Style and fashion are constantly changing. What’s in style today, might to be tomorrow’s biggest don’t. Some items are even loved enough to come back around. You might think that suits haven’t changed much and that the basics of men’s fashion throughout history has stayed the same but you can’t be more mistaken. There are always great changes in men’s fashion and you can see them quite clearly throughout history even in men’s suits in history. What seems to be constant in these men’s trends is that they usually only last a little over or under a decade. In the past hundred years alone men’s fashion has seen some cool and not so cool trends, some elegant garments, and some we hope never return.
This was the turn of the century and boy was it a decade of change in men’s fashion in men’s suits in history at this point, many men began wearing the more practical “middle-class men’s suit” that originated in England, as opposed to the more over the top knee-length frock coats and elaborate suits of the 1800s. Most suits in the early 1900s were actually three piece suits made up of a jacket, a pair trousers, and a vest popularly known as a waistcoat at the time all of these were men’s trends in the latest fashion. During the day men wore morning coats, which were really just jackets with a curved asymmetrical tailcoat from front to back. These coats were often paired with matching or faintly striped trousers. In the 1910s, lighter fabrics and humbler suits grew in regard. By the final half of the 1910s in men’s suits in history, men wore suits that consisted of a simple single-breasted jacket with narrow lapels and high buttons, paired with straight trousers, button-down shirts were then made in popular pastel colors, striped, and decorated with a club collar and a tie. Yes, they had detachable collars back then.
This was the very famous Jazz Age and it called for a new take on life even in men’s trends. In men’s suits in history at this point the war had just ended and everyone was looking for fun clothing and music. Suits were much simpler and slimmer, and boy were they brighter. The black, charcoal, and navy of the previous decade was nicely replaced by lighter, happier colors. Bow ties gained their fame and shoulder pads fell from grace. By the mid-’20s, button-down shirts with detachable collars and softer fabrics became the norm. Every man dressed to the nines and you can bet that tailors were always booked up. With Hollywood rising and economic growth booming in America people really wanted to look good at all times, and they had the money to do so. Another great accessory that came out of this decade was hats. Men would not be caught dead leaving the house without a nice hat.
The “Superman” silhouette became popular in this decade in regards to men’s trends. Men’s suits in history through the 1930s were produced to highlight extra broad shoulders with the return of shoulder pads, thin waists, and tapered legs. Men’s suits had thin waists in order to conserve fabric, and fashions of the time were predominantly teeming with dark and neutral colors, as bright colors were viewed as distasteful due to the hard times everyone was facing as the economy was crashing. Wool, flannel, tweed, and linen ruled the era.
The decade considered by many as the last of the gentlemen. With the brutality of the war hanging over society, any and all past glitziness and luxury in men’s fashion all but disappeared. As a result, suits were made without vests, pocket flaps, and trouser cuffs. The only real accessory that survived these tough times was the tie.
At the beginning of this decade, men’s attire was particularly simple. Most men stuck to to a uniform of dark flannel suits, and conventionality became supreme once again. Suits no longer donned shoulder pads, ties were quite slimmer, shirt collars were less distinct, and the brims of men’s hats were noticeably narrower. Trousers, however, remained mostly unchanged in this era of rather depressing clothing.
Many consider the 1960s a groundbreaking era for men’s trends in fashion. The drab formality of the previous decade gave way to skinny and flared trousers, floral shirts, wide lapels, and other bold trends. Men wore longer hair, brighter colors, thin silk scarves, paisley prints, velvet pants, puffy sleeves, and even jewelry. Suits became tighter-fitting, trousers were narrow, and vests were all but a thing of the past.
The ’70s were a crazy time in men’s suits in history and you can ask anyone who was around then. Styles that would’ve been laughed at just 10 years prior became insanely popular. In the ‘70s platform shoes and bell bottom trousers were menswear staples. Vacation suits and tracksuits were also popular. Bell bottoms were paired with men’s suits and wide collar shirts in unpredictable patterns from loud floral prints that your grandma wouldn’t be caught dead in, to polka dot to checked to plaid and everything in between. It was undoubtedly a groovy time to be alive.
The ’80s were another quirky decade in men’s fashion. However, clothing was already becoming more subdued and less outlandish. Men’s suits were amazingly conservative during this era. Suits in more neutral colors were paired with the infamous skinny tie with a square-bottom at the end of the tie. When men were not at work, they would couple graphic-print button-downs with slacks for a go-to collaborative that was suitable almost everywhere.
The 1990s casual was unquestionably the in trend to stick too, and minimalism was the new “in” thing. The ’90s was an era of casual, relaxed clothing in simpler colors and cuts. Leather jackets, knit sweaters, flannel button-downs, bowling-inspired button-downs, baggy denim jeans, overalls, baseball caps, jean shorts, parachute pants and so on. Only serious businessmen and lawyers really wore suits.
Dare we remember it but at the turn of the millennium, men’s fashion experienced a brief “futuristic” wave thanks to Hollywood and all of its futuristic films. Colors such as black, silver, and metallic were in. Men wore leather outfits…yes entire outfits made from leather, puffy jackets, tracksuits, and Rockport boots. Let us all be grateful that this trend did not last long. Suits in the early 2000s were slimmer, and popular styles included black, navy, charcoal, and classic pinstripes. Men were heavily influenced by films such as James Bond.
2010 – 2019
Although most of the trends from our current decade are a great mix of every suit trend that ever existed. It does seem that men favor slim cut suits that give a cleaner and more minimalist approach. With everyone trying to embrace their own style, all you really need to do to be fashionable today is to find a way to look unique, minimalistic, clean cut, and tidy. Hopefully the next decade will bring about more stylish suit trends for men.
In the last 100 years, men’s fashion has changed many, many times, so many that we don’t really care to count. Men's clothing has been influenced by music, war, the economy, celebrities, sports, and so much more since the beginning of time. In a cool way, every piece of clothing that you wear in itself is a piece of history that deeply reflects our society’s current mindset.