Bywords for "the best-dressed" spring from the pages of Gentlemen's Quarterly magazine.

Glance through the pages of a current issue, then examine your closet, focusing on the tie rack, for example.Hanging from the rack is a daring floral print tie - a courageous step forward, ready to cinch around your neck. You may discover a trendy conversation tie, the kind with a tennis game or a duck hunt battling for space.

Congratulate yourself on a forward-thinking fashion statement, but hold the plaudits until you check the far reaches of the rack.

If a traditional bold striped rep tie lingers there, hang on to it.

According to Edward Cortese, merchandising editor for GQ, the rep ties were "all over Europe's spring shows and will make a strong entry into the American market by fall. There's a swing back to the stripe, but it's a bold awning stripe, so wild in combination with a stripe shirt and patterned jacket. We noticed a new accent on the pattern combinations, but the rep stripe is traditional . . . in an updated way."

Cortese represented the magazine as part of a recent Deer Valley resort fashion/ski promotion in behalf of Salt Lake's 1998 Winter Games bid.

Daylong skiing events included races, grudge matches, clinics and synchronized skiing demonstrations featuring Miss Utah, Patti Jo Bender; Park City Mayor Brad Olch; Mayor Palmer DePaulis of Salt Lake City; and Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers.

Fund-raising events concluded with a GQ-inspired fashion show hosted by Cortese and presented by D. Grant Ltd., Salt Lake City.

Day wear by designers like Hugo Boss, Charles Jourdan or Nicole Miller demonstrated the contemporary looks familiar to the fashion-conscious.

"Lines are softened," said Cortese. "We see less padding in the shoulder. It's a natural look with softer fabrics like linen and rayon blends, sometimes a more draped, fluid look."

The softer look corresponds with a healthy lifestyle outlook.

"People exercise more and they are careful about what they eat," explained Cortese. "They like their efforts to be noticed in what they wear, not covered up by padding and layers."

But the casual chic of a wool sweater layered under a classic blazer never looks dated.

"A sweater tied at the waist or tossed over the shoulder is an important accessory," said Cortese. "It adds an extra dimension to what you're wearing, nothing really new, but a sophisticated, yet casual look - a little rumpled, a throw-away elegance that appears thrown together."

While American men of the past dressed according to corporate specifications or with little imagination, GQ describes today's men as confident and independent.

"If the corporation or the firm dictates an acceptable style of dress, men dare to make an individual statement with cuff links or braces," said the New York editor, "a gentle way to capture attention."

Bright floral prints in scarves or camp shirts catch the eye when combined with a neutral background, a women's fashion strategy suggested by Dale Grant, owner of the Foothill Village D. Grant Ltd.

Grant special orders custom prints in a variety of colors and fabrics.

A single accessory, like the multicolor scarf, a rep stripe tie or the throwaway sweater, contributes to an individual fashion look.

A look that broadcasts confidence.

The GQ look.