With so radically different from previous decades, and women’s clothing changing so boldly, it may be something of a surprise to note that men’s formal wear in the 1920s was much the same as it had always been. Black was the only color to wear in the evening, and while the frock coat had given way to the tailcoat, the overall look was the same. A starched white shirt and high collar with a bow tie was worn under the tails, and the black trousers topped shiny black shoes. For all else that changed then and has continued to change in men’s wear, this formal suit remains much the same.
No man of any class was out in public without a hat. That had been true for centuries and was still very much the case in the 1920s. In summer, light blazers were topped by a Panama or the shallow, flattop, stiff-brimmed hats called either boaters or skimmers, depending on the brim’s width. Autumn and winter were all about the felt fedora, worn with panache by gangsters but beloved of all men for their style and comfort.
The 1920s saw the rise of the automobile as a major part of the culture. The booming financial times meant that many more people could afford a car and the fashion industry took note, creating clothing worn almost specifically for driving. Men wore flat English driving caps and vented leather gloves when toting their sweeties around town. The leather jacket popularized by dashing aviator Charles Lindbergh was something no stylish man could do without, and many liked to include the white silk scarf as well.
Till the Music Stopped
Men’s fashion in the 1920s had a snap, sizzle and brightness that have mostly associated with women’s Jazz Age , and it stayed that way until the stock market crash of 1929. However, although it took several decades for the youth to have such sway again, there was no going back to the stuffiness of centuries past. A new age had begun.