Q I am a secretary to a man who is newly a father. That leaves me yet another holiday to shop for him. He is extremely fashion-conscious, and I thought you might have some gift ideas.
A: Assuming you're not the mother of the child, I see no reason why you should feel obligated to buy a gift. But, this is certainly a great year for Father's Day gifts. If you want to find him something in menswear, accessories are all the rage.
French cuff shirts and the requisite cuff links are back in stylePatterned socks are fun to give and to receive. And belts today have subtle variety: including skins, smooth or braided leathers, matte or shiny surfaces, mixes of canvas and leather, and cotton sports designs.
Even neckties have enough new patterns and colors to makthem interesting -- rather than boring -- gifts this year. A man in my audience once said he believed no one should ever give a necktie without giving the right shirt to go with it. That was before prices zoomed to today's levels. But, the additional service (and generosity) of pairing a tie with a well-coordinated pocket square would surely be an appreciated gift.
Men never seem to buy certain luxuries for themselves, such alinen handkerchiefs, cashmere socks, silk boxer shorts, antique stud sets, leather luggage tags, French fragrances, a silver key chain, a gold pen, a new umbrella, or a terry robe. Of course, some of these would not be appropriate for a secretary to give her boss.
Men are known for hanging onto their old, dilapidated walletuntil someone gives them a new one. Now is the time. While the bulky touch fastener-closing designs that some men stuff into their pockets are not the most sought after, still they are comfortably affordable. For something more elegant, any leather from smooth calf to the most extravagant and urbane alligator makes a wonderful gift. They all function equally well.
The deciding element usually is cost. Think: "What can I afford?and "would he enjoy and appreciate the difference?"
Q: I am a 42 year-old paraplegic and I'm in a wheelchair full-time. I am fortunate to work in an office where I am comfortable and do well. But finding clothes is a major problem. Most of my things must be custom-made or at least custom-tailored to accommodate the wheelchair. Is there any other solution than custom-made for me?
A: Upon searching around, I have found a new division of a company that has made wheelchairs for over fifty years. They make a wide variety of handsome clothes, skillfully adjusted to suit the wheelchair user. It didn't take a great deal of searching once I realized that no market would be left untapped in the U.S. (You probably will find other companies as well.)
They make everything from casual denim jeans and cottowarm-ups to blazers and business suits. These are all cut to fit a seated figure. Pants are designed with extra seat room (for no gapping in back), less lap area (for no bunching in front), partial elastic waistbands (that keep shirttails tucked), longer inseams (that won't ride up), and accessible pockets (many are back-of-the-calf). Sport shirts, business shirts, and pre-tied neckties are available. Jackets and coats are cut shorter to fit correctly and have action-back pleats that move with the wearer.
In addition to these standard features, certain custom alterationare available as needed, such as: Velcro fasteners on shirts and jackets and the addition of hidden zippers for personal care needs. They will hem shirts and trousers to specific lengths and will add finger rings to zippers for ease of grasping.
Most trouser legs are cut slimmer; but some are fuller taccommodate leg braces.
The company I found is called Avenues. For a catalog, call (800848-2837, or write 3233 East Mission Oaks Blvd., Camarillo, Calif. 93012.
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.