1950s Mens Fashion

The 1950s have a reputation for boring conformity and most 1950s mens fashions really were all about conservative dressing and respectability. But as the decade progressed, various other trends emerged. The fifties weren't always quite as fusty as they may seem.

Booming Times

With the austerity of war fading, and a booming economy, people had more leisure time and more spending power. Hollywood was at its height, with style and glamour something that both the ordinary man and woman aspired to. 1947-57 is known as the golden age of haute couture(made to order, expensive high-quality fabrics, hand-executed techniques). This was the era where the prom moved from the school hall to the local hotel and fabulous formal wear was the desirable thing for most people.

Even so, in 1950s mens fashion, the trend away from formality continued. Dinner jackets became increasingly restricted to highly formal events, and tailcoats were falling out of favour.

A natural silhouette and lighter fabrics were part of the new American Informality - even in formal wear. The unfussy lines of the tuxedo with bow tie, and maybe a cummerbund, became the quintessential men's formal look.

The cliché of the fifties household is the little woman as the homemaker, looking after the nuclear family while the man of the house brings home the bacon. There's truth in this picture. Mr. Average donned his white shirt and business suit and joined crowds of others looking just like him on the commute to the office.

Characteristics of 1950s Mens Fashion

In spite of economic confidence, this was also the gloomy era of McCarthyism and the Cold War. Most men would have a grey business suit in the wardrobe, or outfits in solid dark, neutral colors like browns and dark blues.

Suits and ties were plainer than in the 1940s. Single-breasted jackets were the norm. They were cut shorter than their 1940s equivalents and lacked details like shoulder pads, again in the interests of more natural contours.

The 1950s business suit was also influenced partly by comfort, in line with the growing fondness for more informal clothing. At home the 1950s man could replace his jacket and shirt with a cardigan sweater or polo shirt, and might pull on a pair of loafers. No average dad at this time dreamed of wearing a pair of jeans and t-shirts were considered underwear.

Key Influences & New Foundations for Mens Fashion

With greater affluence, teen tastes began to make their mark in 1950's men's fashion. The US saw the rock and roll 'Grease' look, with jeans, leather jacket and white t-shirt.

In Britain, the teddy boys made their mark, with Edwardian style jackets and brothel creeper shoes. This was also the era of the pointy-toed 'winklepicker' shoe.

Most American teens were still as conservative as their parents. Some young men went for the preppie look - clean cut, with a plain jacket and narrow tie. Few aspired to look like a rebel without a cause, at least until the decade began drawing to a close.

However, as the fifties progressed, youth culture expanded. Rock and roll caught on, young men took their fashion cues from James Dean, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and other luminaries of popular culture. I

In spite of the sartorial conservatism of the 1950s, the foundations were being laid for a fashion revolution, in which convention went out the window and individualism and teen style took centre stage.

1920s Mens Fashion

1930s Mens Fashion

1940s Mens Fashion

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