At the beginning of February I left my condo in Downtown Toronto to celebrate my Dad’s fifty-fourth birthday in Windsor, where my family lives. I moved to Toronto in the summer of 2015, shortly after being accepted into Ryerson University’s journalism program. Though I pride myself on being an independent, paying the bills and living all on my own from a very young age, I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy.
Being away from my family has presented its challenges. Sometimes, all I need is my Mum’s shoulder to cry on and my Dad’s arms wrapped around me in a big, burly, bear hug when the going gets tough. I’m especially close to my Dad, so spending even a few days by his side makes it hard for me to leave him and go back to the relaxed-chaos of my everyday life in Parkdale.
My Dad has truly been one of my closest friends and confidants, as well as one of the realest hypemen I know. So, you can imagine the amount of support I brought to the table at his birthday party in reciprocation for the undying encouragement he gives me. I wasn’t the only family member shouting “Yezzzzzzzz queen!” from across the room as he blew out his candles. Dad, I stan.
When I got to Toronto after my visit, I cleaned some unsuspecting items out of my closet to honour the fact that spring is (finally) upon us here in Canada. And as I got dressed that morning in my coziest pair of crushed blue velvet overalls, I came to a realization that I think most people wouldn’t know if they should be proud or afraid of: I’ve been dressing like my Dad. More importantly, I’ve been consciously/unconsciously taking style cues from him my entire life.
My father immigrated to Canada from Italy at the age of three. Growing up in Windsor wasn’t difficult for my Dad, but there were things about him that Canadian school-kids couldn’t accept or understand (ex. having an antipasto spread for lunch that filled an entire desk space and a microwave, wearing clothing that had European flair, etc.)
My grandmother, (I call her Nona), is a seamstress by trade. When one of my Dad’s precious Italian-made duds ripped open, you can bet she got to work on her sewing machine and stitched it up quicker than she could shove a second jar of baby food down my throat. Us Barbuzzis were healthy babies, to say the least. Point is: Nothing went to waste. Being that they came from working class families, my grandparents stressed the importance of valuing and caring for items bought with hard earned money.
Fast forward to 2019 and my Dad is still one of the most stylish, put together men I know. He’s not rocking crushed velvet 24/7, but I certainly am. Why? My Dad always wore his clothes with pride, no matter how unpopular his styling choices were. My father’s ability to be himself and be different without caring about what anyone else thinks has always inspired me. He’s given me the confidence to be authentic to my true self and my sense of style. In fact, he’s helped shape it. I love him even more for that to this day, and his new shtick: matching track suits.
Here’s some photos comparing the similarities between my Dad and I’s wardrobes over the decades for your viewing pleasure. In my opinion, he won this race. He was always ahead of his time anyway.