|Arrow Collar Advert|
by J. C. Leyendecker
Now I know every now and again the mainstream fashion industry has a brief dalliance with all things Retro, but in the most part these are re-imaginings (boy I hate that word) or 'homages' and only reflect aspects of the styles that are being referenced, they never go 'all-out' and it's never about re-creating the look in it's entirety or re-creating styles from the past.
I'm sure there are many reasons for this, the paramount one being the constant need to 'evolve' and invent, but here I've compiled my 10 definitive reasons why the majority of Men's retro style would never sit right with the general Male population of the developed world:
|1940s trouser pattern|
- Trousers were worn on the waist
For those that don't realise it your waist is that bit right around the middle of your stomach, you know... where your belly button is.... yes on TOP of your hips... not half way down round your backside. ;-)
- Trouser legs were wide
The average width of today's trouser leg (I'm talking standard or 'relaxed' fit here not skinny fit) is about 16-17 inches. In the 1920s trousers were an average of 23 inches, and they didn't exactly get drastically smaller until drainpipes hit in the 60s.
- Shirts would be tucked in
With the limited exception of 'Camp' shirts which were designed to be worn loose ALL shirts were worn tucked into trousers. You know that fish tail around the bottom of your shirt that looks like it should fit inside your trouser leg? That's because it's DESIGNED to!
- T-shirts were underwear
Yes that's right... with the exception of the clearly rebellious 'Greaser' or 'Hippy' Men would never have worn a t-shirt on it's own (unless doing sports). On top of this the same rule applies as to shirts, t-shirts would ALWAYS be tucked into your trousers.
- Only boys wore shorts
Again unless worn for sporting activities (see below) shorts were only worn by boys and not Men. The only exception was the armed forces, and then only if you were serving in Africa, the Middle east or the Indian sub-continent.
- Sports wear was only for sporting activities
If you were playing tennis then wearing shorts and a t-shirt was fine but one would change once one was finished! Basketball players were the only people who would look like basketball players, and if you were not about to step onto the baseball pitch then you wouldn't be wearing a baseball cap. Can you imagine what the world would be like if no-one was allowed to wear their tracksuit bottoms any more?!
- Shoes not trainers
As with sports wear, training shoes were worn by runners, not your average Joe who got exhausted walking to switch the TV on. Remember; there is a long standing tradition of hard wearing, long lasting and stylish looking footwear out there... I'm talking about shoes and boots in case you aren't following me. If you craved something 'comfortable' on your feet you'd have to make do with a pair of loafers!
- There were a lot of Hat's involved
Yes I know there seems to be a trend for the current crop of 'Hipsters' out there to wear those skinny brimmed straw hats but they bear little resemblance to the popular hat's of the previous century. Pop a Fedora or a News-boy cap on the average Man's head and they will look deeply unfashionable (in the modern mainstream sense), although... strangely stylish.
|RAF officer's hair dressing|
- Long hair was for 'Hippies'
As I've mentioned before most Men during the mid-20th century would have been through some form of military service, either through conscription, national service or career which dictated that their hair (at least that which was visible under a hat) should be keep short and tidy, which means growing ones hair long was reserved for Men who which to rebel against this conform. On top of that most Men would use some form of hair product most notably pomade (which as a friend remarked to me the other day was like rubbing Vaseline in your hair) to keep their hair styled in place.
- Appearance was paramount
Now I'm not saying that Men these days don't make the effort to look their best, but when you think about the fact that 60 years ago a Man would never leave the house without their hair styled and their shoes polished and their shirts ironed and tucked in... you see what I'm saying here? Mid-century Man just wouldn't have dreamed of leaving the house in their underwear!