Honor Thy Father

Wondering what to buy dear old Dad at this late date? One solution is a colorful wearable themed to his favorite pastime.

Even now, there is plenty to choose from, because this year stores and catalogues have geared up for Father's Day with mega-doses of hobby-related clothing and accessories.

If Dad golfs, for example, you're really in luck. Thanks to the game's popularity, the choices are definitely above par. There are ties, shorts (outer and under), pajamas, sweaters, shirts, socks, watches--all tastefully patterned with motifs ranging from clubs, balls and tees to the golfer to the course itself.

The Spiegel gift catalogue features a $45 watch with golfers dotting its green nylon-leather band. There is another golfer on the face of the watch--which can be personalized (nine letters maximum). If ordered now, the watch won't arrive until after Sunday, but a card with an IOU could handle that. Even if Dad is serious about a less trendy activity--going to the opera, collecting timepieces, playing poker, bowling, fishing or firing up the barbecue every Sunday--there is something out there with his name on it.

Nordstrom has a selection of $25 silk Zylos conversation-piece ties with such motifs as an opera- house scene. Among Joe Boxer's seemingly endless variety of boxer shorts ($14 at Bullock's, the Broadway and May Co.) are those patterned with bowling balls, cats and watches.

Another possibility from Joe Boxer is an old-fashioned baseball uniform for lounging or running around home base.

If the man of the house plays volleyball, a pair of Polo by Ralph Lauren white nylon shorts discreetly decorated on one leg with a small beach scene might be just the thing. ($65 at Bullock's).

Bullock's also has a sporty Polo shirt that portrays yesteryear's fast lane, with scenes of sailboats, vintage cars and horse races. A similar touch of nostalgia is found on rayon-look cotton shirts from Henry Grethel ($46 and $56 in select JC Penney stores), which feature one theme per shirt, such as vintage cars or the golden days of radio.

No one gives Dad an eye-popping present without wondering whether he will ever wear it. And everyone has heard that old saw about gift ties disappearing permanently into a bottom drawer. But Gerald Andersen, executive director of the Neckwear Assn. of America, believes there is little risk of that these days.

Although he warns against giving a conservative dresser "something that hits him over the head," Andersen recommends expressive ties as gifts this year.

"There's been a strong change in the fashion direction, and most men don't have the bolder, wider ties in their wardrobes," he says.

"If a meaningful person buys it, maybe it has more value to you than if you bought it yourself."

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