There were many free-spirited, reckless, youthful guys in the 1930s. With the end of the roaring twenties, working-class men became serious, masculine and responsible for their country and home. Men were out of work and out of reach of high fashion when the stock market crash of 1929 occurred. In the 1930s, men wore bold colors, oversized clothing and were concerned about overspending on apparel.
The ideal male body in the 1930s was the athletic body seen on boxers, swimmers, and Superman. A fresh silhouette, with broad shoulders, narrow waists, and wide tapered legs, was reflected in the clothing for spring. All things were big and tall, and the loose clothing was surprisingly comfortable since working and playing was all men did.
Since they had to work long hours and were working laborious jobs, their leisure time was all the more valuable. There was an increased interest in participating in sports, vacationing (camping and beaches), and going to the cinema, where the leading men of the silver screen ferried around the world, solved murder mysteries, and won the hearts of beautiful but helpless women.
For spring and summer, men’s suits were yellow, beige, cream, golden brown, and various shades of gray. Fall and winter were dominated by navy blue, medium brown, and dark grey. In addition to color, the 1930s man wore suits with distinctive patterns. All year long, there were bold patterns, such as large plaids, windowpane, chalk stripes, checks, and herringbone. A typical suit pattern during the 1930s was Glen Plaid or Urquhart check. Spring and summer weave used to include Chine, birdseye, and vertical stripes.
The majority of suits came with a matching vest with 5 or 6 buttons, with or without lapels and four slit pockets. Several men wore the more formal double-breasted waistcoat with two sacks, but most wore the single-breasted vest. Suit pants were typically high-waisted, bulging over the thighs and knees, tapering down to the ankle, and typically featuring cuffs. At the cuff, the legs were about 22 inches wide. It was common for men’s pant bands to have a semi-wide belt loop that held a plain leather belt with a skinny buckle.
Below are some cool vintage photos by Steve Given that offer a glimpse into the men’s fashion of the 1930s.