QI've got an anniversary coming up. Obviously, I want to make it something special. My wife is used to seeing me in my white dinner jacket at important summer events. Between a gift and dinner at a fancy restaurant, it's going to set me back enough. Is there any way to dress up this look without spending much more?
A: There is only so much that can be done with black-tie dressing. Its elegance hinges upon simplicity. It is not supposed to be too elaborate.
These days people aren't going out so much. Thirtysomething baby boomers are curbing their spending and reducing their frivolous buying. Still, important milestone events deserve to be celebrated with some affordable luxury. Dressing up in the right clothes helps honor the day and makes it a special occasion.
But, speaking as a woman, sometimes the nicest accoutermentaren't only elements of clothing. Since you are planning a special evening, dinner need not be in an expensive restaurant. The money belongs to both of you, and your wife, too, may not want you to go overboard. Arrange instead for something different.
This is a great time for a festive picnic. Being lavish with the small details can more than make up for what you don't spend in a top-flight restaurant. Your white dinner jacket is perfect for an evening under the stars. Pair it with traditional tuxedo trousers. Add a white formal shirt, a silk bow tie and cummerbund in black. Pack an elegant basket of easy-to-eat finger foods ordered from the best take-out store in town. Tuck in a bowl of fresh strawberries and perhaps a single rose. Borrow a wine bucket, and spend a few dollars on a good bottle of champagne (real champagne, a.k.a. from France).
The evening will be one she will always remember.
Q: I saw a seersucker suit advertised in bright-colored stripes. The suit had double vents in back. This is not my idea of a seersucker suit. What do you think?
A: I agree with you. Certain styles seem to call for tradition, nofor innovation. A seersucker suit is one of those styles, and what you described is not traditional in color or cut.
A conventional seersucker suit is an all-American classic. Icomes in light blue (actually very narrow medium-blue stripes on a white background), light gray (charcoal on white), or on rarer occasions, beige (brown stripes on white). No matter which color, it should be cut along traditional lines -- single-breasted, with natural shoulders and a single back vent. Fabric of choice is 100 percent cotton, or a blend of mostly cotton with a hint of poly.
For those who complain about the monotony of the typical
business wardrobe, a seersucker suit offers a welcome injection of something light-colored, cool, and comfortable.
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.