At any given time, the leading fashion in apparel has emerged from the most sought after body type of the age. And for a peek into the leading body type of the 30s, one need look no further than to Clark Kent, aka Superman for an idyllic, iconic representation. Those extra broad pecs and shoulders rising out of ultra thin waistlines, established atop two mighty and muscular thighs that tapered down into almost nonexistent feet. There was a lot of bulk added to the shoulder area of menswear of the 30s, and this look was modeled after overcoats designed for the British Guard Officers. Rather top heavy shoulders would angle down to the smaller waistline, and the same thing went to the sleeves, as they angled down to narrow wrist cuffs. Known as the V Shape, this look was popular for a long time in every form of attire for men.
On the Outside
Men’s overcoats featured voluminous square pockets on either side, appropriately positioned to be a go-to spot for the hands in colder climates. Looking baggy was the style, and these oversized overcoats did a nice job of it, even when overlapped to close and cinched with a same-fabric belt tie at the waist, with ends left hanging.
Make ‘em Tall
Men’s pants aimed for an elongated appearance, and in creating this illusion, trousers were much higher-waisted, being as much as 3-4 inches above the navel, being either snuggish fitting or pleated from the waistband, and from there being their fullest–much more than today’s wear, with a signature tapering effect down toward the ankles. The more dress occasion pants for men were finished off with a simple underturned straight hem like today’s men’s pants, but the 1930s more casual-styled trousers for men featured cuffs. Men’s pants were all pressed with a single pleat going down the full length of each pant leg.
Men’s Dress Wear
Men’s attire for more formal occasions was sold in the form of suits, and not as separates, and the suits always matched–pants to jacket. These were available in solid muted tones of black, gray, dark brown and navy. Tweed and herringbone was commonly featured in addition the solid colors. Men’s summer suits were offered in whites and tans, and seersucker was a popular holdover from the previous decade that continued long after the 30s and 40s.
Top Half Attire for 30s Men
The dress shirts sported by the men of the era resembled many of the styles worn today, with straight pointed collars, and French cuffs. These collars were designed wider to accommodate the wider lapels on suit jackets, but the shirts, just like today’s, buttoned down the front. Men’s dress shirts came in many distinctive patterns and colors, from pastels to mid-tone shades. Sometimes the collar and cuffs were white, with the shirt featuring stripes, checks and other patterns. It was during the 30s that the men’s polo shirt became popular, and it has retained that measure of attention ever since. Sweaters were popular as a semi-casual blend, and often featured striped patterns woven around the V-necklines of both full sweaters and the sweater vests that were popularized during the 20s and 30s.
Head to Toe
Flat caps or Ivy caps were big for casual dress, with predominantly tweed and herringbone patterns. Men wore hats year-round, with the Fedora as the classic businessman’s hat. It was considered gauche for a man to not be topped with an appropriate hat. Straw hats were donned in summer months. Traditional footwear for men were oxfords in solid colors as well as in two tones, wingtips in mostly blacks, browns and brown-white combos. For socks, they came in a wide variety of designs with a lot of diamond shapes and multi-colored checks that spoke rather loudly.