Clothing is arguably one of the things that has changed the most in recent years. Dating back to the mid XX century we basically have a different fashion trend for every decade that has passed, however, much of it has been lost due to a constant revolution in the clothing industry. These new trends have completely erased the old school fashion from the lives of young people, and thus being unaware of the incredible potential that it has. This page focuses on vintage clothing for men – A guide for all of you guys that are developing your own style and are looking for knowledge on old school fashion.
With fashion being a very wide topic, the information here is meant to be a brief introduction to men’s fashion and will be expanded with future articles.
What is considered vintage in men’s fashion?
When talking about vintage fashion the first thing that pops to mind is clothing, however, it also involves accessories and hairstyles that possess certain traits particular to an era. At least a couple of decades have to pass for a trend to be considered vintage.
Through most part of human history, fashion was a term popularized only in the richest social circles of society. Only important people were capable of even thinking about owning an exclusive accessory or clothing piece. In women fashion was a sign of beauty, while in men it was a sign of power; beliefs that up to this date are still ingrained in our society.
As far as men is concerned, the industrial revolution set the basis for the mass production of the first suits. The goal was to have both a stand out and affordable piece of clothing that would give the man wearing it certain status.
During the next decades, the decrease in the prices as well as the emerging new ideas, gave birth to different types of clothing/accessories that people used in order to be represent an ideology or be accepted in a social group with one. As more followers unite, these will eventually become the first fashion trends.
Men in the mid XX century – The 1950s
English youngsters in the 1950s
The 1950s are widely considered as the decade where the whole “gentleman” or suit-focus fashion started to fade away. After the second World War a combination of a free-minded and rebel mentality took over and this was reflected in clothing too.
Young men started to wear the suit-like clothes a little more careless. The leather jacket became a must for men along with the classic white t-shirt, the pleated trousers, the penny loafers, the knitted polo, and many others that revolutionized the casual dressing. Popular movies such as Grease surely come to mind when talking about 50s fashion.
Nowadays many designers have been inspired by the 50s fashion to produce a hybrid style of clothing; a combination of the classic pieces and modern materials that combine the best of both times. These trends are widely considered to be super stylish and more and more people are catching eye of it.
All about expression – 60s and 70s men’s fashion
On the other hand, in the 1960s we saw two trends rise. First as bands like The Beatles became popular, people started to imitate them. Not only did long hair was a common thing, but the whole outfit of the men became tighter. Scarfs were widely used along with boots.
Another important fact was the start of the hippie trend, and with it, the use of a wide variety of colours. Jeans, shirts and even trousers were all tighter and colourful. The unbuttoned shirt and the pants below the hip trends were also introduced during these years. The “bad boy” look that the 50s introduced quickly shifted to a more feminine and liberal look at the end of the 60s.
Despite this, a group of conservative men (specially older ones) refused to switch to this new style and kept the trends introduced in previous decades. Suits and sport coats were still very popular.
As for the 70s…
The hippie trend continued into the early 1970s, when it peaked. To the new style of clothing introduced in the 60s, items such as headbands, bell-bottoms, tunics, and turtlenecks, all with very bright colours were introduced. Even men began wearing platform shoes and velvet shirts, further increasing the shift of style to a more feminine one.
During the mid 70s these colourful trend began to shift towards a more “punk” looking type. Rock bands such as Queen began to take over and with that, the use of piercings, Mohawks and really over sized collars popularized. As for clothing, ripped clothes were very common in the streets, along with the black leather and shawl-collar tuxedo jackets and the velvet sport coats.
At the of the 70s the disco style was at its peak, and with that, the wearing of three-piece suits in fancy colours was popularized. The high-rise waistcoats and the flared trousers, were essential in that look. Sunglasses were also widely used.
Numerous new trends rise – 80s fashion
As for the 80s we saw a wide variety of trends emerge that usually lasted a few years of even months and were very particular to a social group. The punk/rock look continued into the early years of the decade with young men and adults being the ones keeping this trend alive.
The “preppy” style reflected the social status of the upper class. In contrast to the hip hop fashion, the preppy focused on the bright/light colours and the appropriate way of dressing. Sweaters, vests, polo shirts, oxford shoes and ascots were a must on every preppy man.
The 80s also so the rise of the fitness trend, reaching the point were people were using workout clothes as everyday wear. The sweatpants, shorts and windbreakers were very common in the streets. retrowaste.com
Finally, there was some clothing that did not really fit into a style, but still was widely popular among men. You could consider this as “every day” or “casual” clothing. Jeans and denim jackets were a staple, along with sneakers, and leather shirts/jackets. The combination of light blue, brown and white was very common.
Laying the foundation for modern men clothing – 90s and 2000s
In some ways the 90s fashion was followed up to the 80s fashion. Polo shirts, sneakers, and jeans (high-waist and stone wash) were still widely used, while the preppy trend was modernized too, shifting to a more casual look by replacing the ascot ties and the oxfords with the loafers and short-sleeved shirts.
In the late 80s/early 90s, hip hop trend emerged due to the increasing popularity of rap music. The baggy clothes, sneakers, caps, and gold chains that we still see nowadays were introduced during those years. Men from the middle and lower class were pushing this trend, while the upper class preferred the formal or preppy styles.
Flannel shirts were also very characteristic of that decade. These were particularly loose-fitting and padded and represented the “skater” trend that celebrities like Tony Hawk and bands like Nirvana were introducing.
A number of smaller trends were followed by different social groups. Gothic fashion started to spread and punk trends peaked in this decade with the long under sleeves and dark hoodies combined with the characteristic Mohawk. Also, very popular during this decade was the Sports jerseys and other sport-related accessories.
At the start of the 21st century brought some changes to men’s fashion. The light colours used in the 80s and 90s slowly started to shift towards darker tons. Dress shirts became an everyday thing and the jeans, although still widely used, had a different design (for example, frosted or ripped jeans, worn below the waist) and were somewhat replaced by other types of pants.
The O.C (Fox)
Everyday clothing included polo shirts (stripped), cargo pants, sneakers, baseball caps, while formal dressing included Nehru suits, blazers, and the slim-fit suit, sometimes combined with a classy watch and some aviator glasses.
Finally, A LOT of different trends co-existed throughout the 2000s, with younger men being the primary focus. Almost every genre of music had a particular aura surrounding it that was expressed mainly (aside from the music, of course) through the artists clothing. Some of these styles were: Metal, Gothic, Punk, Psycho, Emo, and many others that explaining them will drift away from the purpose of the article.
A case for going back to the classics
OK, so after all that has been said…. why even bother with vintage clothing? As a man I get that we are different from girls. Sure, it feels great when someone tells us we look good in a certain outfit, but our primary goal for dressing good is not the attention. Confidence is everything in a man; with it, along with proper work ethic, you can achieve things that transcend your power and abilities.
Having said this, what better way to boost your confidence than feeling good in your own skin?. Wearing something in which you feel comfortable can make wonders for you, this is why, my goal is to reach out to guys like you to show the potential of vintage clothing.
It’s not about going through the streets looking like Elvis Presley for no reason, its about realizing that even in today’s era, we have access to all types of clothing based and from previous eras with whom you can develop your own style and feel comfortable within it.
This is it for now and I hope that you find the information here useful. Thank you for stopping by Vintage Lifestyle and I wish you luck developing your style.