Whether you are a hipster or just want to look snazzy, 1950s vintage men's shirts can be a great addition to your wardrobe. You can find a lot of original shirts at online vintage shops, but you can also get excellent reproductions; this is ideal if you are interested in something specific.
Look of 1950s Vintage Men's Shirts
Men's shirts in the 1950s basically all buttoned down the front and featured lapels and a square cut. Whether for work or casual wear, most shirts had a single breast pocket. They were designed to be slim-fitting, in contrast to the broader silhouette of the 1940s.
Shirts worn for leisure were also slim-fitting, but they were nearly always short-sleeved and featured bright colors and patterns. Men's leisure wear, when not meant for sports, had begun to be popular in the 1940s, but these were nearly exclusively Hawaiian shirts. Designers saw the possibility for developing the market, as part of the general ethos of the 1950s, and got to work. The whole concept of "leisure" for everyone, not just the wealthy, began in the 1950s. Men needed shirts to wear exclusively on the weekend and these were quickly available.
This was also the beginning of the era of the teenager. Teen boys were developing a style of their own and the look was more casual than that of their fathers. They were more likely to wear short-sleeved, patterned shirts on a daily basis, and wore them under cardigans, rather than jackets. Some boys still preferred a more structured look, but the beginning of more casual dress for teens - and everyone else - was well underway.
The Bowling Shirt
One of the most sought-after items in 1950s vintage men's shirts is the bowling shirt. While today men will wear them as part of their daywear, often over a T-shirt, in the 1950s they were almost exclusively worn for bowling. Bowling teams were popular in the 1950s, part of the growth of the leisure movement, and the shirts were designed for members of a team to wear as a distinctive outfit. They feature short sleeves with cuffs, angular collars and tend to snap, rather than button, up the front. They are often bright and will usually have someone's name embroidered over the breast pocket.
Finding Vintage Shirts
Although men did not have large wardrobes and most things were worn until they faded, a lot of 1950s vintage men's shirts can still be found in shops. If you want to achieve the classic 1950s look, it's better to shop for these shirts in person. The cuts are often different from that of modern wear and the slim style of the fit means it's best to try it on before you buy.
If shopping in person isn't an option, many online shops will give a lot of information about the shirt's measurements, so you can assess a fit sight unseen. A few good shops to browse include:
- Dress That Man is one of the best sources, as it carries vintage men's clothes exclusively and really understands menswear. You can shop for shirts via size, styles, era and fabric. They are prepared to answer any question you may have.
- Mike Peaches is another shop that specializes in men's wear, although they have a few items for women as well.
- Ballyhoo is a very popular online vintage shop. They regularly have large selections of all men's clothes and you can shop specifically for shirts from the 1950s.
- Vintage Swank mostly carries mid-century styles and often has a nice selection of 1950s shirts at reasonable prices.
- ReVamp specializes in vintage reproduction and will customize patterns. They have four styles of 1950s shirts available.
Whether you wear your shirt with jeans or vintage-style trousers, a 1950s shirt will give you instant style wherever you go.