Q: This winter I asked my kids for black socks for Christmas because I have so much trouble matching my suits. They bought me some, but also said it might be time for their Dad to "get with the times." How do you suggest you match socks with suits?
A: If the acceptable range of men's suit colors seems limited (blue, gray, and khaki), the range of shoe colors to go with them is even more restricted (black and dark brown). Socks can provide some variety.
Today, many well-dressed men choose patterned socks: pin dots, minichecks, herringbones, paisleys and other designs usually associated with necktie patterns. Only dark,
subtle patterns are appropriate with lace-up shoes. Reserve bolder, lighter, more fanciful patterns for wear with slip-on (loafer) shoe styles.
Two good guidelines: A similarity of tone ought to exist between shoes, socks and trousers. And shoes should not be lighter than the suit's trousers.
Here is a useful general guide:
* Navy suit: black shoes (never navy shoes), black or navy socks; black shoes, navy patterned socks; cordovan shoes (a dark, reddish-brown), navy or burgundy patterned socks.
* Gray suit: black shoes (never gray shoes), black or charcoal socks; black shoes, gray-and-red patterned socks; dark brown shoes, dark gray socks; dark brown shoes, gray pattern or burgundy-and-gray patterned socks.
* Khaki suit: cordovan shoes, dark brown socks; dark brown shoes, dark brown socks; cordovan shoes, yellow-and-burgundy patterned socks; dark brown shoes, tweedy brown or burgundy socks.
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.