100 Years of Fashion is back! This time, we’re giving the guys a go and recapping men’s style from 1915 to now.
1915 – The decade of the 1910s was noted for the greater influence of the youth on men’s fashion. Straight fronts and slimmer sleeves became popular, as they made the men wearing them look much younger. This was a rather different look compared to the men’s fashion of the previous decade.
However, it was the Great War (known to us in hindsight as WWI) which would provide the greatest influence on 1915 fashion. This war lasted from 1915 to 1918 and would involve more than 70 million military personnel—and virtually every one of them were men. As such, civilian men’s fashion resembled military attire for men to show their patriotism and their affinity with the fighting men of the war. The wristwatch also replaced the pocket watch for soldiers during the war, and that became fashionable among civilians as well.
1925 – By the 1920s, for the first time more people lived in cities than in rural areas and times were good in the “Roaring Twenties”. As such, men’s fashion emphasized good times and the appearance of wealth. Thus, suits were commonly double breasted and trousers were wider.
While bowler hats were still common, the fedora became much more popular thanks to Prince Edward. It became virtually a necessary part of men’s fashion during the Prohibition era, when gangsters also wore them to look more presentable.
1935 – The 1930s marked the era of the Great Depression, and men’s fashion reflected the gloomy times. Money was tight, and men’s attire emphasized functionality rather than pizzazz. Predominant colors were darker and cuts were more conservative.
1945 – This year marked the final stages of WWII, and men’s fashion showed the joy at the end of the horrors of war. Men’s clothes were more comfortable and colors were brighter and more cheerful.
1955 – This decade marked the start of the rock and roll years, during which the youth would cast a great influence on men’s fashion. Teen and young adult rebels would herald the acceptability of jeans, and leather jackets were popular symbols for change. The new rules for men’s fashion emphasized casual looks more than ever.
1965 – The teen rebellion is in full bloom, with movies and music putting the youth on center stage. Shirts and trousers were slimmer, jeans became the norm, and psychedelic colors in shirts and ties highlighted the increasing use of drugs among greater segments of the population. Men stopped wearing fedoras because JFK didn’t wear them to his inauguration.
1975 – The hippie counterculture look became much more fashionable than ever and flamboyance was the name of the game. Those on the cutting edge of fashion embraced the androgynous look, and the decade also began exhibiting signs that people were embracing comfort over all other aspects of fashion. This was the year in which many men dressed for comfort, wearing only jeans with shirts, sweaters, and sneakers.
1985 – The pendulum has shifted from the flamboyance of the 1970s, and men’s fashion became comparatively subdued. But the effect of mass media on fashion became much more obvious. Sunglasses became popular due to Tom Cruise movies, New Wave artists and Michael Jackson influenced what teens wore, and Miami Vice suits became hip. Due the celebrity status of “the rich and famous”, “power dressing” became the rule for corporate men’s fashion.
1995 – Nirvana and alternative rock defined the fashion of the decade. Clothes weren’t just casual—the grunge look emphasized a disdain for manufactured good looks. Flannel shirts were everywhere and jeans were torn and acid washed.
2005 – Finally, men’s fashion was normalized and this decade bears much resemblance to current trends. However, retro was still a trend at this point, and smart casual became much more acceptable.