Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wearing U.S. flag colors without looking corny

America recently celebrated its 232nd birthday on July 4, a holiday in which, for the most part, is pretty calm during the day but anticipation builds for fireworks to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Anyone who has gone to a local fireworks show will likely see proud Americans wearing some combination of red, white and blue, which is extremely easy to coordinate.

But, as ESPN's straight-shooting NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith might say, "How-EV-uh ...!"

To wear a flag shirt, with stars on a blue background on one side and complementary red-and-white stripes on the other, sends the message of a rightfully proud American with the style sense of a bull in a china shop. You're better off just wearing the flag around your shoulders (just don't let the edges hit the ground).

On the other end of the spectrum, the "less is more" approach, such as a lapel pin of the American flag on a navy blazer with white slacks, definitely does the trick.

And when it's less on the wallet, there's more bang for the buck. To wit: My latest Polo purchases at Macy's included a red-and-white striped rugby shirt and navy blue cotton casual trousers. After sales tax, the ensemble cost less than $25.

Here's how it happened: During a one-day sale at Macy's on Saturday, an additional 50 percent off was tacked on to existing markdowns. I was indeed pleased that I could wear the colors of the flag at the price I paid.

If you wish to wear a jacket in your Old Glory-style presentation, a basic outfit starts with a blue blazer, white trousers, and a choice of red, white or blue shirts, or a patterned shirt that combines these colors. And don't forget the lapel pin.

A couple of don'ts include:
  • wearing a solid red blazer and/or red trousers. Too loud. (solid white and navy blue do work.)
  • star-patterned pants are just as loud. (star-patterned ties, however, are a nice touch.)

As always, common sense is the rule. The number of outfits you can generate with red, white and blue is vast.

Good luck.

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