The style lessons we can learn from our Dads
Someone in fashion much more knowledgeable than ourselves once said that if you have confidence then you can make anything look good.
Exhibit A: Dads.
Who would’ve thought that the guy wearing the same five things for the last thirty years would become a style icon? However, by sidestepping whatever garbage the world throws in the way of his wide-legged stride, Dads have stuck with their sartorial choices, confident that their outfits are able to stand the test of time. Which they have.
Not for Dad this ridiculous notion of fast fashion or trends. You know who won’t be caught in a romper this summer, Dads! Unless they’re the type of Dad who has always worn a romper, in which case you can’t stop the guy, and he’ll probably rub the fabric between his thumb and fore-finger, saying, “What this? Why it’s marriage material!” and then give you the finger-gun with the other hand and say something problematic about sleeping with your mom.
Give the man some credit, because what started a few years ago with Normcore is now full-blown Dad Style with everyone from Balenciaga to the butter boyz doing things like wide-legged trousers, running shoes worn with jeans, short sleeve shirts, generic pre-curved caps and more, perhaps having realised that this is the best way to dress when a commitment to your family becomes more of a priority than the right shade of pink or the latest Box Logo.
These are the six things that make up Dad Style and how you can work them into your look.
The going-out shirt
Growing up you knew when you were about to be dropped off at your grandma’s house because your dad would be reeking of Old Spice and wearing his “going out shirt”. You know the one: wide collar preparing for takeoff and either in a garish print or bright colour, so much louder than the button-downs he wore to work during the week, and not to be confused with his other weekend shirt, the check shirt, which he’d wear for all other casual situations. Dad’s “going out shirt” had the ability to lift his mood and would almost always win him a compliment.
Stylists tip: While Dad usually wore his “going out shirt” with his least faded Levi’s, you should go for clean cream chinos and a pair of white sneakers, because with so much going on up top, you should look at keeping things reserved down below.
There’s no denying how skinny jeans can look great on the type of whip-thin androgynous fashion type who makes his living walking down runways or getting snapped by street style photographers. Not so much Dads, who develop noticeable bulk from lugging sleeping kids into bed and pushing lawnmowers and drinking man-size cans of lager. So now when the fashion world turns to a more billowing cut, dads just shrug, like, told ya.
Stylist's tip: The greatest lesson we ever learned from our dad? Know thyself. If your body isn’t suited to the proportions demanded by spray-on denim, go for something with volume. Just remember that the cut is wide-legged, not clown-pants, and harem-style drop-crotch is best left to millennial twinks channeling 90s skater fashion.
Running shoes with jeans
Perhaps it was being forced to wear boots during the army and smart lace-ups while working his corporate desk job as branch manager for the office supplies company that he worked for, but given half a chance our Dad would turn to the same non-descript white trainers. Which he then wore with his most faded jeans that felt as soft as tracksuit bottoms. Steve Jobs did it with his New Balance 574 and then the hipsters invented Normcore. Dad just called the look “Saturday”.
Stylist's tip: You probably already dress like this by default, but to channel true Dad Style you want to wear something that looks as if you make all of your decisions based on two things: comfort and practicality – the tenets of Dad Style.
If ever there was a non-athlete who enjoyed the athlete’s uniform as much as our old man did, we’re yet to meet them. Rugby jerseys, PT shorts, football shirts and the ubiquitous matching tracksuit top and bottoms… Not forgetting his pre-curved “F1 official merchandise” Ferrari cap with a fading signature that Nigel Mansel scribbled back in 82.
Stylist’s tip: Athleisure. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Give it a flutter. You’re going to love it. But whatever you do, don't ever let your dad know how much you've spent on a melange crew neck sweatshirt.
Owning one jacket
Your dad wasn’t the type of guy to agonise over what he’d wear as his outer layer. There was no question of whether to wear his patchwork leather jacket or the green windbreaker, because between the years 1982 and 1994 the patchwork leather jacket was his jacket until he left it behind at a Rugby 95 World Cup game and had to then wear the green windbreaker he bought at the merch stand.
Stylist’s tip: We’re divided on this one. While there’s something noble about a man who can get by in life with just one jacket, we’re still from the school of having a smart bomber for nights out, a coat for work, a denim jacket for casual daytime shenanigans and a parka for festivals. Sorry Dad!
Like sportswear, Dads need clothing in which to do the most. You can’t fix the leak under the sink in your smarts. You can’t maintain the garden wearing your going out shirt. You can’t mend the fence donning sportswear, which in case you didn’t know is strictly casualwear. Which is why there’s workwear, preferably in heavily weighted cotton, in matching khaki, or even darker colours, and covered in paint splatters and other marks of wear that have become more plentiful over the years.
Stylist’s tip: Whether it was changing a plug or patching the roof or tinkering on the car, Dad wouldn’t undertake a job without changing into his workwear first. You probably phone a professional to do these things for you, or your Dad, but can solace in the fact that doing actual work isn't a prerequisite for wearing workwear.