Men’s Fashion by the Decade
4 Current Designers Take Inspiration from the Past

To the untrained eye, men’s fashion doesn’t seem to change all that much – a suit is a suit is a suit, right?  Wrong.Men 1

There wasn’t much change to men’s fashion in the 19th century and early 20th century, but the advent of television and the rise of youth culture inspired men to use fashion for self-expression much in the same way that women had been doing for decades.

Let’s take a look back at the evolution of menswear and the ways in which the dapper looks of the past influence today’s hottest designers.


The 50s gave rise to the post-war, G.I. bill-educated suburban family man with 2.5 kids, a white picket fence, a dog and a Susie homemaker wife putting dinner on the table at 6 o’clock on the dot.

This was a time when every businessman had strict work attire. Single-breasted coats with velvet collars, and a rolled up umbrella were the norm. During the late 1950s a messier look of sleeveless button downs and a long cigarette holder emerged, crowning itself with the nickname, “sloppy joe”.

Leisure time allowed for a little bit of flamboyance (Hawaiian shirts, madras prints etc.)


Individualism was at its peak during the 60s. Designers looked to art and music for influence in fashion, and the youth led the way when it came to deciding which designer was hip. The mod, hippie, and preppy look all coexisted and the style you chose said everything about who you were.

BeatlesSideburns were in and long hair became more accepted. Also at the end of the 60s, brighter and more feminine colors, as well as jewelry became popular for men.  This was a huge turning point for men’s fashion because it was the first time that it was acceptable for men to stray from the standard masculine looks that had dominated for hundreds of years.


The disco era meant a lot of dancing and a lot of weird clothes. Men wore outlandish pieces like platform shoes, wide bell bottoms, jump suits, velour suits and flashy jewelry, just to name a few things.  Synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic reigned 80s mensupreme and there was no such thing as an outfit being “too much.”  Though we all revel in poking fun at this era, it did a lot for giving men license to experiment with fashion.


The 1980s screamed money and power. Broad shoulders and power suits were introduced by designers Anne Klein, John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, and John Paul Gautier. Leather biker jackets, loafers without socks, pastel t-shirts, and layered hair dos were appropriate for this time period as well. Technology was becoming more and more popular, so angular lines and graphic patterns were used for designing.


The grunge music scene, and the dissatisfaction with how the 80s ended influenced fashion during the 1990s. During this time, men shopped at thrift and army surplus stores and tried hard to look like they weren’t trying at all. This was basically the complete opposite of how people viewed fashion in the 80s.Lanvin Men


Lanvin’s spring collection showcases many free flowing fits. Pants similar to the ones seen during the 30s, and midcentury skinny ties get the spotlight this year.

Contrasting the spring collection is the summer collection, which is quite similar to the mod 50s look with more colors. Tight pants with layered hair dos and tattoos are a common thread for all of the designs.

Saint Laurent:

Men 2“The creator of the new composition in the arts is an outlaw until he is a classic,” wrote Gertrude Stein in 1926.

“Hedi Slimane has been something of a fashion outlaw since returning to the revered house of Yves Saint Laurent, giving the label what some saw as shock treatment, tapping into the energy of the Los Angeles music scene and reviving grunge and Teddy Boy style.” –

Saint Laurent’s 2014 menswear looks are most definitely rebellious, as they have been for the past 3 years. We have seen Saint Laurent pull off classic rocker looks, and even 80s glam rock looks in those three years, but this year she tried something new.

Classic styles familiar since the fifties, including raglan-sleeve woolen coats, terrific trenches and slender suits with tapered trousers are very prevalent in Slimane’s most recent ready to wear collection. This is seen as an odd move by many, but has proven to satisfy most.

Hood By Air:

Paul StuartOver the past 3 years we’ve seen this brand grow immensely. Technology-inspired clothing has never been so cool! There really is no brand that has as much 90s influence while maintaining brilliant structured designs.

The brand may not have blown up in the 90s because of similar trends, but today’s younger generation seem to have become nostalgic for this time period.

Paul Stuart:

The 2014 Men’s spring collection is a festival of color and pattern, the likes of which is not often seen in classic menswear.  The showy colors and patterns harken back to the 60s and 70s, when men were encouraged to dress outside the box.  But, the collections lines and styling is all modern, luxurious masculinity.  The unique suit pieces may not be for all men – you have to have a certain confidence and willingness to be the center of attention.

Men’s fashion has come a very long way from the cookie-cutter suits of the early 20th century.  Today’s man has many more options when it comes to style, and these options continue to grow as modern designers pair past trends with innovative new ideas.

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