Q. Only recently have I moved from sports jackets and blazer to wearing a suit every day to work. In the past I reserved my suits for church and weddings. Can I wear a suit to work but still not look too formal?
A: Some time ago an "authority" on dressing for business published a book on dress. In it he advocated wearing colored shirts and tweed suits for business wear. Save your navy suit and white shirts for special, social dress-up occasions, not for work, he said. I couldn't disagree more strenuously.
Apparently you are in a "climbing mode" at work or you would not havemade the switch from blazers to suits. Don't set up a stumbling block or a plateau for yourself now.
Saving your Sunday best for Sundays is unwise. Come as close to perfection as you can from Monday through Friday.
Of course, it's good judgment to distinguish between dressier days and less formal occasions. A good guideline: The darker the suit and tie and the lighter the shirt, the more formal the overall appearance. Thus, for a presentation before the bigwigs or for dinner at a fancy restaurant, choose your darkest blue suit, white shirt, and darkish tie with a small all-over pattern. With colleagues at your level, a medium gray suit, striped shirt, and new bold-patterned tie would be a perfect choice.
Q: I am going back many years -- whatever happened to the "mandate" men used to wear underneath their clothes to give them that neat look? Would appreciate if you would mention it in your column and where they can be found in the Clearwater or Tampa area.
A: This one took a bit of investigating!
The "Mandate" was made by Exquisiteform and a similar item, called "Slim-U," was made by Munsingwear. They were men's undershorts, cut like boxers, but higher at the waist and slightly longer in the leg. The main feature was a reinforced stomach section to lessen a man's paunch. They have not been made for years. But a new version, called "Manshape," is.
"Manshape" has a waist support and stretch front panel; the new semi-brief cut is more up-to-date than the old Mandate style. Its purpose is to slim and support.
. It is made of a blend of cotton, DuPont Lycra-Spandex, and DuPont Antron Nylon. Available from size medium (34-36) to XXXL (54-56), Manshape sells for $30. It is discounted for $22.50 at an old-fashioned hosiery, underwear, and sleepwear store that specializes in all kinds of items.
For a catalog or to order, write Chock Catalog, 74 Orchard St., New York, NY 10002, or call (800) 222-0020, FAX #(212) 473-6273.
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.