By A. SCOTT WALTON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA - You know, it's hard out here for a prof.
Paul Hudson was taught that lesson during Esquire magazine's Atlanta search for the "Best-Dressed Real Man in America" earlier this month.
"I'm known as the best-dressed man at [Georgia Perimeter College]," said Hudson, 55, a history professor who put his sartorial pride on the line at Macy's in Lenox Square; Atlanta was one of 10 cities in the competition.
Unfortunately, his suit and tie ensemble from Jos. A. Bank failed to even crack the top 10.
A schoolteacher from southwest Atlanta won the competition in a brown, custom-made pinstriped suit from Executive Clothiers, a plaid shirt and buckled shoe-boots from Kuhlman at Phipps Plaza.
To complete the outfit, Shawn Lovings wore a Bordeaux ascot borrowed from Executive Clothiers salesman Leonard Gresham, who competed last year and lost.
The judges — Esquire senior fashion editor Wendell Brown, Star 94 "Super Shopper" Alisa Henderson, veteran NFL safety Mike Logan and three Macy's employees complimented Lovings for his individuality.
"We liked how [Lovings] pulled himself together," said Brown. "You could tell he was at ease in his clothes, unlike some guys who looked like they dressed just for the occasion."
The ultimate winner of Esquire's search will be announced on NBC's "Today" show in early September. But Lovings showed few signs of stress.
"I'll be ready," he said. "I take style seriously. And I think you could see which guys weren't really comfortable doing their own thing, like I was. I take my cues from legendary dressers like Duke Ellington. The old-school ways never fail."
If he'd worn a hat, Douglas Peek, 28, would have tipped it to fellow contestants who placed higher in the judging. Peek, a public-speaking instructor at the University of Tennessee, was one of many who came from out of state to compete.
"My mom and I are big fans of ["Today" co-host] Katie Couric, and we saw the Esquire guys on TV last year," said Peek, who mixed jeans and a T-shirt from Armani A/X with a pinstriped blazer and French-cuffed shirt from Express, cowboy boots and Tiffany cuff links.
"When she heard it was coming back again, my mom said, 'You need to drive down to Atlanta.'"
"I have to give the guys here credit for how fine they dress. The ladies of Atlanta must be pretty pleased."