The Modern Dad’s View of Fashion

Written by Sam Skelding

Even from our parents’ generation, men’s view of fashion has undergone a complete overhaul with younger guys in particular taking more time to look stylish, dress up and keep abreast of the latest trends, but what is behind this drastic change?

Gender evolution

In the modern world, men have grown to see fashion as a way of expressing themselves, tending to choose items of clothing that best represent their personality. In our father’s generation, there was far less choice, which meant they often conveyed themselves simply through colour choice. Style has become increasingly important to men in the modern age but as you might expect, practicality is still high on the list.

Dads (and mums) in particular, want clothes which can be worn easily around children, so choose items that are easy to clean and allow movement for active play. However, with a rise in celebrity culture and media focusing on their outfits around the clock, men are beginning to see a higher value in how they portray themselves through wardrobe choice. It appears fashion is important.

Breadwinner to style icons

In the past, fashion demonstrated class and social status, whereas fashionable clothes now tend to be available for everyone, crossing over all walks of life and with the media really drawing upon it as a major focus, telling us which outfits look good and which don’t. You’ll probably find that you at the least recognise and may even be able to name current trends, but despite this ever-growing awareness of fashion, it seems some men still struggle; ‘Rakuten LinkShareover’ found almost 2/3 wouldn’t class themselves as very fashionable.

Previously, a dad’s role in the family tended to be as a breadwinner, who spent more time suited up at work. Practical dressing for industry was top of the agenda and – even casually – guys tended to wear a shirt or jumper and trousers. Now a dad may fulfill a number of roles, including that of a SAHP (Stay At Home Parent). Clothing manufacturers are starting to expand on the menswear they offer, allowing for broader choice and riskier colours.

Do you suit skinny jeans with a leather jacket or deep blue denim with a white shirt? An important question, simply because the range of clothing available to us and the realisation that we suit different styles demonstrates the progression in modern men’s fashion. Today, we express individuality and taste through our choice of clothes more than ever before, so by choosing to pair a smart shirt instead of a t-shirt with jeans, you could actually be making a statement about yourself.

Accessories and trends

Modern men use accessories to add pizazz to an outfit. Cufflinks are back in fashion, having dropped out of the picture for quite some time. Celebrities such as David Beckham have been photographed wearing them and they add a level of sophistication to any shirt. You can customise your own easily online – a lovely way to keep pictures of your children on you at all times! Waistlines in trousers have also dropped, previously being worn at the actual waist, rather than hanging from the hips. 

In the 80’s and 90’s, seasonal trends had become more important, especially for the younger generation. Now classic pieces are back in, with Tamara Sender (Senior Fashion Analyst at ‘Mintel’) finding even 16 – 24 year olds are choosing classic styles that will last and only buying into a small amount of current trends.

Splashing the cash

Those aged 25 – 34 have actually overtaken the younger population as more frequent buyers. It has been suggested this may be due to the economic situation; young people are more likely to be struggling to get into work and have little money to spare, so are preferring to buy less overall and choose items that will last for a while. Men who are between 25 – 34 are more likely to have a stable income and can shop regularly.

For modern dads, jeans and a t-shirt is a staple essential and can look good whilst being practical if you’re at home with the children – who are famous for getting everything possible on our clothes! For dads who still have to suit up for work, the style at home is much more relaxed and therefore fully appropriate for being with your children.

Interestingly, the younger generation is quite pro man-bags with ‘Statistica’s’ survey showing 56% of men interviewed who are 18 – 34 voting for it compared to 35 – 47 year-old men whose votes totalled 34% and yet another drop of 3% again when aged 48  -67. Useful information for dads with a baby or young child who need ‘manbags’ as a suitable changing bag.

Suiting up

Offices are now a more relaxed environment, with many being more informal with what you wear on a day to day basis, saving suiting up for more official occasions. It depends on the industry but jeans and a t-shirt are now being seen as an acceptable outfit.

That being said, recent surveys discovered that women prefer men in a suit and now fashion suggests tailored suits offer the best solution – perhaps something to remember. In a poll by FemaleFirst, they found that 33% of women preferred a man in a suit compared to only 21% who wanted men to dress casually – a good suit tends to represent a man who cares about himself and takes time with grooming. 

The Shopping Bug

Many men dislike shopping in stores and online shopping has provided a brilliant solution. Pushing through crowds and finding nothing which suits you can be annoying, though buying virtually has its cons too. You can’t try it on to see what it looks like before taking it home and it can be a pain to return. Despite this, ‘Mintel’ discovered half of male shoppers agree that the in-store shopping environment is important and interestingly, they also found that out of the 1/3 of men who shop online, 25% take ideas from fashion blogs, so it might be worth taking a look at those if you haven’t already.

There’s no escaping the fact that current dads view fashion differently compared to previous generations. As brands begin to boost the menswear options they offer and the dad-role is fully recognised by a modern society which is embracing gender from a fresh perspective, we may yet see men’s style reach incredible heights. 

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