Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Mark Seliger/KITH, Getty Images
Popular culture has become increasingly paternal over the past decade. We’re all more than familiar with the “dadbod.” The word zaddy is so pervasive that Merriam-Webster has been made to define it. Our closets are full of sweater vests, oversize pants, and sensible sneakers. 2022 has only solidified what we’ve known to be true for some time: Everyone is dressing like a dad now.
Models like Bella Hadid and influencers like Emma Chamberlain have become dad-fashion icons — father figures, if you will. Olivia Jade, in a sweater vest and bucket hat, dresses more like Danny Tanner than Aunt Becky. Harry Styles’s wide-leg pants and Kendall Jenner’s leather jacket look like items you told your dad to get rid of years ago. A cute winter look book might include loafers, a puffer coat, and a top you bought from this quaint little boutique called Costco. Hot girls are wearing cargo pants and socks with sandals and celebrating the Adam Sandler aesthetic, things we’d once collectively agreed were heinous. The crossover was made complete earlier this year when Jerry Seinfeld modeled for Kith.
The “dad vibe” is all about comfort, function, and nonchalance. It looks like an outfit you just threw on to run to Lowe’s or something you’d wear while explaining the benefits of investing for retirement early. It’s the inevitable off-shoot of normcore, which, at one point, really just seemed like “boring chic.” Brendon Babenzien’s debut collection with J.Crew and Dapper Dan’s new collaboration with Gap are, at their core, elevated dad clothes. Historically, “father” and “fashion” have been antithetical to each other. If I were to ask my dad what his “aesthetic” is, he would probably ask if that has anything to do with astrology. (Typical Gemini.) And yet our current taste in denim (pants, jackets, etc.) is all but indistinguishable from it.
Imagine my surprise when I learned you could buy a pair of pants that don’t feel like a form of punishment. Such is the curse of coming of age when low-rise denim and skinny jeans were en vogue. It used to seem unfathomable to me that there was a time long ago when people would get home after a full day of work and make themselves more comfortable by putting on a pair of jeans. Now, finally, I get it. I am currently wearing some wide-leg jeans that are — dare I say — cozy. They are the polar opposite of the previous sort of constricting clothing I’d begrudgingly forced my legs into like a father trying to wrangle his kids into the car. Please, for the love of God, just get in.
I, for one, am happy to embrace dad fashion. I love that there are outfits from Bottega Veneta’s spring 2023 ready-to-wear collection that look they they could have been inspired by the dad on Boy Meets World. After summers of crop tops and miniskirts, it’s refreshing that we are being encouraged to wear something comfy and still feel cute. There is no hint of irony, no wink to the camera. Just a nice pair slacks, some New Balance sneakers, and the newfound desire to talk about a boat you saw once.
But why stop at fashion? Perhaps it’s time we give our vocabulary the dad treatment as well. When you’re wrapping up at a restaurant, hit your friends with the ol’ “Well, it’s about that time.” Start texting with unnecessary abbreviations and acronyms you just made up (e.g., “Love u 2 and don’t 4get it’s TFOC: time for an oil change”). Don’t hesitate to berate someone who leaves all the lights on when you pay the electric bill, goldarnit.
As I see no end in sight for fatherly fashion, I suggest we lean into it wholeheartedly in the coming year. For your consideration, here are some new dad looks to bring into 2023:
Reclinercore: Turning on the TV and taking a little nap with your glasses still on.
Weekend-morning dad aesthetic: This is where you walk outside to get the newspaper in a bathrobe and boxers, waving to the neighbors like, “Lawn’s lookin’ good, Fred!”
Founding Father fashion: It’s high time we bring back tricornered hats and powdered wigs with little ponytails.