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Fashion savvy executives staying in style through changing seasons

With the changing of the seasons, fashion savvy executives are sprucing up their wardrobes so they’ll be in style for spring. A survey of a couple of the area’s leading clothiers for men and women revealed what trends are hot for spring and summer 2008.

Luke Abney at The Rogue and Good Company says that because of our climate, men’s fashions here are always transitional. “We live through a longer spring/summer season than we do fall/winter, therefore, executives here tend to stick with predominantly lighter-weight fabrics for the majority of the year.” Abney says that the fabrics of choice for most men in the South is linen, poplin and a lighter weight wool. “That’s a seven-ounce wool as opposed to a 10-ounce wool preferred by men further north.”

Back to tradition

The trend in men’s fashions is skewing back towards a more traditional look, according to Abney. “We are beginning to move away from the khaki and golf shirt look for work and getting back to a more traditional look. Men can purchase a sports coat with two or three pairs of pants and still have a comfortable, casual feel but with a little more polish. They can pair that same coat with a pair of linen pants for a reception or for hosting employees for dinner.”

Abney says that men are tending to dress up a little more for things such as going out to dinner and the like. “The denim craze is still huge, as it is for women, but now men are wearing jeans like dress pants. But what we’re talking about here is a $210 pair of jeans paired with a nice sports coat and dress shoes. It’s a great casual-elegant look.”

Considering colors

Colors for spring and summer 2008 are in the pastel range. “Lots of mint green and blue hues as well as greens, softer yellows and lighter browns will all be popular,” says Abney. And for ties, “there will always be dots and jacquards, but this season, stripes and paisleys will be hot. And those will carry on into fall, too, so you don’t have to worry about having a nice tie that you can only wear four months.”

Abney says that this spring’s repp-striped ties are a modern take on a classic. “My grandfather wore a repp-stripe tie 70 years ago, and it would still look great today.”

Wright Scott of Great Scott in Jackson says that this spring, many well-dressed men will be sporting a lighter-weight sport coat. “The fabrics will be lighter in weight, and there will be no shoulder pads,” says Scott. “These coats are practical for our sub-tropical climate, and they look great paired with dress slacks. But the great thing is that they also look good paired with a nice pair of jeans or casual slacks.”

Scott says that with the downturn in the economy, there’s a trend towards more formal attire. “When a man dresses in a nice suit for work, his work ethic changes. He works a little harder. While dressing down is still going to be popular, we believe that more men will be stepping up their game, fashion wise, to maintain a more competitive edge.”

Fashion trends for spring, according to Scott, include a return to the flat-front pant and a thinner tie. “A flat-front trouser actually makes a man look slimmer. And with ties, we’re seeing them go a little narrower, down to three to three and a quarter inches. They are even thinner up north, but the men here in the South are more resistant to that. You will only see the thin ties on the British-rocker types.” Scott says that knitted ties are also making a comeback.

For the woman executive on the go, Whitney Curran, a buyer for Maison Weiss, says that the popularity of dresses is on the rise. “We have them in every shape, from the mod look of shifts and baby doll dresses to a more classic shirt-waist dress.” Curren says that dresses are easy to wear and practical, which may account for their rising popularity.

However, in the professional world, nothing will ever replace a suit. But this spring’s suits are “breaking out of the box,” according to Curran. “It’s not just your classic black suit anymore. We’re seeing wonderful splashes of Crayola box colors. Green is a particularly popular color this spring, especially a rich grass green.”

The great thing about this spring’s color pallette, explains Curran, is that they will all roll over nicely into fall. “The fall color previews are very similar to this spring and summer. Usually, we tend to go into browns, rusts and golds, but the color pallette for fall will be more vibrant this year, which is good news because in the South, our summer season stretches deep into fall.” Curran says that another hot trend for spring is muted metallics. “We’re not talking the shiny golds and silvers, but a more muted, toned-down version of metallics that are perfectly acceptable for daytime wear. Right off hand, I’m thinking about a beautiful gunmetal linen dress we have in the store that would look great in the office or the boardroom.”

Another new trend for women is paring a more conservative shape with a flowing one. “A classic, tailored blazer looks great over a pretty, flowing skirt,” says Curran. “It maintains the professional look while making a woman feel more feminine.”

Donna Southern is the assistant manager at Talbot’s Petites in Highland Village. “We are seeing lots of linen this spring, and we can’t keep it in stock. It leaves the store as fast as we get it in.” Perfect for work during the spring and summer months, Southern says the store carries linen skirts in all lengths. “And women are still wearing a lot of pants to work, and we have them in all lengths as well. Even crop pants look polished when paired with a nice pair of heels.”

Color is a big fashion element this spring, according to Southern. “We’re still seeing the traditional navy and black suits, but pairing a bright green with the navy or a bright yellow with black give the suits a fresh, contemporary look. We’re also seeing lots of turquoise and corals this spring.”

Southern says that dresses have made a huge comeback as well, and her customers are responding very favorably. “Dresses just take us back to a more feminine style. And to cater ro women who work in air conditioning, many of our dresses come with a matching shrug or jacket.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer S.J. Anderson at andersonwrites@yahoo.com .

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