Thursday, July 19, 2007

U.S. style standards may bend to Beckham

David Beckham: international soccer star, heartthrob, designer clotheshorse and European fashion icon.
But does he have what it takes to influence the looks of that notoriously stodgy species known as the American man? For the brave few, maybe.

For the others, maybe he can give them what he is best known for - a good kick - to try some new things that could take them out of the baggy pants-big shirt rut, men's fashion experts say.

"Beckham's here to show us not to be scared," says Daniel Biloett, men's fashion expert for "It's OK to look this great."

Beckham, No. 23 for the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team, has made his name in fashion by becoming a kind of chameleon, trying on hairstyles, trends and designers to suit each passing whim. He has cultivated an eclectic style, wearing everything from tight Armani suits to rhinestone-encrusted track suits.

That fondness for sexy clothes contrasts with America's looser, boxier style, says Biloett.
Beckham wears body-conscious pants and shirts unbuttoned to the navel, things many American men, who are more "nervous about their heterosexuality," would reject on principle.

Beckham is often all about being put together, touting the benefits of facials and manicures, and admits to both shaving his body and highlighting his hair.

Then there is his willingness to take on many different looks.

A wide variety of today's trend-setters offer different kinds of looks - Jay-Z's hip-hop cool; the clean-cut look of Tom Brady; the rakish style of Daniel Craig - but those guys usually pick one look and stick to it.

"The jury's still out in terms of his taste level," says Wendell Brown, senior fashion editor at Esquire magazine.

But even Beckham's ill-conceived style choices have had an influence in Europe: His bleach- blond fauxhawk inspired a generation of British schoolchildren, and his short-lived penchant for shaving off half an eyebrow almost caught on.

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