It was my dad who bought me my first spread collar shirt. This was towards the very tail end of my “I don’t care and you must know how little I care” phase and my dad was trying his damnedest to teach me how to be a presentable young kid. We walked into our local department store and that’s what my dad picked out right away. It still hangs in my closet to this day.
As a teenager, my dad and I shared a mutual disdain for the other’s respective attire. Feigning angst I begrudged my dad’s style and wrote him off as a “suit”, while he looked at my pitted Rancid t-shirts and simply asked me to “do better.” All my life my Dad has never faltered in his work attire. Dark suit, solid shirt, solid tie, black dress shoes. For as long as I can remember my dad has never strayed from this uniform.
You could chalk it up to my dad being raised in a different era, but for him it’s always been deeper than that. From working his way through college, to founding his own design firm nearly a decade ago, my dad has always carried this certain level of respect for his job, whatever that may be. I’ve heard countless gripes from the man about how the younger generation dresses these days, and how shocked he is that people have the gall to show up to meetings wearing torn jeans and flip flops.
Yet, complain as he might, I know that this is the reason why my dad has remained so steadfast to his uniform. There’s now an intimidation factor to it, and in the end it’s all in the show. My dad could travel seven days a week and still show up to a meeting and be the best dressed guy in the room. Which is why all these years he’s favored the simple and the focused, and it’s why out of all that my dad has taught me, it’s been these values that have stuck with me the most.
I used to abhor my dad’s nitpicking tendencies, calling out the slightest stain on my shirt, or hair out of place, he’s a museum designer who never saw a detail he wouldn’t call out. Yet, it’s that finicky attitude that became the basis for my wardrobe. He taught me to create a basic foundation, then pick one thing to accentuate, and leave it at that. The more complicated things got the more you were driven to just give up entirely.
About a year ago, once my dad realized that this was probably deeper than a fleeting interest for me, he and I began having different sorts of conversations. I started getting on his case about his all black all the time tendencies (my mom alternates between calling him Johnny Cash and a mortician,) he’d call me about an Isaia jacket, or throw me a few ties from the back of his rack, I’d try telling him that he should start buying Ovadia & Sons. It’s because of my dad that I started leaning toward roped shoulders again, and gauzey knit ties, and hell I’ll give myself credit for his recent purchase of a blue windowpane sportcoat and his declaration that he’s finally going to buy a pair of brown shoes. He might’ve sparked my interest in all this, but now that I can speak the language, our conversations just got a lot more interesting.