The following was produced in partnership with our friends at JackThreads. They take the guesswork out of finding cool, accessible style. Try on anything at home — for free — and only pay for what works with TryOuts. Now you can focus on your kid while still dressing like an adult.
If you thought having a kid was your ticket to wearing sweatpants full-time, sorry Costanza, but this ain’t the Summer Of Dad. If anything, becoming a father is a reason to pull yourself together, not let yourself go. After all, you’re an “adult” now, at least according to “society” and “your wife.” Sure, most of your time and cash get spent on your child, but neither of those is required to dress like a grownup. Take it from affordable style master Tim Melideo. He’s the sartorialist behind Stay Classic and father to a one-year-old who still finds time to update his blog — and wardrobe.
“No Time” Is No Excuse — You Decide How You Dress
One huge new parent pitfall is, “Things are so crazy with the baby, we don’t have time to eat/sleep/bathe/[insert necessary, life-sustaining activity].” You also apply this excuse to getting dressed. But Melideo says it’s a bullcrap excuse … because he used it.
“It was constant — bend down, pick him up, burp him, feed him, change him, pick stuff up off the floor. I wanted to be comfortable and mobile; I wouldn’t even wear zippers because it felt like they might slice him,” he says. “It’s such a shit show in the beginning, the way you look doesn’t really matter.”
It starts to matter, though, if you’re a guy who makes his living taking stylish photos of himself — or one who just wants to feel less sad about a late-night bodega run for $97 worth of diapers and toilet paper.
“It all comes down to my desire to wear what I want,” says Melideo.
Or, as your eighth grade P.E. teacher told you, “If you think you can — or think you can’t — you’re right.” Then he’d force you to shower with your classmates. But now you’re a grown-ass man! Go out in those sweatpants if you want, but own that choice. Don’t put it on your kid. (The choice, not the sweatpants. Baby sweatpants are adorable.)
Shopping (And Spending) Like Crazy Is No Longer Required
Even if you concede that baby wranglin’ leaves little time to wander department stores, you still have no excuse. Online shopping puts affordable, high-quality style literally in the palm of your hand. Save some cash off the top by finding outlets with free shipping and returns. Then, take it further and find a shop that lets you try on as much as you want, send back what you don’t, and only pay for what you keep. Yes, such a place does exist.
“When JackThreads introduced TryOuts, that was amazing. First off, I don’t have to leave the house,” says Melideo. Not sold? “I can buy something in multiple sizes, get as much as I want, and my card doesn’t get charged. No waiting for a return to process before the funds get returned. On a tighter budget, that’s huge.”
Who Cares? Just Tell Me What To Buy
Once you’re past the time, money, and accessibility excuses, what’s left is the actual clothes. For Melideo, “Versatility is it.” The keys to a realistic yet well-rounded wardrobe are quality essentials that work in a variety of situations: from the living room to the board room to the playground. More like the slayground, the way you’re dressed. Right, kids? While they recoil in horror, check out Melideo’s everyday dad wardrobe capsule:
- Dark blue jeans. These are the foundation, so make sure they work. Again, fit doesn’t have to mean expensive. Melideo rocks Levi’s — and looks way better than you.
- A pair of good boots. Ditto the above.
- A plaid button-up, and a gray and light blue oxford you can wear casually or dressed-up.
- A solid color sweater with interesting stitching, like cable-knit or waffle.
- A leather or faux leather jacket. Melideo likes brown.
- A blazer or suit for dressier occasions — if you’re into those sorts of things.
And he has one more secret weapon: “A good backpack to put all the baby crap in.” Melideo uses:
- The Canvas Backpack ($45) from his store.
- There’s also no shortage of dad bags that don’t look like dad bags that your non-dad friends won’t break your dad balls over.
Fatherly’s Picks: Be ready for anything with the Rothco Tacticanvas Go Pack ($45)
If procuring a curated, 6-item foundational checklist is still too much work for you, you can order a pre-crafted, complete look that covers all of the above in one click with JackThreads’ Shop The Look. Either way, once you find something that fits perfectly and looks great, order 2. Congratulations, you’re done shopping until next soccer season. Now back to work, coach. Those participation trophies won’t hand out themselves.
Don’t Assume It Doesn’t Matter
You shouldn’t spend more time preening than parenting, but there’s definitely something to the whole “look good, feel good” thing. Remember that next time you throw on sweats to drive the carpool.
Says Melideo, “It’s all about priorities. Your kid is way more important than how you look but, to me, dressing well makes me feel more confident and happy. That attitude reflects in my actions towards my son, so it’s better for everyone.”
“It’s all about priorities. Your kid is way more important than how you look but, to me, dressing well makes me feel more confident and happy.”
There May Still Be A Place For Cargo Shorts
Melideo is quick to point out that becoming a parent doesn’t mean you have to suddenly change your whole look. If those khakis and Curry 2s make you feel great, cool. If your kid had a breakdown and you’re late to meet your parents for breakfast … sure, grab whatever’s close. “Wear whatever the hell you want, but understand you could look a little better with some effort — if that matters to you,” he emphasizes. And if you’re saving your spare change to buy calzones for George Steinbrenner, then, by all means, break out the cargo shorts.