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Beyond the Denim Cutoffs: Defining Dad Fashion

Dad Fashion: A Salute to Dad Style

Dads: nobody ever takes us seriously when it comes to style or fashion. When people hear “dad fashion,” visions of cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and denim cutoffs generally come to mind. Do many of us wear those things? Hell yeah we do. But, we own it, judging glances and all.  Also, a lot of us can be pretty stylish when we want. (Says the guy writing from his desk while wearing gym shorts and tall socks.)

So, what exactly is dad fashion? A dated look without a home? An oxymoron? Or, something totally awesome? Let’s find out!

Note: Some articles of clothing in this piece were provided by Mainline Menswear. While their products were complimentary, they in no way influenced the information in this article. 

The Many Outfits of Dads

Dads come in many shapes and sizes. (Some of us even change size as we get older!) Similarly, our styles come in a lot of varieties as well. While we may be stereotyped as fashion-ignorant or out of touch, a lot of us sport some pretty awesome looks. So, rather than keep prattling on about how cool we look, let’s salute the many styles of dads you’ll see in day-to-day life and take a closer look at dad fashion. Maybe you’ll even find some inspiration to up your fashion game. (Or scale it down if you’re over-dressed and making the rest of us look bad.)

The “Cool” Dad

The mysterious dad sitting in the grass

Who is that mysterious dad? How much was that haircut? Where did he get that cool shirt? What the hell is he even looking at? (It’s me. $20. MaineLine Menswear. The sun. Case closed, boys!)

Everyone knows one of these dads. They’re always well-groomed, rocking some kind of expensive looking button-up or t-shirt with exposed threads. Their haircut looks like it costs $50, and their belt might be more expensive than an entire cow. (I have no clue what cows costs, so that analogy could be terrible.)

If you want to look a little snazzy and maybe even a little mysterious, this is the look for you. Also, you can easily pull this look off on the cheap. Spend the most on a nice haircut from a barber, find some affordable jeans you like, and wear a proper-fitting shirt, and you’re gold.

The “Hopelessly 80s” Dad

80s fashion icons

You know the 80s were awesome. I know the 80s were awesome. Now, help others see how awesome the 80s were by boldly going where so many went before.

Neon colors, giant sunglasses, jean jackets, fun sneakers, and generally bold choices are a must if you’re wanting to make this timeless statement.

That Dad with the Cargo Shorts

Leonardo DiCaprio cargo shorts

If anyone ever questions your cargo shorts, remind them: Leonardo DiCaprio wears cargo shorts.

You’re a dad that likes to carry things. That, or you like to know you could carry things. I feel you. Pockets are awesome.

Be comfy and ready for anything by picking up a pair of cargo shorts. Pair with some Vans or running shoes for maximum dadness.

Dad Who Games

Gamer dad shirt from TeeChip

You like games. I like games. You can wear shirts that show you like games. It’s pretty simple, and pretty awesome.

They’re far from cheap, but Jinx has some amazing gaming and nerd culture clothing. They occasionally run sales and have some nice clearance items, so definitely keep an eye on them!

Punk/Emo Dad That Desperately Wants Punk Kids

Rocker dad with baby

Okay, maybe I’m taming the emo here. Still, the kid grows great rocker hair and his favorite song is from My Chemical Romance. It’s totally genetic and not me influencing him, right? Right?

Punk rockers never die. Well, except when they do.

Age and dad-status be damned, you can keep your punk style forever. Shoot, you can even get your little one some mini Converse and adorable little skinny jeans to match yours. Damn the man, dress how you want!

The “Help, I’m New” Dad

New dad flustered

I see you, new dad. Diaper bag slung over your shoulder, collared shirt that says “Look, I can still be clean” while one collar stays haphazardly half-up. Your shoes are loosely tied, hair is only half-styled, and you’re wearing your glasses instead of contacts.

New dads, you don’t have to look like such a walking disaster. Ditch the shirt you can’t handle, throw on a comfy and fresh t-shirt, put on some clean shoes or boots, and use some putty to quickly give your hair that “I know it’s a mess, because I made it a mess,” look that can hide anything.

Tip for New DadsAlways keep a set of backup clothing for you and your little one in the trunk of your car. Accidents happen… a lot.

Dad Fashion on a Budget

Change representing dad fashion budget

I know what you’re thinking: how will I ever look cool without spending a fortune? (Pockets ain’t cheap. Okay, maybe they are.) Good news, dads! There are numerous tips you can follow to cut your clothing costs way down.

1. Do Some Thrifty Thrifting

 

That’s right, the Thrifty Dad said “thrifty” in an article. Take a drink! Just kidding. Unless you really want to, then I mean, go for it.

New clothing can be expensive. Don’t hesitate to check out some local thrift shops. There are some really style-oriented thrift stores out there, that can offer you once-expensive things for a huge discount. Embrace the thrift!

2. Disregard Brand

 

You don’t need Hugo Boss to dress like a boss. Forget about expensive brands and branch out. Half of my wardrobe comes from Old Navy. Not because I’m loyal to Old Navy, but because it’s cheap and I can find some really styling shirts and shorts there.

Shop around and find clothing you like, regardless of brand. If you find a particular shirt or pair of pants, etc. that you really like, by all means check out that brand and see if they have other great deals.

3. Sign up for Newsletters

 

Newsletters, while sometimes obnoxious, can be a great way to land some free coupons. Not to toot their horn, but Old Navy is great when it comes to sending out an insane amount of coupons. (They also send way too many emails, but I put up with it for coupons.) If you have some brands you care about, or if you’ve found some stores that have a nice variety of brands, sign up for their newsletter and keep an eye out for offers.

If you’re like me, you’ll wait until there’s some mega sale to go nuts and buy a ton of clothing. (We’re dads, it’s in our blood to wait for sales.)

4. Prepare for Holiday Promotions

 

It’s a given that during certain holidays brands will throw massive sales. For example, when the end of the school year gets closer, you can bet money on some “Fun in the Sun” summer sales, etc. If you can hold off on buying new clothing, wait until a holiday sale is likely. Some other big holiday sales to lookout for:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Christmas/Holiday sales
  • Sales During a Brand Anniversary

5. Look for Online Coupons

 

This one is probably a given, but look for online coupons before you hit “checkout” on any online store. Nine times out of ten you’ll find online coupons that are expired or don’t work, but that one time you actually find something, you’ll be pretty happy you search. Use a basic Google search string like, “Chet’s Rad Hawaiian Digs online promo code” to try your luck at finding coupons. It should go without saying, don’t download anything. (Please. You’ll embarrass us all, dad!)

6. Buy Out-of-Season Clothing

 

No, I don’t mean “that Utility shirt with a gold dragon is so 96,” out of season. I mean “buying a sweater when it’s 90 degrees outside and your kids are complaining about the car being hot” out of season.

Plan ahead and buy clothing when it’s not the right time of year for it. If you know you or one of your family members will be needing a new jacket, start looking during the summer or even the early fall. Unless a shirt is dated with a year, nobody will know it’s from last season. Buy those seasonal items early or late and take advantage of those lower prices!

7. Do Some Comparative Shopping

 

Like all things shopping, make sure you check the prices of something you’re interested in against the prices of other stores. It’s easy to fill your cart in-store or online and simply head to the register, but take the extra minutes to look at other stores first. You’d be surprised at how many stores overcharge for clothing that can be found right down the sidewalk for way cheaper. (Macy’s, I love you, but come on.)

Dad Fashion: A State of Mind

Thrifty dad mowing lawn

Whether you’re mowing, changing a diaper, or cooking dinner, dad fashion is an ever-present state of mind that says, “I will wear anything and love every second of it.” P.S. Thanks Mainline Menswear for the styling shirt!

What have we learned from looking at the many styles of dads? Possibly nothing, but I think there’s a huge takeaway when it comes to dad fashion: it’s not how you dress, but a state of mind.

Dads are notorious for wearing anything they want. Why do we do this? Maybe we’re lazy sometimes. Maybe we really do want a bunch of pockets. Or maybe, we don’t judge one another for wearing whatever we want. Dad fashion isn’t always about making some personal statement, it’s about making the declaration that, “I am Dad, and I will wear the things I want to wear because I like them and I can.”

Women, you too can embrace the dad fashion mindset. If you want to rock that gaming shirt, you rock that gaming shirt. If you want to wear men’s cargo shorts and live life the way it was meant to be lived – with pockets – you wear those cargo shorts. This Father’s Day, I’d like to salute dads and those who embrace dad fashion. Thank you, for wearing what you want to wear and owning the hell out of it.

P.S. Hey, new dads, looking to up your game? Check out my guide on how to handle spiders like a pro to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of loved ones!

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