Five Tips for Dressing a Dad Bod

How to dress a dad bod

The fashionably flabby physique known as the “dad bod” has made serious inroads in the culture recently. Suddenly, a bit of man pudge is more than forgivable—it’s sexy. Commenters have scrutinized its celebrity exemplars (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jon Hamm, Seth Rogen, and Texas Ranger Prince Fielder), while some say the concept is sexist. (What about mom bods?) A March 30 blog post on The Odyssey, a site for college students, “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod,” by Clemson University sophomore Mackenzie Pearson, both defined and popularized the phrase. “The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out,” Pearson wrote. “The dad bod says, ‘I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.’ It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”

Why the dad bod—and why now? Mark-Evan Blackman, professor of Menswear at FIT, said the trend is a backlash against images of gym-toned dudes that have proliferated since the early 1980s. For her part, Pearson wrote that dad bods are better for cuddling. Also, no woman wants to compete with her boyfriend’s six-pack. “We don’t want a guy that makes us feel insecure about our body,” she wrote. “We are insecure enough as it is.” A dad bod guy might be more fun too, Blackman said. “The downside to a gym body is that it is maintained through a very strict lifestyle, so the owner of that body is not going to Shake Shack with you.”

Just in time for Father’s Day, here’s the Fashion Institute of Technology’s stylish spin on the dad bod:

1. Wear a jacket: A blazer has structure that accentuates the shoulders and falls below the waist, which can help hide a large posterior. If a man has good proportions but he’s a bit soft, try an Eisenhower cut (ends at the waist) like Levi’s or Members Only.

2. Pants: Invest in a really good pair of jeans, and have them tailored. “Nothing is off the rack for this guy,” Blackman says. It’s fine for a tall man to cuff them (in the current style), but a more endomorphic person probably shouldn’t: “That’s giving him a horizontal line when he needs a vertical.” Khakis also work— Dockers, Polo, and Target make good ones. But stay away from pleats, which bring extra volume to the waist.

3. For shirts, a vertical stripe is fine, but avoid plaids—more horizontals you don’t need. The scale of the stripe or print is key. “As a rule, not overly large. Medium-to-small scale is more forgiving.” For a dad bod with a paunch, leave the shirt untucked, and make sure it’s ironed. And a third-trimester belly won’t look optimal in knits, like polos.

4. Pay attention to undergarments, Blackman says. “No baggy, old-man boxer shorts. Boxers ride up under the pants and we can see that, and it’s not a good look.” Go with a boxer brief—a sleeker, knit version of the boxer, or a brief, which is close-fitting and cut higher on the leg.

5. Blackman says grooming is the dad bod’s biggest ace in the hole: “Hair cut, beard trimmed, teeth brushed, nails cleaned (not glossed with polish, but clipped—all the finer points.” Invest in great glasses (seek angular frames for a round face, and vice versa). Oh, and get a good moisturizer, too.

So there you have it: your dad bod is ready to leave the couch (and ESPN), and head out for a night on the town…or a cronut. Will you get us one, too?

Illustration by Miki Golod, Illustration MFA ’14

Discussion — One Response

  • Jan Joseph 06/24/2015 on 8:02 pm

    Love it!! Soooo clever

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