Q. My wife says my sideburns are too long. I'm a businessman and I'm lucky to be blessed with a full head of hair. I don't want to make any major changes, and I don't want to look like I'm in the army. But maybe something could give me a little more up-to-date look. Any suggestions?
A: Women have long understood the importance of attractive -- and stylish -- hair. They know that when their hair looks good, they feel great. Men are only recently coming to this same realization.
Even a well-dressed man can look "out of it" if his hair is too long. According to Karen Anderson of Supercuts: "Men have a tendency to lock themselves into what they have always been comfortable with. They don't realize that very small changes can update a look. Though men are more reluctant [than women] to ask questions about their hair, they do want information." Consulting a professional stylist can be helpful. These are a few guidelines for today:
SIDEBURNS: Long, bushy sideburns are out. Changing the length -- even as slightly as one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch -- can change the way the eye views the face. Sideburns now should be at least below where the ear attaches (about even with the eye), but not lower than the middle of the ear. Shorter than that is for very young or fashion-forward men. Longer, calls to mind '70s polyester leisure suits.
THE PART: Moving the part -- up or down -- a fraction of an inch or more can give a different look, by varying the balance of the face. Using a styling product can help hold the hair in this new look.
A NEW STYLED CUT: Current haircuts create a neat, trim look. For an up-to-date look, let the top part of the hair grow a little longer and keep the sides short and trim with definite clean-cut sideburns. This sides-a-little-shorter look may vary from a subtle difference to a James Dean cut. Using a bit more product -- but not enough to be gooey -- gives more hold.
Q: With a four-button double-breasted suit, which button (or buttons) are the ones to be buttoned? What about with a six-button suit?
A: With a four-button double-breasted suit (two rows of two button), or "D. B." as salesmen are wont to say, the button that is worn closed is generally the top one.
The new "six-button one-to-button" double-breasted suits continue to set the pace for spring and summer, 1991. You will see this terminology in newspaper ads. It is not a misprint. What it means is simply a double-breasted with six-button styling, where only one button is worn closed.
The question of which button to wear buttoned is not so easily answered. The top button on a six-button is too high up on the chest to be buttoned and does not even have a corresponding buttonhole. On most rather constructed suits, traditionally the middle button -- the one that lines up with the waistline -- is the correct one. On other, more casually constructed suits -- with Armani-influenced styling -- (some almost suggest informal cardigan sweaters), the roll of the collar and lapel dictates that the bottom button is the one to close.
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.