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Dads: the new black

| Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fatherhood is a beautiful thing. It is a time in a man’s life where he is given the opportunity to raise a child and foster a human’s life with his paternal wisdom. However, I’ve recently had the realization that not all fathers can be “dads.” While this may be a confusing claim to make, I’m a believer that to be a dad one must embody a specific lifestyle approach, beyond simply having fathered a child. We know the type: clad in New Balance sneakers, spouting embarrassingly terrible jokes and an extensive appreciation of Steely Dan discography.

Dads have always been important members of our society, you know being patriarchal and all. But recently, the dad aesthetic has been one of influence in popular culture in a way that I would argue has elevated them to the status of trendsetters. An Instagram account, @fashiondads_, has recently risen to popularity in its parodying of fashion blog accounts. Despite taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, with 83,000 followers there is clearly a devoted audience who appreciates the endearingly shameless apparel of dads, whether ironically or not. Ranging from dads clad in New Balance sneakers, aggressive Hawaiian button-ups and plenty of khaki, the account is a goldmine of style inspiration.

Scrolling through the account feed, I can’t help but feel a sense of admiration and respect for these dads. We could learn a thing or two from the relaxed dad attire, such as prioritizing comfort when developing our personal wardrobes. Since lounging is such a prevalent activity in the dad lifestyle, coziness is clearly a priority in their heavy inclusion of sweats and socks.

While @fashiondads_ provides us an easy social media lens into the world of dad style, we can learn a lot about dad culture in its entirety by simply looking around us. Dads are everywhere, waiting to be observed like the subjects of ethnographic field research. We can find them lounging on our living room couches, browsing our local Home Depots or yelling obscenities at high school sporting events.

The only way to fully grasp dad culture is by directly immersing ourselves into the lives of the dads we encounter every day, by seeking a deeper more genuine understanding of their lifestyles. Maybe next time you respond to an e-mail from your dad, follow-up with a few questions. How long did it take you to grow your moustache? Have you always idolized Bruce Springsteen? When’s the next sale at Eddie Bauer? These are the questions that we must be brave enough to ask, along with a willingness to delve into the mysterious and magical world of dads.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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