8 important style lessons I still follow
When I came home from my first year of college, my dad asked me what I had learned that year. I said, “Well, I learned that I don’t actually have to do laundry until I’m out of socks and underwear, so I bought more socks and underwear.” That wasn’t what he had in mind, but little did he know that was my version of something I had learned from him.
Men aren’t typically known for being fashion savvy or even interested in style. While my dad isn’t Karl Lagerfeld, he has always dressed very well and taken great pride in his appearance. Through his example and, ok, the lectures he’s so famous for, he has taught me some really important style lessons I still follow today. Being totally honest I could stand to follow some of them more closely, so this is a good reminder.
With Father’s Day approaching this weekend, I want to honor my dad by sharing the style lessons I learned from my dad.
This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.
Look Your Best Everyday
If I had a penny for every time I heard the, “Good grooming,” lecture, I’d be a wealthy woman, but it is a topic he is passionate about. He told us when you fix your hair, put on something nice (meaning clean, pressed, and appropriate to the situation), be clean, smell nice, brush your teeth, and you’ll feel better about yourself. He has always practiced what he preaches, and followed up around with a comb, if necessary.
He also taught us that, whether it’s right or wrong, people will treat you differently based on how you are groomed, to use his word. You don’t have to be dressed in the most expensive or trendiest clothes, have a fancy hair style or pile on the makeup, but being clean and taking pride in your appearance shows others you take care of yourself, respect yourself, and they will treat you accordingly. His generation would call it looking respectable.
I’m a big believer in this, and I get up and get dressed every day. It makes me feel better about myself and makes my day go better.
I Am Worthy of Self Care
When middle school acne started, we went straight to the dermatologist. When I wanted a perm in seventh grade, I got one. My dad gritted his teeth the way many dads do and let me transition from a little girl to a young woman, and I started wearing makeup. My parents could probably retire on what it cost to straighten my teeth. We always had a few of the “it” brands sprinkled into our wardrobes.
With six kids, the budget was always a priority, but he knows how important it is to feel like you belong and to feel great about how you look (or as great as anyone can feel in middle and high school), so when there was something we wanted to feel prettier or more confident, he prioritized it while keeping the family budget in mind. Fortunately, my parents only have two girls among the four boys, or we could have bankrupted them.
Today I think of it as self-care. Like most women, I struggle with valuing myself enough to do many of the things related to self-care, like get enough sleep and exercise, but not when it comes to my appearance. Like I said, I know I’m worth some time each morning to make myself look nice. I get my hair and nails done, take care of my skin and teeth, wear clothes I feel confident in, and try to do the same for our kids (as of this morning we have five kids in braces!).
When my dad was young his pockets were full of rocks, string, and toys. As an adult his pockets have continued to be full, but now he carries fingernail clippers, a small plastic comb, and a handkerchief. We can always go to him for an emergency hangnail, a smudge on the face, or a hair emergency.
I carry my own version if this in my bag. I keep a tiny foldable brush, lip gloss, hand sanitizer, wipes, and I should probably add fingernail clippers.
Better to be overdressed than underdressed
While many men look at a tie and think of a noose, a business suit is his very favorite thing to wear, and what you’ll find him in 90% of the time. I truly believe he arrived in this world wearing one. No matter where he goes, he’s never underdressed.
Now I’m not saying everyone needs to run around in business professional attire (though it is my not-so-secret fantasy to do this myself), but whenever I’m not sure how I should dress for a situation, I usually choose to be overdressed.
Buy the best quality you can afford
Because my dad wants his clothes to last and he wears all of them, he buys the best quality he can afford. Buying cheap clothes isn’t a bargain if they stretch, shrink, fade or lose their structure after just a few washes. Not only will you spend more money replacing them, you will also spend more time looking for the replacement.
Not every item is worthy of top dollar. Since my dad mostly wears suits, dress shirts, ties and wingtips, he follows this advice for those items. But his casual uniform is to wear jeans, a dress shirt and a sweatshirt (because he’s always cold). If he’s working on his cars in the garage he will put on a t-shirt. He’s had his jeans for….a very long time, so the quality is definitely there. His sweatshirts and t-shirts are in the budget category because if my dad ever did get dirty, that’s where it would show up.
When you take good care of your clothes, even the least expensive items will look nice.
Though I fell into the clearance rack trap for many years, I changed my ways a few years ago and now I follow the same example. In a previous Style Snack I shared how I split up my own budget in my wardrobe, but the summary is I invest in my wardrobe staples, shoes, bags, and jackets. Something like a white tee is not going to stay white for more than a few years, so I don’t blow my budget there, and I also put trendy items in the budget category.
Take care of your clothes
I don’t know anyone who takes care of their clothes like my dad, but it’s why his items last for so long, and one reason he feels confident buying the best quality he can afford. He rotates his clothes and shoes so they get a break. Constant dry cleaning can ruin clothes quickly, so he hangs them up so they maintain their shape and steams them in between to keep them fresh.
If he knows he will be doing something messy, he changes out of his nice clothes and puts on something appropriate to the task.
When he gets home, he wipes his shoes down, including the sole, with a damp paper towel before changing and putting them away. How many of you actually polish your shoes? It seems to be a dying art, but my dad still faithfully polishes and buffs his shoes.
There are a few favorite items I have in my closet I’ve purchased duplicates of and rotate which one I wear so they will last longer. While I haven’t learned the fine art of polishing shoes (and I have some boots in desperate need so I’m going to ask him for a lesson), I do take good care of my clothes, keep them clean, and choose my outfit based on what’s happening on my calendar. I also buy clothes that fit my actual lifestyle so they will put up with what my days usually include.
Maintenance and Repairs
We live in a disposable society with the advent of fast fashion and Styrofoam. It lost a button? Time to toss it. The hem came loose? Out it goes! Not my dad. His way of being frugal is to maintain the items he has purchased. He replaces the button, has the hem fixed, and he re-soles his shoes.
Because he cleans and polishes the tops of his dress shoes and doesn’t wear them to do dirty work, they stay looking pristine on top, but the soles do wear down, so he gets them resoled. He has a long-term close relationship with the local cobbler. They know him by name because he brings his shoes in for maintenance before they are past the point of no return.
I haven’t made it to the daily wipe down, and I admittedly have so many shoes I’ve never worn the sole out, but I do repair my clothes or take them to a tailor to be repaired.
Classic never goes out of style
My dad’s choices in clothes and shoes are always timeless, so they last him for years. This choice allows him to buy the best quality he can afford because he knows it won’t be dated in a year.
Classic clothes are timeless, and my personal favorite. I have several items in my wardrobe I’ve owned and worn for five, ten, fifteen, and even twenty years! They last because I follow so many of the tips I’ve learned by watching him, and, ok, the lectures he’s so famous for. I’ve written several articles about it and you can read more about those on my website. I also wrote about style lessons I learned from my mom.
This is my dad in his suits through the years. They’re so classic that only thing that may date them is the width of the ties.
Father’s Day can be a hard day for many, but I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend. If you’re missing your dad, take some time to think back on some of your favorite memories of him. I printed out this poem for Adam when our kids were little, and I wanted to share it with you all.
Walk a Little Slower Daddy
“Walk a little slower daddy,”
said a little child so small.
“I’m following your footsteps,
and I don’t want to fall.”
“Sometimes your steps are very fast,
sometimes they are hard to see,
so walk a little slower Daddy,
for you are leading me.”
“Someday when I’m all grown up
you are what I want to be,
then I will have a little child
who will want to follow me.”
“I would want to lead just right
and know that I was true,
so walk a little slower Daddy,
for I must follow you!”
-A. L. Ford Jr.