The Parent Trap

When I read early last fall that J. Crew was possibly resurrecting the Baracuta jacket for Spring 09, I wasn’t familiar with the iconic piece but it was described, and I’m paraphrasing now, “As the kind of coat your dad raked leaves in.”

With that, I whipped out my wallet and blazed over to e-bay to land myself a vintage version a full season before the trend hit the masses. But once I saw the actual pieces up for auction, concern set in. I feared the dad-raking-leaves vibe might read too literally on me. When you hit your 30s, referencing anything fatherly or grandfatherly through your wardrobe choices gradually presents itself as more of a challenge. (Darn.)


Looking at some of the pieces I’ve been eyeing to spruce up my 09 identity, many of them fall into this Parent Trap, we’ll call it, where one risks the chance of appearing as an actual cigar-puffing, Kenny Loggins-humming, father of two washing down his Taurus in the driveway of his suburban Ohio colonial. Some dope who never managed to notice that pleated Dockers and Fair Isle sweaters were wrong for so long that some now find them amusingly right.


Certain items seem to carry a prerequisite amount of undiluted hipness, youth, and/or insouciance to pull off. I can brainstorm a number of ways to modernize and un-Dad-ify the Baracuta or the boat shoe in a 2009 outfit…but I’d still fear resembling one of the silvery foxes from Knots Landing.

Wait. Maybe that’s not quite the issue. I probably wouldn’t mind looking a bit like a Knots Landing lead, really, but…I’d want the average passerby to understand it was intentional and presented with a wink.

Some trends, be it their references, their timing or their subtleties, prove a real pickle to pull off. A trend piece that only the fashion insider would understand isn’t always worth adopting. Many of us feel safer when pulling together looks that can be understood also (at least to some degree) by the non-insider as well. And that Baracuta strikes me as a little un-safe, especially with the plaid liner.

I’m curious to hear, do other readers fear falling into The Parent Trap through mis-steps in their wardrobes? Furthermore, how do you approach the two key intricacies of all fashion trends: Timing and Level of Irony?

(Products featured in this post: Red Baracuta jacket – J.Crew. Plaid shirt – Steven Alan. Boat Show – Sperry at UrbanOutfitters. Khaki shorts – Dockers at Urban Outfitters.)

    One Response to “The Parent Trap”

    1. brennan Says:

      Will, I’m digging your blog man!