RANDY NEWMAN STILL WONDERS WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE GREAT T-shirts he used to buy when he was a kid. They were plain, didn't have writing on the front. They made him happy. But T-shirts change, and so has the perpetually casual singer-songwriter, who no longer sees jeans with an aloha shirt as fashion-right for entertaining on stage. "When I was younger, I was so good-looking I didn't need fancy clothes," jokes Newman, who cruised L.A. wearing a Hawaiian shirt in his famous "I Love L.A." video. "But as I mature, I need tricks."
He discovers some new tricks in winter menswear that has a Newman-esque sense of humor and surprise. Just as Newman writes tunes with an unexpected bite, so does the new menswear lend mild-mannered basics a jolt through accessories and irreverent strokes of color.
Yet for a reluctant fashion plate, such boldness takes some adjustment.
"I've never wanted to stand out in any kind of way. I just want to get from here to there without anyone paying too much attention," says Newman, who swears he never shops for clothes alone because "I'd end up looking like a tout at the race track."
But even Newman can be talked into a dash of visual self-expression. As he tries on holiday suspenders, boisterous socks and festive bow ties, he discards for the moment the notion that "I'm boring pictorially" for a more generous self-assessment: "With these clothes on, if I had bigger teeth and an upper lip, I could be a movie star," he deadpans.