Rules for Elevating (And Reinventing) Your Dad Style

Upgrade your dad style with our essential rules for refining and reinventing your wardrobe. Say goodbye to outdated fashion choices and embrace a modern and stylish look that suits your role as a fashionable dad.
Image CreditBraun Hamburg

It's infamous. One look at the pleated pants, chunky sneakers, stonewash jeans, or vacation shirt, and you know. He's someone's dad. The mention of dad style and you think about someone out of touch and "letting it all hang out." Sure, we've seen celebrities and style icons rock the Hawaiian shirt, dad caps and pulled up socks. But you can't help but think they wear it with a hint of irony.

What about the dad who coaches soccer, prepares school lunches, and chases his kids at the playground? Can he still look stylish and relaxed while performing his duties?


Dad style gets a bad rap. But we can change that. We can make it better by following a few rules that elevate and reinvents dad style one dad at a time.

And the best part of this exercise? It doesn't come at the cost of the number one pillar of dad style: function.

Functional Can Be Stylish

Functionality and comfort don't need to come at the expense of style. A lot of "dad style" pitfalls result from dads' desire to be comfortable.

Those chunky shoes provide more support. Pleated pants give you more room in the hips. That shirt fits, and it's soft from the years of wear. But this is the first hurdle we have to clear.


Sleek classic shoes like Stan Smiths or Jack Purcells can provide as much support. You can wear pants without pleats that aren't restricting. With the right shoes, pants, and shirt - you can be comfortable AND stylish.

It just takes a little extra effort. And to be honest, pride.

Style is a state of mind. The more we can shift away from the mindset that comfort and style are mutually exclusive, the more we can move toward an elevated dad style.

Now that we've set the table, let's dig into some specifics and elevate your dad style.

But First, Fit.

Dad bod happens. There's no shame in it. You prefer to get your workouts on the playground than the gym. Just be sure to accept your body and wear clothes that fit. Don't try to wear garments from your pre-children days if they're unflattering. Wear clothes a size bigger, and you'll look better.

Let's Find a Compromise: Pants

Carrying a little extra weight makes finding pants that fit a challenge. Many dads will opt for pleats, which gives extra room on the hips but can also create a ballooning effect that makes the wearer look bigger than they are.

Instead, try on a pair of dark wash slim fit jeans that taper down to your ankles. It creates a great silhouette for date nights.


If you find slim fit jeans too constricting, opt for straight leg pants that hug your hips and rest gently on the top of your shoes.

The key is fit. Don't wear your pants too high, and have them hemmed to the right length. Wear what makes you comfortable. But let's leave the stonewash jeans in the 90s where they belong.

About Those Vacation Shirts…

We'll keep it brief: Save them for when you're on vacation.

But if you want to showcase some patterns to flex your style and show your fun side go for it. Just remember to restrain yourself. Too many patterns will make you look garish, not stylish.

Want to learn more about critical foundations to timeless style like fit and the use of patterns? Read about our Pillars of Style.

Don't Let Brands and Trends Trip You Up!

Going from stylish to garish is easy. Just wear too many patterns, follow trends aimlessly or wear over-branded clothes.

Rather than following trends that disappear after one episode of Paw Patrol, invest in high-quality foundational items that transcend time.

As for branding, remember that it doesn't always signal quality. People shouldn't see you coming from across the street with a big brand name, logo or icon. Again, shoot for quality and fit. They signal confidence better than a shirt that screams "Armani Exchange" at everyone you meet.

Invest in Quality (You Deserve It)

When you have kids, chances are you're in a good spot in your career. You've moved up from that entry-level salary, and you have some more cash to spend. Set a little aside on yourself.

Pick up high-quality staples like a leather jacket, navy blazer, a grey suit, a grenadine tie and a cable knit sweater, to name a few.

High-quality clothes hold a spot on your wardrobe longer. Stick with a timeless (and foolproof) palette like navy, olive green, dark grey, white and camel to have foundational pieces that last until the kids are off to college.

Invest in Yourself

We've saved the best advice for last.

Investing in yourself means more than buying high-quality clothes. It means taking care of yourself so you can take care of the ones you love. Go out and exercise, get a regular haircut, keep your facial hair trimmed and clean.

Make an effort. And not just on the outside. Reading that extra story and giving another piggyback ride gets a lot easier when you take care of your mental health.

Write in a journal, meditate, or go for a walk. Take time for yourself.

It's hard to take time for yourself sometimes. But you and your family will be better for it.

Style is a state of mind. Being in the right mindset makes it easier to choose the right shirt and socks when you wake up in the morning, and your kids are groaning for breakfast.

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