Now granted men's fashion has changed a bit more slowly than women's fashion in the past few centuries, but we can all agree that it has still evolved fairly quickly.
|Ca. 1900s (1907ish)|
The type of work shirt you wore, like today, depended on what you did for a living. Business men typically wore suits and white shirts of finer material while day laborers wore more colored shirts of much sturdier fabric (color hides stains and dirt). A man had many shirt patterns and colors available. Polka dots, double stripes and single stripes were popular as well as the traditional white.
|Both acceptable shirting fabrics.|
Collars came in detachable variations like the shirt pictured above and rarely softer attached collars. In the early 1900s collars were much more popular as they increased the longevity of the shirt. Shirts were still yet to be mass produced and a gentleman typically had less than a weeks worth of shirts in his possession at any given time. You will also note above that the collar is quite high. This is left over from the late Victorian era, but as we approached the end of the decade shirt collars start to shrink in height.
|late teens (source)|
There are two versions of the shirt pictured above. The far left is the negligee version, the center collarless version is what's called an outing shirt. This shirt could also be considered a work shirt if it was made with a sturdier fabric. The type of shirt at this time was determined mostly by the fabric used. Lighter fabrics for casual wear, slightly heavier fabrics for casual wear, and sturdier still for work shirts. The pointed yolk was typically found on casual shirts like these, but on occasion it would pop up in more formal wear.
|From a Guild to Making Shirts reprinted 1928|
Many colors were still popular at this time. Stripes, half stripes, and even on occasion checked fabrics were worn.
During the 1920s the silhouette of the shirt begins to change due in part to improved manufacturing techniques. Shirts become more fitted, with straight fitted sleeves. French cuffs are the norm. Pointed soft attached collars become more and more widespread thanks to the invention of the home washing machine. Rounded detachable collars are still popular among the older population, but for the trendy folks pointed collars become the normal shirt for business wear. They were secured with collar studs or pins and a tie. Detachable collars are still popular among day laborers for their ease of care and increased shirt life.
French cuffs, pointed sleeve plackets, and a longer shirt collar point are all features of this particular shirt. Also popular at this time. Collar stays!
Which were really more like tie clips, but still amazingly effective. Clip stay to tie and each side of collar and voila! Collar stays put all day long. Genus says I.
The 1940s bring with it an explosion of different styles of shirts. Shirts become more and more casual. Short sleeve shirts are very stylist for casual wear, sport wear and even work wear.
Fabric choices explode. Flannel, cottons, rayon, prints, prints, prints, and more prints all become popular for work and casual wear.
Western shirts become popular in the late 30s and into the early 40s. This is caused the increased popularity of western movies and stars like John Mack Brown, Red Berry, Harry Carry, Jr. and more. I have a secret love for these, but Mr. Fiance has promised me he will never wear one. Bummer.
The button down business shirts stay about the same. Detachable collars disappear and the softer pointed collar firmly cements its place in men's fashion. Shirt tails become shorter and plackets extend as the waist on men's pants lowers.
And that, my lovely friends, is that. If you found this helpful drop a comment in the comment section below. Next post: 1950s-1960s.
If anyone was confused by some of the terms I used in the post here's a helpful diagram.
Additional References and Some Good Supplemental Reading Recommendations: