Q: My wife has always shopped for my clothes (except suits). Now that she's working she no longer has time. What do you think of catalog shopping?
A: Catalog shopping has several advantages. It saves time, avoids the frustration of standing in lines and getting poor service, offers a broad range of available sizes and colors, and is often less expensive.
For the person who works -- or hates to shop -- the convenience is hard to fault, provided you know what you like and your taste tends toward the traditional.
In most cases telephones are manned and questions answered 24 hours a day. Deliveries are speedy. Once you've found which cut is right for you, as with custom clothes, reorders are easy. Returns are hassle-free (most will refund postage, if requested).
Most companies can help you color coordinate an outfit. Decide on a sport shirt; tell them you want casual pants to match a color in the pattern; they will track them down for you -- a godsend for the one man in 11 who is colorblind. Shoppers find "hot" new items attractively presented in context -- and totally free of sales pressure.
Gifts are easy: Call an 800 number, pay with credit card, your gift is wrapped, card enclosed, and shipped directly to anyone on your list. Reliable catalogs: Spiegel, Land's End, L. L. Bean, Orvis, J. Crew, Tweeds and, on a higher level, Bullock & Jones, Brooks Brothers, and Jos. A. Bank also sell suits (which must be tailored on your own). Better specialty shops and department stores offer well-edited selections of seasonal merchandise. A number of men's catalogs specialize in racy underwear. They often also have stylish casual clothes and are worth a look -- as long as you aren't worried about neighbors browsing through your mail.
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.