It's All About the Suits

Early in the movie "Alfie," the title character, a limousine driver addicted to women and wingtip shoes, reaches into his closet for a pink dress shirt. "If you ooze masculinity like some of us do," says Alfie, played by Jude Law, addressing the camera with aplomb, "you have no reason to fear pink."Spoken like a man who knows a hankie from a pocket square. He can assure Susan Sarandon, as he adjusts the neckline of her cocktail dress, "You're so right to trust Chanel." Reprising the 1966 Michael Caine role and flaunting Martin Margiela suits and Ozwald Boateng shirts, Mr. Law is "bird" bait in the movie (opening Oct. 21), drawing lustful glances from a parade of passing women. He is also a billboard for style."He represents the new generation of pretty boys," said Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys New York. Mr. Doonan, who conceived a series of "Alfie"-inspired windows on view this week at Barneys on Madison Avenue and in Beverly Hills, predicted that the movie would exert a strong influence on the way men dress and in particular on the way they wear suits. "There is a tendency to see suits as strictly for the office," he said. "This validates them for a broader audience, who will think of them as casual attire."That audience will be offered a glimpse inside Alfie's closet. Perhaps improbably, Alfie has amassed an enviable wardrobe of natty striped neckties, snug-fitting suits and Paul Smith shoes on a meager driver's salary. "He's the kind of guy who buys his suits at the end-of-season sale," explained Charles Shyer, the film's director and producer, who worked with Mr. Law and Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, the costume designer, to conceive a contemporary look for the character. "Maybe he is a size 40 and the store only had a 38, but he buys it anyway, because it's Gucci," Mr. Shyer said. "Only on him, it doesn't look small. It looks fashiony."Estate Jewels, Old or OtherwiseFor Linda Augsburg, an aficionado of vintage costume jewelry, the ultimate compliment is being told that the brooch or ring she is wearing looks like something her grandmother might have owned."That is just what I look for in a piece, something that screams 'heritage,' " Ms. Augsburg said on Sunday as she navigated the 26th Street flea market in Manhattan. Just the sort of thing being pushed this season as the perfect garnish for a Marc Jacobs tweed topper or a Prada twin set.When shopping for brooches or cocktail rings -- the estate variety or an artfully wrought paste facsimile -- Ms. Augsburg favors flea markets, which are still a valuable source for vintage costume jewelry, often at a fraction of the price of department store reproductions. Ms. Augsburg offered her services as a sherpa at a time when brooches are particularly coveted as a hallmark of the eccentric debutante look being promoted for fall. With an eye trained by years of collecting, she is adept at sifting the deals from the dross. "Look at this," she said of a shiny bow-shape pin that caught her eye. "It shouts 1950's." The black enamel finish was the giveaway. "It's rare to see enamel on a contemporary piece."She pounced on a box of loose clasps, each studded with pear-shape crystals and rhinestone rondels. Substitute one for the flimsy silver clasp on most pearls, she suggested, and you have a piece that looks much richer -- a ringer for Van Cleef & Arpels.A teardrop pendant caught her eye. "The crystal is set on prongs, like a diamond," she said, a sign of meticulous workmanship. "No one would glue on a really good stone."Testing the heft of a gold-tone link bracelet, she observed that the weightier the piece, the more likely it is to date from the 1940's or 50's, when costume jewelers prided themselves on replicating the look and feel of the real thing. "Look for a stamp on the back," she advised. Finding a vintage collectible by Miriam Haskell or Kenneth Jay Lane at a flea market may be unlikely these days. "But then, you never know.

It's All About the Suits 1

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