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Eight Pieces of Essential Gear for New Dads That Looks Cool, Too

No need to fight the psychological and temporal demands of fatherhood with mom jeans.

The Things They Carried. The pockets of an Armoury x Ascot Chang linen safari jacket ($595) handsomely accommodate such new-dad must-haves as a pacifier, a sun hat, and a six-ounce pewter flask from Wentworth ($78).

Illustration: 731; Products: Vendors

This goes out to all the new dads—guys who are first-time guests of honor at Father’s Day celebrations. Congratulations on receiving this great blessing! Condolences on losing the last of your freedom.

New to the fatherhood, you are fast becoming familiar with the ugly rigor of its initiation rites, which—as in a fraternity hazing or enhanced-interrogation session—involve being subjected to an erratic sleep schedule, random blasts of sharp noise, and a steady influx of excreta.

Perhaps it is the psychological and temporal demands of fatherhood that cause so many men to descend into mom jeans—probably high-waisted, perhaps even acid washed. This needn’t be the case. You can have kids and a few shreds of dignity, too. 

Homestead Grays Coobla Cap, $32.
Source: Vendor

When I see you at the playground, I’ll be wearing sunglasses, and I’d advise you do the same. It’s courteous, of course, to hide the smashed cranberries of your bloodshot eyeballs from public view. And during an afternoon at the swing set, it’s easier to avoid making eye contact with the parents of other kids, who are now the most annoying people in the farce that has replaced your social life.

Persol striped yellow acetate sunglasses, $250.
Source: Vendor

Treat yourself to a pair of shades from Persol, the venerable company now celebrating its 100th anniversary. But beware: Now and then, the 14-month-old you’re wearing in a sling may demonstrate her motor skills by snatching them off your face and chucking them down a storm drain. More frequently yet, a 14-year-old will demonstrate her good taste by grabbing them from your bureau and slapping them onto her face. Recently, I asked Stirling Barrett, founder of New Orleans-based eyewear brand Krewe, to tell me about the first pair of sunglasses he ever owned. “A pair of my dad’s, from L.A. Eyeworks,” he said, preparing his fingers to make air quotes. “I ‘borrowed’ them.”

Lotuff medium leather tote, $725.
Source: Vendor

Theft is a constant issue when it comes to paternal accessories—and I’m not just talking about the fact that my one-year-old daughter has very, very recently lifted my wallet and refused to disclose its whereabouts. “We sell a lot of bags to people whose kids have stolen theirs and gone off to college,” said Lindy McDonough, creative director at Lotuff Leather. Bear the replacement cost in mind when calculating what you’re setting aside for the kid’s college fund.

Herschel city backpack, $55.
Source: Vendor

But what kind of bag is the best dad bag? Among certain accessories designers, there is an ongoing quest to design a diaper bag that is not decorated with magenta unicorns or corpulent rocket ships. I’d respectfully suggest that they save their energy: When it comes to toting your infant’s things, it’s smarter to find a bag that you and your partner can each shoulder happily. I recommend Herschel Supply Co. for crafting unisex bags with compartments sufficient and spacious enough to keep packages of baby wipes separate from Ziploc bags of stuff that has been wiped off the baby.

Ghurka Explorer No. 239 backpack, $1,295.
Source: Vendor

One bag alone isn’t going to cut it, though. You need variety and versatility. A proper fleet of dad bags begins with a small canvas tote useful for visiting the park burdened only with essentials—something big enough to hold a Wiffle ball for playing catch, plus a newspaper to read when the kid finds someone better to play with. You’ll also want a large tote, especially for that phase of childhood where you always pack spare pants for the kid, in case his diaper leaks, and a spare shirt for you, in case the leak is targeted at the shirt you’re already wearing. Obviously, you want a backpack in the mix, because sometimes you need two free hands for when you’re climbing a tree or subduing a tantrum.

Stutterheim Stockholm Half Navy raincoat, $345.
Source: Vendor

Speaking of free hands, forget umbrellas. Those will generally be too unwieldy for half a decade or so. It’s time to embrace and be embraced by sturdy raincoats, occasional cloaks, and hats with brims that divert rainwater. But the best way to deal with children in foul weather remains to stay home and build a fort. 

Paul Smith cotton and linen-blend twill jacket, $515.
Source: Vendor

You will also want a dad jacket with a lot of pockets for carting crayons, confiscating fidget spinners, carrying a proper handkerchief, and concealing a flask such as this one from Wentworth Pewter filled with overproof rum. A cotton-blend field jacket will be practical and durable and feature pockets that button. Also, being military in its origins, the field jacket is thematically appropriate to the never-ending battle you've chosen to engage.

Griffin Mill coat, $180.
Source: Vendor

The current trend toward work jackets and chore coats gives a fellow further options for attractive, well-constructed, unstuffy outerwear that will also prove useful as an ad hoc changing pad. The Griffin Mill coat, made by the new L.A. company Everybody.World and named for the movie producer played by Tim Robbins in The Player, is a hit among real-life actors who frequent Silverlake dog runs. It has nine pockets—nine!—which enable a guy to keep the pup’s chew toy at a safe distance from the tot’s pacifiers, as if the two creatures aren’t licking each other eight times an hour, anyway.

A final note of warning: It’s imperative is to keep the pockets of this coat—or of any other piece of dad gear—orderly. Regularly inspect them to cull the detritus of #dadlife, which is by no means limited to used Kleenex, half-eaten bananas, and the disembodied heads of Lego mini-figures.

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