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1920s Men's Fashion


1920s Men's Fashion: Clothes, fashion icons and trends in the 1920's.

Definition and Summary of the 1920s Men's Fashion
Summary and definition:
1920's Fashion for Men wore well-tailored pinstriped suits, tuxedos, silk shirts and handkerchiefs, raccoon fur coats, fedora hats, suspenders, bow ties, black patent leather shoes and spats. The fashion and clothing for men also included short suit jackets, cuffed trousers, waistcoats and wide-leg "Oxford Bags". Sports and leisure influenced attire like jumpers, jodhpurs  and knickerbockers. The famous 'Zoot Suit' was also a strong fashion statement for men during the Harlem Renaissance.

During the 1920's men abandoned formal day clothes and began to wear sports clothing for the first time.

1920's Men's Fashion for Men
1920's Fashion for Men characterized the exciting, modern era of the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age. It was the age of the automobile, the aircraft, the movies and the Prohibition gangsters. For many it was a prosperous era when clothes and image were important. It was also the era of Consumerism and mass advertising and, although men were reluctant to wear the new fashions, women wanted to see their men in modern, fashionable clothes that reflected their prosperity and position in society. 

1920's Men's Fashion Facts: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about 1920's Men's Fashion for Men.

What was Men's Fashion like in the 1920's?
The 1920's was a time of great change in America. It was a time of prosperity for many, mass advertising and Consumerism. Men's fashion became diverse with formal evening clothes, day clothes and sports and leisure wear. The individual items of clothing that reflected Men's Fashion in the 1920's are detailed below.

Who were the 1920's Fashion Icons for Men? The 1920's Fashion icons included male Hollywood movie stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, John Gilbert, Ramon Novarro, Gary Cooper, George Raft and Cary Grant. Politicians, moguls, celebrities and sports stars were also admired such as Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney,  Johnny Weissmuller, Knute Rockne  and 'Red' Grange. The publicity given to Prohibition gangsters like Al Capone also made them 1920's fashion icons for men. 

What were 1920's Fashion trends for men that characterized the era? The main 1920's Fashion trends for Men were:

  • Less regimented and formal styles

  • Leisure clothes and sportswear were introduced 

  • Formal long-tailed evening attire was replaced by the Tuxedo

  • Black patent evening shoes were covered by Spats

  • Casual styles were adopted for leisure day wear, such as plus-fours, sweaters and knickerbockers

  • The 'Zoot Suit', introduced during the Harlem Renaissance

Facts about 1920s Men's Fashion
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on 1920s Men's Fashion.

Trends: The informal trends and styles in men's fashion, such as sportswear and sweaters,  were influenced by art movements in the 1920's with strong colors and geometric shapes that conveyed the "modern" look. The clothes worn in Hollywood movies, the rise in Consumerism and mass advertising during the prosperous period of the Roaring Twenties saw a fashion boom in America.

Hairstyles: Men's hairstyles in the 1920's featured short, shiny, slicked back hair that was parted on the side or down the middle. Pomade, a greasy or waxy substance, was used to style hair making it look slick and shiny.

Vest (Waistcoats): Vests were almost always worn with suits prior to the 1940s. During the late 1920s, double-breasted vests, often worn with a single-breasted jacket, became fashionable.

Lapels: The single-breasted peaked lapel jacket was highly fashionable in the Roaring Twenties. Lapels generally had a  buttonhole, intended to hold a boutonnière (Boutonnière is the French word for buttonhole). buttonholes were considered a stylish accessory to a wealthy man's jacket in the 1920's  although they are now usually reserved for formal occasions and evening wear.

Pants / Trousers: In the 1920s, pants / trousers were both straight-legged and wide-legged. Turn-ups were a popular addition in the Roaring Twenties. The pants / trousers of the era, were typically high above the normal waist of the wearer.

Oxford bags: Oxford bags were a loose-fitting baggy form of trousers (named after students at the University of Oxford)

Knickerbockers: The avant-garde style of knickerbockers were loose-fitting breeches gathered at the knee and were popular for informal outdoor wear or for sportswear, especially golf.

Plus-Fours / Plus-Twos: Plus-fours was popular with golf players and reached down a further 4 inches below the knees than knickerbockers (hence the name) and were designed to allow more movement.

Plus-fours frequently worn with argyle socks, which were characterized by a diamond style pattern as shown in the picture on the right.

Plus-twos were particularly fashionable at shooting parties in England

Sweaters: Casual sweaters were introduced for informal day wear. College sports stars inspired the widespread fashion of 'letterman sweaters'. Colorful V-neck sweaters or cardigans reflected the geometric shapes of Art Deco.

Shirts: The Roaring Twenties began shirt fashion with the stiff, uncomfortable, white, detachable round edge club shirt collar. It stood for everything the fashionable modernists disliked.  This type of shirt was soon updated to attached collars in a a selection of colors. The striped shirt with white cuffs and pointed collars became common throughout the twenties. The soft, colorful and casual day shirts contributed to a popular style of the unbuttoned collar, as worn by movie star Rudolph Valentino. Evening shirts remained formal with wingtip collars with bent over points that opened up for the bow tie.

Hats: There were many different styles of hats worn during the 1920's. Hats were a men's fashion 'must have' - men did not leave the house without  wearing a head covering. The most informal style of hat was the newsboy flat cap. The Top Hat was the most formal style of hat. The black bowler hat was popularized by movie star Charlie Chaplin. The Boater Hat was a flat straw hat decorated with a colored ribbon around the rim. The fedora was a hat made of felt featured a wide brim and indented crown (like the hat worn by Indian Jones).

Raccoon Coats: Raccoon coats, expensive full-length fur coats, were a fad with American college students in the United States during the 1920s and became a fashion symbol of the Jazz Age.

Neckties: The neckties of the Roaring Twenties came in a variety of different fabrics and materials such as silk and rayon. Many were designed and printed with strong colors and geometric shapes that conveyed the "modern" look of the 1920's. Neckties were narrow at one end and slightly flared at the other. Celebrities favored different style of knots, such as the 'Windsor Knot', which named after the Prince of Wales

Bow Ties: Bow ties were secured with a center knot and came in expensive fabrics such as silk or cheaper fabrics such as viscose rayon, "artificial silk".

Pocket Square: An essential fashion accessory of the 1920's was a small, thin piece of fabric called the pocket square. The most popular colors were white, yellow and red. The pocket square was folded in a variety of different ways and the style was named after the celebrities who introduced the folds e.g. the Gary Cooper fold. Silk was the preferred material for pocket squares.

Suspenders (Braces):  Suspenders were Y-shaped fabric or leather straps with that were attached to a pair of pants by metal clips or buttons in order to hold pants up..

Brogue Shoes: Brogue shoes came in basic brown or black colors in the 1920's and featured toe caps with points on the top with small perforated holes that decorated the toe caps and the seams.

Two-Tone Shoes: Two-tone shoes came in  brown and white or black / grey and white tones and were extremely popular for both day and evening wear.

Black Patent Leather Wingtip Shoes: Black patent leather wingtip slip-on shoes or pumps were worn with evening attire. They had a small stacked heel and a slightly pointed round toe. Lace-up versions of the black patent leather, called 'Oxfords', became more popular throughout the 1920's. Shoes were often worn with white or grey shoe covers called Spats.

Spats: Spats were a type of shoe accessory that were made from cotton canvas or linen and buttoned up the side. Spats covered the instep and the ankle. Spats were originally intended for outdoor use to keep shoes clean, they became a fashion statement for evening attire. The buttons on evening spats were extremely elegant elegant in gold, silver or shiny black onyx.

Zoot Suit: The "Zoot Suit" was a men's suit that became popular among the African Americans of Harlem, during the era referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. The Zoot Suit featured high-waisted, wide-legged pants with pegged bottoms The long jackets were tight-cuffed with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. The Zoot Suits were complimented by colorful handkerchiefs, suspenders and bow ties.

Tuxedo / Black Tie Dinner Jacket: 1920s fashion trends changed for men after WW1 when the rigid, formal evening attire (White Tie Dress Code) was replaced by the informal Tuxedo (Dinner Jacket). The Black Tie is a dress code of semi-formal wear for evening events that consists of wearing a Tuxedo with a black vest (waistcoat) and black bow tie. During the early 1920's double-breasted dinner jackets were worn with cummerbunds and turndown-collar shirts. The new fashion was for black vests. White vests were considered the most formal color because it required frequent laundering and starching.

Double Breasted Tuxedo: The double-breasted Tuxedo became popular in America in the late 1920s and was worn without a vest

Cummerbunds: Cummerbunds are broad, pleated  waist sashes that are worn worn with single-breasted dinner jackets (or tuxedos) as an alternative to a vest (waistcoat).

US American History
1913-1928: WW1 & Prohibition
1920's Fashion for Women
Sports in the 1920's

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