Time to Lose the Dad Jeans

Your denim should look like it belongs to Paul Newman, not Matt Lauer. PLUS: Watch our video of other unforgivable fashion missteps that come with fatherhood.

Your denim should look like it belongs to Paul Newman, not Matt Lauer. PLUS: Watch our video of other unforgivable fashion missteps that come with fatherhood.

-By Katherine Wheelock

Do you think dad denims have a place in a father's life, or should they be banished along with "WORLD'S BEST DAD" T-shirts? Make your case here.


Lawrence Schwartzwald/Splash New

Photo: Lawrence Schwartzwald/Splash News

It wasn't a good day for Matt Lauer. We're not talking about the day Tom Cruise verbally bitch-slapped him on national television (You should be more responsible), or the day he had to be the one on the bottom in a doubles-luge stunt with Al Roker. We're talking about the day a photo of him at a Gucci party in the Hamptons showed up on the media-gossip site Gawker.

Lauer—locked in a side hug with Jessica Seinfeld, head thrown back in a hearty laugh—was wearing what can only be described as dad jeans: the male version of the snug, extra-high-cut denim slacks Rachel Dratch immortalized in the Saturday Night Live commercial for "Mom Jeans" a few years ago. The wash? Wal-Mart blue. The crotch? The length of a baby's arm.

Click here for the fatherhood fashion video

In case you missed it, that moment was your wake-up call. Your go-to pair of jeans might hit slightly lower than Lauer's rib-cage-rubbing pairs, and they might have a slightly more cosmopolitan wash—darker, with maybe a strategic patina of wear—but if you picked them out all by yourself a couple of years ago and have established a monogamous relationship with them, there's a high probability that the two of you don't look so cute together anymore. There's also a very good chance that quite a few people—casual observers, the guys at the office, and all your wife's friends—think this and aren't telling you.

"Guys are a little afraid of jeans," says Rogan Gregory, founder of the instant-hit denim label Rogan. "They don't want to deviate from their tried-and-true five-pocket pair. But you can't wear those with a sports jacket. It's not a tight look. You can't just stick with your 'safe' jeans."

No one's suggesting you embrace calf-clinging skinny jeans, or ones that are torn up, or the conspicuously overdistressed kind twentyish guys wear on Cherry Bomb binges in the big city. That would be a mistake only slightly less tragic than Mr. Today's suburban-mom jeans. But it's worth taking a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror from the waist down.

"You have to reevaluate and give it some thought," says Carl Chiara, the design director of Levi's Capital E and Levi's Vintage Clothing. "Some guys don't even try their jeans on before they buy them." At the moment, Chiara is meticulously replicating a pair of Levi's from 1890—a simpler time, back before words like rise and wash and whiskering embedded themselves in your personal vernacular.

If you're feeling paralyzed by choice, it's understandable. But to take a grandpa-in-the-La-Z-Boy, self-righteous approach and stick with your L.L.Bean—cut pair is to do yourself a disservice.

"I don't think it's that big of a commitment to go shopping once or twice a year," Gregory says. He adds this incentive for double-checking that your jeans aren't the sartorial equivalent of a minivan: "I think women do notice. I've been told on many occasions by guys—⿿Your jeans got me laid.'"

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