debonair update.

• Wear the shirt with other pants and the pants with other shirts. If it s a solid shirt, for example, go with pants of another color. If it s a print shirt, a solid trouser in a different but complementary color looks best.

• Wear the top with shorts for more casual, outdoor settings. Longer shorts such as Bermudas are a good choice.

• Resist any urge to tuck the shirt into the trousers; it was constructed to be worn on the outside.

• Leave the bottom button of the shirt unbuttoned, similar to blazers and suit jackets.

• For a more casual look, wear the shirt open with a novelty tee under it. If you re in good shape and your stomach is flat, consider a tank under the shirt. (But make sure it s athletic-tank thick, not underwear-tank thin.)

• Complete the look with interesting jewelry. Ethnic-inspired necklaces and bracelets are a natural fit, while precious metals such as gold or silver can look dated or overly dressy.

• When choosing headwear, baseball caps and bowlers aren t as good a match as Kangol-style snap-front caps and fedoras. Pick up on the color family or echo a print, but avoid a perfect match.

• Remember that two-piece shirts and pants are casual pieces. Pass on the dress shoes (and fake gators), and opt for casual loafers, espadrilles, or sandals.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LaMont Jones is fashion editor of the Post-Gazette.

Contact him at: ljones@post-gazette.com.



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