Men’s fashion over the years has gone through a number of changes. However, the amount of change and the less radical nature of change, when compared to ladies fashion, is ably shown in this single blog. Ladies fashions demanded one article per decade rather than one blog covers all!
For many centuries the prime function of clothing was warmth and protection from the elements. Though knitted socks can be found in 3rd century Peru and a form of single needle knitting exists from Roman times these were purely functional. Religious requirements, such as the Sumptuary Laws in Tudor times, said that any man not wearing a cap on his head on Sunday had to pay a strict fine But these were forced requirements rather than a free choice of fashion. It is not really until the beginning of the 20th century that garments begin to show some style by choice.
By the beginning of the 20th century regional knitting variations were spawning fashion styles. Again these were based around functionality with a fishing Gansey a good example. But with regional variations as the theme a Fife, Lerwick or Channel Islands Gansey reflected local differences and with it fashion or style; options still available today. Regional knitting requirements were not however restricted to a tiny fishing port. The Scottish Sanquhar style sweater, Argyle Style jumper and Shetland Lace style are examples of Scottish regional variations, but from a much larger geographical area.
Those regional variations mentioned above had however one thing in common. They were all hand knitted and passed down through generations of families. But the 20th century was now benefiting from commercial technologies that allowed high volume uniform reproductions of each style. Now it was less about regional and functional requirements but more fashion coming into vogue. The early 20th century saw a boom in fitness and sport in general. Men could now wear the functional sweater on the tennis court or golf course and also as a fashion statement on the High Street. For those with a little more to spend warm winter knitted garments for the ski slopes made for an eye catching fashion statement back home.
By 1914 however fashion designs became of secondary importance to the war effort and whilst the fighting army was mobilising in Europe back at home an army of knitters were creating functional knitwear for the troops. Again from 1939 war raised its ugly head to be met with a programme of ‘make do and mend’ turning old clothes in to new and occasionally almost patchwork designs.
As the decade progressed to the 1950’s the fashion concept overtook the functional need due to high volume, low cost manufacturing. This allowed the wide adoption of the school uniform with boys being required to sport the school colours in the jumper and often grey socks.
By the late 1950’s men’s fashion had fully arrived from the Varsity jacket to knitted ties. The ’60’s often remembered for the miniskirt for the ladies was less dramatic for men’s fashion. However longer hair and a more relaxed look allowed for a style that mixed the suit jacket over the sweater to make the informal statement. Whether it was the Kinks or Steve McQueen casual was in.
Finally, let’s not forget the Christmas jumper, the natural choice for the office Yuletide party. Which just goes to show that there really is no accounting for taste.
Note: Patterns for all items shown above may be found and purchased from our blog pages:
1:12th scale mens patterns, 1:12th scale boys patterns and 1:6th scale mens patterns. Please be aware that the 1:6th mens patterns and 1:12th scale boys patterns are mixed with female patterns, they do not have their own categories yet.