The era directly following World War II ushered in a whole new sense of fashion. 1950's fashions for men bring to mind the classic TV comedy "Happy Days" or movies such as "Grease," "American Graffiti" and "Back to the Future." All depict a happy-go-lucky time featuring preps, athletes and bikers in their signature styles and adult men in conservative dress.
Today, those who cherish the good old days can shop at vintage online stores where '50s style clothes are sold.
Shirts, Sweaters and Suits
Businessmen in the 1950’s wore suits. Single-breasted suit coats, white dress shirts, conservative ties and wing-tipped dress shoes were the norm. Casual wear, such as the Aloha Hawaiian shirt, gained popularity as the '50s progressed. The “preppie” look also took hold in the 1950’s. Teenagers started to dress more casually, sporting collared shirts underneath a loose-fitting cardigan, crew neck or V-neck sweater. Bikers were noted for their white T-shirts with the sleeves rolled up, a pack of cigarettes hidden inside.
Men wore pleated slacks with their suits in the '50s, while chino pants were introduced as casual wear. Chinos were first worn by men in the military in Europe and the U.S. In the 50s chinos passed into civilian wear and became very popular. Chinos, also known as khakis, were made of cotton twill and usually tan in color.
Blue jeans, sometimes with the cuffs the legs rolled up, also became the style primarily from the influence of popular teen idols. Actors Marlon Brando, James Dean and rock and roll legend Elvis Presley all wore jeans and started a fashion craze.
Jackets and Coats
Businessmen wore wool or cashmere overcoats for work and dress. Men, young and old, wore zip-up jackets with casual wear. Some teens selected a version called a "chino jacket" that sported an emblem on the back. Black leather jackets, worn by bikers, made a statement. The wearers were labeled as rebellious and maybe even a bit mysterious. High school athletes, called "lettermen," wore varsity letter jackets with leather sleeves and wool panels front and back. The initials of the school's name adorned the breast of jacket. Various sports award emblems and pins were added to the jacket as its owner won accolades on the football field or basketball court.
Penny loafers came onto the scene in the ‘50s. For the first time, men could wear a comfortable slip-on shoe instead of tie shoes. The name of the shoe came from the pocket area on top where a coin could be slipped in. Saddle shoes were also very popular. A hard leather tie shoe, saddle shoes sported a black and white pattern that resembled a horse saddle. Businessmen wore leather tie shoes, often in a wingtip style.
Businessmen wore fedora style hats. These hats, made of felt and creased lengthwise on top, sometimes with the front brim bent slightly forward, were worn in public by many men in the early '50s. Only later in the decade did it become acceptable, at times, for men to go without a hat.
1950's beatniks were often seen wearing French Berets, scruffy beards and a somewhat sullen look. The look came from the French artists whom they emulated, to some degree. Other young men in the 1950's wore pillbox style hats with small brims.