The men's suit is back. So say newspapers and magazines across America, heralding a new era of unwrinkled morality and competence after a decade of "casual Friday" and frumpiness. Men's Health magazine last month declared the suit "one of the biggest comebacks of the new millennium." The Los Angeles Times labeled relaxed office wear "the latest casualty of the slowing economy." The Wall Street Journal reported that the new fall look was "button-down," and an editorial opined: "People who look sloppy work sloppy, or at least that's been the conclusion of a growing number of business types." All this would be great for suit manufacturers and retailers -- if only it were true. In fact, the U.S. market for suits, which crashed during the 1990s economic boom, continues to slide. Sales of men's tailored clothing, which includes suits and sportcoats, fell 13.3% during the first nine months of 2002, from $3.66 billion to $3.17 billion, and declined 0.8% from 2000 to 2001. Retailers that bought into the hype face the danger of stocking up on suits that could go unsold. Suit manufacturer Hart Schaffner & Marx says its advance orders from stores for spring 2003 are 11% above orders for this past spring. Yet its parent company, Hartmarx Corp., isn't betting on suits. Hartmarx, the nation's largest producer of tailored clothing, has been cutting lower-priced tailored lines and adding to its sportswear business.