Once you become a father, your interest in clothing and style doesn’t change, however the demands of parenting require some creative adaption regarding your wardrobe. If you’re a father of young children, your little one’s needs take priority over a new blazer, a pair of oxfords or a signet ring, but that doesn’t mean you have to switch to sweats until your kids are in junior high.
In today’s guide we show you how you can dress well as a dad and what items to incorporate into your wardrobe.
We all know that eBay is an excellent place to find great deals on clothing that would otherwise be ridiculously expensive for the average gentleman. Between eBay, Craigslist, flea markets and thrift stores, there is no shortage of apparel for the sartorially-savvy man. So what differentiates the average man on a low budget from a father? The short answer is boogers.
The average toddler gets around seven colds a year, and they last an average of three weeks. You do the math. That means that on any given day, a parent is dealing with the side effects of an illness in addition to mealtime messes, diaper duty, the occasional discovery of a jar of shaving cream.
So how can you maintain a wardrobe on a budget with kids and avoid ruining clothes that not even a dry cleaner will touch? From one father to another, here are some tips and tricks.
By now, most of you know the key ways to find a wardrobe for less. Where to buy clothes, how to find good deals and what to look for from a quality perspective. Instead, in this article, we’re going to focus on what items to buy, how to keep them clean and how to change a diaper in a bow tie.
In most cases, when we refer to essentials we’re talking the gray suit, the navy blazer, the black captoe oxfords. When it comes to the dad’s wardrobe, it’s more about the material than anything. A father is nothing short of a jungle gym. If you’re anything like me, you have clothes you wear in the house and ones you wear outside. The house clothes are just a down-sized version of the full outfit. Assuming you enjoy wearing business attire, here’s how you can keep your wardrobe intact and clean.
1. Be keenly aware of what can and cannot be easily cleaned in your wardrobe.
Let’s face it; you don’t have a lot of time to spend ironing and steaming your shirts or treat your cashmere sweaters the way they deserve it.
You also don’t want to spend your time at the dry cleaners. Hence chose items that are easily washable like cotton over wool or cashmere. Of course, you can still wear your wool suits and dress clothes, but expect to get drooled on. So maybe don’t wear your favorite items around the kids all the time.
2. Don’t wear clothes you’re not willing to get dirty around your kids & Get Cotton Cloths
The best way to avoid getting your clothes dirty is to change your work clothes as soon as you get home. Maybe you have a mudroom where you can do that or you have to get a little more creative, but a house wardrobe is your friend. Maybe you can enlist your partner’s help if need be or maybe it is possible for you to change at the office or the gym.
When you have little ones, it pays to have have a burp cloths handy so you can wipe noses and clean up quickly or prevent clothes from getting stained in the first place. In our opinion, cotton diaper cloths are best, as they are effective, inexpensive and easy to wash. Of course, they are also gentle and soft on your babies’ skin. You can never have too many of them. In the beginning, I wondered we needed 20 of them, now I think 20 is the minimum.
3. Keep a Second Set of Clothes Handy
If you’ve seen the movie The Transporter, you probably remember the scene where he opens the trunk of his car and has a second identical suit in it. Copy that. At some point in your career as a parent, you will inevitably end up going out in public without realizing you’re wearing a special gift.
A second outfit in the car or at the office can be a lifesaver. Or both. Stick with staple outfits that can be used in various scenarios and paired with clean items you’re already wearing.
4. Adjust your everyday wardrobe to better suit your family lifestyle
You never want to not play with your kids because your clothes are too precious. So, the best course of action is to add more easily washable clothes to your everyday rotation.
- Cotton khakis and corduroys
- Cotton Polo shirts
- Cotton cardigans and sweaters and vests
Sweaters are easy to layer over a dress shirt and a tie. They make you still look put together but they also protect the layer underneath. If you like certain items, consider buying multiples of them, as they may get ruined. So, found a great pair of pants you love? Buy 2 or 3 pairs
Bow Ties Not Neck Ties
Keep in mind, bow ties are a lot more practical than neckties with kids as they are smaller and won’t get stained as easily. Of course, anything that hangs from your neck will get touched but bow ties have less surface area to get a hold off.
Wrinkle-Resistant Dress Shirts & Ironing
Personally, we have never been a fan of run-of-the-mill wrinkle-resistant or non-iron dress shirts. Why? Most are treated with formaldehyde which makes the shirt feel plasticky and it loses the wrinkle resistance after a few dozen washes. That aside it is not good for your skin.
The best one we have found comes from ETON. has a process that gives you an eco-friendly wrinkle-resistant shirt without formaldehyde or other toxins. Unfortunately, at close to $300 off the rack it is more expensive than most custom shirts.
So at the end of the day, you may just opt for shirt fabrics that still look presentable even if they are not ironed. Typically, those are Super 80s or Super 60s yarns. Stay clear of superfine fabrics in the Super 180s or Super 240s as they wrinkle very easily. The higher the super number the easier it wrinkles.
To minimize wrinkles, you can wash your shirts, shake out some wrinkles when it comes out of the laundry and when it is still wet. Then let them dry on a hanger and wear them without having to iron them. Of course, ironing is always better and to see how you can iron a shirt like a pro at home in our series here.
Stock Up On Slip-On Shoes
5. Become a master of home stain removal for washable garments
If you encounter a stain, it’s best to treat stains as soon as possible because the longer they sit the harder they are to remove.
Always start by blotting as much of the stain out of the fabric as possible. For fats and liquids, use a paper towel to draw out as much as you can then quickly research the stain online to find the best course of action or stay tuned for a series on clothes maintenance on our website.
In our experience, it pays to keep a shout wipe or tide stick in your wallet and a bigger stash in the diaper bag.
6. Find A Reliable Dry Cleaner With Pick-Up and Delivery Service
Dry cleaning is always an option that should be utilized as little as possible as it generally deteriorates your clothing due to the chemicals involved. Nevertheless, maintaining a close relationship with a good dry cleaner means special treatment when you need it the most.
Tipping well and show your appreciation can mean staying open late or taking a second stab at a stain just for you. Some dry cleaners offer pickup and delivery for a marginal upcharge. That can be a huge plus as it saves a lot of time and hassle. So do your homework, not all dry cleaners are alike.
7. Cover Up at Meal Times
Anytime children eat, you will get dirty. It doesn’t matter what you serve. You can give them plain crackers and water, and somehow you’ll end up pulling caked soggy crackers out of their neck wrinkles. An apron is handy, but it just doesn’t cover enough surface area. Instead, hop online and buy yourself a chef’s jacket. They’re just as inexpensive as aprons, but they cover your entire upper body and arms. They also have a more masculine appeal, so you might even find yourself wearing it when dinner guests show up or when barbecuing for a crowd. The chef’s jacket will fit over your dress shirts and ties and prevent you from getting ketchup on the Charvet you just bought. It’s also white, so it can be bleached.
If you feel self-conscious buying yourself a chef’s jacket when you’re not a professional chef, get creative and suggest it as a father’s day present so you can shrug it off and tell people it was a gift from the kids. It’ll make you feel like super dad, and you look a lot cooler than you would in an apron.
8. Expect That Things Will Get Ruined
Last but not least, it is a wise idea to prepare yourself mentally that some clothes will inevitably get ruined. It is guaranteed to happen and the sooner you accept that, the better off you will be.
Hopefully, this primer on how to be a well-dressed dad gave you a little more insight and helped offer some unique suggestions. For many of us, it’s a matter of trial and error. The biggest thing is to maintain a barrier between your children and your clothing, but that doesn’t mean having to keep them at a distance. What are your parenting tips for dressing well?
This article was originally written by J.A. Shapira and Sven Raphael Schneider