This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter, Viva, who wishes her dad would let her get some time in front of the mirror.
It’s hard to dress well as a dad. Your body is changing shape. Losing shape, really. Your hair is thinning–perhaps imperceptibly, perhaps catastrophically, but it is thinning. It’s even harder to dress well as a Chicago dad. It is cold here by the lake, and we want to wear thick layers, or sports gear or sit at home. We have a lot of delicious fatty foods here* and we like to eat them. We’re By God Midwestern folks and don’t all have a ton of money for tailors and trainers. So when we turn on the television and see the new White House administration unshaven, unkempt, in ill-fitting jackets, inappropriate shirts and all manner of preposterous tie lengths, there’s a part of us that says, “I have permission to give up.”
But let me remind you of another Chicago dad–one who, like you, is prone to dorky choices–one who has been caught in sweatpants** and Dad jeans, but who generally represented us with trim suit silhouettes and impeccably tied ties. That man was Barack Obama. Politics aside (lol), don’t let the new boss play to the more slovenly angels of your nature; we need to keep dressing like Barack in our new Donald world. Let’s talk about the fashion and grooming mistakes we’re seeing on TV and social media, and steps to avoid them ourselves.
Let’s start at one of the few frivolous items in a man’s wardrobe. Other than cufflinks, pocket squares, and I suppose spats if you’re some kind of steampunk explorer, ties are a completely superfluous piece of fabric that we use to make a statement. Please let that statement be, “I can dress myself.” Donald Trump’s ties–which, it cannot be stated enough times, are manufactured in China–say, “Like Cookie the Clown from The Bozo Show, I am an orange clown with a necktie hanging to the top of my inseam.” He probably thinks the extra long ties make you look past his enormous waist and create a slimming effect. This is akin to wearing your kid’s light up shoes to look skinnier. You will just look like a hefty guy with silly shoes.
Oh, and he keeps his tie in place with Scotch tape. Don’t do that. Use the money from the companies you won’t divest yourself of and purchase a subtle tie bar.
On the flipside, white nationalist blogger and acting President of the United States Steve Bannon has neckties which end in the middle of his chest. This is only acceptable if Harpo Marx has just attacked your lemonade stand.
A gentleman’s necktie should fall not higher than the top of his belt, and no longer than the bottom of the belt. Ideally, it should sit just below the top of the belt.
Speaking of Bannon, he is almost always photographed in a button down collar shirt. This is a very casual shirt. It should never be worn with a suit. With a sport coat, slacks and loafers? Okay. Never a suit. The buttons are there to keep your collar from flipping up when riding a horse. Do you ride horses in suits? I hope not. The button down collar should rarely, rarely be worn with a tie. If you must, wear it with a casual tie with wide stripes. Better yet, skip button down collar shirts and get shirts with collar stays, especially if you sit on the National Security Counsel, for Pete’s sake.
Trump wears jackets with slumping shoulders. Although he won’t show us his tax returns, I just know he can afford jackets with shoulders that don’t slough off his body like he is shedding a balloony, shiny skin. Why do they slump? The jackets are probably a size too big, because he wants them to fit around his belly. Generally speaking, tailoring is needed to make a suit fit, and if you are not skinny, you’re probably stuck with that cost. Find a neighborhood tailor that isn’t too expensive, or keep searching off the rack until the top button buttons AND the shoulders are neither pulling nor slumping.
Professional gaslighter and Twitter password tweeter Sean Spicer also has jacket issues, and the internet recently started a campaign to buy him a suit that fits. His jacket collar is a solid couple of inches from his shirt collar. Those need to hug, and we must assume his jacket is too big. I’ll give him Spicer this: he may be a lying toadie, but his pocket squares are crisply pressed and stick out just the right length from his jacket pocket.
Wear flat front or pressed, single-pleated pants so you don’t look like an inflatable yard decoration at your poorly-attended inauguration.*** Note that casual trousers should never have pleats. More formal trousers can be pleated (better single than double) if they fit correctly, neither billowing nor pulling. If you are overweight, you might feel more comfortable and hidden in pleated pants, but, again, they should neither billow nor pull.
Steve Bannon attends NSC meetings looking like he just climbed out of a nest of Confederate flags and empty empty bottles of Old Granddad. If you want to maintain a constant late-5 o’clock shadow/very close beard like I do, use your shortest clipper setting and use a razor at the neckline and cheeks. Even if you are a hipster dad who works in a microbrewery and plays mandolin, look like one of the Smith brothers and shampoo, condition, comb and trim your beard. If you are clean shaven, keep a shaving kit handy and if you are going from work to an event, shave again before you leave. There are a lot of acceptable facial hair choices, but fashion is about definitely making a choice, not just letting your body fall apart like the corpse of our Republic.
Eyebrows are tough. Everybody is working with different raw materials. In the early 2000’s both men and women got waxing crazy. Eyebrows started getting ballpoint pen thin and distanced like the eyeballs on a pike. Gentlemen, count your eyebrows. Ideally you should have two. If you have more or less than that number, you may need tweezers, scissors or professional assistance. Dads, as we get older, our eyebrows get long and crazy. Trump’s look like they are about to catch and eat flies. Comb your eyebrows up in the morning and trim any strays which are sticking above the browline with tiny scissors. Pluck strays between the brows or well outside the browline. It’s best to keep your brows looking fairly natural, so seek advice before changing the brow’s entire shape.
Yikes. Hair is tough for dads. When it isn’t falling out on its own, we are usually pulling it out. It’s hard to keep up with trends and to really understand how you look to others. While I’m no stranger to the walk-in $20 haircut, you probably need to consult a friend, a professional or a lot of magazines before just letting someone give you a super cut or a sport clip. These cheapie haircuts usually result in unflattering non-choices.
If your hair is thinning on top, it’s advisable to give it volume with a hair dryer, and to avoid product that will make it clump or weigh it down. Tight hair on the back and sides will usually make the top seem thicker, as opposed to the old ‘90s Frasier/Michael Bolton bald guy mullet, which fools no one. If you’re really losing your battle with balding, let your head die an honorable death and buzz or shave your head, consider facial hair, and definitely get some smart eyeglass frames. DO NOT die part of your hair orange, part your hair above your ears, comb it forward to your waist and then back over the top of your head, with wings over your ears and the back of your collar. You may think this hides your botched ‘80s scalp reduction, but it just shows that you are a crazy person and should NOT be allowed near the nuclear football.
“Dressing and grooming tips for dads” could fill this blog every week forever, but I hope this one little post has given you a place to start. Believe your eyes and your sense of taste and dignity when they tell you that the folks on TV lately don’t look like respectable gentlemen. There’s a very good reason you’re getting that vibe.
*We’re the city that invented the “combo” when in 1790 Jean Baptiste du Sable looked at an Italian Beef and an Italian Sausage and said, “Why not both?”
**Gentlemen, I have to lay some dogma on you here. There is no reason for sweatpants to exist, and you should not own them. Working out? Get some moisture-wicking and plumbing-camouflaging running pants. Sleeping? Get some handsome and comfortable flannel pants. Unless you are dressing as Rocky Balboa for Halloween, throw away your sweatpants.
***If you are a woman, do not dress like a bomb-pop with a demon face sticking out of it that spews venom. Someone please tell this to KellyAnne.
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