The 1920s saw a revolution in men’s fashion. Until then, cultural norms had dictated style, but the flapper era brought freedom to experiment.
We’ll explore the types of clothing worn by men in the 1920s. From the classic three-piece suit to the more outrageous and flamboyant ensembles – it’s all here!
Historical Context of the 1920s
The 1920s was a time of innovation. Youth culture and fashion ideals changed rapidly. Men’s fashion was developed, with “dandyism” becoming popular. Men went to nightclubs, theaters, and music halls in fashionable clothes.
Oxford bags, high-waisted trousers, wing-collared shirts, and peaked caps were popular clothing choices for men. These clothes were tailored, with structure and contrast being important, instead of color or pattern. For informal looks, muted tones like beige or grey could be combined with workwear essentials like denim or khakis.
Menswear in the 1920s favored formality over flashiness. Simple silhouettes were combined to create timeless ensembles suitable for casual days or formal occasions.
In the 1920s, men’s suits had a longer cut and a looser fit. Most men in Europe and the US wore full suits every day. Single-breasted jackets with notched lapels and flapped pockets were popular. Waistcoat tops, pocket watches, and pocket chains were contemporary accessories.
Trousers grew wider at the cuffs and ties had moderate width with bolder patterns like stripes, checks, or polka dots – usually knotted in a four-in-hand style knot. To complete the look, a fedora or bowler hat was worn.
The suits changed over the decade. Shoulders were broader, sleeve length longer, lapels bigger, and trousers more tapered. By 1929, the narrower model was popular, but the trousers still tapered towards the cuffs. Ties had multi-colored geometric patterns or larger sequins or dots reflecting the Art Deco designs of Europe and Canada. Young men wore boxy checkered cardigans as dress occasions instead of just shirts.
The tuxedo, also called a formal suit, was a hit in the 1920s. It has a jacket and trousers made from black wool with satin lapels. To enhance the look, a waistcoat, bow tie, and a top hat are ideal. These suits are great for evening events like formal dinners and galas. And they are also good for weddings and important business meetings.
The key to wearing a tuxedo is the perfect fit. The jacket and trousers should fit nicely and allow you to move easily.
In the 1920s, hats were a must-have fashion item for men. Popular shapes included bowler hats, straw boaters, slouch hats, trilby hats, skimmers, and fedoras.
Bowler hats were round-shaped and had a short brim that rolled downwards for downward pressure when worn. Slouch hats had wide brims that sloped downwards, trilby hats had shorter brims that sloped back with narrow flexible crowns.
Fedoras got their name from theatrical productions and became iconic for their sophistication and class. They featured wide brims and indented crowns with fabric bands around them.
In the 1920s, menswear shoes had similar lines but more ornate detailing. Oxford and loafers were popular. Squarer and fuller shapes were trendy. Two-tone combos and cap scenarios were traditional. High tops were a must for casual and semi-formal events. Uppers were plain or decorated with perforations, stitching, buckles, and more for a classy feel. Wingtips and chukka boots were fashionable. Flat soles were preferred for dressy wear. Crepe soles were for casual occasions like sports and beach outings. Saddle shoes were in style, with white leather cut-outs around the vamp in saddle shapes. Timeless classics!
Accessories were a must-have for men. Tie clips, pocket squares, and cufflinks were popular. Design, material, and color could be varied. Accessories showed a man’s fashion sense and sophistication.
Let’s take a look at the range of accessories from tie clips to hats from this era.
Pocket squares, also known as handkerchiefs, hit their heyday in the 1920s. They’re foldable squares of fabric meant to go into a suit jacket pocket. They come in various shapes, sizes, and patterns. Back then, they protected a man’s palette from dust or other irritants in the air.
Nowadays, pocket squares are for fashion, not function. They add sophistication to an ensemble and give it an edge. It’s important to properly fold a pocket square for style.
Classic folds like puff, peak, and reverse pocket folds look fancy but are easy to do. The puff fold is simplest, creating a raised flower blossom. The peak fold has two overlapping triangular tips. The reverse pocket fold creates a neat triangle. Ideal for subtlety while looking dapper!
Cufflinks add class to any gentleman’s wardrobe. In the 1920s, when wearing a shirt with stiff cuffs, these metal links were essential. Styles may include metal bars with stud backs, double-disk cuffs, bullet-style cufflinks, and sapphires and diamonds. Prices varied according to the material and stones used. You could even get monogrammed or personalized cufflinks for a personal touch.
Back in the 1920s, scarves were used for style and function. Men only had one warm coat. So, to add personality to an outfit and keep warm on cold days, a brightly-patterned scarf was added. Scarves could also work like a pocket square, coordinated with a waistcoat, or brighten up a muted color palette.
The most common scarf at the time was the regular or tubular scarf, knitted or crocheted in wool. It came in various sizes, colors, and patterns – from striping to chevrons, herringbone, plaids, and tartan.
Cravats were another fashionable scarf. They were long rectangles of velvet, with beautiful lacing down the middle panel or along the edge. Handkerchiefs with bold geometrics were also big during this era – seen peeking out of breast pockets, or as chokers.
Scarves were important accessories during this period – both fashion and function. Even today, they are perfect for adding warmth and edge to an outfit!
Hair and Grooming
1920s men changed their hairstyles and grooming habits greatly from previous decades. Hair was often cut shorter and waxed to look smooth and smart. This style was also usually accompanied by a clean-shaven face, unlike the facial hair that was popular before.
Let’s examine the different trends in men’s hair and grooming that were popular during the 1920s.
The main hairstyle was the slick, slicked-back look. Hair was cut short and then waxed to look smooth and shiny. It usually ran all the way back to the nape of the neck. This style had a touch of sophistication that made it suitable for both formal occasions and everyday wear.
Other popular styles included finger curls, which involved curling the hair around the finger before waxing it into place. The close-cropped look was also trendy – short on the sides and back with a little longer on top.
Beard and Mustache Styles
The 1920s was a time of facial hair trends. Although some men preferred to be clean-shaven, beards and mustaches were a key part of the decade’s look. Grooming products, like pomade and wax, allowed men to shape their facial hair. Styles ranged from the ‘Clark Gable to the ‘Van Dyke’ beard, or the ‘handlebar’ mustache. Men also used thinning scissors, curling irons, and safety razors to refine their looks.
The ’20s were a time of big changes in men’s fashion. Out were the bulky suits and thick coats. In was a new style: slimmer, and more fashionable. Hollywood, sports stars, and politicians influenced this new look.
Three-piece tweed suits, pinstriped tuxedos, business shirts, and polo necks were all seen. Each item was designed to make the wearer feel special.
This decade had a huge impact on how people dress today. Many trends from then are still popular. We may see more changes in the future, but the influence of the ’20s will remain.