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Fashion : A SPECIAL REPORT: SPRING INTO FALL : Men's Details : In Living Color : In a Determined Move Away From Basic Black, the Vivid New Crop of Jackets Is Proving a Little Flash Can Be Fun


The mourning period is over in men's wear. It's not that black is out, mind you, it's just that, yes, Victor, there is such a thing as color. And the new crop of coats shows just how much fun a little splash can be.

"They don't want to see another black blazer right now," says Allen Schwartz of ABS clothing in Santa Monica. "We feel good about providing color for men."

And color doesn't mean navy or gray. Bright greens, orange yellows, grape and even pink are all part of the scene.

Even for fall, says designer Richard Tyler, color is making a strong comeback.

And buying a bright color doesn't necessarily limit a blazer's wearability, either.

Fabric, more than color, makes the coat versatile, says Zareh Khederlarian, vice president and buyer for the Politix clothing chain. "People are mixing colors," he says. "From my point of view, it's the pattern and fabric itself."

A heavier fabric, such as wool, he says, can be worn with wool, cotton or rayon slacks, or even jeans, while a lightweight rayon jacket wouldn't work as well.

But there's more good news. For the most part, jackets are staying big and loose, with softer shoulders and a boxy feel.

"Tighter jackets didn't work," says Khederlarian.

"They tried to push (more fitted clothes), but it didn't happen," notes Sara Dovan of Traffic clothing store. "People like to be more comfortable."

Designer Tyler's high-end line is a notable exception to the sack suits. He goes for a much more fitted jacket with a stronger shoulder. "Our jackets are very constructed," he notes.

The unconstructed, comfortable designs have done a lot to make the blazer as important to weekend wear as it is in the office.

The man who uses a a three-piece concept to dress for the office wants the third piece, the jacket, for his leisure time too, says Marty Weening, president and co-founder of Axis, the Los Angeles based men's wear line. And, he says, men aren't looking to define their self-image with a jacket. They're dressing to impress themselves, buying for comfort and value.

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