Work and Play: Balancing Professional and Casual Fashion for Dads

Fatherhood comes with a lot of responsibilities, so it’s understandable that fashion may not be at the top of your priority list. While clothes don’t make the man, they do play a role in how you feel, so updating your wardrobe when time allows is certainly worthwhile.

Striking the balance between professional and casual styles can be tricky. You don’t want to be wearing a suit and tie at the ball game or family restaurant, but at the same time, you want to look put together and make a good impression. Fortunately, you have plenty of options as you update your go-to, everyday attire. Follow these tips on how to be a well-dressed dad!

1. Focus on Fit First

What you’re wearing matters, but wearing clothes that fit properly is most important. Start by donating any clothes that are too tight or too loose—even the most stylish clothes are fashion faux pas if they don’t flatter your body shape. A basic khaki and polo outfit that fits perfectly is going to be much more stylish than an ill-fitting suit.

Take the time to learn your size, and when in doubt, size up. It’s better to have your outfit look comfortable and relaxed than like it’s squeezing you, and oversized clothing is in style these days.

2. Buy Modern Clothes

It’s not uncommon for dads to wear the same clothes for decades. After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it? The problem is that yesteryear’s clothing was designed for the trends of that era. There’s nothing wrong with retro, nostalgia-inspired fashion, but it should be done with intention, not out of necessity.

That doesn’t mean you can’t wear your favorite pieces, but be picky about it. Those bell bottoms from your disco days probably aren’t a great choice for a family dinner, but vintage pieces with timeless appeal can spice up your usual look. The key here is to have a mostly modern wardrobe that incorporates your vintage pieces naturally and when appropriate.

3. Accessorize Tastefully

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Some accessories like a sharp watch and subtle jewelry can spruce up an outfit and make your overall look more visually exciting. That said, excitement isn’t necessarily a good attribute if your goal is to look professional. A gaudy gold chain will certainly turn heads, but it might not be the right style for a dad.

Accessories are personal, so if you love a piece, wear it. Confidence goes a long way. Just be mindful of what your accessories indirectly say about you. Overly flashy jewelry like oversized rings, chains, and bracelets are called statement pieces for a reason—they make a bold statement. If you’re prioritizing professionalism, opt for classics like a nice watch and a modest ring.

4. Keep It Simple

Just like accessories, overly flashy clothing can make it seem like you’re trying too hard. Statement clothing with prominent branding, wild patterns, or over-the-top cuts often give their wearers an air of insecurity, unbeknownst to them. While some people can pull those flashy looks off, they’re not a good choice for a dad who wants to look professional.

There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe when it comes to your wardrobe. After all, you don’t want to be replacing it again next year! Stick with tried-and-true styles that you know will stand the test of time. For example, khakis and a polo might not make for the most exciting outfit, but sometimes the classics are classics for a reason.

5. Copy Stylish Men

If you do want to branch out from classic staples, look to style icons for guidance. Choose a celebrity who has a similar body type, and look at some photos. Even if you’re not able to find the exact pieces they’re wearing, you can get some inspiration for your next shopping trip. Just remember that what someone’s wearing on the red carpet may not be the right look for a school play!

6. Lean Into Your Lifestyle

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Consider your passions and lifestyle as you shop for new clothes. For example, if you’re an athlete or sports fan, you could incorporate sportswear into your wardrobe. Athleisure apparel can be stylish, but choose carefully, as you don’t want to always look like you just left the gym. Similarly, golf apparel can look great off the green, too.

If you’re not sure which direction to go, lean into fatherhood! Dad apparel that celebrates being a father shows that you’re committed to and proud of your role. While these kinds of T-shirts lean more on the casual side, they’re a great option when you’re going for a relaxed look. Not every occasion demands buttons and collars!

7. Don’t Overlook Grooming

Clothing is the core of fashion, but stylish clothes are only part of your overall presentation. Getting a haircut and trimming or shaving facial hair can really make a massive difference in how you look.

And, grooming isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it thing! Once you find a sharp look, be vigilant about maintaining it. Sure, it’ll take an extra few minutes out of your busy day, but you’ll feel more confident and look more put together.

Besides keeping your hair tidy, be sure to keep up with other grooming tasks, like clipping your nails, brushing your teeth, washing your face, showering, wearing deodorant, moisturizing, and so on. These may seem like obvious points to remember, but it’s so easy to overlook your own hygiene when you have kids to take care of. Don’t let fatherhood lead to bad habits!

How You Feel Matters Most

Your fashion choices should make you feel confident. If you feel silly in an outfit, people are going to pick up on that! Don’t wear clothes just because someone says they’re stylish. Dress for yourself first.

Even if you don’t care about clothes at all, keeping your wardrobe updated is part of being a responsible, professional dad who makes your kids proud. Yes, shopping for clothes can be a pain, but you might be surprised by what a difference changing up your wardrobe can make in how you feel. Update your clothes, and be the best version of yourself—the #1 dad!

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