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Imagine my husband’s amusement when a recent headline in a national publication read, “Dad Style Is Now In Fashion.”

Apparently my husband, who seems to wear nothing but khaki Dickies brand pants and olive colored shirts, is, believe it or not, in style.

I can hardly believe I’ve just typed those words.

But, as proclaimed in last week’s Wall Street Journal, the practical type of garments worn by my husband and fathers everywhere are now haute couture.

For years — and I mean decades — he has worn the same size, color, cut and brand of pants. His closet is lined with a row of identical trousers … all beige. His shirts rarely vary; 50 shades of green. For him, the top priorities in clothes are durability, comfort and value. Style is nowhere on the list.

I gave up trying to convince him to wear more fashionable clothes years ago. I lost the battle and the war. But now, all of a sudden, he finds himself in the position of being “runway ready.”

So what exactly is “dad style,” anyway? High fashion menswear labels are racing to copy looks most of us already know and love: windbreaker jackets from Lands’ End, baggy Levi’s, big sneakers, Hawaiian shirts, caps from seed companies.

According to the article, “Across the men’s style scene, dressing like a stereotypical suburban dad has become au courant.”

But before you convince yourself the T-shirt you bought in college at a Pearl Jam concert is acceptable evening attire, experts warn “dad style is not an invitation to pull out your most egregiously mockable pieces under the cover of ‘fashion fad’.”

Even my husband, after retirement, parted company with several soft collar polo shirts with the logo of his former employer embroidered on the chest.

So I asked a few fathers what articles of clothing they normally wear. Here are responses of men who may not be exactly fashion forward, but I consider them to be dads of great style:

  • Ferris Bueller T-shirt
  • Pajamas decorated with Mountain Dew logos
  • Keds tennis shoes
  • Lucky Cubs World Series champs T-shirt (has he taken it off yet?)

“The fashion houses of Milan are not considering my wardrobe in their summer lineup,” said a friend who is a father of twins. For him, clothes must be sturdy, cheap and stain resistant (particularly against snot or vomit).

“I’m currently sporting eight-year-old sweatpants from Old Navy with the original cuffs now missing,” he said. “I’m also wearing a T-shirt from Target that was once purple but is now transfiguring into light gray.”

To “dress up” on Saturdays (meaning for trips outside the house such as taking his kids to McDonald’s for breakfast), he wears jeans and a brewery or rock band T-shirt. Who says he can’t clean up?

Another man, a father of three girls, favors short-sleeve shirts, blue jeans and running shoes.

“I need practicality to keep up with the family,” he said. Translation: He wants comfort while chauffeuring his daughters to dance lessons, soccer games and visits to grandparents.

As for fashion, he says, “I leave the stylin’ for my girls!”

My own stepdad, Harlan, has always been a snappy dresser. He doesn’t purchase clothes because they happen to be in style, he just buys what he likes. And he has great taste.

One day, many years ago when we were on vacation, I noticed a confident, handsome man walking along a metro area of Paris. He was wearing a purple-checked long-sleeve shirt. And so was Harlan. Their shirts were identical, but Harlan’s had come from Square West in Pontiac, not some hoity-toity French shop.

“Look! He has on a shirt just like yours!” I said.

Harlan shrugged his shoulders. “He just wants to be like me,” he said with a smile.

Well, of course. Don't all men, from Paris to L.A,, aspire to be like stylish dads of Central Illinois?

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Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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