When I found out I was going to be a father, I immediately began thinking of all the things I would get to do with my son: throw around a football, ride bikes together, teach him to skateboard, and – if I’m being totally honest – shop for clothes.
Fashion is something that, at an early age, didn’t come easy for me. I was born in the '70s when style was more about the hair (maybe?) than the clothes. Memories of outrageously gross corduroy pants and random colored polyester shirts with different patterns on them come to mind. You see, my dad is Scottish. Not like somewhere-in-my-roots-five-generations-ago kind of Scottish. I’m talking about the fresh off the boat, Mike Meyers in So I Married An Axe Murderer, Scottish. He moved from Dundee, Scotland in 1972 to take a job in California’s Silicon Valley. Not long after, he married my mom who had been living in San Francisco’s Haight District. Am I painting an awesome picture of randomness yet?
Anyway, when you couple my mom’s hippy, beatnik style with my dad’s frugality, it was a perfect recipe for random, which meant my brother and our wardrobes took the biggest hit. We wore everything under the sun, but always the off-brand. If it was going to be a fashion staple for the Burgess boys, it was most likely available at Kmart.
I didn’t really become aware of fashion (or the fact that my clothes didn’t match) until the 7th grade. In retrospect, 7th grade – in the '80s — was pivotal in shaping my interest in fashion and my personal style. This was also the year I became aware of girls. At the time, Vans and Sperry Top-Siders were hot. It was all about folding your pants tight at the bottom and rolling them up. Bangs were in – for guys. The skater look was just barely making its appearance. And being a skater myself, I embraced it to the fullest. (My wife is laughing at me right now, because currently, I still wear mostly Vans and Sperrys.)
Those were the '80s. Now it’s 2011 and I’m a father. My son is 19 months old, and I have ambitions that he will dress with much more style and confidence than I did. Oliver will have the “it” shoes, whatever they are. Although I can’t lie, I’m hoping the '80s influence remains! I’m not saying that clothes or style are the only components of confidence, but it doesn’t hurt. My wife is really short, so this kid needs all the help he can get! And to my dad… next time we’re in town, I think a shopping trip is in order!
Eric Burgess is a new dad who resides in Seattle, WA. A former buyer of men's and women's apparel and footwear, he's now a digital media strategist and grad student at the University of Washington. He enjoys fashion, digital photography and blogging. Connect with him on his personal blog Fashion Dad or on Twitter.