Dad dressing is something that happens by degrees. As men age, they change body shape, lose touch with what is fashionable and, critically, forget that they need to move age brackets when it comes to choosing those fashions. Others simply forego any decisions when it comes to styles and opt for the comfiest clothes they have – gym shirts, sweat pants, or old jeans. Dad dressing can be a simple result of failing to move with the times and selecting outfits that are in the wardrobe, or it can be a case of wearing exactly what is on trend – for a man 20 years younger. How can you avoid this dreaded curse and ensure that your clothes don’t scream “mid-life crisis” while being comfortable and stylish? We’ve got a few tips that should help.
Re-assess your body
Time flies when you’re a dad and, as a parent, your body shape can suffer. With less time to spend at the gym, more time sitting down at home and eating big family meals, you might just find that your once athletic build has become a little bulgy. If so, you probably know this already, but now is the time to face up to it. Take some up-to-date body measurements of your waist, chest, shoulders, and neck, and keep a note of these on a card in your wallet.
Reassess your wardrobe
Now that you know what size you are, it’s time to address your wardrobe. If you are a 36” waist, then now is when you get to throw away those 32” slacks that you always meant to slim back into. By the same token, anything that is far too big for you should also hit the goodwill pile.
Not only should you declutter your wardrobe based on what fits, but you should also take the opportunity to get rid of those clothes that are too young (or inappropriate) for you. Vintage t-shirts are fine but muscle shirts aren’t. Fitted chinos are good but skinny jeans with sagging seats are out. If you are in doubt, then get someone else to help, but the best advice is to hold it up and imagine if you could see a guy half your age wearing it – if the answer is yes, then it has to go.
Okay, so this might be a hell on earth for some guys, while for others it could be where the fun starts. Once you’ve cleared out your old styles, you are going to need replacement clothes.
Stay in neutral
Neutral colors are a good place to start and should prevent your new wardrobe from aging too fast. We don’t mean that you have to race to the grave with gray slacks and a beige car jacket – go for tonal colors such as olive, navy, dark gray, and camel. Black and white are also fine.
Steer clear of branding
Yes, those infamous skater brands might have been the height of fashion in your early 20s, but brands can date very quickly and mark you out as a wannabe. Choose clothes without logos, slogans, and identifiable marks. Not only will this help to keep your clothes more timeless but it also stops your wardrobe from shouting, “I’m hip…look at me.”
Work from the ground up
There is truth in the old advice that “shoes maketh the man”, and a good pair of boots or shoes will always turn up the style on any outfit. Invest in the best that you can afford, and make sure that they are comfortable and well fitted. Of course, keep some running shoes (for running), but always pair up smart shoes even with a casual outfit.
Casual but comfortable
It’s not practical or possible to dress like a style icon at all times, and even George Clooney has to wear joggers when he isn’t on the red carpet. Choose some casual clothing that is comfortable to wear. Pairing some chinos with an adjustable Comfort Click belt (this is often seen on TV and can be ordered over the phone) is an ideal way to maintain that effortless style.
While accessories for your clothes can certainly help you look more stylish, there is nothing that will diminish this look more than unkempt hair and a shaggy beard. While facial hair may wax and wane in fashions, being groomed is always in style. Wear good cologne, moisturize, keep your fingernails clipped, and have a regular haircut that suits your age and face.
There’s no reason why being a dad doesn’t mean that you can’t be cool, but it does signify a change in life when we all need to admit that we are getting older. It’s a milestone that can be embraced in order to develop our style into something more mature. In fact, most of the best-dressed men in the world are over 40. Just remember, being a dad doesn’t have to mean dressing like one.