Are Men Afraid of Fashion: 1920s Mens Fashion
The roaring 1920s of mens fashion is long gone. Traveling decades later to present day, it seems that men have developed somewhat of a complicated relationship with fashion. Frankly, let just call it what it is, fear. I don’t mean to suggest that there are no stylish men nor advances in menswear. However, culturally there’s certainly a stigma surrounding men who pay attention to fashion. Almost as if to suggest that it is unnatural or not masculine. Rooted in stereotypes about gender and sexuality, fashion remains foreign for boys and men of all ages. Ironically, it hasn’t always been that way. Man’s fear of fashion is a modern style trend.
Looking at our peculiar Western Culture, it’s difficult to determine exactly when the shift arose. On the other hand, maybe there was no change at all. Instead, it is clothing styles and mens fashion brands that are afraid of more outspoken style. We’ll be exploring these very questions and more in our history of mens fashion series. The first stop, mens fashion in the 1920s. Still recovering from the first World War, America emerges with a more modern world view point. These changes become evident in both women’s and mens fashion of the twenties. Many fashion historians consider it to be the start of the modern fashion era.
Below, we’ll begin exploring the defining components of mens fashion and style in the 1920s. The world was very different then, but perhaps it hasn’t changed all that much? We’ll start our journey with mens suiting basics, which weren’t really basic at all.
Fashion & Mens Suiting in the 1920s
Mens suiting was casual, everyday wear in the 1920s. Unlike today, suits weren’t reserved for special occasions and Wall Street job titles. During this period mens suiting styles consist of four main pieces, a suit jacket, vest or waist coast, trousers, and neckties or bowties. Fabrics like wool and tweed were the most common adding heaviness to the pieces. Most items were bought as complete looks with coats matching trousers. There was very little mixing and matching. Accessories are also very common and include gloves, pocket squares, dress hats, and oxford style shoes.
1920s Mens Fashion Suiting Jackets
The early 1920s mens suit jacket is high-waisted and often worn belted. The style has a military feel thought to have taken inspiration from the prior World War. Suit jackets fit snugly and boast a high lapel, a notable departure from prior eras. Mens suiting colors in the 1920s are very much the same as today with blues, browns, greens and grays being the most popular. Adding more flair to the heavy designs were classic masculine patterns like checks, wide plaids and stripes.
Trousers in 1920s Mens Fashion
Trouser are narrow, often exposing the ankles which are always covered with socks secured by garters. Details including pleats and narrow pocket slits are common. Surprisingly, 1920s mens fashion offers suiting pants that are fairly modern. They have a linear, slim silhouette similar to popular styles of today. Men are even known to regularly cuff their pants, adding notes of personal style.
The fit changes during the later half of the decade. Men ditch the skinnier pant style for more traditional, slouchy trousers, as seen above The pants have wide legs which eventually get wider and wider introducing a popular trouser style, Oxford Bags.
1920s Mens Fashion Shirts
Mens 1920s shirts didn’t have a collar. Instead the designs feature a narrow neckband with one button-hole in the front and another in the back. The feature is for a detachable collar. Mirroring the silhouette of jackets and trousers, shirts have a narrow neckband and overall slim fit. Each design boast stylish personality with long vertical stripes in colors like green, blue, lilac, tan and pink. The colorful prints are a fashionable contrast against the detachable white collars. Cuffs are also a notable detail. Styles are either french cuffs or buttons adorned with gold circle cufflinks. Engraved upon each are the owner’s initials. The latter half of the twenties welcomes back shirts with collars.
Hats in Mens Fashion of the 1920s
Almost all men wore hats in the 1920s. It was a status symbol and the type of hat represented social class. Made from tweed, wool, or cotton, hats are usually black, brown, or grey in color. Upper class men wear the top hat and homburg hat styles. In the summer months, the straw boater hat is popular. Middle class men often opt for more casual style with hats like the fedora, bowler hat, and trilby. Other iconic mens hat styles of the 1920s include the 8-panel newsboy hat, panama hat, gambler hat, and boater hat.
1920s Mens Fashion Vests and Waistcoats
It’s rare to see a man sporting a full three-piece suit today. Unless, you’re at a high school prom or ritzy charity event. However, for the fashionable man of the 1920s, it is a style essential. Men’s vest receive a slight update in the later part of the twenties. The piece is called a waistcoast and features a high v neck upper and long hemline that completely covers the gap between the trousers and shirt beneath. Details such as suspenders often complete the look.
Ties and Neck scarves in 1920s Mens Fashion
When exactly did the idea of a mens bow tie become popular? We owe mens fashion of the 1920s for popularizing the style. The quirky, gentleman’s alternative to a necktie, has just as much character back then, too. Mens bowties in the twenties are made with patterns like bold polka dots and stripes. For men looking for a bit more neck freedom, the standard neck tie is worn. Narrow and peculiarly short, they appear in interesting art-deco patterns as well as traditional stripes, checks, and plaids. Perhaps the most stylish piece of neckwear is the scarf tie. The concept involves taking a silk patterned scarf and draping it around the neck in such a way that it overlaps and falls back in front of the collar.
Aside from knit options in Winter, men have ditched wearing gloves. This differs dramatically from the twenties where men boldly sport gloves daily. These aren’t you traditional black and brown leather gloves of today, either. Guys are seriously bold, flaunting colors like yellow, red, and white.
Now and then, Mens Fashion in the 1920s
The 1920s were an evolutionary time in mens fashion. Culturally, men typically show an avid interest in fashion. In actuality, it’s almost obsessive. Suit pants have to match jackets, which then need to compliment shirts and waistcoats. Additionally, there are more stylish details to consider like choice of bow tie, neck tie, or neck scarf and hat style. Mens fashion in the 1920s is influenced heavily by society. Both men and women dress according to social status. In a way, this too, does suggest that men are afraid of fashion during the time. They didn’t necessarily dress well to stand out, mens fashion was still very much about making sure you fit in. What do you think? Are men today more afraid of fashion than men in the 1920s? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Check back for our next update, we’ll be covering casual and formal fashion for men in the roaring 1920s.