OK Guys, Time To Give Up Your Tweety Bird Tie

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Attention guys: Do you wear neckties adorned with Tweety Bird or Daffy Duck? Would you sport your 15-year-old varsity letter jacket to a dinner party? Is there a pair of snakeskin vinyl bell-bottom jeans in your closet?

If yes is the answer to any of these questions, call 911. You need a police escort to J. Crew or Brooks Brothers.

"Don't let them fool you: Most men really do care about what clothes they wear and what they look like in them," says Jeff Stone, co-author with Kim Johnson Gross of "Chic Simple Men's Wardrobe" (Alfred A. Knopf, $30).

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"Some just have a rough time putting together a sharp-looking outfit. And unless you live on a deserted island or work at the circus, this a liability."

While Mr. Stone isn't the Fashion Police, he is blowing the whistle on men who dress like Liberace or Meatloaf - especially at the workplace.

"While dress codes are being relaxed at many companies, he who ignores the look of his successful peers does so at his own peril," he says.

Stone's advice is to keep it simple. He has devised what he calls an extensive "Bulletproof Closet" filled with clothing that every man should own: simple ties, dark suits, an overcoat, khakis, white shirt, blue blazer, gray flannel slacks, black shoes, and other can't-live-withouts.

Stone also leaves plenty of closet space for personal style: "Go with what style looks best for your body type; wear what you feel comfortable in," he says.

"Chic Simple" also advises today's man on dressing for an interview, traveling for a week with an overnight bag, relaxing when the invitation reads "black tie," and preparing for a night on the town.

One of the most helpful parts of the book is the "first-aid" appendix. It offers detailed instructions for getting out stains, from grass to grape, removing wrinkles and pilling, adding years to your wingtips, and developing an eye for good fabrics.

But before you run up your Visa tab, Stone suggests you sift through your closet and assess your needs. If you haven't worn those rhine-stoned cowboy boots, or the tie-dyed socks Aunt Nancy gave you 13 years ago, make a drop-off at the nearest Salvation Army on the way to the Brooks Brothers emergency entrance.

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