Not all dads are going to end up on Project Runway. Okay I think in the nearly 1,205 seasons of Project Runway, only a few dads have actually been on the show. That could be wrong, so don't fact check me. This post isn't about ruling New York Fashion Week or landing on the cover of some fancy magazine that has a billion advertisements in it, but it's really about learning to, as Tim Gunn says, "Make it work." See what I did there?
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
This is not a post about the importance of skin-deep, materialistic beauty, and being a slave to fashion magazines and corporate greed. Although I'd love to read THAT article, am I right? Dads being able to confidently dress their kids is important because of something much more impactful than knowing trends or being stopped on the street by total strangers gawking at your cute kids- although who knows, you'll probably get stopped if you up your game!
Why does talking about dads dressing their kids matter? Any avenue we can travel down that ends with dads having more confidence about being a parent, will result in dads choosing to be more involved in parenting! If we tell dads that they can't do something, then guess what, they won't do it. So if you're a mom and you're wanting your kids' dad to be more involved, then you gotta help him find success in doing a vast array of parenting obligations, not just teaching your kid to hit a baseball or something else super sexist. If you're a dad and you're wanting to be more involved, then you can't just throw your hands up in the air and say, "Whelp, I'm around to throw a baseball, but she'll have to get them dressed first." You gotta get in there and be just as hands on as you are in the batting cage.
If dads feel more confident about being a dad, then they will be more involved in their kids' lives. By helping get our kids dressed, we're them that there's nothing dads can't do! The problem is that we live in a world that sends two very different messages, creating a paradoxical relationship between dads, designers, and dressing kids.
Society at large discourages dads from dressing their kids, or at least dressing their kids well. Cue scenes from the television and movies where a kid is wearing mismatched clothing in a park somewhere and a lovely elderly woman asks with a bit of a grimace, "Did your Dad dress you?" As if to say, "Oh my good gravy! I can't believe that your poor, helpless self was left in the hands of gorillas and made to wear this obscenity in public! I only wish a woman had been there to take care of you better!" Okay so that hasn't happened to me, but I'm sure it's part of this current of conversation out there that discusses what things dads are and are not good at. Dads can build things. Dads cannot sew. Dads can beat up a principle. Dads cannot braid hair.
The reality is that men have been just as much a driving force in the fashion industry as women. In fact, of the Forbes list of the world's top 20 biggest apparel companies in 2016, male fashion designers accounted for the vast majority of the designers listed. With such recognizable names like Vuitton, Prada, Klein, Lagerfeld, Hilfiger, Lauren, Versace, Cavalli, Gucci, McQueen, de la Renta, Kors, Wang, Gautlier, Louboutin, Dior, St. Laurent, Burberry, Lacoste, men have been and always will be a huge voice in the world of fashion.
So we have this disconnect: Society looks to men to define fashion and celebrates their involvement, but also tells dads that they should leave getting their kids dressed to mom. Say whaaaaaaaat?!
BRIDGING THE GAP
I get it, dressing your kids can be a real challenge. I mean it's equal parts figuring out what to wear to church on Sunday and making sure that you get to church on Sunday while church is still happening! It's a struggle. But I've got a few tips for dads to become a bit better and to hopefully give them more confidence in this department.
1. Don't Over Think It. We're just talking about clothing, pieces of fabric sewn together by thread and plastic buttons. No nuclear codes will be put in jeopardy if you decide to open your kids' closet. So get in there! Be brave. Remember the first diaper you changed? Hazmat suit, air freshener, 9-1-1? But now look at you, thousands of diapers later and you can do it while in line at a drive thru. Clothing is the same way. At first it can be like, "Whoa?! How do these things even work?" But with time and some perseverance, you'll absolutely get the hang of it.
2. Shop Smart. Yes, this means that you might have to actually go into children's clothing store. Yes, if you actually go into a children's clothing store the employees will rush to your aid (not that you need it). When I say shop smart, I mean go to stores or online retailers that you know your kids will love. Then you don't have to negotiate with them when you're getting them dressed because you know they'll like what you have to put on them. This is also great as your kids start to dress themselves. Give your kids options from places that they themselves want to wear and help expedite the getting dressed process.
My kids love a company called RAGS to Raches. These are the most insanely comfortable rompers and t-shirts your kids will wear. What's great about RAGS too is that their rompers are a total outfit. No Garanimals matching going on here. This is probably why this once little company has now graced the pages of Vogue and been fought over by the sharks in Shark Tank. Wherever you shop, make sure that you're picking somewhere where your kids will actually wear the clothes! My kids ask to wear their RAGS everyday (and night) which makes my job a whole heck of a lot easier.
3. Fit. Fit. Fit. The most important thing about clothes is not what they look like, or even what they feel like, but how they fit! Keep in mind that not all clothing companies use the same sizing guidelines, so a 2T from one company might fit like a glove on your kiddo but will be either horribly tight and uncomfortable or baggy and ill-fitting from another. This goes back to number 2. Shop Smart (see above, like right above). Not to mention, your kids might not fit into tops and bottoms that are the same size, so you could be getting a 2T in a shirt and a 3T in pants. Just pay attention to fit. Knowing where you shop is key. Nothing will irritate your nuggets more than being stuck in clothes that don't fit!
Side note here: SHOES ARE TRICKY! You'd think that shoe companies and clothing companies would just get on the same page, so a 2T shirt would go with a 2T shoe, but no, that's like asking hot dog companies and hot dog bun companies to finally put the same number of each in their packages. So, my advice is to go to a nice department store and have your kids fitted for shoes there. You don't have to buy shoes there, just use their experts to get your kid the right shoes. Then look online or elsewhere for a killer deal. I also like THIS website to help figure out shoes.
4. Make Special Occasions, Special. This is the only real fashion-focused tip, but it's important. Not every outfit needs to be decked to the nines, but you can't go to a wedding in a swimming suit or sweats. I'm serious, you can't. How do you know what makes an outfit special? It's easy- look online. Search "Kids fashion tips" online. Boom. Nailed it. Listen, us dads can research the history of the phillips screwdriver till our eyes pop out; then we'll research what to do when our eyes pop out. We're not strangers to the Google. So don't be afraid to add a little kid fashion to your search history. ESPN will never know. Don't be afraid to dress up your kids for something special.
If you're getting dress for family photos or your work Christmas party can be pretty much next level stuff. I mean it's starting to play in the majors. I love companies that take some of the guess work out of it for you, like Ris and Bre. They make great skirts that coordinate with matching bows and bow ties for your kiddos. Boom. No thinking required. Nothing makes a little boy look more dapper than a bow tie or daughter more fancy than a skirt with tassels. Not to mention Ris and Bre donate a portion of their proceeds to help refugees, so it's a win-win! PLUS they're giving all of you guys a 20% discount with the code DAILYDAD20! Go check them out!
Alright friends, fellow dads, people who know dads, people who have dads, people who have seen dads on TV. We've come to the end of what has developed into a fairly long diatribe about dads, designers, and dressing your kids. I hope that Dads will step up to the plate and help get their kids dressed. We can do it. We've walked on the moon, now let's walk out the door with kids who wear clothes that fit and don't look like they've fallen out of a lost and found at the local YMCA. Also, Tim Gunn, if you're reading this, can you pass on a note to Heidi?
Check out this segment that aired on Fresh Living by clicking HERE.