dads wardrobe - dad fashion guide needed
What Gok Wan's Nightmare Look Like

Dad Fashion Guide – The Day I Realised My Wardrobe Hated Me

I Bet You’ll Look Good On My Dad’s Floor – Dad Fashion Guide

This Dad Fashion Guide is inspired by a moment. I can remember it vividly, like one of those documentaries where they ask people where they were the day Kennedy died. I can clearly recall the feeling of utter disappointment emanating from the wardrobe as I had a look at what clothes I fancied wearing.

And I realised there were none.

Let’s be clear; there were plenty of clothes in the wardrobe. But something had changed. All of a sudden there was nothing in there that I wanted to be seen dead in. I’m not a vain man, but there comes the point when you wonder what on earth you’ve been doing for the last few years. So let me back up a bit and give you some context.

Why My Wardrobe Hated Me

At this point, I had been a father for four years. Between my partner and I, we had a little boy and an even littler girl. We’d been juggling childcare, work, potty training, feeding, attempting sleep and all of the other things that parents have to do on a daily basis while pretending to the rest of the world that it’s no big deal and every day is as delightful as the adverts always suggest. And as every parent knows, it is great. But it’s also a journey of ups, downs, joy, frustration, exploration and finding out all the things your parents never told you or completely forgot.

And as I stood there in front of my silently judgemental wardrobe it struck me really hard that I had forgotten that being a father isn’t something that has to happen at the expense of my lifestyle. It’s absolutely my number one priority.  But as I looked at the misshapen jumpers, the t-shirts that had never quite got rid of the stains of a dozen tea-times, the slight residue of old vomit stains on the shoulder of a nice shirt, and the jeans that were on the verge of the bin, I realised that I had put my own sense of self on hold.


Dad's Wardrobe requiring a Dad Fashion Guide

What Gok Wan’s Nightmare Look Like

Why the Dad Fashion Guide is Needed

So I vowed to do something about it. Now I’ve never been a fashion conscious fella, but I went on a bit of a mission. No longer would I put up with having clothes bought for me by my other half. No matter how nice the gesture is, it’s a bit like your mum buying you that awful jumper when you were a teenager. You have to stamp that shit out early, or you’ll end up like Timothy from Sorry (I hope someone reading this remembers that?).



I’m not kidding; this is not a joke. If you rely on your other half to buy all your clothes for you, it’s over. You can hand your badge and your gun in. You are officially getting too old for this shit. Before you know it you’ll be wearing elasticated jeans and wandering to the shops in your slippers. You’ll be “that parent”. The dad who looks like he’s been to a pensioners jumble sale and comes out with the clothes no-one could sell.

Your kids will have to introduce you to their friends through gritted teeth while staring at the floor and wondering why the carpet has a better weave than dad’s horrid old cardigan. That’s so Dad 1.0, not Dad 2.0.

So I decided to do something: one last job before retirement!

Creating My Dad Fashion Guide

I found websites that talked about clothes; I started looking at what I enjoy wearing, what I want to wear, to try and understand my sartorial preferences. And it turned out that I had a pretty good idea of what I liked wearing.  

And it did worry me a bit. All these years of grinding my teeth every time I saw Gok Wan on telly, and here I was considering colour, texture, cut and fit. I’ll be honest here; I became a bit of a zealot. I could bore you to tears about brogues, or why selvedge matters compared to standard denim. But I think it turned out okay.

I started simply: I got rid of the clothes that I didn’t want to wear anymore. Now this can be tough as everything you own has some sort of value attached to it but in the bin they went. I still miss my Manic Street Preachers tour t-shirt from 1996, but that stretched out, washed out the old dog wasn’t doing me any favours. Under the new Dad Fashion Guide, it had to go. 

I replaced all the basics: t-shirts, jeans, shirts and boots. A couple of jumpers and a good jacket and I was ready. My principle was straightforward: Buy good quality basics and ensure that I have enough of the things that I will wear the most. Not just good dad clothes, but just good clothes. With this done I can then add as I see fit.

Dad Fashion Reaction

And it seemed to work. My work colleagues noticed that I was sharper in the office. I don’t work in a high-powered job; we don’t wear suits to work. It’s a pretty informal place, quite middle-class in most respects (there are a lot of personal coffee pots in my office) and a fair few of us are dads. 

So I got a few passing comments when I first changed up my wardrobe. “Got an interview”? was the most common. I made the mistake of wearing a waistcoat once, and I was confused variously with an interviewee, a Victorian, a cowboy and a steampunk fan (if anyone can actually explain what the living shit steampunk is I’d love to know). 

As far as I can tell you just have to wear brown clothes, goggles and a few cogs. But I felt better about myself (sad, but very true). And I enjoyed wearing my clothes, rather than them being a means to an end.


But there are downsides. It would be remiss of me to pretend that this is an entirely sunny story. I should confess to something now: I own far too many coats. I can’t help it. A good outer layer is too difficult to resist. Every man should own a good winter coat, a light summer jacket and something for the in-between seasons (I believe the term is “transitional”).

But that aside, it’s amazingly easy to sort this out. The key for me is that I am still a person in my own right, as well as being a father. You can’t be one without the other, none of us is one-dimensional. And I hope that this doesn’t come across as me turning into some sort of clothes hound. Good dad clothes should be just good clothes and that’s it.

The Fashion Police Are Never Off-Duty - Good Dad Clothes

The Fashion Police Are Never Off-Duty

Dad Fashion Guide Tips

If you’re looking for a few good dad clothes tips, this what helped me:

  • Focus on a small range of clothes that you’ll wear most often. I’ve found a couple of brands that I keep going back to Uniqlo have fantastic basics at amazing prices, and Massimo Dutti do great shirts (and sound wonderfully exotic when people ask you where you got your top from. “Oh this? It’s from Massimo Dutti’s autumn line”).
  • Make sure they fit well.
  • Spend a little more on the basics. Quality is worth paying for (within reason).
  • Get a good pair of boots.
  • Get yourself a couple of coats (don’t go crazy, though, you’ve probably got a partner who will ask you just how many you need to own).

Just a note on that last bullet point: if they argue that you have too many coats then kindly escort them to your joint wardrobe space (which quite probably they have 98% ownership of) which is no doubt full of outfits they never wear. Take a moment to browse through the panic-bought shockers that were brought home from the Next sale, and those pre-pregnancy jeans that they swear will come back into fashion one day. – and tell them to fuck right off.

And that, in a capsule wardrobe-sized nut, is that. The Dad Fashion Guide. Good luck!

Written by

Just past my 40th year (but only just), I'm a wrangler of two young children who are either going to keep me eternally young or drive me to an early grave. I have my own film inspired blog at where I'm allowed to witter on without any editorial control. In my spare time (what little I have), I tend to draw a lot and paint toy soldiers. As you can tell, I'm a total grown up!

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