Wool suits of the 1950s

Written by emily stokes
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Wool suits of the 1950s
1950s wool suits were a major cultural trend in an era geared towards business attire. (Stockbyte/Retrofile/Getty Images)

In the 1950s men's fashion revolved around business attire. After rations were revoked in 1947 with the end of the war, men's suits underwent changes in style and fabric choice, which made the suits emblematic of an era. Wool suits were a staple in every man's closet, could be bought for around £19, and were worn frequently regardless of season. It wasn't until 1957 that the strict fashion codes relaxed to fit the new teenage baby boom fashion era.

Common Style and Materials

Wool suits of the 1950s were worn in muted colours such as dark blue, grey, charcoal, and brown. A typical suit of this era was made of wool or flannel, satin, and cotton, and functioned as a fundamental fashion staple in the male wardrobe. Wool suits were always worn with cuff links and frequently with a fedora hat.

Differences Between 1940s and 1950s Wool Suits

Suits of the 1950s tended to be single-breasted and were tailored to be shorter than they had been in the 1940s. Trousers were also tailored shorter but contained more fabric; the 1940s shoulder pads had disappeared and wool suits were often matched with skinnier ties. Hat brims and shirt collars also became slimmer and less pronounced than in previous decades. Wool suits were considered less frivolous in the post-ration 1950s, and thus became a more widespread trend in male fashion.

1950s Wool Suit Icons

Given the revoked rations, American stylists and style icons were at liberty to express themselves more freely through new fashions. Designers like Christian Dior, Yves Saint Tropez, and Chanel made waves in the high fashion suit industry, and also introduced new feminine suit fashions into women's wear. Hollywood actors Marlin Brando and Gregory Peck also became fashion icons with their tendency towards wool and flannel suits.

Changes to the Traditional 1950s Suit

After the fashion changes of the late 1950s it became more acceptable to wear more casual attire. Suits were more commonly rolled up at the sleeves with a button-down shirt, and were made in patterned and more brightly coloured fabrics, only some of which were wool or wool blend. With the rise of affluence and leisure time, teenagers of the 1950s were also able to spend more and shop for themselves, which caused designers to tailor their clothes to the younger crowd. New styles were created in counterpoint to older styles, and teenagers began wearing what had become a new rebellious trend in leather jackets and jeans, contrasting strongly to the traditional business attire of the 50s. Today, the wool suit has come back in vintage style, mainly through the flecked wool suit.

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