The 1940s was one of the most significant decades in world history because of the devastating world war. The 1940s was also significant because of the changes in fashion. There was also the introduction of swing, jazz and blues music to a worldwide audience. The music trends of that decade were the instigators of today’s soul, rock and roll, rap and hip hop. The outrageously cool 1940s suits and mens fashions are now main fashion focal points.

1940s Suits for Ducky Shincrackers and Doll Dizzy Guys

The slang of the 1940s was just as influential on men’s fashion as the Hollywood actors who were always ready for an Esquire magazine photo shoot. The music brought a sense of comfort to the 1940s suits that men wore all around the world. Big Hollywood actors were advertising canvasses for fashion. Musicians were front men for the suits, shirts, ties, hats and pants that the girl crazy or “doll dizzy” guys of the 1940s called “rags.”

Avid dancers of the day, known as “ducky shincrackers” would put on their two-tone stompers (like Belvedere and Mauri Shoes), and double-breasted zoot suits. They would go to a club like the Copacabana in New York City to spend their hard-earned cash and to hear what Harry Bellefonte, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como had up their sleeves.

Trumpets and Hand Painted Ties

Men had to look as good as those famous dudes. Hand-painted ties and big tie clasps were the icing on a three-button linen 1940s suit. Pinstriped white shirts with French cuffs were the stabilizers.

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald were the king and queen of the jazz scene in the 1940s. Armstrong always wore suits and ties that men flipped their wigs over. They had a gas when Armstrong would grandstand using a trumpet and his raspy voice. Enzo Pinza’s version of Some Enchanted Evening, from the hit musical, South Pacific, gave men the impetus to wear Hawaiian shirts and white pleated pants.

Snap Your Cap: No More Fuddy Duddys

The sounds of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey and the Ink Spots, as well as the immortal music of Woody Guthrie gave men another fashion path to follow. Woody Guthrie music brought out the V-neck, round neck sweaters, and vests of the decade, as well as Khaki pleated pants.

The big band music and artists gave men a business dress style still popular today. There is nothing more 1940s than a man in a gray, no vent, three-button flannel suit. Those 1940s suits meant seeing an angry or “snap your cap” man looking to take off or “take a powder.” He wore off-white, pleated, cuffed trousers with big red suspenders and a shirt. That look always put the old “Fuddy Duddys” of the day to shame.

Thanks to the music of the 1940s, young men learned how threads and music went together. Music was the inspiration for American designers, and 1940s suits reflected that vibe. Music was healing after the war, and the 1940s was when music and Hollywood changed the fashions of American men.

1940s Suits and Men's Fashions - How Music Played a Part