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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 19, 2010

Making over your man


By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

'Hawai'i casual' works at the beach, but for dates, it's time for guys to raise the bar.

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

TO THE RESCUE


Men: Need some help dressing for success in your relationship with discerning women? Try this book.
"Nordstrom Guide to Men's Everyday Dressing," by Tom Julian; Chronicle Books
Sold at Nordstrom; www.nordstrom.com.

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NECESSARY BASICS

The best jeans a guy can afford, fitted properly and hemmed to the proper length for his footwear.

Fashionable driving moccasins, cool Converse or at least a good pair of leather slippers.

A long-sleeved, button-front shirt, preferably cotton or linen, that's fitted to his physique. Look for "fitted" and "trim" options.

Shorts can look sharp. Look for a pair that hits you at the top of the knee. For most men, this means a nine-inch inseam.

Never use a dress belt with shorts.

If you're wearing a belt, it should match your shoes.

If you're wearing socks, they can match either shoes or pants, or both.

When shopping for T-shirts, avoid boxy styles or, conversely, those that hug too tight, creating lumps and bumps. Opt for styles that skim the body.

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Since first impressions do not come with the possibility of a do-over, guys might want to be a little careful with what they're wearing when they're somewhere a potential girlfriend might be.

That's something Fashion Forum member Stephanie Matsumoto emphasizes when she tells the tale of how she met her (now) boyfriend, Holger Gruenert. The kite surfer was kicking back in shorts and T-shirt.

"If not for his upbeat personality and cute looks, the outfit was close to sending me walking the other way," she says.

Gruenert had no idea he thought he was doing pretty well. After all, he had matched the turquoise piping on his shorts with a turquoise surf T-shirt for an evening get-together.

"Yikes!" was Matsumoto's reaction.

"I am not against shorts, T-shirts and slippers, but the look is hard to pull off as a day-to-night outfit on most occasions.

Lesson learned: Guys should not underestimate their appearance and feel they can succumb to "Hawai'i casual" when not at the beach.

"You can still be comfortable, casual and stylish with a little planning," Matsumoto said.

FASHIONABLY CASUAL

Even when guys are at their most casual, there are ways to make it work, fashion-wise. The shorts can be crisp, hemmed and a flattering length, the T-shirt a good fit and in an interesting design, the slippers with a bit of style.

When guys dress for a date, they should raise the bar and give a little more thought to the look.

Gruenert and Matsumoto are still together, so something must be working.

"Not to be defeated, Gruenert has rebounded and now wears long pants more often and feels comfortable and good," Matsumoto said. "He often asks for my opinion, and I give him the yay or nay with some pointers."

His Diesel jeans, long-sleeved cotton shirts and leather slippers are three ways she has helped him tweak his style.

"Holger, like any man, is a work in progress," Matsumoto said. "He has an open mind."

'KEEPING IT FUNKY'

Island men often share a love for worn-out T-shirts and baggy cargo shirts. Matsumoto has tried to steer Gruenert away from these fashion don'ts and Fashion Forum member Toby Portner does the same with her husband, Reggie Gorham.

Portner says her trick is to either throw the shirts away in secret ("one by one, over time") or convince Gorham to save them for yard work.

When Gorham and Portner first moved to Hawai'i from Chicago, he was all about aloha shirts. "But he's kinda over it. We are working on mixing it up a bit, keeping it funky, yet growing it up. Snappy casual," Portner said.

The affable Gorham can "pretty much pull off anything," Portner said.

A somewhat dressier look he is currently working with is a linen shirt tucked out, with long cotton pants in a casual style and clogs.

"I hate to tuck in. I feel freer with my shirt untucked," Gorham said.

The Gorhams simply can't seem to agree on shoes. Gorham loves Sanuk canvas boat shoes, but Portner can't stand them, referring to them as "Gilligan's Island shoes." She encourages clogs or leather slippers over boat shoes. He just shakes his head.