Men’s casual clothing in the 1920s was not yet a clothing category. Upper-class men dressed in sportswear or dressed-down summer suits look quite formal in our modern eyes (dress shirt and tie required). The lower classes wore durable workwear everyday. Men’s work class clothing would eventually inspire a range of casual clothing in the 1940s, but for the 1920s decade, men dressed within their class.
I have written about 1920 men’s casual clothing in numerous history articles on the website. This article will pull them together in one place so you can read the history, get inspiration for a casual 1920s men’s outfit, or learn where to buy clothing today.
Working Class Casuals
For the working classes there was workwear clothes consisting of strong fabric pants, wool shirts, denim overalls, loose jackets, and caps/hats. These were worn all day, everyday, only changing into nicer suits for church, weddings, and funerals.
- Read more about Men’s 1920s Workwear here
- Read 1920s Men’s Dress Shirts and Casual Shirts
- Read 1920s Men’s Vintage Casual Outfit Ideas
Denim Blue Jeans
Denim blue jeans were part of rugged workwear — they weren’t casual attire just yet. The dark blue denim jeans and overalls with turn up cuffs have come back into the mainstream. It is a popular look now paired with work shirts (chambray denim, wool, or heavy cotton) and work boots.
A few men’s 1920s jackets crossed the class lines between workwear and sportswear. One popular look was the plaid flannel lumberjack jacket with ribbed waistband and sometimes collar. The same style of jacket could also be made in horsehide leather.
Read 1920s Men’s Coats & Jackets History for more casual jacket styles.
Men were adventurers in the 1920s! The need for speed and exploring new heights turned many young men into aviation and motorcycle enthusiasts. The protective outfit of the era was an all-leather look with breeches, jacket, cap, goggles and puttees (leg gaiters).
An article on motorcycle clothing coming soon. In the meantime you can read it in workwear.
Hiking, hunting, fishing, and other nature sports had men wearing specially designed outdoor clothing. Read Men’s 1920s Camping, Hiking, Hunting Clothes.
For the upper-class men, casual clothes meant sportswear for actually playing sports, watching live sports, or at least looking like he was about to engage in sports. There was a specific outfit for each sport:
The most iconic and funny looking sportswear in the 1920s was the golf outfit. The typical golfers attire was a dress shirt and tie/bowtie, sweater/cardigan/sweater-vest, plus four knicker pants, tall socks, Oxford shoes (often brown and white two-tone), and an eight-panel golf cap. The golf look was used for many other sports and recreation activities.
- Read Read 1920s Men’s Pants History: Oxford Bags, Plus Four Knickers, Overalls
- Read 1920s Men’s Sweaters, Cardigans, Knitwear History
- Read Vintage Men’s Socks History-1900 to 1960s
- Read Men’s 1920s Shoes History
The golf look is an ideal an outdoor summer gathering, car show, or Halloween costume.
The all-white (or cream) tennis outfit was another popular sportswear look in the 1920s. The basic outfit included a white long sleeve shirt, necktie/bowtie, white or cream flannel trousers, belt, socks, and white shoes (Oxfords or canvas sport shoes).
A white V neck tennis sweater with blue trim became associated with the tennis look in the 1920s. These are also associated with the game of cricket and college team sports (rowing, badminton, etc). It was so popular that men wore them as general summer clothes, always with white or cream trousers.
The navy blue blazer over white pants was the yachting/cruising summer look for upper-class men. The striped boating jacket was a slightly less formal outfit for young men who boated/sailed/rowed on college teams.
This is another good outfit for summer events and an alternative to 3 piece suits.
1920s Outing Clothes
Casual clothing could also mean dressed-down suits. For the upper-class men, this was about as casually as he could dress in public.
They were called “outing clothes”: two piece suits in lighter summer colors with a dress shirt (sleeves rolled up), tie, and belt. Hats were optional but usually a straw boater or Panama hat, possibly a summerweight flat cap/newsboy cap. Shoes would have been white or brown Oxfords in leather or canvas.
1920s Men’s Suits History – Scroll to the section on summer suits.
A sweater could be worn instead of a suit jacket for yet another semi-casual look. A shirt and tie would have been worn underneath while dress trousers or casual pants and a belt. Pullover sweaters, sweater vests, and cardigans came in colorful patterns or solid colors (blue, white, wine).
Men did not wear shorts outside of certain indoor sports and exercise gyms. Sweatpants and sweatshirts were also limited to these activities.
A 1920s swimsuit or strongman costume was a fun outfit Oscar wore to a 1920s event. They make for great photo-ops!
More 1920s Men’s Outfits
- 1920s Bartender, Banker, Barbershop Quartet Men’s Costumes
- 1920s Men’s Outfit Inspiration
- Accurate 1920s Classic Car Show Outfits
- 1920s Men’s Vintage Casual Outfit Ideas
- 10 Easy 1920s Men’s Costumes Ideas / Outfits
Need another casual look? Ask us for help.
Debbie Sessions has been teaching fashion history and helping people dress for vintage themed events since 2009. She has turned a hobby into VintageDancer.com with hundreds of well researched articles and hand picked links to vintage inspired clothing online. She aims to make dressing accurately (or not) an affordable option for all. Oh, and she dances too.