''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'' host Regis Philbin's neckwear began a fashion trend

By Clarissa Cruz
Updated October 20, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Who wants to be a fashion plate? Matt Lauer, Charles Gibson, and Bryant Gumbel may always look spiffy, but when it comes to influencing men’s fashion, they’ve got nothing on Reege. The debonair host of both Live With Regis and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Regis Philbin spearheaded the monochromatic-shirt-and-tie trend that culminated when he (along with manufacturer Van Heusen) launched a clothing line featuring his shimmery, color-coded ensembles in June.

Why haven’t you seen those dark shirts and ties popping up on Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather? For the most part, male anchors aren’t as fashionably adventurous as their female counterparts: The traditional dark suit, tie, and light shirt uniform hasn’t evolved dramatically in recent years — despite the proliferation of casual attire in the American workplace. Besides, the last time an anchor broke rank — Dan Rather got some serious ribbing when he donned a sweater in 1982 to warm up his image — it was a sartorial disaster.

”I’m not anxious to change the rules,” says The Early Show‘s Gumbel, who cringingly admits to sporting wide lapels and bold plaids in the early years of his career, but now relies almost exclusively on chic designer (and friend) Joseph Abboud. ”I try not to let my clothes disturb the viewer. I don’t ever want anybody to sit there and go, ‘Hey, Mabel, come run in here and see what he has on.”’ Not that there isn’t room for a personalized spin: MSNBC journalist Brian Williams is as known for his signature pocket squares as his newscasts.

”We’re going through a confusing state, with business casual,” adds Djordje Stefanovic, fashion and public relations director at Ermenegildo Zegna, an Italian design house that’s a favorite of the Today show’s Lauer. ”Whatever we may say, the reality with dressing is that style is not out and people still want to dress properly.”

But that doesn’t mean men are totally immune to the changing whims of fashion. According to Steve Gutman, president of Beau Brummel (Philbin’s outfitter), the Millionaire look is already on its way out. ”If you look at ties, they’re becoming narrower, [and] there are more stripes coming out,” says Gutman. Skinny ties on a straight-laced Ted Koppel? We hope that’s not the final answer.