QOn rainy days, is there some different way of dressing that XTC makes sense? Can I "dress down" at work without seeming disrespectful?
A: It is important to be well-dressed at all times. In the business world consistency counts. Still, reality says that no one wants to ruin his best clothes by wearing them in a downpour. A few adjustments can be made.
Forget little boy notions; don't be afraid to carry an umbrella. Why risk ruining your grown-up expensive clothes? Rain hats are not only useful, but masculine and dapper looking. (You may not believe it, but women like to see men in nice clothes and beat-up hats!)
A few drops of rain will not cause problems; that's why raincoats were invented. Still raincoats only keep the top of you dry. It's the bottom half you need to worry about when drivers speed through intersections, spraying water -- and mud -- on pants and your best loafers.
Everyone hates to throw out old, comfortable shoes. Reserve a pair past its prime for "rainy day shoes." Though old, they should be well-heeled and highly polished. Reality does not make shoddiness suddenly acceptable. On important meeting days, you have a few options. Rubber "Totes" in low-cut styles are good protection. Another mother-like suggestion (unlikely to be followed!): You can carry a spare pair of shoes to work. The sturdy, comfortable, water-resistant, near-dress-shoe-styling of Rockport shoes makes them popular. A common solution: Wear hiking boots to work and keep a pair of good shoes in a drawer at your office. Remember, light-colored suits emphasize spatters. Darker colors are for damp weather. Avoid street corner puddles; stand back; anticipate the worst. If your meeting is important enough, take a taxi.
Send your questions or comments to Lois Fenton, Today in Style, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Ms. Fenton welcomes questions about men's dress or grooming for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.
Ms. Fenton, the author of "Dress for Excellence" (Rawson Associates, $19.95), conducts wardrobe seminars for Fortune 500 companies around the country.