Fashion advice for men: no flared pants or white vinyl belts

How To Dress Your Man, by Charles Hix. New York: Crown Publishers. $9.95; $4.95 paper. Making The Man: The Insider's Guide To Buying and Wearing Men's Clothes, by Alan Flusser. New York: Wallary. $9.95 paper.

Women buy 80 percent of men's clothing - 40 percent while shopping alone and the remaining 40 percent while accompanied by men.

Charles Hix is quick to admit that men should ''dress themselves.'' But since many men won't bother unless assisted, he addresses his book to the women who dress their men.

''How to Dress Your Man'' begins with a crash course in men's fashion, ranging from proper proportion to the basics of color, texture, and pattern.

An important part of the book discusses determining which of five styles best describes a particular man. This is followed by suggestions for selecting flattering clothes.

For example, ''the connoisseur'' is the high-power businessman who dresses principally to project authority. The ''drum major'' is the trendiest one of all. He uses clothes to emphasize his ingenuity, while ''the moderator'' recognizes the rule of order as long as it isn't dictatorial. For him, clothing should strike a balance between authority and ingenuity to proclaim his versatility.

Black-and-white sketches throughout the book illustrate the author's points. Although they're unattractive and far too numerous, they do help. The fashion photographs are more interesting.

Mr. Hix is definitely a fashion expert with opinions that are not only worthwhile but often funny.

For instance, he says the only time a man should wear a white vinyl or patent leather belt is when his pants are falling down.

He also says that if a man has flared pants in his wardrobe, cut them up and use them as dust cloths.

And when it comes to whether or not to fasten that bottom button on a vest, it's up to you. The custom of not fastening it, Mr. Hix says, is a long story that involved a chunky monarch.

In all, this is an excellent guide book with valuable advice.

''Making the Man'' offers sound fashion advice geared to men. The point here is that fashion has become a serious business. And with high prices, it's important for men to learn to be intelligent consumers.

Suits that were $135 in 1970 are now $275 to $400. Shoes that were $35 are now over $100, and the once $15 shirt now costs $50 to $60.

Alan Flusser also maintains that if a man is paying more than $22 for a pair of jeans, he's paying too much. He believes the best quality jean is the Levi No. 501. This is the original one cowboys wore - durable with a fine fit and a life of two decades. (I'd say more like six years.)

He fails to give the price of No. 501. Some checking on my part came up with a regular price tag of $20 and a sale price of $18.95.

In a chapter on sportswear, Mr. Flusser stresses the European approach to dressing, which is putting together what one has around. This could mean a sports jacket that might have been worn to work with an open neck shirt, a sweater, and odd pair of pants. Americans, he says, are apt to try to match an outfit. Classic separates of sportswear will not go out of style the way a matched outfit will, the author says.

Actually, the book should be directed to travelers, since the entire second part is devoted to a worldwide directory of shops where one can find clothes of style and value. This is not an exhaustive survey but a selective one.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.