From Boardwalk to Catwalk: 1920s Men’s Style and Trends Today

Posted on March 8, 2011


To me, the roaring 20s are best characterised by Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire swing dancing to jazz.

For many, myself included, the 1920s will be best characterised by Prohibition and the 3 piece suits favoured by both G-men (FBI agents) and gangsters ala Al Capone himself. What started from a little noticed trend of fedora wearing celebrities like Timberlake and Johnny Depp has reached full circle two tone brogue shoe proportions driven in part due to HBO’s new hit series Boardwalk Empire starring Monsieur Steve Buscemi. Here are some men’s style tips to get you started in fine “gangsta” style:

For Boardwalk Empire, John Dunn and Lisa Padovani used as much real clothing as they could. They rented houses in California to house all the clothing for the period even.

1920s Style Rules that exist today (or are making a comeback)

  • Men’s suits started to be fitted to the waist
  • Unpadded, single or double-breasted styles were equally acceptable
  • 3 button suits went as high as the chest. They buttoned the top button.
  • It saw the birth of the trouser crease down the front. It made a man look refined and striking.
  • They loved the knitted wear.
  • Shoes were brogue in two tones for daily wear. Patent leather for dinner functions.
  • Hats, ties and bow-ties were essential
  • Birth of the permanent handkerchief in jacket pocket.
  • Fabric choices of the day: Moving away from wool, designers used Tweed and flannel
  • Colour palettes of the day: blues, browns, greens including beige, cream and tan.

You can read about that era over at or follow this handy visual guide:

Posted in: men's style