Men's Fashion and Dress in the 1920s

Written by david halbe
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Men's Fashion and Dress in the 1920s
In the 1920s, movement into urban environments affected men's fashions. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The roaring twenties were a time of growth and development. There was a boom in business and industry after WWI that affected the fashion of the times. The industrialisation of clothing manufacturing and the growth of department stores made fashionable styles available to everyone. The "silver screen" and the movement of people from rural environments to the urban enclaves of business caused fashion to gain an every growing importance. In particular, men's fashion was transformed and brought into a modern era.


The suits that men wore at the beginning of the 1920s were of a conservative style. The businessman's suit included a high-waist jacket that was tight to the torso, pinched at the waist and close to the shoulder. These suits were often custom-made by skilled tailors. A shift in the mid-twenties with the growth of department store catalogues and the appearance of high-end clothiers like Brooks Brothers meant a new look. Everyone, even country folk, had access to fashion through catalogues. The modern suit as we know it was born at this time. These suits had more generous proportions in the waist and shoulders that allowed people to fit the suit without custom tailoring.


There were two pant fashion styles that were popular in the twenties. Knickerbockers, or "knickers," were short trousers worn for casual fashion. They came in several lengths, referred to with the word "plus," as in "plus-fours;" this would indicate the trousers came four inches below the knee.The trousers were then buckled or buttoned in place on the leg. Baggy oxford long trousers came into fashion later in the decade. The name derived from the English university of Oxford, where knickerbockers had been banned. Students would wear baggy flannel trousers over their knickerbockers to get around the ban.


Men looked dapper even when not attired in formal wear. White button-down shirts with a V-necked sweater or Fair Isle sweater were commonly worn with bow ties. The "'yachting look" also become popular. Men would accent their outfit with a navy sports coat.


Whether dressed formally or casually, footwear was given a fair amount of consideration. Black patent leather shoes were quite popular, while two-toned oxford saddle shoes were worn for more casual purposes. The oxfords were often black and white or tan and white. The twenties brought lace-up shoes into popularity as well.

Hats were used to accent any outfit. Top hats were worn for formal wear. Panama hats or straw hats were worn for casual looks and bowler hats could be worn with a variety of outfits, including business wear. Caps were worn for other casual and sporting activities.

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