Washington men are finally interested in something other than gray flannel. "They really have come around," says menswear designer Jeffrey Banks. He was surprised that the same "adventuresome" fashion items he sells in New York were prime choices at Neiman-Marcus, where he made a personal appearance recently. "I would show a guy how to put a Fair Isle sweater vest with a window-pane check shirt and antique herringbone stripe jacket, and they instantly caught on to what I was talking about."

Banks graduated from McKinley High School in 1971. He worked as an assistant first to Ralph Lauren, then Calvin Klein, and now designs for Merona Sport as well as his own line. Washington used to be "a lot sleepier and the men more conservative," Banks remembers. "Men's clothing habits have changed everywhere, but it is real noticeable in Washington because it is such a straight-laced kind of town."

Banks has been nominated for a Coty Award, and is doing scaled-down versions of his menswear for boys. "There is nothing that I do for men that a boy can't wear, and vice-versa," he says.

Remember Diane Von Furstenberg's little wrap dress? "There are many women who are still wearing them, so it seemed appropriate to do a modern version," says Von Furstenberg, who recently bought her business back from licensees and has started designing dresses again. The new version of the DVF wrap, in acrylic knit or silk jersey, has dolman sleeves and can be worn with the wrap in front or back. The prints are Indonesian, spinning off "from my love affair with Bali."

Von Furstenberg made fashion history by selling close to 2 million of the tiny print wrap-style dresses that she first introduced in 1973. The style peaked three years later when it was the uniform for both college girls and their mothers. "Women are different now," says Von Furstenberg, who pegs the change as "more mellow and more confident," and apparently ready for more wrap dresses. Von Furstenberg, who includes herself in the definition of today's woman, thinks she might hit the 2 million mark again.

Do you have designs on a career in fashion and the graphic arts? The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York is repeating its successful day-long conference for those seriously interested in starting an art and design business of their own. Nearly 100 visual and graphic artists, plus financial, legal and marketing specialists, will share their experiences with those who attend the Saturday, Oct. 16, conference.

The morning session will include speakers on managing and marketing an art and design business, including a discussion of sources for capital and legal matters. The afternoon session will offer workshops in illustration, photography, grants, jewelry, textile design and other professional areas. (Note that there is no special workshop on fashion design as such.)

The conference, a joint project of F.I.T., the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Small Business Administration, costs $25 and has a limited enrollment. Even with the additional cost of the round-trip fare to New York, it sounds like a worthy investment. For more information contact the Seminar Department, Fashion Institute of Technology, 227 W. 27th St., New York, N.Y. 10001

Issey Miyake has shaved off his mustache. It was in his contract with Suntory Limited, the Japanese brewer and distillery, that the mustache remain as long as his photograph was featured in its ads. The big advantage of his "new look," says Miyake, is that he can now go into stores and work with customers without being besieged by fans who recognize him from the ads.

Miyake had one of the more sensible designer shows in his Tokyo showroom last week. The same clothes that swept down the runway in Paris months earlier were shown minus the exaggerations put on for the fashion show. "I wanted to show how these clothes apply to real men and women, not runway models," Miyake said. Miyake will show his complete collection in New York for the first time on Nov. 4. His fashion arena: the U.S. battleship Intrepid, which is now a floating museum docked at the pier on 46th Street and 12th Avenue. Miyake is not attempting to rewrite history. "Remember that I was born in Hiroshima, so this is all very familiar history to me," says Miyake. "But that's the point. It is history and times are changed now. That's why I can do a fashion show in this museum."

We know of watches that do double time, for businessmen who travel but always need to be reminded of time back in the office. And we've heard of watches that whistle "Dixie" and even watches that play Pac Man. Now there is a watch for athletes that not only measures the pace of your running but the speed of your pulse. Seiko's Pulsemeter has a sensor button that registers your pulse when touched with a finger and registers the pulse rate on a digital read-out. It can tell you the date and also functions as an alarm and stopwatch. And it tells the time.

Jockey briefs won't be a male prerogative much longer. The largest quality maker of men's underwear will soon start manufacturing underpants for women, according to Wallace Erickson, senior vice president of marketing at Jockey International.

It will start as a no-frills business, according to Erickson, who says the first garments will be white cotton. Color is almost 50 percent of the men's Jockey line. "We've just completed a dusty tone cycle," says Erickson, who says the white bikini for men has become a strong fashion item as well. Jockey makes the YSL brand briefs for men "but we turned down the offer to make Calvin Klein briefs," he added.

For the moment, Jockey has no plans to promote the women's undies with a sports personality such as Jim Palmer, the Baltimore Orioles pitcher who is featured in the ads for men's briefs. (The Jockey for "Her" line will be introduced in Washington early next year.)