Another Father’s Day has come and gone, and now that I’ve done my daughterly duty and shelled out some of my time and money in a pitifully modest recognition of all the time and money my dad spent on me over the years, let’s have a little chat.
Because buying my dad a simple dress shirt should not be this fucking hard.
I know there’s a whole new generation of svelte hipster CrossFitting Superdads out there, believe me. And I’m not saying they don’t deserve material rewards for their paternal endeavors just like any other father figure. But every year it seems you’re catering more and more to them, and leaving less for the still plentiful dads who showed them how to do this whole dad thing in the first place.
You know, that whole giant demographic of middle-aged dudes you seem to have completely forgotten about?
Socks with sandals. Balding pates. Salt and pepper beard stubble. Ill-advised purchases of boats, or red convertibles. Any of this ring a bell? Remember those guys? You should. Because there are an awful lot of them, and yoga pants just aren’t going to cut it when their offspring flood into the stores to buy their love come June.
And let’s be honest. There may be ripped 67-year-old guys trying out for American Ninja Warrior, but they are by no means representative of the male boomer population. Take a stroll out on the town and look around you. For every middle-aged guy eating right and hitting the gym, determined to age gracefully, there is a gaggle of others who view their beer bellies as their oldest and dearest friends. Their treadmills are purely ornamental, the leather on their recliners well-worn and supple, and they have absolutely no use for nut-scrunchingly tight jeans, thank you very much.
So why, retailers, why does your Father’s Day stock seem to indicate we are all buying for this guy…
…when so many of us still have more, shall we say, “classic” models to shop for?
My father is definitely a classic. You don’t get much more old-school than a workaholic businessman with bit of extra padding and a serious love of dress shirts. I don’t know how many shirts he has, and I’m sure I don’t want to. There’s probably an entire separate dimension out there somewhere where he stores the ones that won’t fit in his closet.
I stopped asking my mom for gift ideas for him years ago, because the answer was inevitably “a shirt”. Little girls could tire of singing along to Frozen before the thrill of owning a new shirt wears off for my dad. I don’t even care that it’s unimaginative to keep buying him the same thing year after year, because they just make him so damn happy.
Besides finding something in the right size, there are only three criteria to meet:
1) No froofy colours. Daddy don’t do pastels.
2) No pocket, no sale.
3) Slim fit? Fat chance.
Pretty reasonable, right?
Nope. Apparently that’s three criteria too many for today’s retailers.
And I know half the big names out there have started designing exclusively with scrawny longboarders in mind, but there are still plenty who operate on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle. Could you not stock just a few more items from the latter? I mean, come on, Hudson’s Bay Company, you’re not some little trendy boutique, you’re a department store! Act young and hip all you want, but the fact remains that you are literally the oldest commercial corporation in North America. Who do you think you’re kidding?
For instance, did you perhaps notice how any table bearing clothing marked “Classic Fit” was the first to get ransacked during the approach up to Father’s Day, while the “Slim Fit” piles remained tall and largely untouched? Women aren’t the only people out there with curves, you know. Not every man with a bit of extra meat on his bones wants to spend his days afraid to breathe too deeply lest he turn a button into a projectile. (Funnily enough, as I was reflecting on this exact point in the store, I overheard a lady at the next display over remark to her friend, “Slim Fit? What man would buy Slim Fit?” so at least I know I’m not the only one who thinks this is ridiculous.)
Pop quiz: do you know what middle-aged men hoard like a frantic squirrel stocking up for winter? Reading glasses. You know where they tend to store them when they’re on the go? Pockets, motherfucker. So where have all the pockets disappeared to? Is there a fabric shortage? Are you secretly in cahoots with the drugstore spectacle industry? Do you WANT men to have to keep replacing their readers ad nauseam? You do, don’t you, you devious bastards.
Nothing crushes my consumer spirit like spying a gorgeous shirt from across the floor, running over and picking it up only to realize there’s no frigging pocket.
Except maybe finding a stack of the most perfect, most wonderful patterned, pocketed and classically fitted shirts I have ever seen…and then realizing every single one of them is a size S. See the above remark about larger men and projectile buttons.
I know in the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge deal, and I did find my dad a pretty nice shirt eventually (in fact, it was almost identical to the one he was wearing when I showed up on Father’s Day, which of course meant he adored it), but it was still downright frustrating walking past so many possibilities that would have looked amazing on him if only they hadn’t been ordered with pre-Super-Soldier-Serum Steve Rogers in mind.
Oh well. It’s done. For now.
The struggle begins anew next year.