Q I have noticed between-season dressing mentioned in newspaper ads. What exactly does that mean? It sounds very limited. Could you give a few examples?
A: "Between-seasons" does not mean four more seasons' worth of clothing. It simply means working one season's clothing into that of another. In this way you are prepared for unseasonable weather.
It has never been considered "savvy" to wear summer clothes -- madras or cotton ties, linen jackets, straw hats, or white anything -- after Labor Day. As we head toward late summer, stylish fashion buffs begin inserting items of fall clothing into their wardrobes to help span the seasons.
The critical elements to this sort of dressing are darkening the color palette you wear and changing the weight and texture of the fabrics.
In warm climates, tropical-weight wools (6- to 8-ounce weights) are lifesavers through summer and mid-fall. A recent addition to the better men's clothing horizon is the "mid-weight" suit -- 8- to 10-ounce wool fabrics in whipcords, gabardines, sharkskins and worsteds -- a crossover between lightweights and the heavier 10- to 12-ounce wool. Accessorizing these suits differently from midsummer looks is the key.
Neckwear is a case in point: Put away your pastels for a while. If cool, crisp days come along when the calendar still says it is summer, ease into fall with darker, earth-toned neckties, including olives, rusts and burgundies.
Slacks can help you segue into fall. Change from seersuckers, linens and cottons to worsteds, cavalry twills, lightweight corduroys and the updated rayon blends.
Sport shirts, too, begin moving toward darker tones. Check out this year's hottest addition to the fashion scene -- plaid. You'll soon be seeing it everywhere.
Q: I had the sleeves lengthened on a suede suit jacket. The previous crease is still rather prominent. The cleaners were able to clean the material, but not eliminate the crease. Do you know any method for making the crease line unnoticeable?
A: I'm afraid you are stuck with that crease. Of the many materials used for clothing from cotton through wool to suedes, the most difficult to eradicate the evidence of alteration is suede. But all fabrics share this problem to some extent -- once a sharp crease has been pressed into the material, it may be there forever.
Many men feel that after they have reached their full height, they can have their clothing fitted exactly, without worry. They are right until they gain weight or until the first few launderings or dry cleanings. To avoid looking overweight or as though you are wearing your big brother's hand-me-downs, make sure that your clothes are long enough when they are first altered. If you're not exactly certain what the correct length should be, then err on the side of making them too long.
Do not allow anyone to talk you into buying something that is too tight. There may not be enough fabric inside to make a change. And, just as creases from hems are difficult to remove, so too are the stitch marks left from seams that are let out.
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.