When most people think of men's fashion in the 1950s, the first image that springs to mind is likely either that of Henry Winkler as the Fonz or John Travolta as Danny Zuko in "Grease." Yet the 1950s were more diverse than that and the greaser look is just one of a number of styles adapted by men in the '50s. Most men, in fact, were far more conservative and conformist than the rebellious greasers.
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The greaser endures as the most archetypal '50s style for men, and he did indeed exist in towns and cities all over the country. The greaser was known for his pompadoured hairstyle, achieved by using generous amounts of pomade on his coif to elevate it in front and give it the famous "duck's tail" in the back. Greasers wore jeans with rolled-up cuffs, leather jackets, T-shirts and motorcycle boots, brothel creepers or canvas sneakers.
Also known as the "Ivy League" look, the preppy style was much more prevalent and mainstream amongst young men than the greaser look was. Preppies wore button-down or polo shirts with cardigan sweaters. Their slacks were generally baggy, khaki and pleated. Preppy footwear consisted of loafers or boating top-siders. Preppies wore their hair short and respectable or in the popular buzz-cut style.
Yes, in the 1950s even adults would dress in cowboy clothes. With the advent of television and the popularity of TV westerns, many men adopted what was called the "Home on the Range" look of wearing western shirts and ties along with jeans or work trousers. Only children would go as far as to wear cowboy hats or coonskin caps of the Davy Crockett variety. Some practitioners of the cowboy look took it so far as to incorporate cowboy boots, while others opted for more conventional footwear.
The inglorious truth about 1950s men's fashion is that most men at the time were very conformist. The average father or professional man wore a flannel suit and a drably coloured tie. Suits were generally subdued colour-wise and were likely to be some hue of grey, dark blue or dark brown. Shoes were sensible black or brown leather -- they may have been loafers or possibly wingtips. Prior to the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, most men wore hats, usually fedoras, porkpies or derbies.
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