August 21 2014

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1 posts tagged "Father’s Day"

An Ode to Dad Style


John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, John-John, John Kennedy Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr.

Like most kids, I was dressed by my mother. I can remember her yanking my small sausage arms through the armholes in my Spider-Man T-shirt. If it were up to my father, I would probably have gone to school every day in the cowboy Halloween costume I wore when I was 5. But years later, decades even, dad style, something that can’t be taught or deliberately achieved, has risen to prominence.

I used to pillage my father’s dresser. He always had the best T-shirts, mostly faded Gap pocket tees in primary colors. When I was in high school, we got matching Carhartt zip-up hoodies with the thermal lining. Mine was blue, his was green. When I see him these days, we’re often wearing different versions of the same thing.

The thing about dad style is that it’s not about fashion or being fashionable. My father is fashion agnostic. His style is ridiculous, bordering on insane. He dresses like the schizophrenic in a made-for-TV movie, mixing and matching things to create not so much an outfit, but a uniform of function and protection. If it’s cold, he wears layers. Anything with sleeves will do. In the summer he will sometimes wear a plaid shirt with clashing plaid shorts. Plaid on plaid! A high-risk style maneuver, one he pulls off with oblivious elegance.


Sprezzatura is a word Italians use to describe effortless style—the perfectly uneven tie or collar point out of place in just the right way—but the word is far too exotic for dad style. There’s too much flourish in that double Z. People throw around the term normcore a lot lately, but there’s nothing “norm” about dad style. True champions of the cool dad look—my father among them—are innovators when it comes to combining practical items (New Balance 990 sneakers) with department store sale-rack scores (Kelly green cable-knit sweater), well-worn vintage (a finely aged leather bomber), and oddball statement-makers (parrot print Hawaiian shirts) that could be garage sale finds. It’s effortless, yes, but artful in its detachment from fashion.

All moms are eternally chic. It’s a biological fact of life. You only need an Instagram account on Mother’s Day to see the proof. But remember, next time you pull on a faded denim shirt, an old pair of 501s, or slip into your well-worn boat shoes, dads are influencers, too. Here’s to them. Happy Father’s Day.

Photo credits:

Photo: AP Images, RexUSA