Q: I never have a problem putting myself together for work. The suit, shirt, and tie formulas I have down pat, and I would say I'm considered well-dressed by my colleagues. But when it comes to the weekend, there are too many options. What do I need to do differently for casual clothes?
A: Color is your big option. Use it. Revel in it. It is fun. It is flattering. And it costs nothing. You can make a totally different impact wearing a luxurious pure white sweater or bright yellow jacket instead of the old safe standby, a navy top, over a pair of khaki pants. This season shades of Granny Smith apple green over blue denim make a unique, fresh combination. Or combine traditional colors in fanciful patterns, as Henry Grethel did with navy, burgundy and white sweaters he designed for the U.S. Olympic athletes at Albertville.
When it comes to weekend wear or any casual situation, the well-dressed man need not restrict himself. You can be as distinctive as you like. The man in too-colorful business clothes may be an embarrassment. But no one thinks a man in a bright-colored sports shirt, a vivid leather jacket, or a many-hued, patterned sweater is an oddball. They think he is a sharp dresser.
Q: I have two pairs of wool knickers that I occasionally wear for golf. They came pressed with a back crease in the manner of full-length wool trousers, and I keep them that way. A friend says knickers should not be creased.
A: I'm afraid, generally speaking, your friend is correct. Knickers (both men's and women's) should be draped and uncreased. The style is to have them puff softly over the sock. But invariably, dry cleaners seem to press a crease into every pair of pants. Unless you have an excellent cleaner, you are likely to have this problem.
Most stores display all their trousers the same way, folded and hung on hangers. So, though the manufacturer may not have made them that way, the store probably developed the creases that came pressed into your knickers.
Once it has been set, it is not likely that the dry cleaner can $$ remove a sharply pressed mark. But don't worry about it. it is hardly a major clothing faux pas. Besides, so few men have the style or self-confidence (some would say brazen chutzpah) to wear knickers on the golf course, that they are probably not aware of the "rules" governing their correct use. Just add a colorful pair of argyle socks, a beautiful Scottish Fair Islesweater, and you'll look great on the links.
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 for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.
Fenton, the author of "Dress for Excellence" (Rawson Associates, $19.95), conducts wardrobe seminars for Fortune 500 companies around the country.