Fashion tips from ... fathers
Let’s be honest: Fathers and fashion flourishes aren’t words often found in the same sentence. But we surveyed a handful of our favorite style influencers about any wardrobe wisdom they gleaned from dear old dad — whose day is coming up Sunday.
George Esquivel, president and design director of Esquivel Shoes
Although shoe designer George Esquivel describes his late father as “a drug addict and thief,” the elder Esquivel’s ne’er-do-well nature didn’t prevent him from giving his son a few style pointers.
“Everything I buy, I get altered. I think I get that from him. He was always well-dressed. Whether he was stealing clothes from a store or he was going to thrift shops, his clothes would always fit perfectly. ...
“He was a jeans and button-down Oxford guy with his spit-shined shoes he was always wearing. You know the way Bruce Springsteen always dressed in his jeans and a T-shirt? For my dad, it was Levi’s 501s, a button-down Oxford in plaid or white, and those black cop shoes. They were always either patent leather or he was getting them polished all the time.
“I think I get a lot of that from him. I always cuff my pants like he cuffed his pants. And he always made us pay attention to details. “‘You’ve got to make sure it fits right,’ he’d say, or, ‘Don’t look like a slob.’”
With three children of his own (19-year-old and 12-year-old daughters and a 17-year-old son), he’s trying to teach them to value craftsmanship over label.
“I try to tell my kids it’s not about the brand. ... Now that I’m a designer, I’m really into the aesthetic of things, but when you’re a kid, it’s all about brands and logos. I tell them that there’s nothing wrong with wanting something nice if it’s because you want it, not because everybody else has it.
“And I’ve told them to (each) find a personal style and (wear) things that are well made versus what everybody else is wearing. That was how I found out who I was.”
Tory Burch, fashion designer
“My father had impeccable style, and he passed along his appreciation of beautiful craftsmanship,” says Burch. “He should have been a designer. He designed his clothes with extraordinary attention to detail. His advice was you always look better when things aren’t fussy. ... My father taught me that elegance is not just about the way you dress. It’s a way of life and should be about your attitude and the way you treat people.”
Greg Chait, founder of Elder Statesman
Chait’s earliest style-related father memory involves learning how to comb his hair back into a Fonzie-worthy duck’s tail. “I must have been 8 or 9 years old,” he recalls. “And there was a ’50s-themed birthday party I was meant to go to at a bowling alley. My dad helped me prepare for the party by finding the right jeans, white T-shirt, Members Only jacket (and) Wallabies. It was pretty awesome.”
That aside, Chait says his father “wasn’t into style, to be honest. Still isn’t. I believe his focus on other things in life helped me have a good relationship with material items” and helped keep “things in a sane perspective.”
As the father of a 4-year-old daughter who, by his estimation, does “10 costume changes a day,” Chait says he thinks it will be some time before any advice he gives will resonate. “I just want to make sure she finds a style that she feels comfortable in and best represents who she is. Clothes always look great, no matter what they are, if you wear them and they don’t wear you.”
Eye cream matters
Cameron Silver, co-owner of Decades boutique
“I didn’t necessarily learn how to shave from my dad, but I learned that eye cream matters,” Silver says. “My dad taught me to take care of my skin; he’s 82 and has amazing skin ... I always say that my dad was the first metrosexual. He always liked bronzer — even before Tom Ford made it trendy.”
As for style influence going the other direction? “My dad now likes fancy and bright shoes. He loves his red suede Tods — they’re his go-to — and his crocodile Gucci horsebit loafers. And we have the same pair of Bruno Magli shoes in green. We don’t do basic shoes!”
Covet beautiful things
Scott Sternberg, founder and creative director of Band of Outsiders and Boy by Band of Outsiders
“We never really talked style,” Sternberg says about the dispensing of fatherly fashion advice, “but my dad taught me to covet beautiful things — clothing, accessories, furniture, watches.” As for advice going from son to father? “He over-covets,” Sternberg says. “(He will) buy something and hang on to it for months before wearing it — so I always encourage him to actually enjoy and utilize what he purchases.”