Menswear Trends of the 20th and 21st Centuries

Menswear Trends of the 20th and 21st Centuries

In our current social climate, the rigid walls of menswear are crumbling. Streetwear (jeans, hoodies, sports shirts and sneakers) is now seen on both men and women, while high fashion brands are blurring gender aesthetics by incorporating skirts, bows and floral prints into their men’s collections.

Impressions of the season: This season, Menswear felt softer and more elevated, with sophisticated tailoring and coats a standout. Wales Bonner and Loewe were two of our favorites.

The History of Menswear

Menswear focuses on clothing styles worn by men. It includes jeans, hoodies, sports t-shirts and sneakers. It is a global market and often has exclusive brands.

In the ’70s youth-driven subcultures dictated fashion trends. Suits no longer had shoulder pads, ties became slimmer and hats had narrower brims. Synthetic fabrics also grew in popularity due to their cheaper production costs.

While it may be easy to assume that fashion is exclusively female territory, men’s clothes are undergoing a major transformation. MA Fashion alums Abdul Abasi ’08 and Greg Rosborough ’08 are leading the way.

The 1920s

The 1920s saw a democratization of fashion. Clothes had simpler lines and were accessible to more people due to cheaper materials.

Dress shirts had wide, colorful stripes and men wore bow ties and neckties. Collar pins, gloves and arm bands were popular accessories for adding more detail to the outfit.

Men’s trousers had a high waist and tapered legs. You can recreate the look today with a pair of Kit Blake trousers with bold pleats. Finish the look with a shawl collar shirt from Kent & Curwen for an insouciant Peaky Blinders homage.

The 1930s

The 1930s was a decade that was sandwiched between two iconic, life changing eras. It was the time when impulsive men of the 1920s transitioned into responsible working class men who carried with them duty to their families and community.

For men, a fedora was the must-have accessory. The sleeves were a lot more puffy than they had been in previous decades and wide peaked lapels were a hallmark of this era. Jacket buttons became wider and 6×2 double-breasted coats were popular. The belt loops were moved to the inside of the waistband.

The 1940s

Men in the 1940s had to deal with rationing, new laws and war. This definitely impacted the clothing they wore.

Wool overcoats were boxy and came down to about the knee. They were usually tan or dark gray and could feature herringbone, check, overplaid or wide chalk stripes.

Shirts were much trimmer with open soft pointed collars and single cuffs instead Menswear of French cuffs. Suspenders were still popular although belts had gained in popularity.

Blazers were a common look that gave men an opportunity to be both casual and formal at the same time. They would wear them over a plain or even patterned collared shirt.

The 1950s

Women were still expected to keep up with housework and children, but they also wanted to look good doing it. Christian Dior created a new style for feminine dresses that made waistlines look smaller.

Suspenders were a thing of the past and slim leather belts became more popular. Khaki slacks were common as were Bermuda shorts.

Beat writers like Jack Kerouac wore faded plaid shirts and fusty flannels, but it was young men who really influenced the fashion scene with their drape jackets and drainpipe trousers. They were called Teddy Boys and they were rebelling against conservative dress codes.

The 1960s

The decade’s defining events were Woodstock and the US landing on the Moon. This gave rise to a new style aesthetic of folk, tribal and bohemian influences. Miniskirts dipped to mid-calf and were paired with suede and khaki parkas or a long-sleeve polo that still looks smart today under a three-button mohair blazer (Laver).

Hemlines kept rising, and wide tent dresses and culottes came in velvet, cotton Menswear and psychedelic prints. Women’s coats, suits and dresses were shaped with army pockets and brass buttons, or draped with cowl backs to intensify the elongated effect.

The 1970s

Awkwardly wide shoulders returned for a time, but they tapered down to narrow lapels and ties as the decade closed. [328] Turtleneck shirts with a large rolled collar were popular, especially in pastel colors.

As the hippie aesthetic dominated, women gained greater sexual freedom. Short figure-hugging dresses became long, swirling skirts that often resembled menswear.

Men wore crushed velvet suit coats with satin shirts, often buttoned only partially during the day. They also favored argyle and other knitwear in earth tones. These styles were paired with wide-legged jeans and platform shoes.

The 1980s

In the 1980s, fashion got bolder and more extravagant. Men’s clothing got baggier and oversized sweaters were common. Doc Martens boots were popular, especially with plaid pants and a matching blazer.

Androgynous styles were very popular for both men and women, and you could see them on pop stars such as Boy George and Annie Lennox. Other notable trends of the era were big hair slides and gold artificial nails, ripped jeans, Kangol caps, bangle bracelets and thick rope chains. The decade also saw a lot of color and patterns.

The 1990s

The 1990s embraced casual style. Oversized clothing and bold colors ruled the day.

Baggy jeans paired with graphic tees were a laid-back way to make a statement. This style was popularized by actors on shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Friends.

Overalls also ruled the day. This workwear staple was often worn with one strap down, which created a grunge-inspired look. Frosted tips and messy hair also grew in popularity for men. This style influenced modern music artists such as Kurt Cobain. Today, this hairstyle is still cool for men to sport.

The 2000s

During the 00s, layering was key. Whether that’s a t-shirt over a hoodie or a skirt over jeans, men’s clothing trends from the era are still relevant today.

Moreover, brands both luxury and contemporary have broken down the walls between womenswear and menswear. Designers like Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh are celebrated by shoppers who refuse to be confined to one or the other.

A mustard fleece by Percival slots neatly into modern streetwear, while Gramicci’s cargo pants have that Y2K skater vibe. Alternatively, you can go full 00s with a pair of slim-fit suits by Axel Arigato.

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