Brian’s Cool Dad Gift Guide (It’s Another In-Person Mall Review!)

There’s a strange sort of sound that escapes a man’s mouth when he hears the phrase, “Let’s go shopping.” It’s somewhere between a grumble and a wince, a gwince, and it usually indicates his reticence to hold spaghetti-strapped paper bags while sitting on an uncomfortable chair waiting for his partner to look at something they’ll never buy. I know that’s a massive generalization, that there are plenty of men who don’t gwince when asked to go shopping. I acknowledge that those men are better than I. Because usually, I’m a gwincer. Which is a total bummer for a spouse whose job is literally shopping for things. Emily spends hours perusing the aisles of antique malls, vintage stores, and flea markets, and she specifically looks at vacation destinations to make sure there’s an antique shop in town even though she almost never purchases anything, she just likes to look! Just for inspiration! It’s truly baffling to me, and after all these years, you’d think I’d be better at tagging along, but as we say to our children when they encounter a rude kind of person, I’m still learning how to behave.

So Emily has resorted to bribing me. Like I’m a toddler. When she proposed this particular journey to the mall, to gather ideas for a gift guide, she said in a tone usually reserved for training a puppy, “We can go to lunch, maybe get you a beer.”

It totally worked. After some delicious soup dumplings and a frosty IPA, I was the happiest kid in the mall! I mean, look at me!

We didn’t buy a ton, mostly just looked, and you know what? It was fun. I told Emily I’d remember not to gwince the next time she says let’s go shopping, that I would do my best not to act like a spoiled little man-child. But I’m still learning.

American Eagle

Super Soft Plaid Flannel Shirt

I was pretty surprised by this one, I never thought of myself as an American Eagle kind of guy. The store, I mean. I’m totally an American eagle guy in like wildlife terms. Those things are majestic as hell! But I was shocked to find this blue and white plaid flannel that is totally my vibe, fits well, is super soft, and very affordable. I’ll be checking them out for future finds. And watching them scoop fish out of lakes.

J. Crew

Midweight Light Flannel

In my younger days, I’d scoff at how “preppy” J. Crew was, but now I feel right at home in it. They definitely got the “cool dad” game on lock. Their plaids are classic and kind of fit all types of dudes. Like this subtle flannel. I’m big into flannels again and I think Eddie Vedder would approve.

Rugged Merino Wood Cardigan

Ok, you’re gonna see me do this a lot with my arms. I know I just said I was a child, but this isn’t me pretending I’m a big airplane. It’s something I didn’t even know was a habit until Emily pointed it out. Apparently, I do this after putting on every garment, I test the sleeve length. See, I have long arms and some things fit on the torso but hike up too far above the wrist, which is an automatic pass. So I do my little airplane to make sure it’s not a waste of time buttoning. This super cozy cardigan was not a waste of time. It may be on top of my Xmas wishlist.

Heritage Cotton Rollneck Sweater

We asked what their signature item was for men, and they pointed us to this roll-neck sweater. It made me feel like a cool French film student.

Sherpa-Lined Corduroy Shirt-Jacket

I really like this lined shirt/jacket thing. I know shirt/jacket things are super hot right now and there’s a word for them but I don’t want to look it up. Just know that this corduroy shirt/jacket thing is nice. Oh, and I’m doing the airplane again.

Eco Nordic Shirt Jacket

Nordstrom – Clothing

Skogsö Water Resistant Jacket

Here I am explaining my long arms to Emily in this super dope winter jacket by a brand that is fun to say – FJÄLLRÄVEN.

Water Resistant Quilted Jacket with Corduroy Trim

I’m always on the hunt for a warm, water-resistant jacket. This one has style and was super comfy. I could wrangle some horses in this.

Marled Organic Cotton & Cashmere Cardigan

I’m a big fan of cardigans, especially in the morning. I tend to wear a lot of t-shirts, and when I wake up I’ll throw on some sweats and a tee, then wrap up in a warm cardigan. This one is very soft and would go well with my morning cup of coffee/scramble to pack lunches and get kids out the door.

Legend Plaid Flannel Button-Up Shirt

More flannels. Both (here and here) are the softest things I’ve ever felt, and both passed the airplane test.

The Movement Flannel Shirt

But wait, you’re probably saying, “Enough tops, what about a couple of pictures of you trying on pants and looking like you just rolled out of bed hungover?” Don’t worry, I got you.

Legend Sweatpants

I would lounge in these sweats all day, they were sooooooo cozy.

Everett Airluxe Slim Straight Commuter Pants

And these are Nordstrom’s signature men’s pants, they come in tons of colors and apparently made me want to look at my own butt.

Nordstrom – Shoes

Nuptse® 550 Fill Power Down Mule and Wicked Good Venetian Moccasin

Slippers are the one thing I never seem to have but always want. Especially on these cold winter mornings, my feetsies need some warm love. I put both of these on my wish list. The North Face ones are very warm, and good for snowy climates and the L.L. Bean’s are great for around the house.

Madewell For Men

Speaking of feetsies, if there was one pair of shoes I could live in for the rest of my life, it would be these Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots (not pictured, sorry). I get so many compliments on them from other dudes, it’s crazy. They’re sturdy, comfy, and make me feel more badass than I actually am. What more could you want??

Dick’s Sporting Goods

VRST Men’s Essential Pocket Tee

Like I said, I wear a lot of t-shirts. These pocket tees are my favorite in the whole wide world, I own about ten of them and wear them pretty much every day. They’re super soft and stretchy without clinging to my beer belly. They come in a bunch of colors and last a long time. Love these things.

Stanley 40 oz. Adventure Quencher Tumbler

Not clothing but important nonetheless, these Stanley mugs are pretty rad, and just like the box from the old McDLT, they keep the hot side hot and the cold side cold.

Look at that happy toddler. He got a few Xmas presents and had fun shopping! No more gwincing for him, he’s an enthusiastic shopper and will be from here on out. He swears.

Oh, and the flannel I came in is a favorite of mine. It’s from Target, super cozy and affordable.

Ok, bye!

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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This post was originally published here.