Men’s Fashion Throughout the Decades: The 1920s
- by Off The Cuff
- October 20, 2023
- 5 min read
The 1920s, often called the “Roaring Twenties,” were a decade of seismic change and cultural revolution.
As is the case with many cultural shifts, the transformation was reflected vividly in the world of men's fashion.
Over the years, many of the trends that we’ve adopted have come from earlier decades, including bespoke suits and our go-to casual wear. Let’s dive into the 1920s decade and explore the reasons why it’s become a beloved decade of men’s fashion.
The 1920s were marked by profound shifts in society and culture.
Following the end of the first World War, there was a sense of liberation and optimism — the prohibition era, the meteoric rise of jazz music, and the birth of Hollywood as a cultural powerhouse all played pivotal roles in shaping the decade's spirit.
These factors would go on to have a profound influence on men's fashion, transforming it in ways that were both anticipated and unexpected.
A generation that had witnessed the horrors of war sought to cast off its grim shadow and embrace a new era of prosperity. This sense of liberation and a desire to break free from the rigid constraints of the past found expression in the fashion of the time.
So, what did this look like from a fashion perspective?
The Iconic 1920s Suit
The 1920s are most celebrated for the iconic suit that epitomized the era. Here are the key features that define this suave and sophisticated look.
Suits of the 1920s featured a distinct silhouette characterized by a slim, straight, and somewhat boxy shape.
This departure from the bulkier styles of preceding decades reflected the changing attitudes and lifestyles of the era. The suit's sleek lines conveyed a sense of modernity and progress. It was a departure from the more rigid, military-inspired styles of the past and embraced a looser, more relaxed fit.
Tailoring played a crucial role in achieving this unique silhouette — as is the case today, the fit was king. Tailors paid meticulous attention to detail to ensure that every suit fit exactly right.
Jackets were typically single-breasted and had notch lapels. They were cut to follow the natural lines of the body, accentuating the chest and shoulders while maintaining a close fit through the torso. Trousers were high-waisted and wide-legged, creating a balanced look when paired with the slim jacket.
Fabrics & Colors
The choice of fabrics and patterns was integral to the 1920s suit's appeal. Wool, tweed, and pinstripe fabrics were favored for their elegance, comfort, and durability.
Wool, in particular, was prized for its ability to provide insulation in cooler weather while remaining breathable during the summer months.
Patterns played a significant role in adding character to men's suits during the decade. While traditional black and gray remained classic choices, the 1920s introduced bolder patterns and colors into men's fashion.
Pinstripes, checks, and plaids in earthy tones and muted pastels became increasingly popular. These patterns added a touch of personality and individuality to the classic suit.
You can’t have a suit look without the right accessories!
Just like today, accessories were crucial for completing the 1920s suit ensemble. For example, ties, cufflinks, and hats were essential elements that added refinement and sophistication to the overall look.
Ties, often crafted from luxurious silk, featured bold geometric patterns, stripes, or Art Deco-inspired designs. They were tied in a Windsor knot, a relatively new method that added a touch of elegance to the neckline.
Cufflinks, both functional and stylish, served as elegant finishing touches to the ensemble. They were often made of precious metals and featured intricate designs, showcasing the wearer's attention to detail.
Hats, too, played a significant role in men's fashion. The fedora and the Homburg hat were among the most popular choices, adding an air of sophistication to any outfit.
Casual Wear and Other 1920s Fashion Trends
While the 1920s were well-known for the iconic suit that dominated the era, we can’t overlook the emergence of a few noteworthy casual fashion trends.
The 1920s witnessed the emergence of casual wear as a distinctive category, with three separate items that characterized the era with relaxed and comfortable styles:
- Polo shirts
Polo shirts, characterized by their short sleeves and soft collars, were well-suited for leisure activities such as golf and tennis.
Sweaters, typically crafted from wool, were worn over shirts to provide warmth and style.
Knickerbockers, a type of baggy, knee-length trousers, became fashionable, especially for sports and outdoor pursuits.
The Emergence of Hollywood
As it grew into a global cultural force, Hollywood also wielded considerable influence over fashion.
Iconic male stars like Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks set trends with distinctive and influential styles. Valentino, known as the "Latin Lover," popularized the tuxedo as evening wear, forever associating it with elegance and sophistication. His suave appearance and dashing outfits left an indelible mark on formal attire.
On the other hand, Douglas Fairbanks, known for his adventurous roles, often appeared in breeches and high boots, contributing to the popularity of such attire among men who admired his fearless on-screen persona.
The Legacy of 1920s Fashion
The 1920s left an indelible mark on men's fashion. With a return to retro styles, its influence endures to this day!
Elements like slim-fit suits, bold patterns, and the blending of formal and casual styles continue to shape modern men's clothing. Designers and fashion houses often draw inspiration from this era, celebrating its appeal.
The 1920s also played a pivotal role in shaping men's attitudes toward fashion. The emphasis on self-expression, individuality, and comfort that emerged during this decade laid the foundation for the modern concept of personal style. Rigid conventions no longer bound men — instead, they could experiment with their attire to express their unique personalities.
Fashion is a constantly evolving art form, but the legacy of the 1920s remains eternally relevant. It reminds us that style is not just about clothing — it reflects the spirit of the times!
Dress Like the Stylish 1920s With a Bespoke Suit From Joseph Abboud
Suits may have come a long way since the 1920s, but we still borrow timeless features from those classic suits.
Joseph Abboud’s Bespoke Suiting process will get you started with a stylish suit today. Or, if you need something right away, you can go with made-to-measure pieces and explore ready-to-wear styles. It’s completely up to you!
Ready to look your absolute best? Learn more about how Joseph Abboud’s bespoke suit process takes your style game to the next level.