The Evolution of Men’s Fashion and Style Abdulla December 11, 2023

The Evolution of Men’s Fashion and Style

The Evolution of Men's Fashion and Style

History and tradition dictate men’s fashion. Everybody in the men’s fashion industry—designers, stylists, editors, and so on—has occasionally drawn inspiration from the past. Not a single era has been disregarded. 

Therefore, I thought we’d take a little look back at men’s fashion throughout the last hundred or so years as we continue to study the fundamentals of personal style. Maybe this can provide some perspective or understanding into how menswear changes and, more importantly, how we can make wise choices about what to wear and how to express our individual styles.

18th  Century 

This era was known for simplicity. No crazy feathers or high heels like before. Men kept it down-to-earth, starting with tailored tailcoats. These were like everyday jackets—not too long, not too short, just right—and to avoid tripping over long pants, they wore breeches—pants that stopped at the knees. Cravats were the thing. Not the bold ties you see today, but simple pieces of fabric tied neatly around the neck. 

Accessories were kept simple yet classy. Hats were in, but I am not talking about the crazy ones you see in movies. And the walking stick? It wasn’t just for show; it was like the swagger of the 18th century. Wondering why the change? 

Well, before this, the Georgian period had guys in feathers, pantyhose, and high heels. Imagine trying to navigate your day in that! So, as the late 17th and 18th centuries arrived, guys collectively said, “Enough is enough.” They opted for a style that was straightforward and comfortable.

Early 1900s:  Dapper Gentlemen

In the early 1900s, a wave of sophistication swept over men’s fashion. This was the era of the dapper gentlemen, where style took a refined turn. Suits became the cornerstone of men’s wardrobes, tailored with precision to define a well-groomed look. Suits took center stage not just any suits, but ones with a tailored elegance that defined the era. Trousers underwent a notable transformation in this era. They became shorter than before and often featured “turn-ups” or cuffs at the bottom. The introduction of the trouser press allowed for a crisp crease both at the front and back, adding a touch of tailored sophistication.

early 1900s Men's Fashion Suit
1930s: The Early Depression               

Though the average man couldn’t afford to participate in the world of fashion, many frequently delighted in seeing the looks that those who could afford made. Hollywood motion pictures on the Silver Screen emerged as a ray of hope for the modern working-class man. Attired icons such as Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and Clark Gabel inspired admiration and desire in both men and women. American taste peaked in the 1930s and was on par with any nation in Europe. During that period, American men took great care in their attire and the way they presented themselves. Men used to follow specific dress codes during that era. 

During this time, the “menswear rules,” to which we frequently allude, were drafted. American men comprehended for the first time that clothes should enhance a man’s physique by conforming to his natural lines rather than masking them. Clothes shouldn’t be too noticeable. Rather, they needed to integrate with the individual donning them. Clothing was meant to help a man be himself among other people, not to make him stand out (as had been the case for generations, when kings and noblemen dressed largely to accomplish just that).

early 1930s Men's Fashion Suit
1940s: Military Influence

Entering the 1940s, men’s fashion was deeply influenced by the ongoing World War II, giving rise to utilitarian styles and military-inspired aesthetics. The backdrop of World War II played a pivotal role in shaping men’s fashion during the 1940s. Utility and practicality took precedence as clothing needed to serve a purpose beyond mere style. Military influence manifested in the broad-shouldered silhouette with tapered waists.  Suits and jackets adopted a more structured and boxy cut, reflecting the uniforms worn by military personnel. The war brought about rationing and fabric shortages, impacting the availability of materials for clothing. 

As a result, designs became more conservative, and men had to make do with fewer choices in their wardrobes. Despite the constraints, the Zoot Suit emerged as a bold and expressive fashion statement. Characterized by oversized jackets, high-waisted trousers, and flamboyant details, the Zoot Suit became a symbol of rebellion and individuality. Casual styles gained popularity during this period, with the birth of the polo shirt. This comfortable and versatile garment became a staple in men’s wardrobes, providing a break from the formality of traditional attire. Hats continued to be an essential accessory, with fedoras maintaining their prominence. Ties, often wide and patterned, added a touch of sophistication to both formal and casual ensembles. The 1940s were a time of adaptation and resilience in men’s fashion.

1940s Men's Fashion Suit
1950s: The Age of Conformity

Upon their return from the military, young men were eager to blend in with the establishment. The Ivy League look, which was saturating menswear, was the must-have for “looking the part” and fitting in. Personality in dress sense was an afterthought. Wearing an oxford shirt, loafers, a rep tie, and a boxy sack suit was the way to look like “part of the club.” Synthetic textiles like nylon and rayon were introduced in the 1950s. The clothing makers were able to save a large amount of money on fabric costs and still produce a garment that was perceived as “more durable and easiest to wash,” which improved their bottom line. It turns out that synthetic fabrics, particularly in suits, are awful for menswear clothing. The best fibers are always natural ones. In terms of style, the era was characterized by dapper grey suits and simple accessories for almost everyone, such as a hat, pocket square, martini, and cigarette.

1960s: Style Rebellion

The 1960s were a decade marked by discontent and rebellion against the established order and the 1950s’ famed conservatism.  The way people dressed reflected this new mindset, particularly among young people who were more interested in being unique and expressing themselves than following traditional “rulebook” fashion. The fashion industry saw the youth’s newfound trend and responded with an abundance of styles. There was greater variety than ever in stores. An era of “anything goes” was about to begin, when it was frequently more important to be noticed for what you didn’t wear than for what you did wear. It was also the first time dads started asking their sons for guidance. For the first time in history, adult males desired to appear youthful and carefree. 

1960s Men's Fashion Suit
1970s: The Era of Different Styles

The 1970s was a time when men’s fashion got mixed up with lots of different influences. People were trying out all sorts of new things. Some were inspired by cool and colorful patterns from the counterculture movement. Others were all about the fun and flashy look of disco and glam rock. It was like a big mix of ideas. People started dressing more casually.  Jeans, T-shirts, and comfy suits became really popular. It was all about looking laid-back and cool without trying too hard. When people went dancing at discos, they wore super shiny and flashy clothes. The 1970s also brought in the idea of wearing sporty clothes in everyday life. Tracksuits and comfy clothes that looked a bit sporty became a thing.  People wanted to be both stylish and comfortable.

suits men wore in the 1970s
1980s: The Era of  Bright Colors

The 1980s was all about having fun with fashion. It didn’t matter if you were going for a bold, flashy look or keeping it casual and cool. People wanted to express themselves, stand out, and enjoy the vibrant, energetic spirit of the times. People in the 1980s loved big, bold choices. When it came to clothes, it was all about being loud and proud. Neon colors, oversized jackets, and funky patterns were everywhere. Even though the 1980s had some flashy styles, casual cool was still a thing. In the workplace, men embraced power suits. These were suits with sharp shoulders, giving a serious and powerful look. It was like everyone was ready to take charge and make things happen.

suits men wore in the 980s
1990s: The Business Casual Era

The 1990s brought a different way of thinking about clothes. Comfy and easy styles became the norm. It was a time when people decided that feeling good and relaxed was just as important as looking good. And that idea stuck around for a long time. The fashion in the 1990s was all about being comfortable and not worrying too much. Even the workplaces joined in on the comfy trend. The idea of “Business Casual” came up, making offices less strict about fancy dressing. This change made suits get bigger, and some people thought they didn’t look so great anymore.

what men wore in the 2000s
2000s: The Mix-and-match era

For young people, hip-hop culture, and for older men, European “slim fit” tailoring was the main source of influence on menswear in the Millennium. When the “European cut” gained popularity in America, the suit gradually began to shrink down to the point where it was difficult to locate retailers that didn’t stock “slim fit.” Men now find it simpler to learn about menswear online and to express their thoughts to other fashionistas. The emergence of menswear blogs began in 2009, with this particular site among the earliest.

2010s: The Rise of Fashion Online

The 2010s marked a major shift in how we view fashion. The era witnessed the rise of the “fashion star,” where fashion bloggers became household names. This had a twofold impact: it put fashion in the hands of everyday people, leading to a diverse array of styles, reviews, and opinions. However, as the years went by, men found comfort in subtle, tasteful styling. This period saw the widespread acceptance of online shopping. Style enthusiasts from all corners of the world gained access to a multitude of brands from the comfort of their homes. The 2010s ushered in a new era where fashion became democratic, accessible to all, and driven by the people. The internet played a pivotal role in shaping style narratives, from the rise of fashion stars to the flourishing of small brands. The fashion landscape evolved, with consumers having more choices and designers having a direct line to their audience, marking a transformative chapter in the history of style.

2010s men's outfit


Moving forward, my hope for everyone goes beyond just looking good.  I want you to be a symbol of luxury, sophistication, and being yourself. For me, it’s not just about how things look; it’s about crafting a lifestyle that matches your dreams. At Abdulla Salem, elegance isn’t just a fashion choice; it’s a way of living that shows in the things you choose, the experiences you have, and how you connect with the world. We aim to inspire you to embrace your own stories, appreciate diversity, and live a lifestyle that is not only stylish but also true to who you are. 

Yours in style,

Abdulla Salem

  • Reply
    March 14, 2024, 4:32 am

    […] fashion trends may come and go, confidence never goes out of […]

  • Reply
    June 23, 2024, 3:28 pm

    Great article! I appreciate the clear and insightful perspective you’ve shared. It’s fascinating to see how this topic is developing. For those interested in diving deeper, I found an excellent resource that expands on these ideas: check it out here. Looking forward to hearing others’ thoughts and continuing the discussion!

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