Course of Style: Calvin Klein enters the golf market

Photo: Fred Vuich/SI

Belly up: Mickelson's color choices emphasized his midsection.

The Calvin Klein name, one of the most famous in American fashion, will take a big swing at golf clothes, according to an announcement this week by Ireland-based Premium Golf Brands. The multiyear licensing deal, whereby the Cork-based company will roll out Calvin Klein golf apparel and accessories worldwide, was announced, naturally, on St. Patrick's Day (at a breakfast in New York honoring Ireland's Prime Minister, Brian Cowen).

Many designers have golf collections, notably Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. But the Calvin Klein label has never been much of a player on the golf course. Until recently, a Westport, Conn., based company, Calvin Klein Golf, has held the licensing rights to Calvin Klein golf apparel in the United States.

Of course, the licensed clothes will not come anywhere near the hand of Calvin Klein himself, who sold his company years ago and retired from actively designing its products. Calvin Klein Inc. is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, which makes many other designer products. Presumably the designer's signature look — sleek, minimal modernism in understated neutral colors (including every iteration of tan and beige on the planet, not to mention the solar system) — will be honored and adapted.

Since many golfers are already very fond of tan colors, perhaps this is a match made in heaven.

Doral Dos and Don'ts
The down-to-the-wire finish of the WGC-CA Championship at Doral on Sunday illustrated a few important golf style points.

Nick Watney, who finished second, showed the slimming power of dressing in a virtual monotone: white hat, white trousers (with an alligator off-white belt), white shoes and a very pale blue (almost white) shirt, from Ashworth Golf. The sameness of the palette made him look lanky and elegant.

On the other hand, the winner, Phil Mickelson, soldiered on despite battling illness and looked a little worse for wear throughout. He wore a tight white shirt atop steel-gray pants — a look that emphasized the high contrast of top and bottom, and thus called attention to his midsection. The heavy black belt served only to further cut his silhouette in half. His shirts, presumably custom-made (since it is not an easy matter to acquire fitted golf shirts with button-down collars), seemed skimpy for his ample frame. Instead of button-downs, which emphasize his long, full face, he should consider a fullish spread collar.

No doubt he could care less — and is laughing all the way to the bank.

Belting It
As mentioned here before, the waistline has been the locus of a lot of fashion attention lately, as younger golfers tend to express themselves with wild, colorful, and interesting belts. Now Adidas Golf is making it easier for golfers to play mix and match with their buckles and leather straps with an in-store display that allows them to build their own belt.

Beginning in May, you can choose between a variety of belt buckles, including Adidas's bestselling Trophy model, the one with the three-stripe Adidas theme in brushed metal — in white, black, silver, lime, etc. — like that worn by Sergio Garcia and other tour pros. These or two other styles can then be matched to brown, black or white leather straps, perforated or plain. The buckles run about $20, the leather $45. The build-your-own model allows you to add a dash of color without going crazy.

"It's easy to wear a lime belt, tough to wear a lime golf shirt," said Gregg Hemphill, a vice president of the Tmax Gear division of TaylorMade-Adidas.

Adidas, by the way, sold more than 25,000 Trophy belts in 2008.

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