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Style Guide: How to Master Linen and Stripes

We hit the John Bartlett runway show at the Spring 2013 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week to find out how men can successfully rock stripes and linen—at the same time.

New York City has been buzzing with designers, buyers and reporters who are all clamoring for the first glimpse of the Spring 2013 menswear collections. Why should that matter to you? Whatever's showing on the NYC runways today will eventually make its way into the stores nearest you—and potentially into your closet. To help you make sense of things like layering, pastel pants and cargo jackets, we sent MF Style reporter Maggie Parker in to the trenches (or in this case, to the rows of folding chairs at New York's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week to scout what's happening on the runways...and what those looks means for you. 

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There are a few reasons why guys like NY Giants' wide receiver Ramses Barden and the NY Knicks' J.R. Smith look to designer John Bartlett to keep them looking like the ballers that they are. First, of course...his clothes—a line of lightweight suits, cabana shirts and updated South Beach-style separates—make any man look effortlessly cool and ever so slightly preppy.

Bartlett and his clothes are also eco-conscious: his current collection is made entirely from sustainable linen (plus, he uses his line to raise funds for his non profit animal rescue organization, The Tiny Tim Rescue Fund). 

You may already know that linen is a light, breathable fabric (great for warmer days when you're sweating it out in an under-air-conditioned office or at a business lunch), but it can be tough to figure out how to actually wear it correctly. Here's what we picked up from watching Bartlett's crew stalking the runaway:

  1. Make sure it fits: The more fitted the pieces are, the most sophisticated they look. Loose linen might make you look like you're heading south on a tropical vacation or into the 80s, Miami Vice style. 
  2. Balance: Natural, dye-free linen tends to be light in color, be sure to balance that out with a darker piece (we saw examples of this at the Gilded Age presentation).
  3. Don't flee from patterns: Bartlett's Spring collection is proof that stripes and plaids can be your friend—if not from head to toe, then at least in one piece of clothing (even if that's your tie). 
     

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