A Case for Taking the Dad
Out of Dad Brands

Get these affordable and unintentionally cool items before your dad does.

The Best Dad Brand Finds

Where commercial activewear makers and cool teen style converge lies clothing your dad wears—functional, everyday clothes that don't intend to be anything else but unfussy body covering. It's clothing that is arguably made for, and by, dads. Yet, increasingly, "dad styles" are trending up, finding themselves as touchstones for neo-athletic companies from Stone Island to Stüssy. Similarly, heritage brands like Pendleton, Woolrich and Patagonia are evolving in two directions, appealing to both new, hip shoppers and older standbys like your father. In reflecting on this phenomena, we wondered: are undeniably "dad" brands like Tommy Bahama and Izod rising to the occasion? Are they secretly serving budget friendly clothes that can crossover to younger, stylish men?

Yes, they are—and here's the proof. We surveyed a selection of popular "dad" brands to share a few clothing items perfect for the just-about-autumn time frame we're in now. Fit and finishes vary but all of these are worth looking into if you're hoping to expand your closet on the cheap(er). They'd also shock anyone who isn't privy to un-dadding "dad" clothes.

Eddie Bauer

The Washington adventure brand wants to ready you for outdoor winter activities. While that's a nice intention, look left from this sporty center to find a brand with clothing more befitting of streetwear, like their lug-soled boots and flannel shirts. For the ironically on-brand, consider their throwback dad hat.

Eddie Bauer Flannel Shirt

Flannel shirt, $60 / $42

Eddie Bauer

Severson boots, $170 / $119

Big Dog

A sportswear company that defines itself by a cartoon Saint Bernard mustn't have anything of interest, right? Wrong: they actually have a playful, expansive collection of camp collar shirts and bold colored apparel. Yes, everything they make includes their mascot but some items bury it well enough to wear. Like their surprisingly understated fern camp collar shirt. There are plenty of quippy, terrible tees but there are also unintentionally on-trend items like a pink half-zip fleece and big branded towels delivered to you untouched from 1993 that suggest the brand isn't entirely cringeworthy.

Big Dog Camp Collar Shirt

Camp collar shirt, $37.99 / $23.07

Big Dog Polar Half-Zip

Polar half-zip, $39.99 / $25.07

L.L. Bean

If you're hoping to make a clean break from summer, consider the Maine outdoorsy prep retailer who has cool-but-warm heavy shirting like their wool blend shirt jacket and iconic fleece pullovers. You can go full winter too with their tech ready field coats that come in classic outdoorsy khaki and the more mysterious olive. For a rugged Jack Spade-esque bag, look no further than their camo hunter's tote.

L.L. Bean Hunter Tote

Hunter tote, from $35

Tommy Bahama

A surprisingly pricey brand, this cruise ship investigation of resort wear is full of camp collar shirt standouts like the understated and gem toned stripe camp collar shirt. Fits and sizing appear to be a mild concern but, as we've said before, consider consulting your tailor if you find something you love with a questionable fit. Case in point: Tommy's lovely indigo board shorts, which desperately need a mid-thigh hemming.


Carhartt has become a streetwear favorite in recent years thanks to their overwhelmingly legit Work In Progress offshoot. While the WIP sub-brand contains many stylish items, you can find plenty of cool pieces embedded in the company's core line: classics like their T-shirts, duck vest and knit hat are clear testaments to this while the Rigby shirt is a smart shirt-jacket if you aren't keen to commit to the totally legit John Deere x Carhartt coat collab.

Carhartt Shirt Jacket

Shirt jacket, $69.99

Harley Davidson

Frankly, we were convinced that the biker brand would have nothing of note in our hunt for appropriated dad wears. We found plenty of "trying too hard to be tough" designs, of course, but two shirts caught the eye with their unintentional cool: their mechanical print shirt makes a sharp case for more technical patterns while their garage shirt's embroidery details elevate this shirt from the pedestrian.


Another aging prepster, Izod has a very concerning roster of bad office clothes designed for men that want the shape of their legs lost in saggy, formless pants. Accordingly, we were surprised to find well-designed breakthroughs like their two-toned windbreaker, tartan button-downs and (very colorful) Saltwater chinos. For less than a hundred dollars, you could fashion an entirely new Izod outfit. But would you want to? Probably not as that pushes the dadness from ironic to literal—and there is a line.

Izod Hooded Windbreaker

Hooded windbreaker, $165 / $32.39


Yes, their collaboration with Lil Yachty immediately pushes them toward the cool but also exemplifies what we're saying: there are clothes worth recognizing in these old companies and you don't need a rapper to give you permission to think that way. In Nautica's case, combining something like their floral print shirt with selvedge denim in white yields a timeless, relaxed cool.

Nautica Selvedge Denim

Selvedge denim, $148 / $69.99

Nautica Floral Poplin Shirt

Floral poplin shirt, $69.50 / $52.13