How To Style A 1940s Suit

A forties look suit is a popular choice for 1940s Nostalgia events, especially during the cooler months.  We all know how to wear a suit but do we know how to style a double-breasted suit to give us the most authentic appearance.

Pick the right shirt!

Lots of people, after picking a great suit simply throw on a white shirt and have done with it. This shouldn’t be the case. Don’t get me wrong, I think white shirts are a must in any man’s wardrobe and are often brilliant when worn with the right suit, but that shouldn’t go for every suit. If for example you don’t want to stand out, a simple coloured shirt is a very refreshing change from white.  Trust your instincts and see what goes well! Personally, I’m a huge fan of Prince of Wales/Glen Checked suits, so I tend to choose lighter coloured shirts, I.E. Blues ad Pinks. If you want something that makes you stand out from the crowd perhaps choose something slightly different. There are loads of buttons and stripes for you to choose from! As long as it matches the suit you’re wearing it will look great. On a cold day a knitted fairisle tank top worn over the shirt still looks great!

The Right Shirt

Choose the correct neck wear.

The same thing applies for shirts ands ties, cravats and scarves. The same old navy and black ties are used for years when there so much more out there! The crucial difference is that ties and other neckwear should really compliment an aspect of the shirt or suit as well as possible. For example, If you were to wear a suit with a subtle stripe running through it, try to grab a tie or cravat that matches or compliments this colour. It will not only bring out the colour in the suit but make the whole outfit look much more whole.  The same can be done with a good tie and shirt combination. So long as you choose a shirt which goes well with your suit, a tie of the same or with the same colours will work wonders for your outfit. If you’re not looking for anything too formal a cravat is a happy alternative to a tie, and in my opinion gives a much more charming and cool feel than a tie.

Neck wear


I cannot stress this point enough. Something as simple as a nice watch is enough to take your suit from plain to perfect. If you are wearing a waistcoat, you might want to wear a pocket watch and display the chain, a classic way of adding a bit of glamour to an otherwise simple suit. My absolute favourite accessories are lapel pins. The lapel pin is the ultimate way of showing your true personality in the way you dress and are sometimes a key part of making a suit yours. The reason being is that although a suit might not be your natural go to style, a personal lapel pin bridges the gap between your normal self and the suit. Lapel pins come in all sorts of themes. If you like music, you could choose a treble clef, or if you’re a veteran you could wear a pin with your cap badge on it. In this case the world really is your oyster.

A key difference between the 1940s style of suiting and the modern day is that braces were often used to hold up trousers as an alternative to belts. Typically, braces either button or clip onto the front and rear of the trousers and hold them to a desired hight. If you want to learn more about accessorising be sure to have a look at our other post:

Pocket Watch

Lace up your shoes.

In the case of 1940s suits, there is really only two colours of shoes to choose from. Brown or black. Black (as my mother so often tells me) goes with everything and it’s always good to have a black pair of shoes around. Brown on the other hand goes very well light and dark colours (depending upon the shade). In the end it’s all down to personal preference. If you’re looking for an authentic 1940s look, oxfords are really the only way to go. I prefer a shoe with a caped toe (a piece of leather covering the exterior of the toe cap) but a brogued pattern was common too. Whichever shoe you get, remember to shine them often. Not only does it make you look the part, but it waterproofs the shoes (if done well).


So there you have it. Next time you don your favourite double-breasted suit you might look that little bit sharper. Just keep these tips in mind, and you'll never want to take that suit off!

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