What Men REALLY Wore in the 1910s
Welcome back to the Gentleman's Gazette. In today's video, we turn back the clock 110 years and look at what men actually wore in the 1910s. ♪ The Gentleman's Gazette theme song ♪ In recent history, there was a burst of period dramas staged after the Edwardian period, and they all have different costumes based on budget or artistic vision. So, the question is: what did men
actually wear, why did they wear it. and how did they wear it? We'll answer that question today. Of course, in different countries, men wear different things based on climate, culture, or the fashion. In this video, we'll focus mainly on American fashions and compare it to the European styles. So, without further ado, let's dump in headfirst, and if you want to skip a section, just do so in the timeline below. Top to bottom means we start with hats first. Yes, you heard right. Men back then would wear hats and not wearing a hat was about the equivalent
of going outside today in your underwear and your wifebeater undershirt. But, that's not to say that every man could afford nice hat, wore a nice hat, or bothered to wear it. Now, a hat is not a hat and men in 1910s wear very different ones for different reasons. Let's start with the most formal one, the top hat. It's basically a tall hat with a flat top and a round brim. It was covered
in shiny silk plush fabric that is very fine and it was definitely a hat of the upper class. Sadly, this material has been discontinued since the 1960s. So, you can't make those new anymore. Because the material is no longer accessible, vintage top hats in large sizes can sell for thirty to fifty thousand dollars. Silk plush is a very fine material. It was worn by upper-class men that could afford it, not by the middle-class or the working-class typically. A top hat used to be worn for regular day wear, meaning just to go about town. In the 1910s, that had changed and top hats were more reserved for formal morning wear or evening wear. It was popular with politicians,
aristocrats, the nouveau riche, as well as some middle class people who had ambitions to become upper class. While for many people today all top hats look alike, it's all about the nuances and the detail. For example, in this picture, you can see there's a different amount of brim curl and how high it is. Also, look at the head itself. Some are wider at the top than in the middle. The height was also different. After the 1910s, top hats got slightly more simple in their design and also slightly shorter. Now, when we say top hat, we mean the stiff non-collapsible top hat. There is also a collapsible top hat, also known as "opera hat" or "chapeau claque." Many people remember having seen
those in vintage movies. So, when they see one, they want to immediately collapse it. Well, the problem is, with a stiff top hat, that doesn't work. It will just damage it. And remember what I said, these can be really expensive and hard to find. So, never just bang your head on a top head assuming it's
a chapeau claque. The way a chapeau claque works is that it has coils on the inside. But, over time, they may not be as springy as they once used to be. If you want to see how an actual top hat was made, this video from British Pathé is really nice. By 1910, top hats were more widely worn in Europe and not so much in the US anymore. Modern-produced top hats are often made from wool felt and are just a shadow of what top hats used to be. If you wear one, get a vintage one because the modern stuff is just not up to snuff. Next up is the bowler hat. If you're interested, we have a whole video about
the in-depth history of this hat, how it came about, and who wore it and why. Basically, it is a round fur felt hat that is typically hard. That being said it could also be found in softer, more fashion-forward versions. Just like a top hat, it has a nice brim-curled edge. Modern bowler hats don't have them anymore. Despite being invented in 1849, the bowler hat saw a surge in popularity and was quite popular during the 1910s. Unlike a top hat, a bowler hat was truly worn by men of all classes. Another popular hat of the 1910s was the boater hat. The boater is a stiff
straw hat made of braided sennit with a flat top. Some people also call it the "flat telescope crown". Historically, on Straw Hat Day occurring in May, men started wearing their boaters and, on Felt Hat Day in September, they would switch back to fur felt hats. Eventually, that led to the Straw Hat Riot of 1922, which involved more than a thousand men in a brawl. You can learn more about this historic event and the hat itself in our in-depth boater guide here. Now, if you flip through vintage photos from
1910s, chances are you'll come across some Panama hats as well. They were popular because they were lighter and not as stiff as the boater hat. And, even though the name may imply otherwise, a panama hat is actually made in Ecuador by hand from the straw of the toquilla palm tree. So, why is it called Panama hat, then? Well, Theodore Roosevelt returned from the Panama Canal construction and the newspapers called it the "Panama hat" because he was wearing this summery straw hat. Because of that, the Panama hat has been cemented in our brains and the lexicon of the world. To learn more about the Panama hat, please check out this video here. Another popular hat of the 1910s - and in some
way shape or form a precursor to the fedora - was the homburg hat named after the German town of Bad Homburg. Even though it had a brim curl like the bowler hat, it was a lot softer and made out of fur felt. Now, when in black, it was rather formal, but you could also get it in dove gray or brown, versus bowler hats were mostly black. The hat was popularized by future king Edward VII when he returned to England in the 1890s from a trip from Bad Homburg in Germany. Hence, the name Homburg. If you haven't guessed it already, we got a guide for you about the homburg hat
and we also covered the fedora hat. Interestingly, the fedora hat finds its origins in the year 1882, and it was originally designed for women. That got its name after it was first worn in a play by the same name, written by Victorien Sardou. Interestingly, fashion-forwarded men like Oscar Wilde were seen wearing that same hat that same very year. As you know, Oscar Wilde was a famous
foppish dandy and so, the fedora wouldn't really gain mainstream popularity with men until the 1920s. But - and that's why it's part of this video - it was worn by fashionable gentlemen in the 1910s in the US. Last but not least is the flat cap, which was probably the most casual headwear of the era. If you're an upper or middle class man, you'd likely wear this hat for casual days or sporting events. On the flip side, for most working-class men, this would have been their number one choice of
headwear. Contrary to what popular dramas like The Peaky Blinders make you believe, the one piece flat cap was the most popular style at the time. It almost looked like a beret. It was wide, had a round pancake shape, and a peak in the front. Of course, we got you covered for this one, too, and have
an in-depth guide here. Moving further down from the hat, we'll reach glasses and eyewear. In 1910, eyewear was more varied than it is today. And by that, I don't mean they had more frame colors and frame styles, but there were just different types of eyewear that were acceptable to wear in public. Spectacles were, of course, in popular use. And while the wired versions were still popular, horn or framed versions started to pick up in popularity. Apart from that, men could choose from many different types of monocles. Some with a chain, some without, for the left, for the right eye.
But, overall, it was a very upper-class look, but still, men from the upper and middle-class wore it, as well as the lower classes. Apart from them, men could wear a pince-nez, which is French for "pinched nose" and it stems from the fact that you pinch this eyewear to your nose. Famous men who wore it include Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. Next, let's look at the shirts men wore in 1910. Now, today, most men associate a dress shirt as something with an attached collar, attached sleeves and cuffs. In the 1820s, someone had the idea to have detachable collars and cuffs to save on laundry cost and time because back then, collars and cuffs were heavily starched. Also, a man
would never take off his jacket and so you never really see the body of his shirt, but just the cuffs and the collar. This fashion persisted in the 1910s and you would attach the collar with collar studs; a wider one in the front because you have four layers of fabric, a slimmer one in the back because you have just two layers of fabric. Not only were the collars at the time starched and stiff, but they were also much taller than they are today. You could find wing collars, standing collars, rounded
club collars, or kind of square collars. The variety was much bigger than it is today. Most collars had a much smaller spread, which meant you couldn't see much the tie knot and had a very different look than more spread or cutaway collars today. Also, you could find soft collars that were detachable if you didn't like that stiff look and feel that had to be laundered and maintained more frequently. Of course, different shirt makers came up with different inventions, and so, you don't always see shirt studs, but sometimes, also tabs that were sewn into the collar. Or others attached them with pins or collar bars. If you're inspired by the collar bar look, take a look at our shop where we have a selection of collar pins and bars that give you that look even though you might not have a detachable collar shirt. If you want one of those, there's legal outfitter Stanley Ley that still
offers them or you can get them made bespoke. If bespoke is outside your budget, you can check out this video here on the Antique Menswear channel where you can see how you can make a detachable collar shirt from a widely available regular shirt today with a little bit of work. The star of that channel is Aaron White, a gentleman who dresses in Edwardian fashion every day and we hired him to write this script here because he really knows what he's talking about. A shirt back then was strictly an undergarment and, because of that, it was much longer in the tails and in the front so it would be tucked in and around your legs so it wouldn't come undone. It was also meant
to protect your more expensive outer layers from bodily fluids and sweat. For more in-depth details, Aaron has a video for that. Shirts back then came in a wide array of colors and patterns, but striped shirts were really popular because they didn't pick up the dirt as quickly as plain white shirts did. Some shirts had a simple barrel cuff with buttons, others had French cuffs or single cuffs for cufflinks. Even though detachable starched cuffs were still around at the time, they were about to be phased out. And while the detachable collar survived a little longer, the detachable cuffs
weren't as widely used anymore. Now, if you think about it, most of your shirts will likely wear out in the collar or in the cuffs. So, being able to simply have another set of cuffs or collars really expands the lifetime of your shirt. And while we're talking about cuffs,
gold and silver cufflinks in smaller oval shapes with chains and a motif on both sides were popular back then. You didn't see T-bar closure cufflinks or other cufflinks. Maybe snap buttons, but it became a little more popular later on in the 20s. Not many men wear bold colors for their cufflinks, except maybe for evening wear, where you could also see the introduction of precious stones. The ties of the day definitely varied from the ones sold today. First of all, they were shorter, they were typically wider, and they were much thinner. Sometimes, they were called "scarves", not necessarily "tie" or "necktie," and the knot was typically rather small, which makes sense because the interlining wasn't very thick and the spread of the collar was very narrow. Ties came in
a variety of patterns such as checks, stripes, and geometric patterns. Likewise, thin woven ties were in fashion. They were often striped and tightly knotted. In terms of materials, you could find silk, wool, or cotton. Due to, on average, much higher waistband of trousers and the higher closing waistcoats men would wear, the length of the tie was considerably shorter, sometimes just reaching 10 inches below the shirt collar. Even when it became more popular later on to go without a waistcoat, the ties remained short at first and would rarely reach the belly button. Today, it's
all different, of course, and ties are longer, but, we still have a different rise with our trousers and different people need different size ties. And because of that, at Fort Belvedere, we offer our ties in three different lengths, short, regular, and long. And you can check them out in our shop here. That being said, bow ties and cravats were also popular at the time and worn by fashionable men. Of course, the exact shapes and sizes varied. Next up, let's look at waistcoats or vests. Back in 1910, they were typically quite a bit shorter because, again, trousers or pants had a much higher rise and the goal was just to cover the waistband. As such, the waist typically stopped at your natural waist and would not go past your hips. Most waistcoats were made out of a heavier wool and sometimes lined
with silk as it was thinner and it had a cinch bail to the back, very much like waistcoats today. Fabrics were a lot heavier than they are today and only the rich at the time could afford fancy silks for their waistcoat backings. Specifically, in 1910s, the neckline of your waistcoat was much higher so less of the shirt and the tie was exposed. And therefore, the ties, again, were shorter. However, as belts became more popular, people dared to skip the waistcoat and let their tie that was quite short dangle freely. Note, they still wore their hats even though it wasn't the same style. Alright, let's talk about jackets, then. During that period, mass production, especially in the US, was normal.
That being said, the average factory suit in 1910 was of much better quality than it is today. There were no glued canvases. It was all a proper, interlined, sewn canvas. Even though machines were used back then and things like the pad stitching was all machine-made, the quality was still superior to most suits today. The most popular material for suits was probably wool, but you could also find linen and cotton suits. Fabric could be woven in many different ways and even though the finishing wasn't as good as it is today, you found a lot more fanciful weaves and textures and also patterns than you can today. Jackets would typically be lined in silk with the high wear areas, such as the sleeves, being lined in cotton. The lounge suit was popular and became the origin of today's business
suit. Prior to 1910, combinations or mixed-matched outfits had been more popular. Now, 1910, the suit, which comes in the French term "suivre" from "to follow," was more popular. To learn more about the history of the suit throughout the decades, check out this wonderful video here. In the US, boxier cuts were coming into favor and so were suits without the front dart, also known as the "sack suit." You can also see straight front jackets now, compared to the more cutaway jackets in previous decades. Today, suits typically have a more cutaway front. In 1910s, the silhouette of the jacket became wider
and straighter compared to decades previously. Even though they had sack suits in Europe, too, the American version was typically cut wider and straighter. I'm not saying that men wear baggy suits then, but they just weren't as contoured to the body as body coats were, such as a white tie tailcoat or a morning coat. If you look at the suit fashions a decade earlier,
you would also see much more contoured body coats that were not morning coats or tail coats. Stylistically, the jackets in 1910 typically had three or four single-breasted buttons in the front and two or three cuff buttons with considerably wider spacing than you would see it on a suit jacket today. Likewise, double-breasted jackets were popular, but they had slimmer lapels and came in a 6-2 or 6-4 button configuration. Also, the neckline on those double-breasted jackets was higher and, just like with the waistcoat, you would see less of the front of the suit than you would in a double-breasted suit today. During the mid-1910s, more slender form-fitting jackets were introduced that were popular with younger men. And towards the end of the 1910s, you could see two button jackets versus, previously, the three or four button jackets. So, what did regular trousers look like in 1910?
Today, for most men, it's a pair of jeans. Well, back then, men wore what you would today call a pair of dress pants, dress trousers. Typically, they had a high rise that would be about an inch or two and a half, three centimeters above your belly button or natural waistline. Interestingly, this style of rise
was worn by every man, no matter their weight or size. Most men in 1910 would still wear suspenders versus belts. Now, in the 1900s, you had mostly fishtail backs versus, by the 1910s in the US, you had more straight backs. In Europe, fishtail back trousers were likely still more popular. Now, if you look at a pair of straight-cut trousers from 2020, they're really perfectly straight on top. In the 1910s, they really rose up a little bit in the back to make it more comfortable to wear them with suspenders. Some even had little straps that would elevate the button, so if you wear suspenders, they would just hang better. That was the whole idea of fishtail back trousers:
comfort for the wearer. Most trousers would also have cinch backs, not so much side adjusters. But, even without a pair of suspenders, you could keep it tightly on your waist. Now, belts became popular a lot earlier in the US. And so, you can find more straight-cut belted trousers in the US from 1910 than you would in Europe. Now, one thing that was identical across the ponds was the fact that there were no pleats and pants were flat-fronted. Typically, 1910 trousers featured a more narrow leg that tapered down towards the cuff, very similar to what we see in modern fashion.
Only more formal trousers were typically cut a little bigger. And if you go later in the 1930s, trousers got a lot wider and pleats were added. Cuffs, or turnips as the British say, were also popular at the time, but by no means mandatory. In terms of length, you didn't see a big break in the trousers because they were narrow towards the shoe and so, they were mostly about ankle length. Speaking of ankles, what did a 1910 gentleman wear on his feet. Very clearly, rules ruled
the day back then. Balmoral boots that were laced high above the ankle were popular for men, so were button boots, as well as Chelsea boots. The average man would still have to be transported by horse or carriage. This speaks a lot to the conditions the streets were in during that era. Even though new technologies for mass transport had been invented, the horse was still quite important. And, as a
consequence, there was a lot of horse manure on the streets. Men on average had smaller feet back then, and shoes or boots were typically narrower. They also had a much higher heel, the stitching was a lot finer. If there was any broguing, it was finer and smaller than what you'd expect today from a boot. Now, when you watch period dramas, the boots or the shoes typically give it away because hardly ever will they get the heel height right. Typically, it's too short and more modern. Why is it the case?
Well, maybe it's not in the budget or they decide that people don't notice or they simply don't know about it. In terms of accessories, the most popular ones in 1910 were probably the pocket watch, the walking cane, a tie stick pin, and, of course, watch chains, older watch chains or you could have the ones that were actually put in with a T-bar to the middle of your waistcoat and then, you had the pocket watch on one side and a pencil or a fob on the other side. Stick pins were more decorative, but could help to pin your necktie to your shirt. To learn more about those, check out this video here. Even though the tuxedo was around since the 1860s, for formal wear, proper White Tie
was likely still the number one choice in 1910. Later on, the tuxedo would become more popular, especially in the US. But, if you're interested in the history of Black Tie and White Tie, we have the world's most comprehensive guide on our website. That being said, if you're interested in more videos from different decades, such as the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and so forth, let us know in the comments. In today's video, I wish I could say I had a true 1910s outfit but, unfortunately, I don't. I'm six foot tall or about 183 centimeters and over 200 pounds heavy, approaching 90 kilograms, and simply, it's really hard to find clothing that fits a man of my stature. Plus, I typically run hot and those fabrics back then were a lot hotter and were warmer. Also, I'm not a period dresser.
[Montage of Raphael in period-like ensembles] I always believe I live in the here and now and I'm just inspired by the past. That being said, I try to dress in the spirit of the 1910s, starting with a black bowler hat. It's a vintage piece and has a nice brim curl. My shirt has, stylistically, very much in common with shirts from 1910s. But, it's an attached collar. It is a club collar. But, it doesn't have the same look as a vintage
detachable collar. My tie is also not a true 1910s tie. It's too long and it's slightly too thick, but it's a simple four-in-hand knot. My waistcoat is double-breasted and modern, but stylistically very close to the 1910s. It could be maybe cut a little higher with a little less shirt showing. It also has that little buttonhole in the middle that you can use for your pocket watch chain, so it hangs right, decoratively, in the middle. My jacket features no vents just like they would back in 1910, but it's not a 1910 jacket. I guess it's more from the 40s. Even though my jacket has the black color of the era and the right cuff button spacing, it is a little younger than from the 1910s.
As a regular viewer of the channel, you'll know that all my pants are pleated and so is this pair of pants. Stylistically, though, it has that kind of shadow stripe and a rich, deep fabric. Lengthwise, it's about right, but it's a little too wide in the ankle. It should be slimmer and have no pleats. My socks are modern from Fort Belvedere and you can find them in our shop here, just like the white pocket square I'm wearing. The cuffs on my shirt are also attached and I chose a pair of vintage double-sided oval cufflinks with a bit of enamel color. I couldn't quite tell when they came out,
maybe the 20s, but you could have seen something like that in the 1910s, too. Again, solid gold and silver was probably more popular. In terms of footwear, I'm wearing a pair of button boots, which is a very much vintage-inspired and definitely gives me the look, especially if I wear it with a cane and a bowler hat in this entire outfit. That being said, the heel height is more modern and not high enough for a vintage 1910s boot. The two-tone look in off-white and black, the buttons, and the quarter broguing is definitely something you would have seen in an older boot, though.
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