Happy Birthday Dad: A Letter From The Editor

Today is my dad’s birthday, so I found it fitting to (finally) write my letter for July.

When I was younger, I was definitely a mama’s boy. And no, I am not ashamed.  In addition to my mom being the one who was able to cart me around from audition to rehearsal to Subway Sandwich Shop to performance, I had also found it difficult to really connect with my dad as we are two very different men. He goes hunting on the weekends, likes tinkering with cars and settling down with a beer and a football game.  I run a fashion blog, like tinkering with fabrics and enjoy dancing to Lady Gaga with a colorful martini in my hand.  Understanding each other was quite a task.

In reminding myself that I really needed to update and that I would at some point needed to call my dad to wish him a happy birthday, I realized that, in a way, it was fashion that started to bridge our gap.

Sometime in middle school, my dad decided that he needed a new “red power tie” and my mom thought it might be nice if I picked it out as a Christmas present.  We consulted our friends’ website (ties.com) and I found one that I thought he would like but that was interesting to me as well.  One must understand, that my dad’s fashion sense is…limited.  He wears camo when he can, wears torn t-shirts on the weekend (even when in public) and his work attire is pretty rigid (this tie goes with this suit and these boots-yes boots.  Ostrich, alligator…real Texan boots.) When he said “red power tie” he meant a red tie with no frills. In fact, what he really wanted was the exact same color, same fabric, same designer.  The tie he had worked fine, but had just gotten old, he wanted a new one that was exactly the same.  It was risky buying him something a bit different.

Christmas came and he opened the tie, his reception was similar to drinking a glass of water that’s been sitting on the counter for a couple of hours.  Appreciative to have that thirst quenched, but not wholly satisfied.  But later, as he paired his tie up with the suit it would forever belong to, the excitement started to bolster.  He brought out the new combo to see what the family thought, and we all approved.  He let out one of his remarks of appreciation that seem utterly underwhelming like, “I think it will work just fine” but really meaning that he liked it quite a bit. He wore his new outfit on his first day back to school work and came home to report how all the ladies in the office had noticed and complimented him on it. He was quite impressed with himself, and, I think, with me.

This became our tradition for just about every holiday since.  He’s gotten a bit better about trying new combinations and new colors and I keep pushing, little by little, bolder prints and daring (by his standards) choices.

Thinking about my dad’s progression, I’m reminded a lot of how I aim to pursue this blog.  Men’s fashion is in a strange place.  Either designers and stylists continue along the beaten path or they try to advance men’s fashion at warp speed to embrace the versatility that we see in women’s wear.  I hope to tread the middle ground where classic silhouettes meet modern edge and avant-garde elements.  I hope to show men that look like men, but of a new and more creative generation.

I don’t presume that these are looks I’ll ever be able to get my dad to embrace, but I am glad that I’ve been able to help educate and develop his eye even just a little bit.  Not because I want him to be the most fashionable guy on the block, but because it’s given us a formula on how to understand each other.  We’ve grown much closer and interested in each other’s activities.  I’ve been shocked and amazed by how much support my dad has given me in the last few years-particularly in aspects of my life that he has little or no connection to.

Perhaps this letter could serve as another example of how fashion really is important, but I mostly wrote it to say:

Happy birthday, Dad.  I love you.

We’ll talk about those sunglasses when I get home.