There was plenty of hubbub on Wednesday afternoon of New York Fashion Week surrounding Kanye West's Yeezy Season Two presentation, but just downtown of all the mayhem, a much more laid-back affair was taking place at The Standard Hotel. The Fat Jew, the comedian and Instagram star (who's recently become persona non grata for aggregating other people's jokes without credit), had an official slot on the Made Fashion Week calendar for his "Dad Season" show, which celebrated fathers of all ages and their sensible sartorial choices.
Guests were greeted with koozies printed with "#1 Dad," as well as a depressing assortment of refreshments: an Igloo cooler of PBR and a single Frito Lay snack pack of the Costco variety. Once inside, models walked down an artificial grass runway as awkward home videos played on a projector screen in the background, accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of what can best be described as "dad jams" by the likes of Bon Jovi, Paul Simon, The Eagles and Rod Stewart. The resulting show was hilarious, if not a bit creepy at times.
I decided that the best way to judge the Fat Jew's show on its accuracy was to bring a real-life father, and luckily our resident dad, Above the Law Editor Elie Mystal, was up for the challenge. Straight off of paternity leave, he grabbed his finest dad gear and a front row seat for his first-ever Fashion Week show. Read on for his full review — and to see what he wore.
The first thing I noticed about the "dad fashion" was that there were no dads in the audience. There was a guy dressed up in something that looked like Julie Andrews had it made out of spare curtains. There were three people in baseball caps, on break from their regular jobs at The Standard, who looked like the kind of bros who might demand a paternity test in the maternity ward. The men in the audience looked like they still cared about how they looked — which is not something dads are necessarily about.
Though once the show started, it was clear that Mr. Ostrovsky (I can't call him "The Fat Jew," because I have kids who don't understand irony) had picked the right models. They all had that haggard, shuffling physicality that tells the world, "I can't unsee where babies come from." Their age was not merely a function of time; their lines were deepened by the weight of unrealized accomplishments.
In Ostrovsky's world, dads match their outfits to the activity in which they are engaged. Snow-Shoveling Dad wears snow pants and long grey sleeves while carrying his comically undersized shovel. Sunday Ticket Dad wears his team's jersey. Handy Daddy wears flannel and clips his tape measure to his waist. But my personal favorite had long hair, shorts and an unbuttoned shirt over a logo-free T-shirt. I called him Every Other Weekend Dad, because that's what you wear when you go pick up your kids from the jerk-off who lives with half of your stuff. The outfit says "No, really, I'm happier this way. I don't even need an oven anymore and my sports car is lease-to-own."
But in the real world, it's the inability to match the outfit to the activity that makes "dad fashion" so crushing. What dad has that kind of time? It's 6 a.m. nobody in your house can start their day until you shovel them out; you don't have time to find your warm, puffy pants. So, instead, you are out there in jeans, your college sweatshirt, socks and slippers, trying to flag down day laborers with a wad of bills in your hand. You watch football anywhere, anytime you can get it. Does that mean you might drip nacho sauce on the suit you are wearing to the wedding that was stupidly scheduled in the middle of the playoffs? Yes. Do you care? Not even a little bit. Ostrovsky showed us the white-socks-with-dress-shoes look that dads would be totally happy wearing, because the hell with it. He didn't show us what dads actually wear when those better choices are in the laundry.
For the most part, he nailed the outfits, minus some questionable accessories. One model had on the hunky watch and gold bracelet that you wear right up until you scratch the innocence off of your baby's face; then, it goes into the "when I was a younger man" box, right next to your unused season tickets and high school jockstrap. The tape measure lives in the garage. If you are fixing something in the house, you guesstimate, because you know if you bring the "toy" into the house, it's going to end up wrapped around the dog's snout and you're going to be calling the vet or the pediatrician.
On the other hand, there was Black Sitcom Dad, who was rocking the "time out" cane. Trust me, if you see a dad over 50 with a cane, you can best believe there are some grandkids out there who have had their first whuppin'.
What you really didn't see were any outfits that one would wear while actively raising children. Whether it was Vacation Dad (white linen pants, loafers, no socks), Grill-Master Dad, or Just Got Home from Work/Will Definitely Sexually Harass My Secretary When I Get to Work Dad, it was clear that somebody else was taking care of the kids while dad drudged on.
As you can see from how I showed up to the event, I think that modern dad fashion is a little bit more about function over form. —Elie Mystal