Q: My husband loves his dark gray suede hush puppies and insists that they can be worn in summer weather. He looks so hot and wintry and we have this argument. I know we women don't wear suede in the summer. Am I correct in telling him not to wear them in the summer even if he wears dark pants?
A: Though women's suede shoes are widely considered part of that category of clothes reserved for wear between Labor Day and Memorial Day, men's and women's dress rules don't always coincide. On the other hand, if you are referring to a high desert boot style with a thick crepe sole, your argument is correct: the look is too hot for this time of the year.
Still, if someone were to force me to choose between seeing a man dressed for summer in either dark suede or white leather shoes, you can be sure I would enthusiastically choose the dark suedes. The distinction being: suede is more a matter of seasonal choice and might even be considered a touch of eccentricity, while wearing white leather shoes -- especially white patent leather -- expresses an obvious lack of taste.
The shoe industry does not think of suede as limited to fall and winter. Classic Hush Puppies are made of brushed leather, a texture not exactly designed for slogging around in slush and snow. If your husband has "reckless feet" that tend to go in water and mud, etc., he would like the new "weather tight" suede that is less likely to stain. It comes in lighter-weight pigskin in a range of spring and summer colors that you might like, including sage (moss green), taupe, and off-white as well as black, and brown. Styles include low slip-ons, similar to a boat shoe but without the eyelets, as well as eyelet lace-ups.
Another innovation, in keeping with the shoe industry's increased emphasis on comfort and leisure footwear, the newest shoes are designed with increased comfort features.
Send your questions or comments to Lois Fenton, Evening Sun Fashion, 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.