Men get a chance to spice up their wardrobes this fall. Seasonal looks are rich with color and patterns, according to style watchers.
Fall trends for men "have a bit more flair than in past seasons," said Cole Locke, assistant manager at Jos. A. Bank at Hamilton Place. "I've noticed over the last 10 years that men's fashions have gotten rather neutral and slim. Now I'm seeing bold patterns, wider lapels, color and pants with a slight width."
Shirts and ties with bold plaids, oversized checks and mixed patterns will dominate, he said.
"We've been swinging toward lots of color and patterns, especially as fall rolls around," Locke said.
The trend toward mixing patterns hasn't quite caught on locally, though.
"Most guys in Chattanooga think that wearing a tweed jacket with a plaid shirt is eccentric," Locke said.
One of the easiest ways for men to step out of their comfort zone is with color. A cardigan, vest, shirt or tie in a vivid new hue can update a classic or modern look.
"Everything has been so gray and neutral in the past, but colors are back," Locke said. "We have vests and cardigans in about 15 colors."
Bruce Baird, owner of Bruce Baird & Co., a men's fashion store on Broad Street, also sees bright colors -- pinks, purples, blues and greens -- in the fashion forecast for men.
"When the economy is down, like it is now, bright colors are in because color lifts spirits," Baird said. "When the economy is up, color is not as important because everybody feels good. Color is a pick-me-up for shaky times."
In addition to bold colors, cardigans and vests with V-necks are among the top fashion options this season, Baird said.
"V-necks go back and forth from season to season, but this fall and winter, they will be hugely popular," he said.
Men also will notice that slacks are getting an update. Though flat-front pants are still popular, fall is bringing a renewed interest in the pleated front, Locke said.
Every fashionable man should have a sport coat in his closet, Locke said.
"Aside from a navy blazer, which every man should own, a tweed coat is a good coat," he said. "It works with all kinds of combinations with or without a tie."
Baird said tweed flannel is also a good look for fall.
Leather accessories, such as belts and shoes, no longer have to match, Locke said.
"Though some people will encourage you to match the color of your belt to your shoes, I've never been hung up on that," he said. "I've always said perfect is boring. I like a 'wrinkle' here or there because it shows more personality."
One of the most difficult fashions for men to select is a tie, Locke said.
"There's just so many choices, and it can be overwhelming. We call it 'option anxiety.' It can take some guys up to two hours to choose a tie. We help by making suggestions, but the ultimate decision has to be theirs."
Large-paisley prints and plaid ties top the list for fall, he said.
The final decision when making a clothing purchase comes down to comfort, Locke said.
"Whenever my customers try on clothes, the first thing I ask is, 'Are you comfortable?' If it's not comfortable, then the fashions will just hang in the closet."
Contact Karen Nazor Hill at email@example.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill.