Summertime is here and with more hot weather on the horizon, we’ve put together this handy guide to 50s-style men's leisurewear so you can beat the heat while still looking stylish. At the time of writing, the items featured in this article are currently in stock on our site - have a browse of the appropriate categories even if these specific items are gone to find something similar.
The 1950s was a big time for leisurewear – though casual clothing had been popular since the 1920s, the 50s was the first time it became commonplace for men to dress for business in the morning and then change into more comfortable clothing when returning home. When styling for a casual and cool look using 1950s men's clothing, pay attention to the trends of the time, such as bright colours, bold patterns and textures like plaid, and “easy to wash, easy to wear” fabrics.
Let's jump into some fifties leisurewear staples!
Left to right, top to bottom: Left to right, top to bottom: Wool Burton Blazer (£55.99), Gold Check Sports Blazer (£35.99), Country Tweed Sports Jacket (£29.99), Wool Sports Jacket (£55.99).
We first see the evolution away from officewear with the sport jacket or sport coat, which was worn largely outside of the office and features relaxed details like a straight hanging fit, a natural shoulder, flap pockets, side vents, and two buttons to fasten. They were popular to wear in bright colours or bold plaid patterns, and these vintage men's jackets can make a great option for casual layering in unpredictable British weather!
Left to right, top to bottom: Revival Blue Linen Shirt (£59.99), Turquoise Polo Shirt (£41.99), Revival Natural Linen Shirt (£59.99), Blue Polo Shirt (£41.99), Raspberry Havana Collar Shirt (£34.99).
Oversized short sleeve shirts and polos had a moment in 50s leisurewear. Key features that differentiate a leisure shirt from a more formal shirt, apart from the fit, include twin flap pockets and relaxed open neck collars, like those seen above. Bright colours and patterns were also popular in men's vintage summer shirts, though classic hues like cream, white and light blue still remained a staple.
Our men's Socialite range has just developed two new varieties of men’s leisure shirts in both light blue and neutral beige tones. Like all our Socialite pieces, their design is based on original photographs and patterns from the 50s, and the shirts themselves include many period-accurate details - a great choice to expand your summertime vintage repertoire with high-quality breathable fabric.
Left to right, top to bottom: Blue Hibiscus Hawaiian Shirt (£26.99), Red Leaf Hawaiian Shirt (£38.99), Cotton Hawaiian Shirt (£22.99), Palm Hawaiian Shirt (£28.99), Macaw Hawaiian Shirt (£22.99), Pineapple Hawaiian Shirt (£22.99).
A particularly fun variation on this trend is the enduringly popular Hawaiian shirt, or the “Aloha shirt”, as it was more commonly known at the time. These tropical prints are ideal for summer and can be worn tucked in or left untucked for a particularly relaxed look. Notice again the open collars and oversized fit that was indicative of 50s leisurewear. Popular motifs include palm trees and tropical fruit or flowers.
If you’re a pattern fanatic, Hawaiian prints are perfect for you!
Left to right: Fishtail Chino Trousers (£67.99), Blue Peg Trousers (£68.99), Brown Peg Trousers (£68.99).
Casual trousers made of breathable fabrics like gabardine, nylon, cotton and linen in leisured cuts like slacks and chinos became the popular style for leisure. When selecting vintage trousers for a casual 50s look yourself, note that they should be fuller around the hips, with tapered legs, and end in a cuff or a plain hem. Style with a thin belt, around ¾ inch to 1 inch wide, for extra authenticity and a clean, relaxed look.
We hope this guide was helpful to vintage fanatics who want to look dapper even in hot weather! With these styling tips and notes, you’re ready to get out in the sunshine and rock a 50s look.