Farzaneh Milani's description of the changes taking place in the sartorial and grooming habits of contemporary Iranian males [op-ed, Dec. 15], while noteworthy in the context of the Islamic revolution of 1979, sounds like a return to the old days under the shah during the late 1960s and '70s.

The Iranian upper class has always been highly fashion-conscious. In the era of jet travel between Iran and the West, it was usually a matter of days between the appearance of the latest clothing and hairstyles in the West and in Tehran. It took time for these to filter down to the middle class, but not long.

I'll never forget the surprise I felt when I returned to Tehran in 1968 after a five-year absence to see how radically fashions had changed among the young men of the city. In place of the drab woolens they wore even in summer, I found well-tailored European styles and fabrics as well as jeans, short-sleeved shirts and far fewer mustaches.

Plastic surgery was not as readily available then as now, but that is probably the only thing that separates the two eras in terms of attention to external appearance.

JOHN T. WERTIME

Arlington