Fashion for men in the 1950s brings to mind images of hordes of businessmen going to work dressed in pretty much the same way, with crew cut haircuts to match. By the end of the decade, this uniformity changed a bit. Man-made fabrics like nylon, rayon and blends made fabrics for suits lighter weight and more comfortable. Men were no longer expected to relax in their suit trousers and white business shirts at home when more casual options became available.
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Conformity was the rule for business outfits, and there was little variety in clothing choices. Men wore suits to the office, often made of heavy flannel fabric or wool, silk or cotton. Suits were single-breasted and no longer featured shoulder pads as they did in the 1940s, and the jackets and trousers were cut shorter. Starched white shirts featuring cuffs with cuff links were the norm. Ties were narrower than in previous years. A distinctive feature of the business outfit for men in the 1950s was the ever-present fedora hat in colours like brown, grey and blue to match the suits. Lighter weight suits in man-made fabrics became popular.
Men in the 1950s wore black tuxedos for formal wear. Some tuxedos featured tails in the back. Men wore black ties or white ties to go with their tuxedos, depending on the occasion, with the black tie considered a more formal look.
For casual dress, men wore long-sleeved shirts rolled up with the collar open at the neck. Wool sports jackets were also popular, sometimes in a plaid pattern or tweed. Some men wore cardigan sweaters over button-front shirts, and polo shirts became popular. "Hawaiian" shirts made their debut with bright colours and floral patterns.
The preppy look was popular with teenage boys, who dressed like Pat Boone. They wore slacks, a button-down shirt and a pullover tank top.
Rebel Without a Cause
At the other end of the fashion spectrum from the conservative preppy look, some teenage boys followed the lead of James Dean in the iconic "Rebel Without a Cause." Think of the Fonz in "Happy Days" wearing a black leather jacket, a T-shirt and blue jeans for a "bad boy" fashion statement.
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