To truly understand fashion today, you must look back to see how it has evolved over time. Like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, what’s deemed fashionable in men’s clothing has significantly changed over the last century. War, economic instability, and social behavior considerably influenced men’s fashion from 1900 to 1950. From tailcoats to zoot suits, this survival of the fittest approach has drastically changed the face of men’s fashion with each new decade.
In the 1900’s, men discarded the knee-length frock coat for the shorter, hip-length, single-breasted sack coat. Typically paired with cuffed trousers and curled mustaches, this fashion trend marked the beginning of a new era.
With the end of World War I, the roaring 20’s brought a less conservative approach to fashion. Inspired by military uniforms, men abandoned long suit jackets for colorful, high-waist jackets with narrower lapels. To finish off the look, men sported wingtip shoes and top hats.
After the stock market crashed in 1929, the state of the economy collapsed, drastically transforming the production and style of menswear. At the time, double-breasted suits, full-cut trousers and fedoras were staples in men’s fashion. Manufacturers tried to cut down production costs, by incorporating man-made fibers like rayon, into fabrics and limiting color variety.
Following WWII, the government placed restrictions on the use of wool. Ultimately, this affected style trends throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s. Men began dressing conservatively and often wore dark colors. Flannel replaced light-weight fabric, and single-breasted suits with tapered trousers were paired with fedoras, pocket-squares, and skinny ties.
With less conservatism, more variety, and advancements in manufacturing men’s fashion has substantially evolved over time. Like all things, what’s considered fashionable is cyclical. Next month, find out how fashion trends from our past shaped the styles over the next 50 years.