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Men’s Fashion Through the Decades: the 1940’s and 1950’s

Welcome to an exciting new blog post, Artvictus community. We’re going to do something a little different than what we’ve done before: instead of just having singular articles about men’s fashion, how current events are influencing fashion, and how fashion and entertainment are pushing each other to the next level, we’re going to put all these thing together in a four article series and talk about men’s fashion through the decades. Today, we’re going to start with the 1940’s and 50’s so sit back and enjoy the read!



What Was Happening in the World

The years leading up to the 1940’s weren’t a happy time in the world as the every country on the planet struggled through the Great Depression. On September 1, 1939, World War II started with Germany’s invasion of Poland, a war that would rage on until 1945. Prosperity returned as the world recovered through the late 40’s and 50’s, but the Cold War raged on between the East and the West.


Men’s Fashion Trends


1950’s Hawaiian Shirts

With World War II raging on at the beginning of the 1940’s, rationing and minimalism was the name of the game and this was reflected in men’s fashion. Fashion was quite basic and utilitarian – to wear something flashy during war times was perceived as being flagrant and unpatriotic. Anything excessive was removed from clothing. Men stopped wearing vests under suits.  Pocket flaps, pant cuffs and other embellishments disappeared. Since so many men were involved in the armed forces, men wearing uniforms in the general public was normal and suits were made from plain coloured cloth in dark colours.

As the economies of the world began recovering following the war, fashion did, too. Loud, bright and colourful Hawaiian shirts became popular following the war. Men’s fashion welcomed an infusion of colour. Men first started wearing colourful ties on top of mainly white shirts but later on shirts made of coloured fabrics became fashionable.


On the Entertainment Scene


A young Frank Sinatra

The 1940’s ushered out the era of big band and swing music and welcomed in pop music. Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra were the music icons of the 1940’s. In the 1950’s, the popularity of pop music began to wane as rock and roll emerged, lead by Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard.  But they all became secondary when a young Elvis Presley – who would later pick up the nickname “The King of Rock and Roll” – burst onto the scene in the late 1950’s.


Fashion Icons of the Time

Fashion was driven by actor Clark Gable, whose charm, charisma and style influenced men’s fashion through late 1930’s. Fred Astaire sang and danced his way to fame through the 1940’s and was always known for his sartorial style. Singer and actor Elvis Presley dominated the fashion world in the 1950’s with his tight fitting clothes, loud colours (he wore his favourite colour, pink, when no one else dared to), long hair and blingy accessories.


The Final Word

Fashion in the 1940’s and 50’s were dominated by the Great Depression and World War II. Minimalism was the main theme as the world recovered from the worst economic times of recorded history but once the war ended color and flair began making a comeback.

Check back in for our next installment in this series on September 29 when we take a look at what was happening in the world during the 1960’s and 70’s and how it affected men’s fashion.

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