Lewis and Thomas Saltz, for four decades haberdasher to upper-crust Washington men and women who prefer English tailoring is selling out.

The potential buyers are three businessmen known better for playing their cards close to the vests than for the weave of their tweeds: developers Theodore Lerner. Albert (Sonny) Abrmson and Stanley Rosensweig.

Richard Steen, chairman of the company that has owned the Saltz stores since 1955, yesterday confirmed that he is "engeged in discussions with potential investors.

Lerner.Abramson and Rosenweig could be reached for comment, but associates confirmed their interest in the three Saltz stores.

As developers and builders , Lerner and Abramson have put up most of the area's major shopping mails, including Tyson's Corner. Wheaton Mall, Landover Mall and White Flint.

Efforts to lure Saltz to suburban malls as a prestige tenant reportedly led to the bid for the three stores. Owned by a small family-controlled company. Saltz reportedly lacked the capital and experience needed for shopping center merchandising.

Founded in 1936 by two brothers from the Eastern Shore of Maryland Lewis and Thomas Saltz was acquired in 1955 by Edwards and Hill, then a Chicago-based retailer. Most of the stock is owned by family members, including Steen and Henry Steinbach president.

Sale of the Saltz stores, at 1409 G 5500Winstonsin Ave. Chevy Chase, St. N.W. 1009 Connecticut Ave. and will not involve the firm's Bullock and Jones store in San Francisco, Steen said.