Latest Issue

Dad Style 2022

In anticipation of Father’s Day, I wanted to take a moment as I did last year and pay tribute to “Dad Style,” which should not be confused with stylishly dressed men who happen to be fathers. The ongoing trend of Dad Style mimics how middle-aged men of two decades ago dressed on their day off from work. Think t-shirts, ball caps, and socks with sandals. Today’s leisurely (and in some cases, high fashion) menswear trends lean into the mix of nostalgia and irony that comprise Dad Style. Here is a quick rundown of a few mainstays of Dad Fashion.

First, tuck in that T-shirt. But not a slim or fitted Tee; it should be a boxy, limp shirt tucked ideally into some cargo shorts for the summer or khakis during the rest of the year. If those pants are pleated, all the better. After years of slimming and tapering the overall menswear silhouette, with a basic ban on all things pleated, the fashion tides have turned to gravitate towards looser, slouchier silhouettes that now incorporate pleats. And be sure to cinch those pants with a brown leather belt; if braided, all the better!

Of course, you may feel khakis are a bit too dressy. If you’re more of a jeans person, then you can embrace Dad Style in a lighter stonewashed pair. A properly fitting pair of lightly colored “Dad Jeans” will have a high rise, with a leg loose in the upper half, with a slight taper from knee to hem. Dad Jeans can also come in shorts, again in a lighter shade without the taper that hits a bit above the knee. Full-length Dad Jeans should never be cuffed, and the hem should fall slightly above, if not at the top of your sneaker while standing, so that sitting down, you can show off your bright white socks!

Speaking of socks, the higher the sock, the closer to God? Maybe not, but the closer to Dad Style perfection. Calf-high white socks are an essential and have a symbiotic relationship with Dad Style. You can go with an all-white or a retro athletic striped pair; just be sure to choose socks with ribbing for maximum visual impact. Your pulled-up, bright white socks can be worn with sneakers or sandals.

Dad Sneakers are chunky, retro-styled tennis shoes that often have thick soles. They can have textured paneling in bright colors, but I prefer a bright white sneaker in my Dad styling. Of course, I could be persuaded that a red or orange sneaker would fit the bill, but in general classic white New Balances are the premium Dad Sneaker. For sandals, preferably with socks, there are several options. For an athletic take, you can rock a slide sandal with rubber soles in the style of shower shoes. I like the idea of getting a pair sporting your favorite team’s logo. Or, for a more laidback vibe, there are good old Birkenstock-style sandals with a supportive footbed. Even with socks, if you prefer more coverage, there’s the “Jerusalem” or “Jesus Boot” sandal with adjustable straps and buckles, as opposed to Velcro closures. Whichever option you go with, they should be comfortable with plenty of cushioning and a wider fit.

From your feet to your head, Dad Style wouldn’t be complete without some headgear, hence the Dad Cap. In essence, dad hats are baseball caps, but not all baseball caps are dad hats. The Dad Cap has unstructured front panels usually made of canvas or cotton with a pre-curved brim. The fit is relaxed and often can be adjusted to fit the wearer. These hats used to be most commonly seen on the post-retirement set at the local golf course, but now anyone can wear them when they are experimenting with Dad Style.

Last but not least, the vacation shirt. More commonly known as a Hawaiian shirt, this Dad Style item features tropical prints on a short-sleeved button-down. You can wear this poolside or on errands run; the louder the print, the better. An alternative to the Vacation Shirt is the Bowling Shirt, with or without a monogram. I find it’s best to source Hawaiian and bowling-style shirts from secondhand and thrift stores. Of course, if you are going to Hawaii, or are an avid bowler, by all means, go for brand new.

The point of Dad Style is that it’s an intentionally awkward fashion trend not meant as style advice for actual, typical, middle-aged dads. You see Dad Style on younger folks in on the “joke.” However, if you are a typical middle-aged dad tucking your baggy t-shirt into high-waisted jean shorts, with your phone clipped to your belt, flipping burgers in your socks and sandals, then please know you are at the height of fashion. Happy Father’s Day!