Every time I see him, I find a new way to make fun of my old man’s clothes — the goomba button down print shirts, the sport jacket he bought for my college graduation (Class of 2000) and the Kohl’s kicks manufactured to resemble designer sneakers that went out of style a few seasons ago. I don’t mean to but he just makes it so damn easy.
The first time my kid makes fun of my clothes, I’ll laugh, crack a way funnier joke about whatever I’m wearing that caught his attention for mockery, go to my room and feel awful about my life. At one point, I knew how to dress well. It’s not hard — check out a celebrity mag, read GQ and when all else fails steal entire outfits off store mannequins.
I learned everything about fashion from this GQ column and my old man.
The reason I don’t dress as well anymore is because I have kids.
I stopped getting Christmas gifts from relatives — a significant source of clothing to keep or return for credit, gift cards and cash (which is just as good as money). People stopped gifting me to buy the kid the same Power Rangers he owns ten times over. The wife and I buy each other one gift, usually a necessity like a coat or boots, and the rest of our money goes to kids.
If I do have extra money, I don’t spend it on myself (not specifically) but either on things the family needs, things the family would enjoy or a cup of expensive coffee and ten minutes alone in a loud, crowded, annoying coffee shop but GOD DAMN does it feel good to be alone for five minutes.
I’m sacrificing for my kids. I’m not Jesus, or a saint, I’m just doing what every other father does. You know those dads, the guy walking the mall in the carpenter jeans, mock turtleneck and stylish-only-when-it-belonged-to-his-teen-son jacket waiting for his family. They’re inside Hollister spending his paycheck on jeans for his daughter with holes in the ass. If you see a middle-aged guy dressed well he’s either single, fatherless or visiting from another country.
My father doesn’t buy new clothing because I’ve been sucking his checking account dry for the last thirty-six years though now he spends most on my kids. Those same fund-suckers (both under 4) will do it to me for the next fifty years.
If you start putting money away now maybe you’ll be able to afford a new suit to get buried in. But until you drop dead and get that new suit, here are a couple rules that will help every father immediately —
If it’s older than your kid, trash it
This includes your lucky sweatshirt, your unlucky and ugly sweatshirt, the jeans that you think don’t make your ass look as massive as it feels (surprise! it’s still large) and the t-shirt that manages to mask your sudden man-tits. Dump them. Buy one new item for every article of clothing you trash.
Dress better than you feel
It’s easy to dress like you didn’t sleep much or spent the entire day manicuring a lawn for a dog to turd up or building a new set of dressers for the clothes people buy for the dog (don’t ask). Even if the day has already kicked you in the nuts, and it’s not even noon, dress like you’re trying to impress someone. (NOTE- Your wife will ask who you’re trying to impress, you’ll say no one, she’ll accuse you of cheating, and you’ll never want to dress nice again. Don’t let it get it you.)
Rob a mannequin
I mention it before by mannequins are the idiots guide to getting dressed. Entire outfits are on display — shirt, pants, jackets and all layered so one complete outfit can turn into five different outfits.
Check your head
It’s not only my favorite Beastie Boys album, it’s good advice for any guy. Check your head, face, neck and any place above the shoulders on a daily basis. It’s tempting to jump out of the shower, slap on deodorant, run a hand through the hair and pretend you’ve really tried. Check out your face and shave, pop pimples, pull ingrown hairs and inspect blemishes that wasn’t there the last time you faced-off with your ugly mug in the mirror.
One item per month
Just buy one piece of new clothing a month. Never repeat an item in a 12-month period. Also, don’t forget accessories. Your stone washed jeans won’t look as bad with a new belt. Kidding. They are awful. Burn them. Take them off first.
Chris Illuminati is writer, father and recovering asshole. Follow him on Twitter.