Sport a snappy new tie this spring, and people might think you've been up to something.
Add a stylish shirt, and they'll be convinced.
"People will ask 'Is that a new suit?' 'Did you lose weight?' 'Is that a new haircut?' " said local custom clothier Tom Barnett.
This happens all of the time to clients, Barnett said.
"The tie drives the look," he said.
If making a bit of a scene isn't enough to send you shopping for shirts and ties, the new crop of colors and shirt-tie combinations should be -- including the ones shown here, courtesy of local retailers.
Plus, a new season is always a good time to rethink fabric and color. A gingham shirt and solid knit tie are what look right now. And that's just one possibility.
"Whether someone is conservative or out there a little bit, there are so many neat things you can do -- and very tastefully -- to make your outfit pop," said Alan Kurtzman of the New York Store in Lancaster.
Bold colors, bold stripes and solid textures are what Tom Napoli of Napoli's in East Amherst sees happening right now.
For ties in particular, a new generation also is discovering paisleys.
"I'm 29 and paisleys are a fresh new world to me," he said.
Bold bow ties also appeal to the younger, preppier crowd, Barnett said.
"There definitely is a resurgence in this bolder, preppier look. They're picking up on the pistachio, pink or fuchsia color in the bow tie and coordinating it with a bold awning-stripe or bold tattersall-check shirt," he said.
Napoli offered this tip: Invest in the best quality tie you can afford; at Napoli's, ties start at $78. Shirts, $125.
Your tie reveals a lot about your personality, he said.
"Price-wise, you can shy on the shirt, shy on the suit but don't be too price-conscious on the tie. It's the focal point of the outfit," he said.
A few other tips and trends:
*"Shirt patterns that a generation ago would have been considered casual are now at the forefront of a more formal dress look," Barnett said. Tattersall and gingham in larger, more vibrant patterns have been reintroduced as dress shirts, for example. And the tie can be just as flashy, he added.
*Whimsical or conversational ties are ways to express your hobbies or personality. Go for it.
*Width-wise, ties are a touch narrower than they used to be, to reflect the modern, more trim look of today's clothing, Kurtzman said.
*Here's a basic pairing tip: "When wearing one of your multicolored shirts, simply find a tie that matches up with just ONE of the colors in the shirt," suggests the website thetiebar.com.
Try a contrasting pattern -- a striped shirt with a dotted tie, perhaps.
And yes, you can wear stripes with stripes. Just choose a tie that has stripes that are sized differently than those in the shirt -- a bold-striped tie with a thin-striped shirt.