20th August 2023

Post War Fashions for Men

During the War “Zoot suits”, those oversized suits warn by teenagers and gang members, especially African-Americans and Italian-Americans, were banned due to the perceived waste of material. Zoot suits were part of a trend, starting in the late Victorian era, towards padded, draped and shaped jackets that exaggerated the appearance of men’s shoulders and chests. Unfortunately, wearers of these suits became embroiled in a crime wave and in rioting between servicemen and zoot-suiters in American cities such as Los Angeles.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 6th September 1942 page 1.

The Sun (Sydney), 6th September 1942 page 3.

Much to the public’s derision, and showing how discredited the Zoot suit had become, when Australian and  British governments issued civilian suits for discharged soldiers, they were nicknamed “monstrosities”, or “zoot suits”.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 14th May 1944 page 4

Truth (Brisbane), 28th May 1944 page 10.

Post war, as with women’s fashions, fashions for men embraced a more generous use of material than had the “victory suit” ( http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/30th-december-2022/ ). According to “Vintage Dancer”, “Ironically, the very clothing that caused such turmoil during the war years, the Zoot Suit, was the single piece of fashion that influenced men’s post-war clothing. Longer, looser, jackets, double pleated pants, big hats, and even wider ties made their way into late ‘40s men’s fashions.”  See https://vintagedancer.com/1940s/1940s-mens-fashion/

Double-breasted jackets, wider lapels, padded shoulders, waistcoats and knitted vests were popular.  Everything went wide: trousers were cut wide, with wide waist bands and cuffs.  Ties were also wide. Button or clip suspenders were still sold, although belts had become more popular.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 22nd January 1949 page 27.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 18th January 1947 page 28.

For all contributions and questions, please use the Contact page.