From Sack Coats to Trucker Hats: 100 Years of Men's Fashion

1940 to 1949

The war rationing of the 1940s forced men's fashion to trim up a bit. To conserve cloth, manufacturers stopped making double-breasted suits; trousers became slimmer, jackets shorter. Dark, somber colors seemed to mourn the thousands fighting in Europe and the Pacific, and wartime restrictions forbade the sale of any unnecessary extras, such as vests and patch pockets (exterior pockets that are sewn onto the outside of a garment).

But not all men's fashions in the 1940s invoked doom and gloom. Tropical Hawaiian shirts were actually new and cool, and men whose name wasn't Indiana Jones wore fedoras. Zoot suits bucked all the trends of the decade with bright colors, wide coats and baggy, high-waisted trousers. The style's disregard for wartime rationing made the suits illegal, though they remained extremely popular with African-American and Mexican-American youths, who wore the suits to express their cultural identity.