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 ( JCG) (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) ( JCG).
Solid silhouettes: 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 ( JCG) (Stock Quote: JCG).
( 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 (RL) - Get Report Rugby line (Stock Quote: RL). For dressier options, try on blazers by Dsquared2 and oversize shirts by Commes des Garcons .
( JCG) (RL) - Get ReportLighter 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.
( JCG) (RL) - Get ReportWide 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 (APP) - Get Report (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.
Gold jewelry: After you bought that white-gold watch to match your platinum wedding band, designers have to go and change everything. This spring, invest in gold chains and watches, real or fake. Consider Cartier's oversize 18-carat Santos-Dumont watch or a vintage piece from Patek Philippe.
( JCG) (RL) - Get Report (APP) - Get ReportShorter shorts: American men hate Speedos, and given the shape of most American men they probably should. Instead of wearing nautical shorts that squeeze the midsection, look for a pair of trunks with a straight waist and a button-snap or tie front. The length should extend to mid-thigh, just long enough to ensure privacy.
Investment sandals: For men, there's no greater fashion crime than showing up at a beach or pool soiree wearing sneakers. Regardless of your budget, you can probably afford a simple pair of sandals. If you're frugal, try Havaianas or the Gap, but stick to basic black or white with leather or reinforced straps. Those looking to spend more can find simple red or black options from Prada Sport or pricier Roman-strap sandals from Louis Vuitton (LVMUY) .
Wayfarers: These ubiquitous sunglasses rose to fame on the face of Sonny Crockett, a character on the '80s hit show Miami Vice. While the microfiber blazer has yet to make a comeback, the sunglasses have been shielding the eyes of Hollywood celebrities. J. Crew sells a pair by eyewear designer Selima Optique for $325. Ray-Ban offers the $100 Wayfarer Square, a spin on the 1952 original worn by everyone, including Bob Dylan and James Dean.