The Style Councillor

How to avoid ‘dad denim’

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Wearing ‘dad denim’ is a risk all parents run – here’s how to wear jeans that are sharp, not shapeless

Dads can be embarrassing. I know, I’ve witnessed the rolled eyes from both my children when I’ve inadvertently suggested something is cool, or tried to sing more than three lines of a Stormzy song. I can’t. They can.

One thing we middle-aged dads really do embarrass ourselves with is our choice of denim. While I try to avoid denim trends I know will only really look good on a malnourished twenty-something, the temptation – like that bar of chocolate hidden at the back of the kitchen cupboard – is still there.

The current style movement of ‘dadcore’ clothing doesn’t help either. This trend offers a perplexing mixed-bag of practical clothes, often in technical fabrics or worn-n denim, that are highly functional but nondescript. The problem with dadcore is that its really aimed at those young men who’ll wear it around their edgy coffee shop in Stoke Newington or while supping a pale ale in Shoreditch. While I’ve resisted general dadcore get-up, I have held onto some denim I’ve had since I was just out of school uniform – and that’s a long time to be wearing the same fabric.

So what’s a denim-loving dad to do? Much to my son’s delight I won’t be rocking a pair of Vetements x Levi’s panelled denims anytime soon, but I’m not quite ready to give up on my jeans just yet. I’ve culled the skinny fits and those with fussy features in favour of more timeless cuts and fit, along with higher grade (or loomed) denim. I’d suggest you do the same – think quality and clean-cut style over distressed washes and slim legs.

To help you get the picture, here are six dad friendly denim pieces that won’t leave your offspring red-faced, even if your dad dancing still does.

Frame, L’homme Slim denim jeans

1. Frame L’homme Slim

Although this brand has only been around for the last six years, it feels like an age-old favourite. Based out of Los Angeles over the pond and Shoreditch here, it offers American craftsmanship with a very European approach to dressing. Its L’Homme style is one of those wardrobe classics that every man would do well to invest in, not just us Dads. The cut is slim-legged, but not skinny and with an extra 1% elastane woven in, it gives that extra bit of comfort just where you need it. I introduced Daniel Craig to this brand a couple of years ago and it was a total style revelation. In terms of fit and comfort they’re hard to beat – and when they’re given the approval of dad Daniel, what’s to question?

£194.40, shop now

Mr Porter, A.P.C Slim Fit Jeans

2. A.P.C Petit Standard Slim Fit Jeans

This French brand has maintained its laissez faire approach to fashion since its inception back in 1987. In other words, it makes easy-to-wear wardrobe staples for real people that aren’t fussed by fleeting trends or fashion statements. This is all very father friendly of course, not least thanks to A.P.C’s denim offering, which I’ve been wearing for years. This Petit Standard slim fit style will steer you away from dangerous dad denim, and if you need any further endorsement the creator of A.P.C, Mr Jean Touitou (aged 66 and father of 3), sites this style as his go-to. We suggest sticking with the Francophile look by pairing with a navy Breton stripe long-sleeve top and classic white canvas lace-up sneakers.

£145, shop now from Mr Porter

Hiut dad denim

3. Hiut Selvedge Denim Hack

You might not have come across Hiut, unless of course you’re a bonafide denim-head. It’s based in Cardigan, and maintains a workshop of highly skilled workers – eighteen to be precise – who produce around 120 pairs of British-made jeans a week, cutting and sewing selvedge denim from Japan and organic cotton from Turkey. Each pair takes just over an hour to make, compared to roughly 10 minutes for mass manufacturers. This slim, but not crazy-slim pair is cut to sit a little lower on the waist, but not at the risk of exposing any builder’s bum – an ever-present danger for denim wearing dads. The 14.5oz Japanese selvedge is weighty, robust and will mould to your body over time. Considering the care, attention and skill that goes into making them, they really are worth the investment. Team with one of this season’s lightweight overshirts, with a striped tee underneath and finish with suede lace-up boots.

£230, shop now

Dad denim A Dad's March4. A Day’s March Black Denim No.1

This Swedish brand is only four years old, but its already made an impression on menswear aficionados, offering clean-cut basics that fill all those essential gaps in your wardrobe. The brand’s denim edit is a case in point; it offers a limited number of styles, but each is perfectly executed. This black denim design might be a contentious choice amongst blue denim purists, but they bridge the gap when you’re looking for something a little smarter than regular indigo jeans. Wear these and you’ll avoid the dad pitfall of pairing jeans with a suit jacket. Instead, opt for a softly tailored shirt-jacket style or unstructured knitted blazer. Finish with a classic white shirt (tucked in with no belt) and pull a fine navy merino crewneck over the top.

£85, shop now

Mr Porter, selvedge denim jacket

5. The Workers Club Selvedge Denim Jacket

We couldn’t agree more with husband and wife team, Charlotte and Adam Cameron, who argue our society ‘needs to buy less, but better’. Their brand, The Workers Club has paved the way for long-lasting style and quality casualwear, where function and craftsmanship enjoy equal billing. Moreover, the company’s denim range is of particular note. Made from 13oz selvedge sourced from a mill in Okayama, Japan, this jacket is as robust as it is functional. Small but important details such as the sashiko stitched interior pocket (a geometric pattern based on Japanese folk embroidery), along with the chambray lining show this brand goes the extra mile to get the details right. Note also, each one goes through a gentle wash to lock in the indigo dye – so you don’t have to. Let the jacket’s utilitarian look do the talking by layering it over brushed cotton plaid shirts, olive cotton chinos and full-grain leather Goodyear welted boots.

£265, shop now from Mr Porter

Mr Porter, Acne Studios white denim jeans

6. Acne Studios North Slim-Fit Stretch Denim Jeans

Swedish label Acne Studios has given the world its trademark understated, functional Scandi aesthetic for over two decades now, and team Jackal has come to rely on it completely for our everyday wardrobe needs. What started as a small jeans offering has grown into a notable range of covetable pieces. The new ‘Bla Konst’ collection (meaning ‘blue art’ in Swedish) encompasses all the best qualities of the house’s denim range. This pair are called ‘North’, cut in a fresh white hue with slim legs and a touch of stretch. White denim looks great in summer with a fresh linen shirt or navy pique polo, paired with a lightweight unstructured blazer and suede loafers, but these are best worn as holiday jeans. White denim can be unforgiving, so dads need to approach with caution. Always wear white underwear and if you’ve an athletic figure (read: big seat or thighs), you’d best avoid. Soz.

£200, shop now from Mr Porter