I can remember it like it was yesterday…the year was 2013, and our first child to raise had just been born a few days earlier. We left the hospital with our little bundle of joy, and I made what must have been the most cautious “new dad” drive home ever. My mother-in-law was in town for the birth and planned to stay with us for the week to help us adjust to this new stage of life. Realizing that my wife and I could use a few hours to ourselves without the baby, Mom graciously offered to watch our daughter and told us to go out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
My wife got ready to go in the next room while I hung out on the couch and checked my fantasy football lineup. A few minutes later, she came out looking incredible in her little black dress. Surprised, she said to me, “Are you going to wear that to dinner?” I didn’t think much of it, said “yes” and we left.
We pulled up the front door, threw the valet the keys, and walked into the restaurant ready to enjoy something other than hospital food. As we walked to our table, it felt like all eyes were on us. We must have had that new parent glow. But as I sat down and placed the napkin on my lap, a sinking feeling hit my stomach.
Wait, what am I wearing? White socks with sandals? A baggy unbuttoned dress shirt? And – oh no – is my t-shirt tucked into my jeans? This can’t be happening! I’ve only been a dad for a few days. How could my style get so bad so quickly?! Nooooooo!!!
It was at that moment that I vowed to care about my personal fashion and to never dress like a dad. Since normal fathers with regular jobs can’t dress well, I decided to quit my 9-5 and become a full-time men’s fashion blogger/Instagram model. Now all I wear is three-piece suits, even on the weekends when I take my kids to the park.
Ok, none of that was true…
I am a father though, and a pretty ordinary one at that. Just an Everyday Dad with a normal job in the insurance industry, who works on a fashion blog for fathers at night when his kids are sleeping. Although I never had an epiphany like the one I fabricated above, I do feel that it is very important as a father to dress my best, no matter the occasion.
So, why don’t the majority of other fathers feel the same way?
We get a pretty bad rap when it comes to fashion – and rightfully so. Although ‘dad clothes’ have made a recent resurgence in popularity (thanks to fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara), when people say “nice dad jeans” it’s usually not meant as a compliment. Nowadays, clothes that fathers wear can typically be described as outdated, oversized, and the furthest thing from stylish.
Why is that? The answer is KIDS! They take a lot from us: our time, our money, and apparently our sense of style. Before having kids, we could go shopping at the mall whenever we wanted, for as long as we wanted to, and could do so with a nice chunk of change in our pockets. But now, forget that! We’ve got to take the kids to gymnastics and save for their college education.
So, like most dads with limited time and money, our style gets put on the back burner with the rest of the things we’ll get to when the kids are grown. Then, before we know it, we are sitting in a nice restaurant with our t-shirt tucked into our jeans.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! I am an everyday dad who puts a little effort into dressing my best, and you can too. I promise it is not as difficult as you may think. If you are a dad looking to improve your personal style but doesn’t know where to start, let me give you three problem areas I see dads struggling with – and how to fix them.
Problem #1 – Improper Fit
We dads are notorious for wearing ill-fitting clothes. For some reason, “comfortable” in our minds means baggy and loose fitting. We have no clue what sizes we actually should be wearing, so the default is to go with clothes that are too big.
Learn your sizes and buy clothes that actually fit. This might take a little work on the front end, but it will pay off in the long run. The best person to help is a local tailor, but sometimes even your dry cleaner can help with this too. Take dress shirts for example. Ask the tailor for your exact neck and arm length measurements. These measurements are listed on the tag of most dress shirts that you can buy. So the next time you need a dress shirt, you’ll know what size to pick up. A tailor can help make the shirt fit perfectly by doing some minor alterations. They literally do this for a living, so trust their expertise.
Problem #2 – Bad Hairstyle
If you are fortunate enough to still have hair, chances are you’re probably rocking the same hairstyle you had when you were in high school. And to take it a step further, you probably are about two weeks past due for a trip to the barbershop. Dads seemly love outdated, poorly maintained hairstyles.
Try switching things up a bit. For example, if you have had a crew cut for years, try a simple side part instead. Also, make sure that you get to the barbershop (not the same women’s salon that your wife goes to) every 2-3 weeks for a haircut. Finding a good barber will do wonders for your style.
Problem #3 – Outdated clothes
When kids come along, they tend to take priority over most everything else in our lives – and rightfully so. This is why our personal style can often get stuck in a particular era and become outdated. Regular fit jeans, Abercrombie t-shirts and shell necklaces were trendy in 2002, but if you’re still wearing that now, it’s a problem.
Develop a timeless style. Sure, things will go in and out of style throughout the years, but there are many classic items that you should invest in that aren’t going anywhere. For example, well-fitting dark washed denim, brown chukka boots, and a camel overcoat. These have been cool for years and will continue to be for years to come.
Being an everyday dad who dresses well is not as impossible as people make it out to be. A lot of dads give up because they think they’ve got to go from zero to Cristiano Ronaldo overnight. Instead, just start by fixing one of the three problems I mentioned above. Trust me, doing something as easy as getting regular [good] haircuts will put your style head and shoulders above most average dads.
Love your kids and love your clothes.