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As we head towards the top (or bottom) of our list, sportswear slowly falls away and the cream rises.

**4. Tie — Gilded Age and John Varvatos:**

Two more different collections would be hard to find. For the Kempt man, however, Gilded Age and John Varvatos represent a perfect balance of casual and formal. Yes, Gilded Age (pictured) upped the ante this year with a new capsule line of fine, history-inspired wool suits and bowler hats. Still, the best things here stressed comfort and ease—hearty outdoor ware for more active hours. Varvatos, on the other hand, has pushed himself closer to European territory. His shimmering gray collection lies closer to the boundaries of fashion than almost any of his previous work (perhaps toiling for Converse has compelled him to whip up these chancy new lapels and such.) It’s heady stuff, but just as slick and masculine as ever. Grab a little from each of these lines, and you’re set till 2010. [links above]

**3. Michael Bastain:**

From where we stand, the best men’s looks are all about harmony—matching flair, elegance and spontaneity in a subtle, approachable package. While there were some unfortunate experiments in denim in Michael Bastian’s latest line, the 300 pieces in this smirking but thankfully mainstream collection allow anyone to approach the racks and make something truly unique for themselves. In particular, Bastian is leading the charge in reclaiming cargo-pant construction for non-mouth breathers. It’s a daunting task, but with his dapper jackets and cheeky American sportswear styles, it’s mission accomplished. [Men.Style]

—G.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Gabriel Bell