Q: I know that fads come and go and classic clothes are the wisest investment. But isn't it OK to buy something once in a while just for the fun of owning something new? For example, I'm thinking of buying one of the new sand-washed silk jackets.
A: Not every new idea is destined to be a "classic." Even in these budget-conscious times it makes sense to buy an occasional new item just because you like it. If it gives you a lift and brightens both your wardrobe and your outlook, why not? But, be aware of what you are getting for your money. Big bucks should go for classic attire, not for fleeting fads.
Fashion -- even men's fashion -- seems to be divided into fads, trends and classic styles.
Fads are here-today-gone-tomorrow: bell-bottom pants, polyester leisure suits, Nehru jackets, four-inch lapels. Currently, quilting, hooded jackets, and color-blocking are very much in vogue. These and other fads should be indulged in with caution.
Trends which come and go to the rhythm of a slower pendulum such as sand-washed silk jackets include: vests, double-breasted suits, hats, English spread-collar shirts, boots,
low-cut loafers, patterned socks -- all styles that last longer than merely a few seasons.
Forever classics (or as near forever as any style can be) include: two-and three-button closings on suits, single-vent suits, button-down shirts, navy blazers, trench coats, traditional black-tie dressing.
Ties and other accessories tend to be lower in price and best for your faddish splurges. They can be stored easily in a closet for 20 years until the style returns for another season -- as nostalgia.
Q: When asked about stain removal, you gave only home remedies, which may or may not work. I think it was remiss of you not to mention a very viable alternative -- take your garments to an experienced dry cleaner. That's our job!
A: You have a point. In my enthusiasm for sharing my secrets for home spot removal, I did, indeed, fail to mention the skill of your local dry cleaner. There is nothing to compare with knowledgeable professionals.
I recall all too well my sinking feeling as I showed the dry cleaner a prized raincoat with a blood stain. As every mystery fan knows, blood is one of the hardest stains to remove. My cleaner shook his head, predicted little success, but promised to do his best. Two days later, I returned to find that once again he had worked a miracle. Not even a hint of the stain remained.
I still recommend beginning with the safer of the home remedies (such as Goddard's Dry Clean Spot Remover) for a single spot on an otherwise clean garment. Also, most local dry cleaners are equipped to clean -- but not to press -- a silk necktie properly. When pressed, the lining makes an impression, and thus the tie is ruined.
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.