Join us as we take a nostalgic look at some of the most significant men’s fashion trends throughout the decades.
Menswear has been on quite a journey over the past century. Each trend symbolises a moment in history and captures the mood of the British people at the time.
Men’s fashion through the decades isn’t just about how the style made people look, it’s about telling a story and expressing your personality to the rest of the world.
Whether your fashion choices are already geared towards a certain era or you’re a part of the newer generation of gentlemen yet to pledge your allegiance, strap yourself in and enjoy this journey through time.
A timeline of men’s fashion over the decades
Men’s fashion in the 1920s
The ‘Roaring Twenties’ and the dawn of the dapper chap! In the 1920s, men’s fashion was fixated around patent leather shoes and double-breasted flannel suit jackets.
The trousers were wider to make the legs look longer and help the gentleman appear like they have a bigger build. (Apparently lifting weights wasn’t a thing in those days!)
Dickie bow ties were prominent and light colours were usually preferred. There was even a spot for straw boater hats during the warmer months. Oh, what a time to be alive.
The decade itself was full of post-war optimism, with music, clothing, and attitudes reflecting this mood. If you’re a fan of bright colour suits, jazz music, Peaky Blinders, and dickie bow ties, the 1920s is definitely your era.
Men’s fashion in the 1930s
Fortunes changed in the 1930s. The economic world came crashing down on 24th October 1929 and the end of the decade saw another war emerge.
Cutbacks in clothing production and rationing resulted in the restructuring of men’s suits to cut costs. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
Men’s fashion in the 1930s saw the “Superman” silhouette become a thing, whereby suits were made to make a gentleman’s shoulders appear broader with shoulder pads, thin waists, and tapered legs.
Darker colours and pinstripes were the main colour calling for many men to reflect the solemn world. However, the end of the 30s did give way to the “Swing” era, with zoot suits coming to the forefront and the jitterbug hitting the dancing scene.
Love swing music, zoot suits, or darker (No fuss suits)? Then you may belong in this era.
Men’s fashion in the 1940s
As we covered before, men’s fashion in the 1940s is widely regarded as the last decade of elegance. A tale of two halves. The first 5 years were dominated by WW2 and the other a celebration of style.
The 1940s is arguably one of the biggest turning points in men’s fashion and the making of the modern-day gentleman.
Think trilby hats, homburg hats, and pork pie hats. Silk ties with jazzy prints and esquire jackets featuring a loose fit and broad shoulders.
Casual attire became a thing, with Hawaiian shirts and colourful casual shirts dominating the latter part of the decade.
If you love to work hard and wear functional attire during the day but express personality and colour in your own time, the 1940s is your calling. The decade depicts the work hard, play hard lifestyle. From wartime austerity to post-war prosperity.
Men’s fashion in the 1950s
The decade we simply like to dedicate to the King himself, Elvis Presley. His unforgettable dance moves, smooth hair, high collars, penny loafers, and black trousers capture the mood of the 1950s.
He was an all-time ladies man, paving the way for a new wave of men’s fashion. Leather jackets and white Oxford shirts were suddenly on-trend.
However, dress codes for work were still a thing, with trim tailoring and narrow trousers preferred. Coats were often single-breasted too.
The 1950s were undoubtedly an important part of the evolution of the modern-day gentleman. If you love your rock ‘n’ roll and have a slightly more relaxed take on life and gentleman fashion, your decade spirit animal “ain’t nothing but a hound dog”.
Men’s fashion in the 1960s
If variety is your bag, men’s fashion in the 1960s has your name written all over it. Mods, rockers, and hippies, the Swinging Sixties was a decade of freedom and moving away from the status quo.
Men’s fashion was experimental and a snapshot into their lifestyle, music tastes, and beliefs.
Sideburns, long hair, floral prints, and jewelry were popular among the hippy community.
Mods loved scooters, trench coats, Parkas, psychedelic rock music, skinny ties, polo shirts, and anything red, white, and blue. Rockers wore leather, greased their hair up into pompadours, and took to the roads on motorcycles.
While traditional gentleman style still existed, this crazy decade paved the way for more expressive choices in the modern day. So, if you fit one of these styles from the 60s, you’re a gentleman who is at the heart of change and a believer in pushing the boundaries. Sir, you’re one of a kind.
Men’s fashion in the 1970s
Men’s fashion in the 1970s was mad. Platform shoes and bell-bottom trousers, leisure suits, and tracksuits. The kind of stuff that should be kept firmly in the archives.
Granted, it was a fun time. John Travolta hitting the dance floors with his wide collar shirts in varying patterns listening to the Bee Gees.
The cost of synthetic materials started an influx of wash and wear fashion. It’s a decade that continued the free spirit of the 60s and took us to unchartered territories. If you’re wearing this kind of jazzy get-up and like to boogie, you're a 70's man.
Men’s fashion in the 1980s
Men’s fashion in the 80s saw activewear take on a whole new meaning, with Nike Air Jordans, NFL branded clothing, and sweatpants.
There was also the emergence of glam rock and subcultures. But the general rule of thumb was to opt for a casual vibe in lighter colours.
If you love oversized shapes and mobile phones, loafers, and wearing casual attire a little too much, you might be stuck in an 80’s time warp!
Men’s fashion in the 1990s
Finally, the 1990s gave us everything from Take That and East 17 to Oasis and Nirvana. What a confusing state of affairs!
In men’s fashion, there was room for both oversized, colourful baggy tops, as well as darker, sartorial choices. The preferred choice of many was a laid-back look with plaid shirts, band shirts, and distressed jeans as part of the wardrobe essentials.
Men’s suits seemed to take a peculiar turn, with large fittings and wide ties making blokes look like they’re wearing their dad’s old handy downs. If you fancy a laugh, check out some of Michael Jordan’s suits from the 90s.
This era is very much for the experimental, Rugrat lovers and grunge head boppers.
Some things are timeless
One particular style which has stood the test of time is our love of Oxford shoes. Classic in appearance, comfortable to wear, and versatile to mix and match, this style of footwear just won’t age.
Pick the best quality and show them a bit of TLC, and your Oxfords could last a lifetime.
To see our full range of men’s Oxford shoes, head to our online shop.