Look Sharp

Letter from the Editor

The old house at the top of the hill where I routinely walk is sporting a fresh coat of paint, thanks to a buyer who decided to give the historic frame home a little needed affection.

On my most recent pass, its face glowed a sunny yellow. And in the panes of a second-story window, a hand-painted note exclaimed in purple letters: “Thank you,” as if the house itself were grateful for the attention it had been shown.

Who doesn’t shine brighter and stand straighter after a little maintenance?

Come to think of it, maybe sprucing up our collective appearance could help shake us out of our current national funk.

Consider how the anticipation of having a seat at a concert or sporting event takes a disappointing turn when the denim-clad derrieres of nearby spectators put on a display you would certainly never pay to see.

Do college coeds who attend morning classes in attire one step removed from pajamas feel alert? What about the high-school kid observed buying back-to-school supplies this fall at the local Office Depot, shuffling along with a low-grade vitality barely above comatose with sagging pants and a drooping semi-truck-sized T-shirt to match? Most likely, he’ll need more than a pocket folder and package of Bic pens to get anywhere near the honor roll.

Add in the butt cleavage, gelatinous muffin tops bulging out of less than age-appropriate tanks and you wonder: When did sloppy become the American norm? Have you seen those people of Wal-Mart emails that circulate occasionally? Even if they’re fake, they’re not far from reality.

Maybe our descent to a sloppy society began with the advent of sweat pants and their drawstring waists that didn’t monitor our expanding girths. No more tucked-in shirts and belts.

With rules tossed out the window, clothing anarchy has presidential candidates dumping professional suits for populist plaid, female TV anchors dressing more for cocktail parties than breaking news, and women “homicide detectives” in small-screen dramas working the police precinct in plunging tank tops.

The very act of grooming and investing care in one’s appearance is an act of holding ourselves to a higher standard.

In this, the annual Best Dressed issue, we showcase 13 metro Detroiters who wear it well. Many — if not most — recall early years spent assembling a good look with limited resources, a creative effort that built their style muscles early on.

Certainly, a well-stocked closet makes looking good easier.

But dressing well also implies a willingness to meet the world with your best foot forward.

Computer-screen blobs who dish snarky comments via keyboard 24/seven can work naked if they want. Meeting the public — doing old-fashioned human intelligence, as they say in the world of information gathering — requires making an appearance. In words fitting for our digital age, it’s time to update our profiles.

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