The term “dad style” conjures images of washed-out denim, white sneakers, and oversized pique polos. (See: Jerry Seinfeld.) In other words, “dad style” tends to not really be style at all. To the stereotypical father, getting dressed—like brushing your teeth or putting on deodorant—is just one more item on the morning to-do list.
To the stylish dad, on the other hand, getting dressed is a labor of love. In between raising kids and holding down extremely high-profile gigs, the following men are living, breathing proof that good style doesn’t go out the window with fatherhood. Think of it less as a ranking of style icons and more as a pantheon of style gods.
Late screen legend Paul Newman is hands-down the most stylish actor/race-car driver in history. (Sorry, Patrick Dempsey.) He looked just as great wearing slim-lapeled gray tailoring at political affairs (as seen in the 1963 March on Washington) as he did wearing off-duty digs on the big screen (as seen in the 1974 thriller, Towering Inferno, above). That he was also a father of six while looking so consistently fashionable—for so long—is nothing short of Olympian. Oh, and he also founded a food company, Newman’s Own, that sells everything from cookies to salad dressing to lemonade—and donates 100 percent of its profits to charity.
2Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Named People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2016, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has had an impressive style shift over the years. As a member of the World Wrestling Federation, for years, most of his public appearances involved a whole lot of spandex—and little else. Nowadays, he’s evolved to form-flattering polos, patterned slacks, chunky merino knits, and (as seen above, next to eldest daughter Simone Johnson) impeccably cut summer-grade tailoring. Johnson is so stylish now that, in May 2017, he even scored a GQ cover shoot.
But the father of three is more than just a fashion icon. He’s also a bona fide trendsetter: In a 2019 Instagram post, he singlehandedly made the case that workout tights can work on dudes. (To be fair, though, with quads like Johnson’s—which are practically topographical maps of the Andes—any type of pants would work.)
Whatever you think of the man, there’s no arguing that 44 is a seriously stylish guy. Now a full-blown private citizen, Barack Obama has stuck with the wardrobe of flawlessly tailored Brooks Brothers suits, but has tossed out the neckties for open collars. Outside of public events, he’s been frequently spotted wearing the type of rugged brown leather jackets he used to rock in his law school days.
Even the fashion pros at Harper’s Bazaar have taken note, remarking that, “both he and Michelle are coming into their personal styles post-Pennsylvania Avenue, rocking looks we likely would not have seen them sport during their time in Washington.” Former first daughters, Sasha and Malia, should be proud.
If there’s a man alive today who could inherit Steve McQueen’sold mantle, “the King of Cool,” it’s Ryan Gosling. Put him in a leather bomber and tattered tee (Drive); he looks great. Put him in a 1920s-era newsboy get-up (The Notebook); he looks great. Put him in a futuristic fur-lined topcoat and combat boots (Blade Runner: 2049); he looks great! Point is, if it counts as clothing, Gosling looks good wearing it.
And then there’s his signature off-screen sleeve style. Gosling frequently deploys a military cuff—a variation on traditional rolls for a tighter look that shows off just the right amount of bicep (as seen in the photo above).
It also can’t hurt when he’s playing with his two daughters, whom he had with longtime partner Eva Mendes.
Yes, with his meticulous hair and elegant suits, the late Cary Grant was the very definition of “dapper.” But good style isn’t just about what you wear—it’s about how you think and act and feel, too. What makes Grant—who had one daughter at 62—one of the most stylish dads in history is the fact that, for decades, he was nothing if not consistent. As Grant himself wrote in The Week, “In all cases, the most reliable style is in the middle of the road… And so it should be with clothes.”
Once his daughter Jennifer was born in 1966, Grant’s focus changed entirely.