Gen Z are dressing like their dads this summer

Hot girl summer begone – it’s time to enter your Adam Sandler era.

The question of what one’s summer style will be is an undoubtedly big one. As surfer babes and sun-kissed bohemians migrate back to Instagram, the annual temptation to invest in boardshorts or vintage sun dresses resurfaces. This summer, however, Gen Z is bringing something new to your explore page – or rather something old. They’re digging out the baggy T-shirts (and baggier denim). They’re dressing like their dads.

To clarify, this isn’t 14 year old sons with unfortunately hand-me-downs. This is the cream of the influencer crop, the fashion girls with enough free PR samples to drown their unfortunate postmen. They’re passing all that up and donning cyclist-worthy wrap-around sunglasses, strapping themselves into Teva’s and (most infamously) trimming their jeans into knee-length ‘jorts’.

Emma Chamberlain

Apart from peaking in popularity among fathers of the nineties, ‘Dadcore’, as the style was coined, has previously been reserved for menswear. Coming about in the same era as Normcore, the practical and clunky Dadcore found a male fanbase between 2016–2019. This summer, however, the girls are reclaiming it.

Back with a Y2K twist, Dadcore’s reincarnation features a couple of feminised tweaks. Twisty updos compete with reflective shades, wedges have been added to Velcro sandals, and delicate beaded jewellery accompanies the whole ensemble. Apart from those few tweaks, however, the look is pretty straightforwardly ‘dad’. Unforgiving shapeless-ness and all.

So, when did socks with sandals stop being social suicide? Just like the recent popularity of their equally socially unacceptable cousin, the mullet, Dadcore belies Gen Z’s love for the fugly. Anti-fashion at its most obvious, the trend is reminiscent of Tik-Tok fashion  extraordinaire @TinyJewishGirl. Clara Perlmutter (her real name) has built her 818.K following, personal brand and even her own Depop search term on her controversial maximalist outfits. While her eclectic looks are on the extreme side of Gen Z fashion, they aren’t so far from the purposefully marmite elements of Dadcore.


What, then, is the draw this intentionally ‘ugly’ look?  Well, for one, its playful. Recalling the sensible clothes your mum picked out in childhood summers, it’s a style that puts the wearer first. Build for fishing and expertly planned sight-seeing, Dadcore says ‘Hop that fence! Explore that park! I’m not going to stand in your way!’.

It’s silly. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. And when it’s all over social media, Dadcore is a big f-you to the face-tuned silhouette of the bikini-clad Instagram model. Unflattering on purpose, Dad-core might just be offering Gen-Z the freedom they’re craving this summer.

Words by Kate Bowie

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