Q Most of the guys in my office wear only dark suits, but a few of the more daring sometimes wear tan wool suits as well. I just bought one on sale. Now, I'm not sure what colors to combine with it. Any suggestions?
A: The typical businessman wears clothes that vary little from morning to night and from week to week. He dresses in dark blue and deep gray suits for work, and only feels free to break out of the mold on weekends. There is another time when variety is yours for the taking, and it's now, summertime, when the living may not be easy, but at least it is a bit looser.
While many men find rethinking the colors of their accessories too much bother, they may be overlooking the world of flattering possibilities. Some handsome combinations with a tan worsted wool:
*A blue pinpoint oxford shirt with a red silk foulard tie (with small yellow pattern) -- for a daytime dressy look;
*A light blue end-on-end weave shirt with a pastel plaid tie (witkhaki as one of the colors) -- for a casual look;
*A blue chambray (almost denim) shirt with one of the new darfloral or "conversational" patterned ties -- for an updated look;
*A blue-and-white bengal stripe shirt with a navy large-figure tieperhaps with yellow in the pattern (yellow seems to echo the tan color) -- for a unique, sophisticated look.
Blue shirts are not the only possibilities with tan suits. Ivory, palyellow, tan-flattering pink, and tattersalls are fine alternatives. White shirts add a note of crispness.
As with dark suits, the right color shoes are still black, dark brown, or cordovan.
Incidentally, the two types of tan suits -- cotton khaki and worsted wool -- project two different images. The easily wrinkled cotton suit is a favorite with entry-level young men, academics, architects and other non-starched types. The more debonair tan wool is an option for executives in warm weather. More formal than a cotton suit or wool blazer, still, it is less "powerful" than a dark suit.
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.