TOP CHOICE After raincoats, the favorite men's coat is the single-breasted wool Chesterfield


Q: Is there a certain topcoat favored by CEOs and Wall Street executives? If so, what is it and what color do these men choose?

A: If you are including the go-over-everything Burberrys-type trench coat, this classic khaki cotton or cotton/polyester coat is preferred by more men (CEOs and others) and worn in more situations than any other coat. But beyond the belted raincoat category, unquestionably, the favorite topcoat is the single-breasted wool Chesterfield, with or without a black velvet collar.

A Chesterfield is a simply styled, elegantly cut coat with a slightly suppressed (semi-fitted) waist, a fly-front closing, notched lapels, and long center vent in back. It never has a belt.

First choice is a very dark gray, muted herringbone pattern, which appears to be solid charcoal from a distance of a few feet. Second choice is the same conservative coat in a slightly lighter shade of medium gray. Either one can be worn over business-gray and boardroom-blue suits.

For the man whose closet (and budget) permits another cold-weather coat, the next most popular choice is a beautiful navy blue cashmere (or cashmere and wool) -- also single-breasted Chesterfield -- without the velvet collar. Since you asked about CEOs, here's what a top salesman at a fine men's shop told me: The man buys himself the gray coat and his wife buys him the navy cashmere. The blue coat is slightly dressier than the gray.

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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