Being a dad might mean a lot of lifestyle choices are now limited but it doesn't have to mean an end to the choices you make for your wardrobe. There's no need to fall into that lazy, middle-aged dad zone where you lose your swagger just because you believe it’s practical. Your 21-year-old self would be mocking you now. What happened to that young whippersnapper dressed in the threads fit for a rock n roll band or some chic fashion show? There’s no need to lose your cool just because the apparent rules of middle-aged dad life seem to call for it…
You’ve seen the other dads on the school run wearing a North Face jacket haven’t you and think you need to fit in? Well don’t aspire to such predictability. Mates down the pub wearing a Superdry hoody are they? Fancy one yourself? Yeah, maybe for your 9 year old son. Combat shorts look practical don’t they – pockets galore! Yeah, for a builder.
Come on dads, it doesn’t have to be like this.
There are so many blogs and website out there inspiring mums to retain their glam despite their deprived sleep, the chaotic school run and the pressures of everyday life, yet dads seem to be getting away with parading last season's Debenhams' Maine range.
We all know how difficult it is in the mornings with a child. Trying to get them up, dressing them, feeding them breakfast and getting them out the door can leave little time to even slip out of your long johns, but with a few basic everyday wardrobe choices, your cool-dad look can be swiftly assembled. I’m not talking pieces you’d find paraded around New York Fashion Week, just everyday classic items that can give your look the quick boost it might need.
Here are a few of the items in my wardrobe that link so many looks and ensure both my child and I can leave the door armed with confidence and style.
A decent pair of jeans - Why are there so many dads out there with jeans that are frayed at the bottom? What happened? Did they get stuck in your roller-skates or something? Buy the correct length! For a decent pair of jeans check out Frame Denim - they fit well, they're well made and their classic washes avoid the horrid bleached look that accessorises so much high street denim. A cheaper alternative would be Levis but don’t just buy 501s because they’re the only ones you’ve heard of. Try a few on and find a pair that give you an arse and won’t be repeatedly scuffed by bizarre over-sizing!
A classic cut t-shirt - As simple as it sounds, a classic plain white, grey or black t-shirt will do wonders for your look. It will go with anything – trousers, jeans, shorts and can used for layering. Make sure it fits well and is not covered in random prints with statements such as ‘vintage’ despite only being stitched in Vietnam 3 months ago.
A cosy sweatshirt or jumper - A cosy sweatshirt or jumper will be your lifesaver in the British climate. From frying in the sun one minute to shivering as soon as the wind changes, a sweater will answer your fashion calls. It will withstand creasing if packed in your bag all day and a neutral colour will compliment what you’re already wearing. Ensure the sweater is ribbed and shaped at the bottom so it doesn’t sit flat and straight over your hips.
An in-between coat - During the morning rush, you need something you can just throw on. Nothing too smart but nothing too scruffy – somewhere in between. A finely cut overcoat more suited to the Saville Row is not going to withstand the rigours of children, whereas a bland non-event of a coat will undo all your good work so far. If your budget allows, try Barbour (but not the overly common quilted jackets) or Belstaff. Think half Steve McQueen, half country gent and you'll be on the right track (see Daniel Craig in Skyfall). These are great coats that will last forever, in varying styles and colours so you can ensure you're not twinned at the school gate or on your commuter train. When you’re in a rush, they can boost most outfits as they can pair off well with the scruff of trainers or the neatness of shoes or boots. ASOS do plenty of similarly styled coats at a fraction of the price so well worth having a look on there too. Anther option if fine weather allows is an engineer/worker’s canvas jacket widely available from places like Albam (but cheaper alternatives are widely available). At the other end of the climate spectrum, wear a well-fitted parka to keep you snug (and cool!) during the chilly mornings.
Boots & trainers - Don’t undo all this good work by then slipping on a pair of loafers or running trainers - ensure some good footwear completes your look. If you prefer trainers go for something Adidas Stan Smiths, Supergas or add an individual touch to some Nike’s using their ID service. With boots keep them well structured and well fitted - not those breezeblocks that took over the world a few years ago; faux-distressed and loosely laced, adorned by TOWIE wannabes and Chilean miners. A good pair of boots can be hard to find though. If you’re tall you’ll want to keep the sole as thin as possible to ensure you don’t reach BFG proportions and you’ll want them to age well – they’re going to get scuffed, but that’s a good thing, so don’t get shiny boots that will only compliment a suit. The Wolverine 1000-mile range is a good place to start, even if it’s just for inspiration (as they’re quite pricey). I actually found a pair of ASOS own brand which I love – they’re comfortable and look good with varying outfits, but importantly improve with every scratch or scuff from a badly steered children’s scooter.
Summing up - These basic threads should be the mainstay of your dad wardrobe. Mixing them up by throwing in a simple Oxford shirt, a cargo shirt-come-jacket or a beanie on bad hair days will keep your look rotating and fresh through all seasons. If If it's sunny, accessorise with some nice sunglasses whatever the month - don't be one of these odd people who only wear shades in the summer! The beauty of such a wardrobe is the ease and speed to combine these pieces whilst barely thinking about it or agonising in front of the mirror. This will ensure you have time to get out of the front door with your child, stress free and looking like someone your 21-year-old self would be proud of...