Fashion is always evolving. Its ability to interpret the present and embody it through a world of lines, fabrics and colors means that its history is also the history of all of us. Each period isn’t simply the bearer of a trend, but also has one or more style icons able to fully express its mood, the sense. To illustrate the evolution of menswear in the postwar period and afterwards, then, there’s nothing better than to take a look at those who have been protagonists.
Fifty shades of Grant
The 1950s, with the explosion of the Golden Age of Hollywood, saw a number of stars rise to the position of fashion icon, but few reached the heights of elegance of Cary Grant.
His outfits have left as much of a mark as his films. Making his style timeless is the combination of quality and simplicity, for a taste that is so classic that it is still up to date. Grant chose tailored suits with great care for the proportions and cuts that fell perfectly. No gaudy patterns or complex lines, no excessively bright colors: the key accessory was the tie, absolutely essential, better if a solid color and in satin.
“My name is Connery, Sean Connery”
If in the 1960s, the fashion of the white tuxedo was all the rage, the credit goes to a star of that decade, the charming Sean Connery. The Scottish actor, after the success of his 007, also made popular the James Bond style offscreen. That meant a white tuxedo with a shirt of the same color and a black bow tie, but also gray tailored suits. Connery preferred them in a dark shade paired with a tie as wide as the lapel jacket that doesn’t leave space between it and the shirt collar. In his free time, instead, he wore polo shirts, matching cardigans and button-down shirts, jeans with turned-up hems or, in summer, a pair of shorts.
Robert Redford’s casual-chic ‘70s
The lively 1970s had a classy protagonist in Robert Redford. Far removed from the hippy turn fashion took in that period, he became an emblem of a style that is casual, but definitely chic. His favorite clothing item has always been jeans: a jacket and denim pants gave his look that charm a little bit country that characterized him. With slightly flared pants he wore an elegant turtleneck that – on occasion – could become a good substitute for a shirt. Completing his look was a long navy blue peacoat, and then accessories: hats matching or in contrast with his outfit and aviator glasses. If we still wear them now, the responsibility is largely his! And for more formal occasions, he wasn’t scared to abandon jeans for a tuxedo.
Richard Gere: a casual gentleman
While in the 1980s not everything that was produced in the fashion world stood out for good taste, there were also those who, like Richard Gere, succeeded not only in emerging unchallenged, but to also became an icon of class and style. While cinema consecrated him as a sex symbol, Gere promoted the unstructured jacket invented by his friend Giorgio Armani, the most representative of Armani’s elegantly relaxed style. So, no shoulder pads (and that’s saying a lot for those days in which they were everywhere), no internal lining and maximum freedom in movement, better yet if slightly oversize. His favorite trousers were pleated, combined with a belted wrap coat like that worn in American Gigolo. Another trend of the period, worn splendidly by him, was the t-shirt underneath an unbuttoned soft-necked shirt, perfect with his inseparable glasses with gradient lenses? On red carpet occasions he said yes to the double-breasted suit, very elegant at the time, with regimental tie, another must of the ’80s.
Johnny Depp: end- of- millennium style
So now we come to the 1990s, with which its grunge and rebel style, couldn’t find a better icon than the rising star of cinema, the handsome and tormented Johnny Depp. His fake shabby style, which from rock evolved into a combination of gypsy and bohemian, often focused on accessories: wide-brimmed felt hats, necklaces, scarves, suspenders, vests, but especially the ever-present leather amphibians. Even for gala evenings, he never gave up his particular style, turning to tuxedos with silk cuffs and matching bow tie, pinstripe suits with a contrasting tie, black suits with a skinny tie of the same color or with a pointed-collar white shirt, in the western style.
Our roundup closes at the threshold of the third millennium, with one certainty: new development will take place, new fashions will take hold and replace the previous ones, new icons will take their place on the podium of the fashion system. But that’s another story.