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Thursday, March 13, 2003 - Part 1 of 4


By Alina Larson & Elizabeth Jardina, STAFF WRITERS, The Argus 


Alan Kahn has two drawers  devoted to tie-dye shirts. But that's not his real problem. Kahn wears  the tie-dye Ts for his weekend gigs as a magician, but the rest of his  wardrobe is bland.


What to wear, what to wear?  For a variety of reasons that question can induce panic. Perhaps you've  gained weight and live by the credo ``baggy is better.'' Or maybe  you're trapped in the wrong look - the '70s, the sweatsuit, or the Jeans  and T-shirt Uniform.


We asked readers with  wardrobe woes to come out of the closet and get a fashion fix-up  courtesy of Menlo Park-based personal image designer Carla Mathis.  Candidates for the assignment were brutal: “My co-worker wears MC Hammer  pants;” frank: “I've been arrested by the fashion police so many times  I'm a fashion felon,” and desperate: “I will get kind of nauseous when  I'm buying clothes.”


Finally, four readers  chosen, we camped out in a dressing room at Stanford Shopping Center's  Bloomingdale's, and the apparel adventure began.


Presto - Change-O!

Alan Kahn has two drawers  devoted to tie-dye shirts. But that's not his real problem. Kahn wears  the tie-dye Ts for his weekend gigs as a magician, but the rest of his  wardrobe is bland.


“Jeans wear out, I buy a  new pair. A flannel shirt wears out, I buy a new flannel shirt,” says  Kahn, 38, a father of two who is getting a teaching credential at San  Jose State University while substitute teaching for three East Bay  school districts.


For the makeover the  Fremont resident adds a cream sweater and a beige suede jacket over a  shirt and jeans. In addition to wanting a wardrobe with style, the  130-pound, 6-foot-2-inch Kahn would like to know how to look less tall  and thin.


“He's an Italian stallion,”  says Mathis. “He's elegant and mysterious.” She notes his  salt-and-pepper hair and fine features. “We need to support his quiet  masculinity.”


To do that Kahn needs to  stick to very well-made clothes of fine fabrics, preferably made by  European designers. She pulls out Versace pants and a Dolce &  Gabbana shirt, forbidding Kahn to ever wear anything bold or vertically  striped. She chooses understated colors - chocolate, charcoal and tan.


A little mousse to Kahn's hair, and the magician is turned into a model.

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