Throughout the decade fashion has been inspired by historic events, and the 1930s is no exception. After the Wall Street crash in October 1929, the fashion industry suffered. In order to keep making money, retailers offered lower priced styles of clothing throughout the Great Depression. As signs of hope returned, fashion reflected the success that businesses were having.
In the early 1930s, men's suits were designed to create the appearance of a large upper body. Coat collars came down to create the V-neck chest, and shoulder pads were added to create a more masculine and square appearance. Around this time, the double-breasted suit became more common. Jackets were long and "dressed up" with long lapels and buttons. Trousers were longer and looser than in previous years. After President Roosevelt signed the "New Deal" the business suit was completely redesigned. Because the economy was on its way up and prosperity was returning, the fashion industry wanted to reflect this in its designs. It was then that the "London drape" suit was designed, featuring shoulder pads that aligned the triceps and shoulders with drape in the shoulder area, high pockets and flared lapels.
Colours and Patterns
Darker colours such as black, grey and navy blue were in demand in the early 1930s. Stripes of all sizes also became commonplace. Diagonal and vertical stripes were the most often seen and in varying sizes (i.e., double, wide, narrow, single). It was also in the 1930s when plaid saw a rise in demand. Scottish checks, also known as "Glen plaid checks" were considered a stylish design for men.
Material for men's apparel often consisted of cheviot (heavy twill weave wool), saxony wool (three-ply yarn), tweed and worsted cloth (twisted yarn spread from wool fibres, no nap). As the seasons changed, so did fashion. During winter, brown cheviot (heavy twill weave wool) was often seen. In the spring, silk-like fabrics were added to soft wool to create a lighter feel.
Gangsters of the 1930s took fashion to a new level. Despite being disliked by many of those in the working community, gangsters still carried themselves as "businessmen" by the clothing they wore. Although typical business suits came in darker colours, gangsters often sported more flamboyant suits in bolder colours. Even the patterns of the suit were taken up a notch with broader stripes, colourful ties, smaller waists and larger trousers. Felt hats were also common among gangsters and in vibrant colours.
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