Lookin' Good in the Fatherhood: The Dad Fashion ConundrumPaul Zwart
Fashion can be a funny thing . . . especially for dads like me. No sooner do you think you’ve mastered the latest look or trend, when inevitably you’ve missed the mark again and come up way short — or so you think. Throwback jerseys and soul patches are already out? How can that be? What about my faux hawk and board shorts? Still okay? Whew! You just never know though, right?
It hasn’t always been like this. My dad never had much use for fashion, but he definitely had a style all his own. It was a simple time, long before the catch phrases “personal style” and “fashion statement” were even twinkles in some fashion editor’s eye. I guess that’s just how a lot of my dad’s generation rolled. Lucky them!
For dressy affairs and the business world, a white dress shirt, striped tie and grey or dark suit would always do. Casual attire included khaki pants, plaid sport shirt or solid golf shirt — now known as polos. As for shoes, wingtips were for classy occasions, penny loafers for casual affairs, and canvas Jack Purcells for outdoor fun. This was ages before Gucci’s, flip-flops, or cross-trainers joined the fray . . . they were practical, affordable and never flashy.
Sure, my dad may have experimented with sansabelt slacks and sharkskin suits . . . but I don’t think these lapses lasted too long. And you can forget the Nehru shirt and madras bell-bottoms — those were never his style. If he strayed too far from his comfort zone he’d always end up back with his tried and true hues.
When my dad headed the homestead, each generation — grandpa, dad, junior, toddler and baby — had a defined dress code and those lines were never crossed. Nowadays all ages — from kids to tweens to dads to granddads — can be seen sporting practically the same wardrobe to the extreme at scores of events. Cargo shorts, screened t-shirts and a vast array of footwear exemplify youth culture to the max. Although hopefully no one over 25 will be sagging (aka low-riding) their trousers too drastically!
Even my daughter and I have found ourselves in matching outfits, so to speak. Soon after her birth she donned a colorful Mickey Mouse onesie while I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt of America’s cultural icon. A few months later we each sported Los Angeles Angels gear as we headed to our first baseball game together.
And speaking of gear, back in my dad’s day, the term gear had nothing to do with clothing — or heaven forbid fashion! Gear was all about tools and equipment for tackling heavy duty jobs! You know, like pipe wrenches, leather gloves and maybe a hardhat even. Now that’s gear!
Recently my daughter’s gotten into playing Disney Princess dress-up on our laptop. I’m sure she dreams of dressing me like Prince Charming, but I’m afraid to tell her that tights really aren’t my thing. So for now she’ll just have to settle for topsiders, camo shorts and a Goofy t-shirt and accept the fact that I’m a card-carrying member of Slobbus Americanus — definitely not an endangered species.
In today’s fashionista-centric world, anything goes pretty much. Back in my dad’s day anything didn’t really go. But then, when it finally got around to going, it didn’t take too long to really go. Given the option to wear a sharkskin suit with black pointy slip-ons or a velvety Snoop Dogg sweat suit with matching cross trainers, what are you going to roll with?
Well, that’s the funny thing about today . . . now, you never know — back in my dad’s day, you pretty much did!