Men's outerwear is less stiff than before, both in silhouette and in feel


January 09, 1992|By Lois Fenton

Q: I have a three-quarter length brown suburban coat with mouton collar and pile lining made by Lakeland. Is this coat out of style? I'm a young 71-year-old man and always try to be correct.

A: Such a bulky square-cut coat is not in keeping with today's look. Nevertheless, that does not make it any less comfortable and cozy in really cold weather. My first instinct is to say to get rid of it. But if you feel you've earned the right to set your own style, and if you still like the coat, why not wear it when style matters less than comfort?

As with most clothes worn by well-dressed men these days, coats -- especially casual coats -- are less stiff both in silhouette and in feel than the one you described. Perhaps more significant, imitation-anything is not looked upon favorably in the '90s. For the novice, "mouton" is defined as sheepskin that has been sheared and dyed to resemble beaver or seal, and "pile" is a surface of short furry hairs. A more modern-looking shearling jacket is both stylish and warm.

Another replacement coat might be a down-filled parka. Because they are warm, soft, and lightweight, most men's clothing stores carry some version of them. Many of the new ones are bright-colored for more of a weekend look.

Another alternative might be one of the new micro-fibers in a hip-length jacket, perhaps with a hood.

Q: Could you please tell me if "Fethernit" underwear by Duofold is still being manufactured? I'm referring to the long john one-piece cotton-knit union suit.

I have been unable to find any in local stores for the last few years. I ordered other brands through catalogs, but they did not run true to size and, believe it or not, two were made with bow-legged legs. I will appreciate your answer.

A: Your dilemma is understandable, especially as winter's coldest weather approaches. Unfortunately, Duofold no long makes the Fethernit underwear. It was made of 100 percent cotton and was enjoyed by hockey players and other cold-weather sports enthusiasts for outdoor wear. Some men liked to sleep in them instead of turning up the heat to 80 degrees.

I called several ski shops and was told that all-cotton long johns are nolonger used under ski clothes and are therefore not available. Duofold now makes a heavier version with a double layer. The inner surface is 100 percent cotton; the outer layer is 65 percent cotton, 25 percent wool, and 10 percent nylon. I'm not sure that it will be to your liking because it only comes in bright red. It is designed to be worn in temperatures ranging from 0 to 20 degrees. They make an even warmer style in a mottled gray color with a higher wool content: 50 percent cotton, 40 percent wool, 10 percent nylon and designed for 0 to 20 degrees below.

Even Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, and L. L. Bean no longer make an all-cotton union suit. It seems that only Sears still makes one. ,, In general, the new synthetics and micro-fibers have taken over. Instead of absorbing moisture as cotton does, their special properties keep the wearer dry by "wicking" perspiration away from the body. I'm afraid these fancy new advances in technology leave the non-athletic guy who just likes the warmth and feel of long cotton underwear out in the cold.

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.

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