Published: November 6, 2015
Men’s fashion took a back seat for much of the 1930’s and 1940’s as many young men were off at war, and those that weren’t were forced to deal with rationing of materials to go to the war efforts. By the time the war was over for a few years and the 1950’s rolled around, rationing was over, and men’s clothing saw advancements in fashion for the first time in over a decade. Here are some of the top looks of the 50’s decade, when style really started coming into its own!
The New Edwardian Look
In 1950, Harpers Bazaar announced the “return of the beau,” which took the trends from the early 20th century and gave them a modernized twist. This new look borrowed from the luxurious Edwardian styles, which included long jackets and sports coats with velvet trimmed lapels and pockets. Pants became slimmer, cuff-less, and stopped at the ankle, allowing men to show off bright colorful socks.
Across the pond from America, men and young adults in the United Kingdom were embracing a style known then as “Teddy Boy” (short for, and cooler than Edwardian). Drape jackets, and drainpipe (aka skinny) trousers were in fashion, which like their American brethren, were short enough to display the Teddy Boy’s socks. Bolo ties, waistcoats, and Oxfords or brogues finished off the Teddy Boy look. As one could imagine, this fashion did not come cheap, and men often had to save up to pay installments to support their new fashion habits. To get a good mental picture of Teddy Boy fashion, think of the Rolling Stones at the very beginning of their career. As the 50’s progressed, this fashion became the look of the Rock and Roll and Rockabilly music lifestyle.
The businessmen of the day also saw changes in their work clothes. The large double-breasted suits with padded shoulders gave way to more slim, lighter suits with narrow lapels, often in flannel gray. The large fat ties were replaced by thinner ties that had come into style. The 1950’s were truly years of great change in men’s fashion.
Rebels Without a Cause
Back in America, men were taking cues from their British contemporaries, but adding a bit of their own twists. American men looked towards the movie stars of the day for ideas, and no two men embodied the word “cool” more than James Dean and Marlon Brando. While not dressed up in the large jackets and trousers, men could be found in blue jeans, white t-shirts, and black leather jackets. Oddly enough however, when these movie stars first appeared on the big screen in that exact fashion, men stayed away from buying jeans, white tees, and leather jackets, for fear that they would be viewed negatively as a rebel or a bad seed. This quickly changed however, and the look took hold strongly.
We would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite men’s fashions from the fifties?