Talk­ing About My Gen­er­a­tion

Sharp - - EDITOR’S LETTER - PETER SALTS­MAN Ed­i­tor-in-chief

AT A WED­DING THIS FALL, I no­ticed a strange gen­er­a­tional di­vide. All the young men — the friends of the bride and groom — were im­pec­ca­bly dressed, crisp from head to toe in well-fit­ting suits, jack­ets, and shiny shoes. The older guys? Dap­per enough, but their col­lec­tive style paled in com­par­i­son.

To me, this seemed in­dica­tive of the kind of care young men are tak­ing these days to look and act the part — even if they’re not yet sure ex­actly what that part is.

Much ink has been spilled on the plight of today’s youth, those ill-fated so-called “mil­len­ni­als” who can’t hold down jobs, buy houses, or keep their eyes off their phones long enough to watch two peo­ple say “I do.” There is a lot of ugly truth to that bad luck, or bad tim­ing. Talk to any­one amongst this de­mo­graphic (in­clud­ing me, if you hap­pen to see me at a wed­ding re­cep­tion), and you’ll get a sense of what they’re up against. I won’t dwell on it here, but I will say that, if pre­sen­ta­tion is any in­di­ca­tion, the young guys are def­i­nitely go­ing down swing­ing.

And why shouldn’t they? Dress­ing well is such an easy way to take a stand — to stand out in a crowd or to stand stoic against a world not of your own mak­ing. A tai­lored suit and a pol­ished pair of ox­fords will al­ways be a good plat­form.

But what’s more, the guys at this wed­ding all seemed to have found their own sar­to­rial voices. This was not a sea of pale grey suits, nor was it an ex­pen­sive designer show­case. In­stead, these men showed in­di­vid­u­al­ity in their own bur­geon­ing senses of style. There were dar­ing jacket-trouser com­bos, ties of all pat­terns and widths, and care­fully groomed hair and beards of vary­ing lengths. The groom him­self wore an un­con­ven­tional (but ex­cel­lent) plaid three-piece. Un­like the older men, who had filled out their ca­reers and lives as eas­ily as they had their well-worn suits, the younger guys looked ready to take chances, take ac­tion, and take on the world. It was al­most like they were vow­ing to. And what’s more pow­er­ful than that?

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