What Did Men Wear Back in the 1920s?

Written by kent page mcgroarty
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What Did Men Wear Back in the 1920s?
The fedora got its name from an 1882 stage play. (Mens Hats image by Jim Mills from Fotolia.com)

The aftermath of the first world war as well as breakthroughs in technology and the film industry influenced the style of the 1920s for both men and women. Men's style shifted from the more stuffy, formal looks of the Victorian and Edwardian eras to loosefitting jazz suits. Casual looks for men also became popular, such as the sportswear looks inspired by tennis players, golfers and rowers.

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Suits

Suits were a staple of 1920s male fashion, such as the sacque suit, which originally gained popularity in the mid 1800s. Men wore peach, blue-grey, cedar and putty-coloured shirts with these structured suits, as well as shaped silk ties with either diagonal strips or small geometric patterns, secured with tie pins. Men wore black bowler hats to complete the look. In the early 20s the conservative suit was still in fashion, characterised by tightly-fitted jackets, high waists and narrow shoulders to create a thin silhouette. The mid- to late-20s saw the rise of the jazz suit, the precursor to the 1930s zoot suit. Jazz suits featured high-waisted, wide-legged, tightly-cuffed trousers and long jackets with wide lapels and wide, padded shoulders. Formal wear in the 1920s said goodbye to the long tails of the Victorian and Edwardian suit and instead embraced shorter tails, though top hats remained fashionable. Patent leather shoes were considered the shoes for formal wear in the 20s.

Hats

Hats were a necessity to every man in the 20s regardless of social standing. Fabric used to make hats changed in the 1920s from heavy wool to tweed, a hand-woven fabric that came from Scotland. Flannel was also a popular hat fabric choice in the 20s. Summertime saw the wearing of boater hats, a type of straw hat with a thin brim decorated with a ribbon around the hat's crown. Head gear in the winter included fedoras, a type of hat with a flexible brim usually worn in a downward direction that featured a tapered crown with a lengthwise crease across the hat's top. Fedoras are also referred to as trilbys and were originally constructed of rabbit hair felt but today are generally made from wool and tweed.

Casual Wear

Casual wear for men in the 1920s included knickers, or short knee trousers in combination with sweaters, which were considered casual shirts. Casual shoes were often made of canvas material. The college look came about in the 1920s and included baggy trousers such as the Oxford bags, which were a reaction to the knickers look and remained popular trousers for men for the next three decades. In 1925, the Oxford bags were introduced to Americans by John Wanamaker, a man who pioneered the concept of the department store.

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