Menswear of the 1930s

Written by nancy hayden
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Menswear of the 1930s
1930s men added more patterns, such as striped ties, into their wardrobes. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Men's wear had a more casual feel in the 1930s, thanks to the celebratory attitudes of the Roaring '20s following the end of World War I. The younger generation in the '20s had a great interest in dressing well and pushed fashion boundaries. This trend continued into the '30s, but the Great Depression forced many men to be resourceful in creating an impressive wardrobe.

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Men of the '30s wore suits for work and for all but the most casual social functions, so most men owned more than one. Due to the financial restraints of the Great Depression, however, many men opted to own just a few versatile suits in dark colours as opposed to different suits for morning and evening. Double-breasted jackets with wide lapels were in vogue, as were drape suits from London. These jackets had rounded, draped lapels and were cut narrow at the waist and broader at the shoulders. Trousers were baggy at the top, but tapered at the ankle more than those of the '20s.

Materials and Patterns

Men who could afford to own a variety of suits in the '30s had many trendy patterns at their disposal. "Gangster wear," which was being made popular by gangsters of the day such as Al Capone, featured pinstripe suits and they became all the rage. Men also wore hound's-tooth jackets and a variety of plaid patterns. Later in the decade, full suits with wide stripes on both the jackets and trousers came into vogue. For summer, designers made them from cotton in light colour combinations such as light blue and white stripes. In winter, men often wore suits made of wool and wore silk suits year-round.

Casual Wear

Men had begun wearing more casual styles for leisure time in the '20s and that trend continued into the '30s. As the economic climate improved later in the decade, men spent more money and time relaxing. Many men took their cue from the dashing Hollywood stars of the day such as Cary Grant, and wore more casual blazers with open-necked shirts and no tie for relaxed social occasions. They often wore light-coloured, baggy trousers with pleats and cuffs and wore knee-length knickers and knee socks for sports such as golf. Sweater vests came into style and men often wore argyle or tartan vests over button-down shirts.


Fashion was a big deal in the '30s and, as was the case with many eras, chic was in the details. Men completed their suit looks with wingtip shoes and hats such as bowlers or fedoras. No summertime casual look was complete without a rounded straw hat with a band around it and light-coloured, two-toned shoes. Men wore suspenders, which they called bracers, both with suits and with casual outfits. They wore bow ties or long ties in solids or stripes along with finishing touches such as tie pins and cuff links.

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