I would be lying if I said I haven’t clowned my dad for making a few fashion faux pas in his heyday (you have too, don’t lie). I mean, calf-length cargo shorts? Oversized baseball jerseys and those BBQ sandals? He had it coming. But little did I know my father’s practical approach to fashion would later spawn a fashion movement rooted in comfortability and an aesthetic streetwear culture would dub “dadcore.”
Dadcore fashion basically consists of you wearing clothing that focuses more on function and comfort than actual style. Today, you can’t walk into a store or scroll through Instagram without seeing something that reminds you of your old man. Sharp tailored suits and cardigans are no longer the DILF style staples, now it’s all about orthopedic-esque chunky sneakers, baseball caps and bucket hats, and cargo shorts and vests. Fashion has a serious case of daddy issues.
I never thought about tucking a t-shirt into a pair of khaki pleated pants or wearing a comfy pair of basketball shorts outdoors, but here we are and I have Justin Bieber to blame. He’s no father (yet?) but JB has this “dadcore” trend down pat. See, last year, JB was seen frolicking around the world with his then-fiancé (and now wife) Hailey Baldwin, crying, laughing, and singing on the street in lewks that ranged from Golf Dad to Athletic Dad to Cool Dad.
White t-shirt with basketball shorts and an iced coffee? Athletic Dad JB.
Tie-dye hoodie with khaki pants? Cool Dad JB.
JB’s style was easygoing, carefree, and above all, comfortable as hell. Now with summer in full effect, “dadcore” seems like a promising summer style to throw into my rotation of puff-sleeve sundresses, linen two-piece sets, and body-skimming skirts. Do I want to feel restricted in bike shorts or free like a bird in baggy basketball shorts? Do I want to lug around a large tote bag or go full-on organized parent on a school trip with a fanny pack or crossbody purse? These pragmatic, not-so-fashionable “dad” pieces are insanely low-effort closet staples that are perfect to have on the days the NYC summer temperature reaches high into the ’90s and can be easily dressed up with the right finishing touches.
Read on for all the pieces you need to invest in to successfully pull of dadcore this summer.
Nothing screams Old Man Steez like a good ol’ pair of khakis. Skinny jeans have been quickly phased out and stiff high-waisted khaki pants with a relaxed fit—like the Dickies your old man wore literally everywhere—have returned to the spotlight. The trick to styling khaki pants is playing with proportions: add a cropped top into the mix for subtle sex appeal or drive the “dad” look home by tucking a white-shirt into the khakis and cuffing the hem.
Cool Dads don’t grill or run errands in those too-long and too-stiff shorts anymore. Now, it’s all about jersey knits. Made of the same material as sweatpants, these shorts are like pillows for your legs and make your city-to-city commute all the more comfy. If you really want to break free, reach for a pair of swimming trunks. They just make sense: mesh lining for breathable comfort, nylon fabric for quick water absorption, and drawstrings when you’ve had too much to eat and drink at happy hour.
You can’t really build a “dad” wardrobe without a vacation shirt, it’s the glue that holds the entire look together. The printed shirt deserves it’s own moment, so wear it with a simple pair of chinos or denim, or with nothing on the bottom at all because…summer.