The following examples of 1920s vintage clothing show how much this decade influenced modern fashion. Whether you enjoy vintage styles or not, chances are you’ve been wearing fashions that were born in this dramatic time.
- Business Suits: This era saw the dawn of the business suit or “power” suit. Shorter coat lengths replaced the long coats of the previous decades. In the beginning of the decade suits looked very much like World War I uniforms: fitted, usually with a belt at a very high waist line. Trousers were worn rather short or cuffed, and straight legged. By the middle of the decade the high, belted waist style began to die off in favor of less fitted coats, double breasted coats or a single breasted coat with a fuller cut. Pictures of Al Capone capture the look of the later style.
- All Purpose Suits: Before the '20s men wore many different suits or clothing depending to what was appropriate to the time of day. By the middle of the 1920s it was fashionable to wear a light colored suit all day, transitioning from work to going out in the evening. "Sacque" suits were the preferred suit since the middle of the nineteenth century. These were simply cut, straight legged suits usually in light colors like buff or oyster. They were worn with light colored shirts and small silk patterned ties.
- Sports/ Casual Wear: The early twenties brought the invention of sport specific and casual clothing. Golf jackets became the rage. For casual wear, knickerbockers (cropped pants that just below the knee) were popular. The coats worn with “knickers” usually featured large pockets and waists cinched with belts. Knickers were not popular with more traditional, conservative parts of society and were banned on Oxford’s campus in 1925.
- Oxford "Bags"” or “Baggies”: Oxford students came up with a clever way to continue to wear their knickers. They created a suit with very full, baggy legs to be worn over the knickers. The suits were usually made out of light weight flannel and were popular in several shades of grey and other light natural tones. This style of baggy pants would become a solid part of fashion off and on for the following decades.
- Zoot Suits: One extreme of the “Oxford Bags” was the Zoot Suit. Zoot suits were baggy everywhere and usually made in very bright colors. Extremely baggy pants cinched at the ankle. Loose, long coats were worn over bright patterned vests with ties or bow ties. Today, Zoot suits are popular for people who enjoy vintage clothing.
- Jazz Suits: Jazz suits were at the opposite end of the spectrum from Zoot Suits. They were tight, fitted suits favored originally by jazz musicians and fans. The pants were tight all the way down to the ankles, and the coats were long and cinched at the waist with lots of closely spaced buttons. This style of suit didn’t really last past the '20s, but was very popular during its day.
- Shoes: Lace up shoes were the most popular during the decade. Patent leather shoes were worn with suits and formal wear. Saddle shoes (or Saddle Oxfords) in two tones (usually tan and white or black and white) were popular with casual clothing. Boots and brogans were very popular as well.
- Hats: Men’s fashion in the 1920s included a wide variety of hat styles. The bowler hat with its round top and brim was very fashionable throughout the decade. The Fedora was also popular, as well as other styles of crowned and slightly crowned hats, most often appearing in black or brown. Panama hats and other straw hats worked well in hotter weather.
- Fabric: The '20s saw a rise in the use of flannels for suit making. The first and most popular color for flannel grey. The decade also saw the explosion of popularity of Tweed, a fabric from Scotland still very trendy today.
- Formal Wear: In the '20s tuxedos were just beginning to grow in popularity. A coat with tails was still the more popular choice. The coat was worn with a white starched shirt—either with a pleated front or with a winged collar and bow tie, and a top hat.
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