Cruising in cotton is stylish and comfortable

DRESS FOR EXCELLENCE

April 15, 1992|By Lois Fenton

My husband is retired (in his 50s). We live in a rural farm area. In summer he wears jeans and a T-shirt; in winter he adds a flannel shirt. For Easter and Christmas, he'll wear his one and only suit (medium blue). In May we are going on a one-week Caribbean cruise (three ports). My job is to outfit him without having to purchase a lot of clothes he'll never wear again. Can you help?

A: For daytime activities on any ship, a few nice casual summer clothes (shorts, lightweight slacks or jeans, T-shirts, polo shirts, swim suit) are perfect on board and in port. Go easy on the polyester. The heat and humidity of the Caribbean require cotton for comfort.

What you wear at night depends on the cruise line and the length of the cruise. On short cruises, where clothes tend to be a great deal more relaxed, you can just about throw a few pairs of shorts and T-shirts into a duffel bag and hop on board.

The longer the cruise, the more formal.

The main problem I see is the medium-blue suit for evenings. There are always men who unapologetically wear a nice dark blue suit, white shirt, and dark tie instead of black tie for dressy evenings. You might consider buying a new darker blue suit.

On less formal ships, a navy blazer and gray slacks will do. Just do not allow anyone to talk you into buying a tacky "blazer suit" (with brass buttons) that pretends to be both a suit and a blazer and doesn't do either one well. Two shirts, one white and one blue, plus a couple of silk ties add variety. These classic items will expand your husband's holiday and special occasion wardrobe as well.

From 10 days on up, events on board become rather elaborate: One or two "formal" nights (usually black tie), several "informal" evenings (a suit or blazer and tie -- actually much more grand than informal means at home), and a couple of "casual" nights (generally a jacket but no tie).

Since a one-week cruise falls in the middle between the two styles, the safest bet is to consult a travel agent about the ship you are sailing on. Cruises run the gamut from extremely casual to quite formal.

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