As with everything else, the norms of men’s fashion have evolved. From the age-old tailcoats to the modern-day custom dress shirts, the transformation has been incredibly fascinating. Over the following sAections, we will discuss the transformations in detail. Keep reading to understand the nuances of men’s fashion over the last hundred years.
The beginning of 20th century
1910 to 1919
At the beginning of the 20th century, most men were comfortable wearing ‘middle-class’ suits. Having originated from England, these suits were much different from the knee-length, elaborate suits of the earlier era.
The suits of this time were classified into three primary pieces: jackets, trousers, and waistcoats. During the mornings, men preferred wearing jackets with a slightly curved tailcoat from their front. Paired with striped trousers, these coats were light and casual.
The evening suits, however, were more heavily embellished. The colors were darker, and the fabrics were deeper and richer. The rich men of this time would change their clothes multiple times during the day.
Simple suits piqued popularity during 1910 and the men of this time were seen in mono-breasted jackets and thin lapels. Keeping up the traditions from the very beginning of the 20th century, the buttons were high. These coats would be teamed with straight fitting trousers.
The buttoned shirts were available in pastel shades and the common design was horizontal stripes. Detachable club/polo collars were the norm as it was easy to remove them and clean separately from the dress shirt.
Outwear was worn together with boater and gambler hats along with dual-toned boots. While we have already stepped into the beginning of the modern age, men’s fashion was still dictated by formal conventions.
1920 to 1929
With the commencement of the Jazz age, men had new and more optimistic take on life that was also reflected in their clothing choices. While the formality of the previous years wasn’t fully abandoned, men started wearing suits in simpler cut but brighter in color.
The darker hues like navy and black were replaced by lighter hues. Men were no longer comfortable with the loose-fitted shoulder pads and were now seen sporting slim/tight fitted jackets with sloping shoulder lines. Ties were more casual and instead of wearing age-old silk ties, men wore knitted ones. Windsor knot was created during this decade and is used till today. Another popular trend of the 20s was bow ties.
Over the next couple of years, buttoned dress shirts with soft fabrics gained popularity. Men wore colorful shirts and experimented with their style. This also paved the way for pointed collars.
Finally, the biggest trend of this time was probably hats. During the summer months men wore straw hats that were replaced by fedora hats during the winters. There were also different hats for different occasions, for example, woolen driving caps.
1930 to 1939
Post the economic crisis of the late twenties, the fashion industry witnessed a major setback. There were prominent cutbacks in fabrics and the rationing of clothes caused men’s suits to be restructured.
One of the popular trend of this time was the superman silhouette, where suits were styled for accommodating broad shoulders and slim waists. The jackets featured pointed lapels for emphasizing the broad shape of men.
Note that the slim waists in male suits were probably for conserving fabric and the fashion of this time once again called back the darker and neutral hues. The brighter shades were deemed tasteless due to the difficult times that everyone experienced. Common fabric types included flannel, tweed, and wool.
Another defining change of this time lied in men’s trousers. Set almost three inches above the naval lining, these trousers had slim, elongated columns. These were further teamed up with strong and well-pressed pleats that ran down the center. Two quintessential fashion inventions of this time were the zoot suits and the ivy caps.
The Mid of 20th century
1940 to 1949
For most individuals, this was the last decade of classy gentlemanly appeal and elegance. Under the backdrop of the war, fabric rationing was at the peak, and practicality started dominating the fashion preferences of men.
Every form of extravagance and flashiness was fully abandoned at this point. If someone was spotted wearing expensive attire, they were immediately deemed to be distasteful as it indicated dissing the patriotism.
The suits of this time were crafted without any cuffs, vests, or wide flaps. As men staying away from their homes they developed more effortless and laid back style. Almost every attire was simple with only little room for detail. People ditched the zoot suit due to its unnecessary fabric use. Some men, however, still sported them.
While men’s fashion witnessed a minor revival post-war, it couldn’t match its past glory. People started wearing double-breasted jackets and wide trousers again. Some colors (the less bright ones) were in vogue and men were now fond of hand-painted ties.
Ties were a mode of self-expression during this time. Men wore ties to show their unique fashion taste and express their individuality. However, there was a major change in the style of ties. Short, wide ties replaced the long ties, and they had bright patterns. Some men even teamed them up with unique tie pins to take their style game to the next level.
This period, right after the war, allowed men to be comfortable in their shoes once again. People started having fun and they were encouraged to do so. The best part: the pace at this point was leisurely. A common trend of this time were the Hawaiian shirts. Casual and effortless, these shirts defined men’s fashion trends.
1950 to 1959
At the very start of this decade, menswear was simple. Businessmen and affluent men stuck to flannel suits in darker hues. People were once again comfortable being formal. Since most men returned from the war, they wanted to look like good husbands. Due to this reason, almost everyone looked the same. The suits didn’t have shoulder pads anymore, slim and narrow ties were in vogue, the shirt collars were less prominent than before. While there was a massive transformation in suits and shirts, such couldn’t be said for the trousers. There wasn’t any significant change in the style of trousers.
Travel and a deep interest in sports were booming during the fifties. The fashion of this era was in line with these interests, thereby making way for casual and athletic clothes. Some common additions included polo shirts and shorts in pastel colors. The sports blazers were available in a range of new shapes, and the light fabrics were popular. Previously, sunglasses were deemed as luxury wear, however, as they became affordable, more people started wearing them. Common styles include the wayfarer and the club-master.
While the comfortable and simple style was a common norm among the older family men, the younger men weren’t as impressed. For them, the calmness after the war was boring and to be more creative with fashion, they came up with the greaser style. Widely perpetuated by rock singers and fashion icons, the usual greaser look, involved wearing slim-fit monochromatic T-shirts with a leather, bomber or the Letterman jackets. Ringer and baseball t-shirts were common and so was the rolled-up denim. Most teenagers would improve their style with motorcycle helmets, leather caps, and fedoras. Other common additions included army boots and creepers.
1960s to 1969
For many people, the 60’s revolutionized male fashion. Formal attires were replaced by slim fit shirts, flared-up trousers, floral patterns, and wider lapels. The trends of this time were adventurous, to say the least.
Some people have remarked that as women started wearing more masculine clothes, men took the effeminate route by sporting long hair, wearing bright colors and completing their look with silk, printed scarves. Velvet pants, puffed sleeves, and printed patterns were some of the major takeaways of this decade.
The suits of this time were tight fitted while the trousers were on the narrower side. Vests went on to be completely abandoned. In some cases, people even swapped the age-old suits with army coats and denim. Living up to the tradition of the past decade, the youth of this time went on to establish a new fashion sense. The sixties were therefore touted to be the ‘youth-driven’ age of fashion. The trends were usually set of musical cultures like rock and hippie. The result: fashion was lighter and casual.
It is interesting to note that British music took the center-stage during this era. So, both Americans and Europeans started imitating the styles of high London streets. Common examples would be the iconic pea coats or fully round sunglasses. Tight-fitted turtlenecks, slim ties were two other important additions of the time. The trend of this age was primarily influenced by bands like Beatles, and men didn’t seem to mind the more feminine styles.
The End of the 20th Century
1970s to 1979
The seventies made way for crazy and highly experimental styles. Designs and fashion statements that would be joked about a decade earlier soon piqued massive popularity. People started raving about them.
With the advent of synthetic fabrics, the price of materials went down. Since traveling and shipping goods were easier, fast fashion entered the picture. People started wearing clothes that could be changed everyday. Men’s clothing at this point was abundantly available at dirt-cheap prices. This also reflected the indulgence and the spontaneity of the time.
The common staples of menswear were probably platform shoes and bell bottom trousers. These trousers and suits took the fashion industry by storm. Unlike regular trousers, bell bottoms had a higher waist and the fittings along the thighs were tighter. It also included a flare at the point of the knee. You could pair bell-bottoms with suits and t-shirts in floral or any other pattern. Note that polka dot t-shirts were a common trend of the time. Some people also sported leisure suits and common tracksuits.
Another major rage was the cable-knit sweaters. The disco suits, available in three-pieces was also a dream look for most men. Either way, the 70s advocated major changes, some of which are still prevalent in current times.
1980s to 1989
Following the trend of snug fit attires, the 80’s made way for quirky casual wear. That said, the style at this point was relatively more subdued and not outlandish at all. The common attires included active-wear like matching shirts, NFL-branded clothes, and sweatpants. Athletic shoes were equally popular.
If the man didn’t wear sports-inspired attires, they would don denim jackets, velour shirts with long-sleeves and a classic pair of denim. The economic boom during the time along with the attitude towards power-dressing resulted in a self-conscious almost narcissistic style.
Despite the upheaval of casual wear, the suits were still formal and conservative. The common colors included black, navy and every other neutral shade. This look was enriched with graphic button-downs and slacks. Bomber jackets were on the rise and trousers were usually pleated. At this point, men preferred anything and everything tapered.
The youth of the time started wearing streetwear inspired by hip-hop. Common influencers were the Tupac Shakur or Beastie Boys.
1990 to 1999
This decade was incredibly transformative in terms of men’s fashion as the men started ditching everything that was popular over the last three decades. To transform themselves, they started wearing casual attires. Minimalism was the new buzzword.
The mainstream fashion was heavily affected by the common musical genres of the time. So whether it’s the sportswear or the regular shirts, both were modeled after top bands and musical icons. Some men also started sporting casual wear to work. This alone was a trend of its own.
While the earlier decades were more about glamor, the nineties made way for effortless and casual styles. Common fashion trends included casual jackets, leather jackets, flannel shirts, button-downs, and baggy denim.
The saggy boxer pants were also popular during this time. This age was all about rejecting the extravagant dressing style of the previous eras. It made way for smart, casual, and effortless fashion. Knit sweaters and graphic t-shirts were two popular additions of this time. Almost every man wore them.
2000 to 2009
The early 2000s made a second wave for fast fashion. Since globalization was on the rise, designers could comfortably reduce costs by outsourcing. Some brands even rose to popularity by the sheer imitation of runway looks. The best part: everything was affordable. This resulted in the collapsing of the class-structures that were previously dictated by fashion. There was a perfect blend of high and low trends, and as fabrics were cheap, people could now save funds for designer wear.
Common fashion attires of the age included leatherwear, puffed sleeved shirts, and track pants. Other popular trends included the iconic distressed denim and clothing modeled after the military wear. Some of the common military wear items included khakis, cargo trousers, and low-waist jeans. Among accessories, flip flops, and aviator glasses were common.
2010 to 2019
The early 2010s witnessed one of the biggest revivals of the 1920s prep style. The fashion has become more customizable at reasonable prices and you can order custom made almost everything – custom dress shirts, suits and accessories.
In addition to the preppy and custom look, athleisure and hipster style are on trend. Whether it’s the fedoras, non-prescription glasses or rave bracelets; men are no longer afraid to experiment with their fashion choices and are happy to bring back something from the previous decades.
One of the biggest highlights of these shirts is that you can customize the color, style, design, and/or logo if you deem fit. Just like the ties of the early and late forties, custom shirts are a way to express yourself. It is one of the biggest tools to express your style, fashion tastes, and individual preferences. You can also use it to let the world know about your favorite hobbies. The biggest takeaway is probably the fact that the custom style has now entered the domain of suits as well. Yes, you can wear custom suits that are fully personalized according to your preferred interests.
As you probably know at this point, this change was not sudden. On the contrary, it was gradual, steady and revolutionary. From thin-waisted suits to custom suits, men right now, have more options than ever.