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Will men's busy spring outfits make me look eccentric?

The question

I'm looking at the spring fashion magazines and I'm seeing really colourful, busy outfits: stripes and checks and solids, all of them in bright colours - for men. Don't you think we'll all look a bit eccentric like this?

The answer

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The season's crazy-quilt look appeals to the dandy in me. It takes great confidence to match a striped green tie and a blue check jacket and a floral pocket square (and then put it with brick-red trousers and burgundy brogues with no socks) and anyone who takes pleasure in clothes will want to rise to this challenge. Don't think of it as edgy; think of it as conservative:

In fact, men's summer clothing was much more brightly coloured until the late 20th century. Military officers and cabinet ministers on holiday wore white jackets with bold stripes and flowers in their buttonholes from the 19th century right into the 1970s and they were nonetheless dignified by it. Of all the coloured patterns you're going to be seeing, though, remember that plaid is the most difficult to carry off with aplomb. Generally, you might consider changing your attitude toward "eccentric" - you say that as if it's a bad thing.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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