Esquire was the most popular men’s magazine of the 1940s. The editors of Esquire went out on a limb in the spring of 1948 to give fashion conservatism a healthy kick in the butt. Esquire gave men an answer to the popular women’s styles that flaunted sex appeal and boldness. In fact, fashion boldness was the new American look. Men in big cities across the country fell in love with the notion they could pick what was best for them in clothing and accessories without being criticized for being different. Men also enjoyed donning their 1940s formalwear.
A Bolder Look
1940s formalwear became bold, and so did everyday street wear. The city-dwelling men living in that decade were fashion conscious, and they made bold choices in shirts, hats, shoes, accessories and suits. The editors of Esquire told men to wear command collar shirts. Those shirts had a wider spread than normal shirt collars.
Flashy neckties men tied in a Windsor knot were everywhere. Heavy gold cuff links and wide tie clasps, gave men the bling they needed to make a strong style statement. The felt hats that tipped up in the back and down in the front with a dent in the crown were big, and they are even bigger now. Suit colors and suit styles tested the boundaries of fashion sanity. Just like today, colorful zoot suits, and double breasted suits with wide lapels are on fleek.
Hollywood and 1940s Formalwear
Thanks to movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Edward G. Robinson and many others, men were Hollywood star struck. Men wanted to look like Hollywood. The boxy, double-breasted jackets with the wide peak lapels of the 1930s were back, and that look still has style and panache in this age where anything goes.
Bold, they say, is beautiful, and the fashion industry is overflowing with boldness these days. Today’s fashion designers owe a debt of gratitude to the men of the 1940s. Men were not afraid to walk on the wild side and express their individuality. They were flashy futuristic travelers, but they didn’t know it.
1940s Formalwear and Casualwear: From Hawaii to Chicago
Traditional clothes took a back seat to experimental and daring fashion choices. Hawaiian shirts entered the 1940s fashion world like an island volcano. Zoot suits and crazy hats with long feathers were common on the streets of Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and other big cities. Hand-painted ties gave any suit an injection of badass back then. Men wore their style choices like a badge of honor. They flaunted their fabulousness in the clubs and bars where dancing tore a hole in sameness and sanity.
Men are into the 1940s formalwear era now, but they are adding another level of style to those 40s looks. Double-breasted and single breasted suits are modern material wonders. The color choices are brighter and bolder than they were more than 70 years ago. Accessories are rad, unique, and at times, they border on insanity, but they send a message. That message is, the 1940s is back with a kicker, and it won’t go away quietly.