Flashback Friday to 1950s Men’s Fashion

Kathlyn Angeles —  November 16, 2017

1950s men’s fashion is an era that most men want to draw style inspiration from. Fashion style of this decade is often summarized into 4 CS – casualness, correctness, comfort, and color.

When WWII started in 1939, fabric rationing began. During this time, men’s fashion was focused on functionality rather than style. Clothing was very simple. Some changes were made in men’s fashion in an attempt to prevent fabric wastage. But as soon as the war ended, people became more adventurous with their clothing choices. This brought on a significant change in 1950s men’s fashion.

By the end of the 1940s, men’s fashion was given a new direction. Designers infused new life into the men’s clothing with their wider color palette, tailoring, textiles, and styling. This was carried over to 1950s men’s fashion.

If you are curious to know how men dressed in the 50s, then keep reading. Here, we’ll give you a glimpse into the fashion of the 1950s and together, let’s take a look at the changes that took places in the fashion world throughout the years.

Shirts

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Dress shirts of the 50s came in a variety of colors and materials. With the end of the fabric ration, designers were free to experiment with fabrics, styles, and colors. Unlike the dress shirts of the previous decade, men’s 50s dress shirts were made of more comfortable, breathable fabric. Also, collars were no longer starched. They were still considered as the shirts of choice for formal wear, but they were no longer as stiff and constricting as the ones they previously wore.

Men’s shirts in the 50s were no longer limited to formal dress shirts. In fact, men were given several classic styles to choose from for their day-to-day outfits. Although men were still expected to wear button down dress shirts in the office and in formal occasions, they have the option to wear more casual shirts like polo shirts, bowling shirts, plaid, classic white shirts or the Hawaiian shirts. These shirts are still seen in our current, everyday fashion.

Classic white shirts

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The classic white shirts were first introduced in the 1940s as an undergarment. These shirts were worn under a sports shirt. But a 1951 movie entitled “A Streetcar Named Desire”, which stars Marlo Brandon gave the classic white shirt a public debut. Due to the success of the movie, young men started wearing the white shirt in public.

Although this was frowned upon by the older, more conservative men, younger men embraced the white shirt because of how comfortable it is. Many of them also opted for tight-fitting shirts as it gave them a chance to show off their muscular physique.

On casual days, you’d often see men wearing a white shirt paired with denim jeans. This was one of the biggest trends of the 50s. Since then, men were rarely seen wearing trousers, unless they were  on a business meeting or on a formal occasion.

Suits and sports coat

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1950s men’s suits are a classic in the world of men’s fashion. During this era, suits were loose and plain in shape. But what sets it apart from the suits of the previous era is that they were made from textured fabrics like curdoroy, flannel, tweed, and wool. They also used fabrics with patterns such as plaid and checks.

During the latter half of the decade, suits became more fitted. In fact, suits became slimmer, narrower, and more fitted. Colors, at first, were conservative. Gray and black were the universal colors. Others would wear clothing in shades of blue or brown on some occasions. But halfway through the decade, men’s clothing embraced the 4 Cs – casualness, correctness, comfort, and color.

When the political unease subsided by the mid 50s, men embraced colors, patterns, and textures. Hence, the rise in popularity of sports coat.

Vest

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During the 1940s, vests were no longer used as it was seen as an unnecessary luxury. Hence, the 3-piece suit became the 2-pc suit. During the 1950s, however, the vest became popular once again. Men would wear vests by itself or under a suit or sports coat. It has been one of the most popular pieces of clothing due to its versatility.

Some businessmen would wear a vest or a sweater when they weren’t wearing a suit. They wear a vest over their dress shirt with a tie. This was considered as the casual business look.

Pants

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1950s men’s pants featured a high waist up to the belly button with a sharp center crease. They were looser as compared to the pants we know of today.  But by the end of the decade, they were moving towards that direction.

Just like the suits, pants were made from textured fabrics such as nubby wool, tweed, curdoroy, and flannel. Brushed cotton and linen were also trendy during the 50s. Pants in the 50s usually came in solid colors. Popular colors for formal pants include tan, gray, chocolate brown, and blue. For more casual occasions, men opt for lighter and more vibrant colors like rust, light blue, maroon, teal, and teal.

As compared to the previous eras, 1950s men’s fashion was more relaxed. In fact, there was some flexibility with casual wear. It was during this decade when denim jeans were introduced. Back then, denim jeans were high-waisted, wide-legged, and cuffs rolled. The pants were really simple.

Hats

 

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Popular hats of the 40s like the Fedora hat returns in the 50s. These hats, however, came with simpler, more refined style.

Unlike the previous decades, hats were no longer considered as a key aspect of men’s fashion. But men like Frank Sinatra kept the Fedora hat alive a little longer. His brim fedora made a lasting impression on the hat industry. Unfortunately, this old hat style went out of fashion by the end of the 1950s. In fact, this has been the last decade that men wore hats in their everyday style.

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Kathlyn Angeles

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