The Stylish Guide to 1920s Men’s Fashion

The Stylish Guide to 1920s Men’s Fashion

By Sean Chaffin

  1. Overview of the Roaring 20s and Its Impact on Men’s Fashion 
  2. Popular Styles for Suits During the Jazz Age 
  3. Grooming Habits in the 1920s 
  4. Colors Used for Suits During Prohibition 
  5. Haircuts and Accessories Defining Masculinity in the 1920s 
  6. Flapper Style – How Men Dressed for Success in the Roaring 20s  
  7. Tips to Achieve a Stylish Look Inspired by The Great Gatsby Era

Overview of the Roaring 20s and Its Impact on Men’s Fashion 

Understand men’s fashion in the 1920s, it’s important to consider the cultural backdrop of the time. The Roaring 20s was a period of significant social, economic, and political change in the following the end of World War I in 1918. With newfound freedom and disposable income, people were able to indulge in fashion, entertainment, and other consumer goods. Check out this jazz band to get a feel for the era.

The beginning of the Prohibition era and the emergence of nightclubs, speakeasies, and famous gangsters like Al Capone coincided with the year 1920. This decade witnessed significant changes not only in society, but also in fashion trends. The Roaring 20s fashion introduced many classic and extraordinary styles that continue to influence modern fashion.

Were the changes in men’s fashion during the 1920s? The 1920s was a period of prosperity and individual freedom for both the elite and the working class, leading to a rise in consumerism. This cultural shift was reflected in the fashion of the time, with styles evolving to reflect the changing attitudes. In the previous decade, durable, sturdy clothing that emphasized a clean-cut look was favored by the working class.

In the early 1920s, clothing styles became more casual with softer fabrics and slightly looser fits. Formal wear also became more diverse and elegant, but still practical. Wealthy women began to wear shorter skirts and trendy flapper dresses, which originated in Europe. While elite men still wore tailored suits, there were notable changes to their style.

Popular Styles for Suits During the Jazz Age 

The person in the picture appears to be a flapper from the 1920s who is dancing while wearing a cocktail dress. It’s worth noting that during the same time period, men’s fashion was influenced by gangsters like the Peaky Blinders from Birmingham, England. This gave rise to popular styles such as three-piece suits and flat caps, and the fashion was more form-fitting and tailored with gently sloping shoulders and creased, cuffed pants. The traditional, stiff look from the previous decade was becoming less common.

In the 1920s, casual dress became popular with the introduction of more relaxed menswear. This included clothing like sweaters, wide or baggy pants such as plus-fours and workwear pants, jumpers, caps, and various accessories. Sportswear also became fashionable for the upper and middle classes, and had to balance both style and practicality. Classical evening clothes used to go to cabaret or poker games, but the modern world has changed. It is not necessary to have the appropriate attire to play casino game online it can be done right from home, for your convenience.

In the 1920s, men’s fashion options expanded beyond the traditional suit and tie. They could opt for more casual clothing such as cardigans, knitted pullovers, and ankle socks while still being trendy. The trend also shifted to button-down shirts with detachable collars, bow ties, and a variety of hats, including fedoras. This fabric book showcases men’s suits from the 1920s.

In the 1920s, there was a slight change in the fabrics used for clothing. Although natural fibers such as cotton, wool, linen, and silk were still used, more synthetic materials like rayon were becoming popular. Additionally, new textile production techniques resulted in the production of medium-weight clothes, a greater variety of knits, and softer textures.

Roaring 20s initiated the current seasonal fashion cycle, allowing people to have more clothing options instead of wearing the same clothes for years. This period brought about an abundance of diverse patterns, shapes, styles, and colors, enabling individuals to alter their fashion to stay updated with the latest trend.

Men’s Fashion in the 1920s

The 1920s were considered a time of celebration and optimism after the war. Men’s fashion in the United States began to evolve with brighter suits, lighter colors, more colorful shirts, and casual clothing options. This departure from traditional khaki and neutral colors allowed for more distinctive and bold patterns in menswear. The style inspired by The Great Gatsby reflects the trends of the 1920s.

Everyone during the Roaring 20s had the time or money to spend at speakeasies, wear stylish cocktail dresses or looser suits. However, fashions from Europe and around the world were becoming popular, with formal wear still remaining trendy despite the rise of casual clothing.

1920s men would wear formal and semi-formal outfits such as morning dress, black tie, and top hats. Men’s formal evening wear would often include a tuxedo, top hat, and leather oxford shoes. Tweed, herringbone, or pinstripe suits in navy blue, gray, or brown colors were also common for formal occasions. Even older gentlemen would prefer the classic top hat over the fedora or derby hat.

Grooming Habits in the 1920s 

A common misunderstanding about the fashion of the Roaring 20s is that it was only focused on being fashionable and luxurious. However, this is not entirely true, since the clothing was still practical and sophisticated. To get a better idea of what men wore during this time, you can watch Downton Abbey, which offers a more precise representation. Moreover, hat designs and slim, tapered pants were also fashionable in the United States during this period.

If you want to recreate the fashionable and timeless style of men’s clothing during the 1920s in the US, here are some suggestions. 

Suits: In the 1920s, men’s suits were similar to what we see today. At the beginning of the decade, they had a slim fit and plain design, but by the end of the decade, they became more relaxed and had brighter colors.

Commonly wore traditional tuxedos or three-piece suits to formal events and evening gatherings. These suits often featured micro patterns or black and white pinstripes, inspired by the fashion of gangsters during that time period. Popular color choices included blue, gray, brown, and ivory. Suits also came in bolder patterns such as plaid, herringbone, and wide stripes. In the early 1920s, the jazz suit gained popularity amongst men who preferred a long, slim silhouette. Additionally, an advertisement for Knapp felt hats was common during this time.

Colors Used for Suits During Prohibition 

Breasted was a common style for three-piece suits, but single-breasted options were also available. The suit jacket had wide pointed lapels that emphasized the shoulders and waist, and it was higher waisted than in previous years. The jacket had a three- or four-button closure down the front, and the suit pants had a flat front with a thinner waistline and tapered legs. The style varied by season and age, with college students and barbershop singers often choosing a striped or navy blazer with white pants in the summer instead of a full suit.

Cool, flannel, linen, tweed and blended fabrics were still commonly used for clothing during that time. Men’s button-down shirts were typically solid in color, such as pastel, or featured vertical stripes that contrasted with the base color. These shirts had a detachable, rounded collar which allowed the wearer to display their tie and could be easily washed. Additionally, some men added collar pins for extra sophistication.

In the late 1920s, most shirts featured matching solid or striped collars. Some casual shirts were collarless and came in neutral or pastel colors such as lilac or sky blue. Plaid and candy stripe shirts were also popular during this time. Younger men often opted for shirts made from softer cotton fabrics with turndown collars, single cuffs or cufflinks, and single barrel cuffs with a button. Shirts could be either partial or full button downs. An ad for detachable collars from this era can also be found.

Haircuts and Accessories Defining Masculinity in the 1920s 

Would wear Peaky Blinders shirts or penny collar shirts to social events or in warmer weather. These shirts were tailored to fit well and enhance the wearer’s physique. Due to the scarcity of short-sleeved shirts during the Roaring Twenties, men would roll up their sleeves when it became hot outside. However, these shirts still have a contemporary design, except for the detachable stiff collar.

During this time were mainly made of cotton or wool and had a higher waistband. They were slightly wider than previous styles and had either straight or cuffed legs. The waistband usually had button suspenders or a belt to hold them up. A popular trend in the United States during this time was the addition of a single pleat to give the pants a crease that remained even when sitting or moving.

In the late 1920s, Oxford bags were introduced to North America. These pants were wider and looser than typical options, providing a comfortable fit that became particularly popular with college students and young men. Despite not having low-rise pants at the time, there were plenty of exciting patterns and colors available, such as stripes, checks, herringbone, plaid, tweed, gray, white, black, beige, and khaki for those who wanted to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

In the 1920s, waistcoats and vests were not mandatory as they were in the 1910s, but they still had a significant presence in fashion. The waistcoats had a lower cut and were normally slim-fitting, with high buttons and either notch lapels or no lapels by the end of the decade. The vests also had longer, pointed tips and a deeper front to showcase the shirt and tie underneath. There were also a variety of different suits, jackets, pants, and vests available during this era.

Sets were commonly worn with matching pants as an alternative to a three-piece suit, especially by the working class who couldn’t afford it. They had pockets in the front and were usually single breasted, though some preferred double breasted ones. They were available in solid colors like black, blue, or gray, and came in various patterns such as geometric and colorful. Some were made of tweed or knitted material. Men wanting a casual or sporty look were often seen wearing pullover knit vests over a shirt.

Flapper Style – How Men Dressed for Success in the Roaring 20s 

Style of outerwear such as jackets and overcoats typically matched suits and pants. If the suit was tailored at the waist, then the coat would also fit that way. Similarly, when the suit or pants were loose, the outerwear would also have that same loose fit. Men’s coats were commonly knee-length with broad shoulders and wide lapels. Some designs were snug at the top and more relaxed at the waist and hips to complement any body type. While there were many styles of outerwear, one popular choice was the straight-hanging coat, which did not taper at the waist.

The 1920s, the colors of outwear were generally less vibrant compared to shirts and pants. They were typically found in neutral shades like black and brown, but as the British trend caught on in the United States, darker colors such as navy blue became fashionable since they looked good on almost anyone. Additionally, these colors were similar to those worn by the Peaky Blinders gang. In an image from this era, we see a man sporting formal outerwear and a bowler hat.

Wear back then was either double or single breasted, with more expensive garments having a silk lining instead of a bulky fur lining. They were heavier and had a closer fit compared to modern clothes. Wool coats were tough with a rough texture. When it was warmer, people chose silk-lined jackets with cotton or linen sleeves because they were lighter and less stiff. These jackets usually had a square cutaway front.

1920s, men’s footwear in the United States was greatly influenced by the Great Gatsby era. The Oxford shoe gained popularity as a more comfortable option for formal wear. Other popular shoe styles included wingtip shoes, patent leather shoes, two-tone sports shoes, high-cut work boots, and winter boots.

Tips to Achieve a Stylish Look Inspired by The Great Gatsby Era

Most men’s shoes were made of a combination of leather although some manufacturers began to use reptile skin in their designs. Regardless of the material used, shoes were mostly available in different shades of black, brown, and white.

In the 1920s, men had a variety of hat options available. For formal events, men would often wear top hats that matched their tuxedos. These top hats were usually made from Buckham material, which made them strong and durable. Some top hats could be folded, while others were rigid.

The 1920s, middle-class men often wore fedoras and bowler hats as a more casual option to top hats. These hats came in dark colors for winter and light colors for summer, and the fedora had a wider brim that was shaped downward in the front and back. Younger men usually rolled up the sides, while older men would turn up one side of the brim and leave the other down. Additionally, boater hats were also a popular fashion choice for men during this time period.

There were many different hat options for casual wear

One option was the skimmer hat or boater, which were stiff hats made from thick straw and ideal for outdoor use in the summer. These hats were typically in tan or light brown colors. Another option was the tweed cap, used for sports like golf. Lastly, there were flat hat styles like the newsboy and ivy caps. Newsboys were typically floppy, made from wool or cotton and came in lighter colors. Some even had a checkered or plaid pattern.

In the late 1920s, hats were available in bolder and more unique colors such as blue or green for bowler hats. However, the purpose remained the same – to complement the outfit. Similarly, pocket squares, typically crafted from silk or linen, were used to enhance the wearer’s suit and provide a pop of color for an improved overall look.

In the past, affluent gentlemen commonly carried pocket squares, which came in either solid shades or intricate designs such as art deco. The pocket square was always coordinated with the color of the tie, hat band, or shirt.

In the 1920s, even though pocket watches were still popular, Elgin National Watch Company and Rolex started producing wristwatches. Rolex made high-end watches for wealthy customers, including the first waterproof watch made with precious metals, a screw-down crown, and a case back. On the other hand, Elgin National Watch Company manufactured watches for the average working person.

The 1920s, Cartier Tank produced wristwatches that gained popularity thanks to famous movie stars like Clark Gable and Rudolph Valentino who wore them in their films 

During the same period, glasses were also in vogue

Pince-nez, rimless glasses sitting on the bridge of the nose were a popular choice. They came with a cord that attached to the wearer’s clothing. Sophisticated older men, like President Theodore Roosevelt, preferred gold or wire-framed pince-nez glasses.

1920s eyewear trends included round spectacles that led to the development of oval and octagonal shapes. Thicker frames in dark brown, black, or tortoiseshell were popular for a more sporty look. Rimmed glasses were heavy, but lighter rimless options also existed. Eyewear not only focused on the aesthetics but also included special lenses to diminish sun glare and safeguard the eyes.

The message is about the history of ties and neckwear. It explains that in the 1920s, neckties became popular and started to include more options such as horizontal stripes, plaids, and solid colors like purples, pinks, and grays. Bow ties also became more diverse. Additionally, diamond patterns and paisley prints from Europe were introduced to men’s fashion in the United States.

Cities were usually made from fine silk or knit wool, depending on the season and occasion. Scarf ties were also common and were tied in a Windsor knot and worn under the sweater. They were originally made from silk or rayon. Collar pins and clips were also popular among men to change up the look of their neckwear. However, the diversification of neckwear didn’t really happen until the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Men during the 1920s

During the 1920s, men typically wore black or dark navy suits or tuxedos for formal occasions, such as balls, dinner parties, or weddings. The tuxedo tailcoat, which had a tail at the back and a fitted jacket, was still widely used. Three-piece suits for formal occasions were longer than those worn in earlier decades and less structured for greater comfort and mobility.

Roberts-Wicks formalwear typically includes a top hat that matches your suit or tuxedo. You can also wear a luxury watch and a carefully folded pocket square in your suit pocket. White ties are popular for formal occasions, but black ties are becoming more common in the Roaring 20s.

Events with a slightly less formal dress code, men could opt for a dinner jacket instead of a three-piece suit. Similarly, women might choose to wear a cocktail dress rather than the formerly popular formal day dress, which was now reserved for special occasions. The formal day dress also underwent changes, featuring fewer buttons and higher-waisted pants.

During the 1920s, luxury menswear brands like Gucci emerged.

 Gucci, in particular, designed haute couture style clothing for the upper class men, with custom-fitted garments that exuded elegance and sophistication.

In the 1920s, men’s casual wear saw an increase in sweater usage, particularly on colder days. Sporting and leisure clothes influenced the trend of wearing knickerbockers and plus-fours as well, even for those who did not engage in sports.

Casual shirts were mostly unbuttoned and displayed brighter or striped prints. Younger adults tended to select softer, attached collars or opted for collarless garments such as a henley shirt. Men took a casual approach to dressing during the 1920s.

University of Oxford, students began wearing Oxford bags, which were much wider and baggier than typical men’s pants. Meanwhile, Levi Strauss & Co popularized jeans for younger men. However, older men continued to favor pants from the Edwardian era (1901 to 1910), which were slim, high-waisted, straight-legged, and tapered at the bottom for casual wear.

In the 1920s, there were some changes in men’s grooming habits

One change was that sideburns were cut higher. Additionally, men tended to keep their hair at medium length. Popular styles at the time included the comb-over, a single hair part, or a slicked back look, regardless of whether or not they wore a hat. Although college-age men began to deviate slightly from these trends. Actor John Gilbert can be seen sporting a side part hairstyle during this period.

Often use oil-based hair products to maintain their hairstyle throughout the day. However, this works better for those with straight hair. Men with wavy hair, like Charlie Chaplin, still followed grooming trends but tended to prefer a wilder or slightly messy look.

In the 1920s, opinions about facial hair had shifted. While having any type of facial hair was considered unsanitary, older men could sometimes pull off a neatly trimmed mustache as it made them appear more experienced, knowledgeable, and affluent. The 1920s also saw the emergence of several men’s fashion icons.

In the 1920s, Hollywood had two major movie star icons, Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino. Douglas Fairbanks was considered Hollywood royalty and was famous for inventing the action hero we know today. He was known for his iconic slim-fit bib front cotton shirt, checked wool suit jacket, tailored pants, and ribbed silk tie. On the other hand, Rudolph Valentino was best known for his role in The Sheik and popularized the slicked-back hairstyle called the “Vaselino”. He tended to have a sophisticated look. Meanwhile, Al Capone, a famous gangster of the 1920s, wore a three-piece suit during that era.

Capone was a famous gangster who had a unique fashion sense

 He often dressed in dark or lime-colored three-piece suits, luxury brown or black oxfords (some with wingtips), and a tailored jacket with patch pockets. He also wore a fedora or boater hat, buttoned barrel cuffs, a tie, a white pocket square, and lots of jewelry.

Scott Fitzgerald was a famous writer famous for his book The Great Gatsby. He was also known for portraying the extravagant lifestyle of the Jazz Age. He had a fashion style that included wearing smart plaid or flannel suits with wide notched lapels, different length ties with various patterns and shapes, and a pocket square that contrasted with the rest of his outfit.

In the 1920s, F Scott Fitzgerald was a prominent figure

 Humphrey Bogart, a well-known American actor, was mainly known for his roles in crime dramas. However, he is also credited with making double-breasted suits fashionable. He accessorized his outfits with a fedora, trench coat, and various ties and bowties. 

Astaire and Ginger Rogers were also popular during that time period. Fred Astaire was considered one of the best dancers in film history with a unique style that included custom tailored suits in conservative colors, silk handkerchiefs as belts, and roomy jackets that still had a refined shape. He sometimes wore bold patterns and colorful outfits which always looked sophisticated.