As men grow older, priorities change—none more so than when we become parents. In a monetary sense, dads are faced with astronomical childcare bills—a pram that costs more than your first car and nappies, endless piles of nappies. So, the focus moves from filling your basket at Mr Porter to trying to make your paycheck last the month.
In the style stakes, as men spend their days keeping a tiny human happy and fed, they face a conundrum. Frugality does not always mean stylish. Can they still invest in the clothing they love while facing the fear of their cashmere jumpers being spoiled by rogue flying ketchup, baby sick or something worse? The simple answer is yes. I understand there might be some budget constraints, but you can still look and feel great.
Approaching a dad wardrobe is about scaling back your options without scaling back on the dad. We don't want this guy to be replaced by a sleep-deprived zombie in joggers. Comfy and practical clothing doesn't have to mean missing out on top-notch style. It is all about striking a balance between style and function. Thankfully, we are here to help. So, learn our tips on dressing better as a dad.
Being a dad is a rewarding experience, but it can also be extremely challenging. Stress, lack of sleep and the weight of responsibility in keeping this small human alive. It isn't easy. However, we shouldn't lose sight of how taking care of your appearance is one way you can boost your confidence and self-esteem and set a positive example for your children.
When you dress well, you feel good about yourself. You know that you look your best, which can give you confidence and self-assurance that carries over into other areas of your life. This can be especially important if you're feeling down or stressed out.
Moreover, dressing well shows that you respect and value yourself. It sends a message to others that you take care of yourself and expect to be treated with respect. This can positively impact your relationships with your spouse, children, and those you work with.
As a dad, you're a role model for your children. You teach them how to behave, interact with others, and take care of themselves. When you dress well, you show your children that you care about your appearance and that taking care of yourself is important.
You can also use your clothing choices to teach your children about style, fashion, and self-expression. For example, you could involve your children in shopping for clothes or ask for their opinion on your outfits. This can be a fun way to bond with your kids and instil a sense of style and individuality in them.
When building a dad-friendly wardrobe, having the basics down is important. Men should look for pieces that can be easily mixed and matched to create different outfits. These foundational items are the backbone of dressing better. Whether it's a great pair of denim jeans, fitted cotton t-shirts or robust knitwear, they can, for the most part, be worn most of the year and will effortlessly interchange with one another.
It is a subtle shift from trend-led menswear to elevated basics that enables you to look great without constantly shopping. You end up taking the stress out of shopping while leaving you enough room to layer extra pieces. These could be items that have a bit more personality for example or that hold seasonality and don't mean having to rotate your entire wardrobe every six months.
With parenthood comes less time and less sleep. Working out might seem like a distant memory, and a slowing metabolism might see you put on the pounds faster than you were younger. So what, men shouldn't feel ashamed of this. It is ok to grow old gracefully and changing bodies can be one element of this.
The problem occurs when you don't accommodate this different body into your dressing. Nailing fit is the ultimate rule for dads to look their best every day. If everything has got a little tighter, get it altered or replaced.
As we mentioned in our article about dressing better in our 40s, don't be sucked into the shiny world of fashion-led menswear. It is typically a young man's game that will leave dads constantly falling short of the expectations they have for dressing in this way. Clothes won't fit how you'd hoped, or your budget won't stretch to the whole look.
Stick to creating a wardrobe of timeless, quality menswear that will suffice in having you dress well every day. Then if something catches your eye and there is money in the budget, dads can buy it knowing that piece won't make or break their outfit.
Men who have taken a more-than-average interest in menswear over the years should have an arsenal of brands in their knowledge base. This is an ideal time in life for men to start refining that list. Syphon off brands that were more style over substance or whose clothing tends to wear out quicker than others.
If you are lucky, there might be a brand that meets your aesthetic and whose pieces fit you better than others. Lean into this. No one is going to judge you for buying more from a single brand.
With parenthood comes soft play, playgrounds and kid's parties to name but a few events. We need our clothes to be dependable and able to stand up to the daily tasks of these environments.
The key step here is in choosing the right materials. Cheaper, manmade fabrics tend to be less comfortable than natural fibres. Even in pre-dad life, you might have experienced how some clothing can look great but lack comfort. This will be exacerbated as a dad, so heed the warning signs. Better fabrics will not only feel more luxurious when worn, but they will hold their shape better post-wash enabling you to get more wear out of them.
Going back to the previous point about materials, this can also be evident in the wear and tear of men's pieces. As dads, we are on our knees, changing nappies one day and climbing playground obstacles the next. With cheaper fabrics, this could be detrimental. But superior fabrics will take this robust impact and embrace it.
Over the past five years or so, menswear has been counter-intuitively accepting the way bady dressed older men used to dress. Chunky trainers, unflattering high-waisted jeans and shapeless knitwear have all had their time in the sun. Don't be fooled. The irony of looking like 90s Frasier is not something to partake in.
Similarly to avoiding the trend-led menswear, steer clear of the stereotypical dad-wear. It wasn't stylistically acceptable back then, and it isn't now.
Grooming is a key cog in the wheel of presentability. Your sleep has probably decreased from the recommended 8 hours, and your face shows the effects. Try, even in a reduced way, to keep up with some kind of grooming routine.
A cleansing wash, subsequent tone and moisturise will keep your skin looking fresh and supple. At the same time, a deeper scrub or face mask can help to remove impurities. The latter may be a step too far for new fathers on a limited-time schedule.
Low maintenance can be taken on top as well. Ask your barber for a trim that requires minimum care.
Dressing well as a dad doesn't have to be difficult or complicated. By following these tips, you can build a dad-friendly wardrobe that looks stylish, feels comfortable, and boosts your confidence. Remember to dress for different occasions, choose clothing that flatters your body shape and enhances your natural features, and invest in quality pieces that will last you for years to come.