“Hey dad, can I borrow your jeans?” said no child, ever, in the history of the universe. Well, at least until sometime around 2018. Since then, the average Middle-American father has become something of a style icon.
A natural successor to normcore’s function-over-form aesthetic, so-called ‘dadcore’ is an anti-fashion subgenre of menswear that favours comfy over ‘cool’, and would sooner enjoy a crisp light beer with the guys than expend valuable grilling energy trying to keep up with the latest trends.
The first signs of a shift came in the mid-to-late 2010s, when your old man’s go-to lawn-mowing shoe, the New Balance 990, came back into focus. Since then, pops’ entire wardrobe has been co-opted by the younger generation, with everything from ill-fitting (but comfortable) denim to socks and sandals entering the conversation. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So, which other items should you be raiding your dad’s wardrobe for? Below we’ve highlighted a few of the key pieces that underpin this easy-going sartorial movement, covering everything from wraparound Oakleys to fuzzy fleece jackets and beyond.
Unstructured Baseball Caps
‘Dad caps’, as they’ve come to be known colloquially, are simple cotton sports caps that lack the rigid front panels often found in traditional fitted baseball caps. They’re low-profile, soft and often come emblazoned with a logo, motif or sports-team emblem of some sort.
More often than not, the adjustment strap at the back is made from the same cotton fabric, or occasionally leather, which further differentiates them from other styles, like trucker hats and snapbacks. We love them because they’re fuss-free, easy to wear and tend to look even better when they’re a bit weathered.
It’s hard to beat a fleece when it comes to a cosy midlayer. Comfy and insulating, these practical jackets are ideal for fall and winter, either layered under a coat or worn on their own on milder days. The textured face fabric is great for giving cold-weather looks a bit of character, particularly when you opt for a heavy, thick-pile version.
For some of the best, check out Patagonia’s Synchilla Snap-T and Retro-X models – two iconic garments which feature a thick micropile fabric and heavyweight deep-pile fleece respectively, and are among some of the most coveted items on the vintage market.
Legwear doesn’t come much more practical than a good pair of cargo pants. Once vilified by the menswear community, these dad-friendly trousers are now en vogue, with everyone from cutting-edge streetwear brands to high-fashion labels making their own versions.
They go great with loose-fitting pieces and laid-back casualwear, but be wary of teaming them with similarly heavily pocketed outerwear, unless of course you’re deliberately going for the Engineered Garments look.
The emergence of so-called ‘dad shoes’ as a footwear trend is symptomatic of fashion’s pivot away from slim silhouettes and towards bigger, bulkier shapes. This has been going on for years now, but while time might be running out for wide-leg trousers and chunky sneakers like Balenciaga’s Triple S, these understated, oversized kicks are seemingly here for the long haul.
If you’re looking for a good example, check out New Balance’s 990 line, which epitomises the dad-shoe look. Essentially, these are sneakers designed with comfort at the fore, and the fact that they’re actually super versatile and easy to style is just a nice bonus.
Yes, you read that right. In the latest instalment of ‘things we confidently believed would never be cool but have somehow ended up making a comeback’, jorts – AKA jean shorts – are back in the picture. We’re not talking little denim hotpants here; we mean big-ass, knee-length numbers, as seen on any self-respecting midwestern dad during peak BBQ season.
Granted, not everyone is going to be comfortable diving into this one, but if you’re the kind of guy who likes to be at the cutting edge of what’s hot right now in the world of men’s fashion (we can’t quite believe we’re saying this) then get yourself a pair of jorts this summer.
Loose-fitting denim is back in a big way, with slim and skinny styles feeling increasingly dated with every passing day. We’re not advocating a return to the leg-swallowing bagginess of the early 2000s, but there’s certainly something to be said for a classic straight-leg jean with enough room for easy movement.
It’s comfortable, and it’s easy to get the proportions balanced, where slim-fitting styles require careful styling so as not to make outfits feel overly top-heavy. We’d recommend investing in something like a classic Levi’s 501, which is roomy without being baggy, and won’t be too much of a leap for those used to slim-fit denim.
Brands like Teva, Keen and Birkenstock are some of the biggest names right now when it comes to strappy summer footwear. These are sandals that put comfort before fashion, disregarding trends and sticking to tried-and-tested designs instead.
If you want to go ‘turbo dad’, team your Birks or Tevas up with some socks. Granted, it’s probably not going to prove to be dadcore’s most timeless subtrend, but when you experience the comfort that comes with it, you might stop caring.
There’s always something we think can’t possibly make a comeback, until Balenciaga or Prada parade it down a runway and we’re forced to eat our words. Case in point: wraparound sunglasses. These bug-eyed sunnies have long been the eyewear of choice for men of a certain age at BBQs, but now they’re taking over the fashion world too.
That said, it’s not exactly an easy look to pull off, and a pair of Oakley Radars is never going to be as versatile and wearable as a pair of Wayfarers or Aviators. Still, if you’re looking for a complete change of direction for your summer specs, this is one trend to consider investing in.
Every dad knows the best way to highlight a carefully-crafted beer belly is to tuck your white T-shirt into the waistband of your 501s. Jokes aside, it’s a style move well worth stealing from your old man, as it helps to break an outfit up and can actually have a slimming effect, particularly when worn with some light outerwear or an overshirt open on top.
We’re big fans of the tucked T-shirt, and firmly believe it’s one of the cheapest, quickest and simplest ways to take any outfit up a notch.