1940s Men's Fashion & Inspiration
1940s men's fashion was directly affected by World War II. The United States placed restrictions on clothing to cut down on supplies. The war board forbade suit pockets from having flaps and trousers could not be cuffed or more than 19 inches around. Designers also dropped the waistcoat or vest.
However, some men showed their support for the war effort by wearing their old pre-war suits. Following the war, WWII military clothing inspired men's fashion design. Popular 1940s men's fashions included bomber jackets, chino pants, trench coats, and aviator glasses.
1940s Men's Post-War Fashions
As a result of clothing restrictions during the second world war, men revolted post-war with the Zoot suit. During the war, people considered the Zoot suit unpatriotic because of fabrics rations. The iconic fashion involved long, loose jackets, double-pleated pants, wide ties, and big hats. The Zoot suit also became associated with gangster style.
Suits in general during the time consisted of wool, tweed, and rayon-blend wool. Colors during the decade took a dark turn with black, navy, grey, and brown. Suit jackets had two to three buttons with wide padded shoulders, slit pockets, wide notch lapels. The sports coat also came into style. The sports coat came in herringbone, chevron, stripes, and other prints. Men wore it with solid trousers.
High waist suit trousers with wide legs were preferred by men. Fitted waists also made belts more popular than suspenders. Men tucked shirts into pants, and no suit was complete without a pocket square. If a man wasn't wearing a suit to work, he most likely owned collared shirts and work trousers in brown, navy, or hunter green.
Portraying Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942), actor Humphrey Bogart starred in the movie with Ingrid Bergman as Isla Lund. The famous image of Bogart in a trench and Fedora is one of the most memorable of the era.
1940s Men's Fashion Goes Casual
Usually, men who worked with their hands wore coveralls that belted at the waist. Following the war, Hawaiian shirts or "Aloha" shirts became popular for downtime. They were one of the few shirts you could wear untucked or unbuttoned.
Hollywood's fascination with the American cowboy also promoted western style clothing. Western shirts, boots, and hats became increasingly popular. The trench coat is another critical takeaway from the forties. Humphrey Bogart helped make the style popular with the 1942 release of Casablanca.
We also started to see leather jackets or the gabardine jacket. They were made popular by the air force post-war. Hats were an essential during the 1940s. Men wore the fedora or trilby. They also sported the homburg and porkpie hat. During the summer, straw hats were practical.
Lace-up oxford and wingtip shoes dominated the forties. Approaching casual style, men wore loafers, sandals, and sneakers. Typically, socks at the time required sock garters. They tended to sag since socks didn't include elastic at the time.