The Evolution of Men’s Fashion in the Early 1990s

From white on white, a triple pleated trouser with lightweight jacket of rayon and nylon twill.
Men’s fashion 1990s

A Look Back at Comfort and Style

The early 1990s were a fascinating period for fashion, particularly for men. As we dust off the style archives, it becomes apparent how much has changed and yet how some things remain the same. Men were looking for more comfortable options, giving rise to the use of lighter fabrics and looser styles. Here, we dive into what men’s fashion looked like during those years, inspired by an article written in 1990 that details the trends and preferences of that era.

Men’s fashion 1990s – Shift Towards Lighter Fabrics

Eddie Steinberg, a fashion boutique owner, emphasised the importance of fabric choice for staying cool in the summer. “Keeping cool is all about fabrics,” he said, and this sentiment reflects the larger shift in men’s fashion at the time. While polyester was popular in previous decades, its stifling nature started to lose favour. Instead, fabrics that allowed for better air circulation, like linen and cotton blends, became more prevalent.

Manufacturers seemed to listen as the availability of linen garments increased significantly. As Steinberg noted, “We just saw the lines for 1991, and 20 to 30 per cent of the line was linen, whereas 10 years ago, it would have been 2 or 3 per cent.”

The Popularity of Silk and Wool

While linen and cotton blends were gaining popularity for their breathability, silk remained a luxurious choice for many. However, not everyone found it to be the coolest option, especially when compared to cotton and linen.

Wool also had its place in the fashion world. Lightweight wool suits became a practical choice for year-round wear. The costs of good suits were rising, and men started seeking versatile options that would last them throughout the year rather than season-specific attire.

The Casual Revolution

The early ’90s also witnessed a move towards more relaxed styles. Oversized sportswear started to become popular for less formal settings. As Arnold Borenstein, another store owner, noted, “There’s nothing worse in the summer than when the clothes are very close to the body and air can’t circulate.” Trousers and sports shirts also adopted a looser fit to cater to this trend.

Moreover, the tie, a symbol of formal wear, was becoming optional during the summers. Men started exploring the middle ground between too formal and too casual, often opting for open-necked shirts that were considered dressier than a fully buttoned-up look.

Summer Fridays and the “Friday Shirt”

The concept of “Summer Fridays,” where office workers could adopt a more relaxed style of dress, was starting to gain traction, especially in the western United States. The “Friday shirt,” made of washed cotton, symbolized this shift and was even paired with floral neckties for a semi-casual appearance.

Men’s fashion 1990s marked a shift in men’s fashion towards comfort without sacrificing style. Lighter fabrics like linen, cotton, and lightweight wool became popular, offering both breathability and versatility. A more relaxed and oversized silhouette started to dominate casual wear, giving men the freedom to be both comfortable and stylish. As fashion continues to evolve, it’s fascinating to look back and see how the priorities of comfort and style began taking a more central role during this period.

Sources

Cook. (1990, July 26). Natural Fabric, Loose Cut Keep the Summer Livingโ€™ Easy. Newspapers.Com. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from https://www.newspapers.com/article/st-louis-post-dispatch-natural-fabric/132543852/

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