A post from our regular contributor, Jane Brown

When I was a kid, my dad wore thick white socks with sandals. He pulled those socks halfway up his calves, and they stayed there, whether he was coming out to watch my Little League game or posing with my mom and my sister and me in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland. 

The socks and sandals combination was only one of my dad’s many sartorial flaws; he, like many men, was a great dad but a man who had never really figured out fashion. That means that as I grew up, I didn’t either. I still remember one of my first job interviews, in college: I wore a “Dad-approved” combo of pleated khaki pants, a baggy polo shirt, black sneakers, and those ubiquitous white socks.

It took me a long time — and a lot of help — to learn how to wear stylish clothing, how to buy clothing that fit my body type, and how to match the right socks with the right shoes. But this is important to me, and it’s actually part of my parenting philosophy.

My dad never looked stylish. His clothing never fit right. And yes, both of his kids noticed. I knew that some of the other kids’ dads looked better than mine, and I saw how that filtered down. I remember, in my first jobs after college, looking at some of my entry-level peers and noticing that their suits fit differently than mine did; that they were wearing different ties and different shoes altogether. Did they grow up with a dad who wore white socks with sandals? Probably not.

So now that I’m a parent, I want to make sure that I always look stylish and set a good example for my kids. Appearance is important; it helps you get everything from better jobs to that all-important first date. I want my son and my daughter both to understand how to choose clothing that fits, no matter what your budget is, and how to take pride in your appearance.

Here are a few tips for other dads hoping to do the same:

1. Choose high-quality materials

Is it better to have a drawer full of cheap ties, or a handful of high-quality ties? The age-old question.The answer is simple: always choose quality over quantity. Investing in quality silk ties for men is one of the best ways to add a sense of style to your look, and you only need a few good ties to make all of your suits look great.

2. Fit is everything

We’ve all seen the men who wear khaki shorts that billow out like tents around their legs; the men who wear jeans that bunch and sag around the rear; the men who wear suit jackets that form boxy rectangles around their body.

Learn how clothing should fit. For example: jeans should fit closely to the rear without being too tight, then fall straight down the thigh and leg. Suits are more complicated; start with this Esquire guide and learn the seven different ways that your suit should fit. Chances are, none of your current suits fit correctly.

3. Avoid looking like an unmade bed

Leave the house in wrinkled or stained clothes, or in old T-shirts with holes under the arms, and your kids will think it’s okay to do the same. (And later, when they’re teenagers, they will avoid being seen with you.) No matter what you wear, it’s your job to make sure that it is clean, wrinkle-free, and in good condition. This philosophy also passes down to your children: if you fold and iron your clothes, they’ll learn how to fold and iron theirs.

If you stay stylish, you’ll teach your children many important lessons about taking care of their clothing and appearance. Don’t be the dad in the thick white socks. Learn how to dress, and make dressing well one of your family values.