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When did it become cool to dress like a dorky dad?

There was a time when no self-respecting teenager would have been caught dead in socks and sandals. But not any more. 

Thanks to celebrity fans like Kaia Gerber and Kendall Jenner, the look long-favoured by a certain type of British holidaymaker has gone from fashion faux pas to a seriously cool style statement. 

And, if fashion insiders and the spring/summer catwalks are anything to go by, it is poised to become a full-blown trend once the weather warms up.  

Socks and sandals is the latest - and perhaps most unlikely - 'dad-friendly' fashion that has transcended the wardrobes of slightly uncool middle-aged men to be embraced by Gen Z fashionistas and their followers.

Socks and sandals is the latest - and perhaps most unlikely - 'dad-friendly' fashion that has transcended the wardrobes of slightly uncool middle-aged men to be embraced by Gen Z fashionistas and their followers. Pictured, a model in Coach's latest campaign

Kendall Jenner rocks a sweater vest over her long-sleeved top while out in New York (left). Right, Kaia Gerber showcases the chunky trainers trend on the Coach catwalk last year

Dua Lipa favours baggy jeans over skinny styles, as seen on this outing in New York last year

Sweater vests, bum bags and chunky trainers are all now considered trendy, stylist Karen Williams (www.karenwilliamstylist.com) told FEMAIL.  

'What's funny about some of these looks though like the socks and sandals trend and the chunky Dad trainer is that when they were popular the first time around, it was a completely different type of person wearing it,' she noted. 

'They were more likely to be into geography, travel and culture and not the least bit interested in fashion. The motivation for wearing this stuff would most certainly have been for comfort and practicality, fashion style would be the last on the list. 

'That's why these looks are so appealing to GenZ, because they are taking this anti-fashion tourist look, turning it on its head and then claiming it as fashion forward. It's both empowering and exciting to make something not very fashionable and make it street cool.' 

Hailey Bieber gives a masterclass in how to make a bum bag look cool out in Hollywood

Stylist Rochelle White credited this 'dad fashion' revival to the younger generation's love of all things 90s. 

'I think that 2020 was a very nostalgic year and a popular one for older brands,' she said. 'Celebs and models were seen rocking looks from 90s and thanks to the drive and push from social media it became popular.

'Gen Z and younger shoppers are inspired by the 90s and most things pre social media. We had a lot of first in the 90s and I think they missed out on that and so they are looking to recreate it and be part of it.'

Kaia Gerber, the 19-year-old model daughter of Cindy Crawford, is one of the biggest supporters of the socks-and-sandals look and has been spotted out and about in California in several different combinations. 

Model Kaia Gerber shows off the socks with sandals look in New York city

Many favour Birkenstocks, which are enjoying something of a fashion revival, as the base for this bold look, but any open-toed style works just as well. 

Indeed high end brands including Celine and Coach have looked to cash in on the trend by styling models in strappy sandals and socks in their latest campaign imagery.

Want to try it for yourself? Here, four fashionistas reveal how to wear them at home...  


Digital content creator Naomi Genes (@naomigenes) said: 'Sweater vests are not something I’ve worn before but if I did, I’d wear an oversized white shirt dress underneath and then some chunky black biker boots.' 

Stylist Rachel Gold (www.rachelgoldstylist.com) said: 'Got to wear it with a polo or clash shirt you can even add a tie or bow tie.' 

Karen said: 'Sweater vests in my humble opinion are worn bests over a t’shirt in the Summer - yes you heard right - it’s a hot summer trend (you will be hot) or a mid sleeved dress - add sock and sandals for more heat.'  

Rochelle said: 'This is so versatile, this could be worn over a t-shirt long or short sleeves, shirt or even on it's own.'  


Naomi said: 'Baggy jeans are super effortless and my favourite way to style them is with a tight fitted simple body suit, strappy heels and a side chain bag. Then in the day, a fitted, button down knit cardigan with chunky gold jewellery.' 

Rochelle said: 'Teamed with a tight t-shirt, oversized jumpers or my favourite a slogan/branded t-shirt. An additional touch would need a 90s style belt to be added to the look to complete it.' 


Rachel said: 'Chunky trainers are a must with loose fitting slouchy jeans, trousers or a classic straight leg jean. Topped with a slogan cool Jimmy Hendrix tee.'

Rochelle said: 'Chunky trainers can be teamed with leggings, jeans, jumper dresses and casual dresses. I know that these trainers look great with ankle that are either all white or a 90s throwback white socks with a frill.'

Karen said: 'Chunky trainers look amazing teamed with this Spring/Summers high waisted wide leg lounge trouser, try a Mom jean or give street cred to a cute or frumpy floral dress.' 

Naomi said: 'Chunky trainers will always be my favourite! I think they go with everything. I’d wear them with a gorgeous deep green lounge tracksuit, a mini rucksack and some gold rim, circle ray bans.' 


Naomi said: 'I love bum bags worn cross body. I’d pair it with an oversized sweater, washed blue Levi mom jeans, air forces and some chunky gold hoops.'

Karen said: 'Try looking super cool and wear your bumbag diagonally over your shoulder or, as a belt around the waist to accentuate your waist and obviously super handy for your phone, keys and cards. If you don’t fancy a nylon bright bumbag - YSL and the like will happily sell you a beautiful classic one for 100 times more.'

Rachel said: 'Fling it horizontally over your body with a retro Hawaiian shirt.' 

Rochelle said: 'Perfect for fitted jeans/mom jeans, t-shirts (fitted or oversized). They can be worn in the standard way or across the body to give it that trendy look. You could have it slouched around the waist to fit the 90s swag look.'

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