Threadbare : Left Off the Best-Dressed List Again

January 05, 1986|JACK SMITH

Once again, the Tailors Council of America has named the 10 Best-Dressed Men in America and left me out.

Evidently, there's nothing I can do to please their scouts.

To begin with, they don't even have a category for journalists or writers, which suggests that they consider the sartorial achievements of journalists and writers below their notice.

They are probably prejudiced by that obsolete image of the newspaper reporter wearing a wrinkled suit and a porkpie hat with a press card stuck in the band.

But the TV anchorman has upgraded the image of all journalists. What about Tom Brokaw? Doesn't he look nice? And who can deny the conservative splendor of Walter Cronkite? Our own Jess Marlow is no slouch, either, when it comes to dress.

The Tailors Council has limited its selections to men in government, television, nightclubs, society, motion pictures, business, sports, philanthropy, hotels and entertainment.

I wouldn't have thought that philanthropy was an occupation, but I suppose if you have enough money that you have to put in a 9-to-5 day just to give it away, it qualifies.

The best-dressed man in philanthropy, according to the tailors, is Monty Hall, who was described as being in "Variety Clubs and other charities." But I would have named Arnold O. Beckman, founder of Beckman Instruments, who gives millions away in multiples of 10, and who always looks impeccable.

In government, of course, they chose Ronald Reagan, though they deplored the blue plaid jacket he often wears while representing the nation in public. I have an idea, though, that if Walter Mondale had been elected, he'd be No. 1. The tailors seem to go with the man who shines the brightest.

In television, for example, they named Bill Cosby. Well, Cosby may be the hottest personality on TV today, but I doubt that he dresses any better than your next-door neighbor. He certainly doesn't on television.

In motion pictures they picked Sylvester Stallone, the current darling of the celebrity magazines. It seems to me that Stallone is hardly ever wearing any clothes at all. Just cut-off jeans and an Uzi gun.

In sports, they named George Brett, third baseman for the Kansas City Royals. I have never seen Brett in anything but a baseball uniform, and I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Ozzie Smith, the St. Louis shortstop, is a snappier dresser--but, of course, St. Louis didn't win the World Series.

In entertainment, they named Harry Blackstone Jr., the magician. I've never seen Blackstone perform, but if he's like every other magician I ever saw, he wears white tie and tails, which is overdoing it a bit, in my book.

In business, they named Richard K. Eamer, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of National Medical Enterprises. Having never met Mr. Eamer, I have no idea what kind of a dresser he is, but I suppose he dresses tailor-made.

I am equally ignorant of the customary attire of Don Rickles, who was named the best-dressed man in night clubs, and Allard B. Roen, the managing director of La Costa, who was named the best-dressed man in hotels.

It seems magnanimous of the council to name Claus von Bulow as best-dressed man in society, despite the notoriety of his recent trials. However, I concede that in all the photographs I saw of him during those stressful proceedings, his clothes were elegant.

Every year, when they leave me off their list again, I try to figure out what I did wrong. It's true I don't wear tailor-made clothes. I buy all my stuff at Bullock's or Robinson's or the Broadway or Gary Lund. But if the house tailor fits you properly, you ought to look as sharp as the Duke of Gloucester.

Maybe one of their scouts caught me the night I went down to Palm Springs to talk to the Palm Springs Academy of Medicine. It was supposed to be black tie. I packed my tuxedo and miraculously remembered to pack my tie and cummerbund and a pair of cuff links; but when I started to dress in our hotel room, I could find only one of the links. It was too late to go out to a jewelry store for new ones. My wife found a small gold safety pin in a sewing kit provided by the hotel and pinned up my right cuff.

As far as I know, that lapse went undetected by the physicians at the dinner. But I suppose it's the sort of flaw that might be noticed by a scout for the Tailors Council.

It's possible that they left me out because of my green plaid jacket. I don't see how they can excuse Reagan for his blue plaid jacket and eliminate me for a green one.

They say stripes are coming back this year. Hot dog!

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