Q:I wear traditional clothes and like my shirts to fit right. My tailor says that since I'm tall, I should have my shirt collars made longer. My wife says the points are too long and out of style. I'm stuck in the middle. Who's right?
A: Be careful where you take your advice. Not all tailors know VTC about style. They know fit. But their taste may be quite different from yours. They may not know what is appropriate in your industry and in your office. In the world of business, their advice could be way off the money.
I am with your wife on this one; long collar points on traditional shirts went out of style years ago.
In my years of consulting with individual clients, I have never met a man who could describe exactly the shirt style, cut, and collar-shape that he prefers. But he always knows which are his favorite shirts. If you're having shirts made, instead of telling the tailor what you want, bring a shirt from home -- one with the right shape collar, the right type of cuff, and just the right amount of fullness. Pick the fabric you like from his selection of swatches, and tell him to copy your shirt's styling.
Q: I have trouble wearing wool. I have a wool sensitivity, so wool pants are too "itchy" for me. A brand new suit turned out to be uncomfortable, even though the store installed padding in front of the thighs. How can I have the suit made more comfortable? What should I look for in wool when I shop for my next suit? Clue: another wool suit I have is so comfortable, I look forward to wearing it -- too bad I didn't bring it with me when I shopped for the new one.
A: Your one super-comfortable suit is proof of what I have been trying to tell men for years. All-wool suits can be the mainstay of your wardrobe, if you just know what to look for.
Men who are sensitive to some wool but able to wear others comfortably, should buy "worsted" wool. Wool suits are either woolen or worsted. As part of the processing, all wool is combed after it is sheared from the sheep; but woolens are single-combed, and worsted yarns are combed several times to remove the short fuzzy hairs that stick out and itch. Only the long, silky hairs are left. Then the yarn is twisted. The longer the strands, the more times they can be twisted. The higher the number of twists, the smoother and silkier the wool will be, making it more comfortable (and more resilient to wrinkling, as well). The finest wool suits are made of high-twist yarns, known by such terms as "double-twist," "cool wool," "Super 120s," "Super 1OOs," and "Super 80s." These fabrics are expensive, but becoming less so, and well worth the investment -- especially for someone who cannot tolerate less refined wools.
Your fuzzy suit that itches may be able to be made more comfortable by having the pants completely lined. But be sure to send them to an excellent dry cleaner or the lining may make the pants twist and pucker.
Bringing an item that you own and like with you when shopping for something new is a wise move. Then, find a knowledgeable salesperson and explain exactly what you want. If they don't have the suit you want, wait till they do.
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.