fashion sense of fathers

[twitter]As I sucked in my gut to get the waist clip on my black Hugo Boss suit pants, I looked in the mirror and shrugged. Close enough, I thought.

I reached into the closet for a shirt. I knew my favorites wouldn’t fit. I pulled out an old standby to see it was wrinkled and covered in deodorant. That won’t work. I grabbed a short sleeve shirt that still fit. Short sleeves with a suit? Close enough, I thought.

I put on the jacket. There was no way I was going to ever get any of the three buttons done up across my broad man boobs. Close enough, I thought.

Back in 2004, when I bought this Hugo Boss suit, it was impeccable. Now, with skinny suits the norm, this lapel is likely a little too wide and the venting covers too much of my butt. Thankfully the pants were tapered and still looked current.

Welcome to what passes for my fashion sense now that I’m a father. It is no longer perfect, it’s always just ‘close enough.’

You’ve likely seen the stories this week talking about how much it costs to raise kids. You’re looking at a quarter of a million dollars just to get them through to high school. That’s a good $15 000 a year on each kid. That money has to come from somewhere, and for many parents the budget that gets cut is their fashion budget.

Before I had kids, I had a personal shopper at Harry Rosen. Roberto was wonderful. He worked with me to create a unique personal style. I was big into Hugo Boss, and he collected the perfect Orange label pieces to make a wardrobe for me.

Before I had kids, I had 4 pairs of Prada shoes, that ubiquitous red stripe shining boldly on the tongue and heel of my favourites boots.

Before I had kids, I spent money on me and the frivolous little things that bring frivolous amounts of joy. I’m not saying I wear pyjamas to take my kids to school, but my priorities have changed. I buy my jeans and Costco and get joy from cute dinosaur tshirts, Spider-Man pyjamas, or my son’s first pair of tie up shoes.

fashionable father

So I was surprised to be invited to an intimate dinner with Harry Rosen last night. There were only about a dozen of us seated around a large square table at Teatro‘s Opera room where we were treated to a wonderful meal and stories about Harry Rosen‘s 60 year legacy in men’s fashion.

We were regaled with Harry’s rise from stockboy to fashion icon. We were reminded of Rosen’s commitment to service and how employees aren’t even allowed to touch the suits for 3 months. They are trained to not sell items to just anyone, but rather to help choose specific garments that match each individual client.

These were things I knew and had experienced. I would get calls from Roberto when new pieces would come in. I still remember the time I tried on a bright pink and orange striped shirt that I loved. Roberto insisted the sleeve was an inch too long, and had it tailored to fit me. That was nothing I had ever experienced before and nothing I have experienced since.

Now in a commerce capitol like Calgary, I’m well aware that my story does not suit everyone. Calgary’s Harry Rosen store in the CORE sits 5th in the world for made-to-measure suits from Tom Ford. There are guys who love the $1200 price point of Zegna suits and deem them affordable. That was me 10 years ago. Not now.

At the dinner I was seated next to mannequins decked out in Tom Ford and Etro, their sleek silhouettes laughing at my decade old garment.

I looked longingly at the table of shoes. The bright red stripe on the tongue of a pair of Prada boots almost wagging at me with mockery at my inability to afford him.

The fashion sense of fathers changes because, well, it has to. Priorities change when you have kids, and that’s okay.

Thanks to the Harry Rosen team for the hospitality and for not laughing at my old suit. It was wonderful to relive my fashion forward days for a few hours.

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