The 2013 Great Gatsby movie the revived interest in 1920’s mens fashion is huge! It is not just the ladies who want to bring back some vintage class. 1920’s inspired mens clothing has made its way into Ralph Lauren’s collection as well as other top fashion designers. Have you noticed men’s vests, shawl collar sweaters, newsboy caps, and white collar shirts in your local department stores? All of these clothes began their popularity in the 1920’s and now they are back today. Thankfully that makes it a lot easier to re-create Great Gatsby clothes for men.
Since the movie is our inspiration let us take a quick look at what the Great Gatsby and his friends are wearing and then I will give you a guide to dressing like Great Gatsby yourself.
Great Gatsby Movie Clothes
The Great Gatsby– In this scene Jay Gatsby is dressed in his finest suit. It is a brown wool, peak lapel, windowpane pattern, four button jacket with slit breast pocket. He has a coordinating high V notch button up vest (probably 6 buttons.) His pants also are of the same fabric and although I can’t see the details I assume they are flat front with a single pressed pleat down the front legs. Since this is 1922 the leg widths are classic, not thin like jazz suits or wide like they will be in a few more years. His shirt is a light blue, pointed collar, french cuff, with a collar bar holding it neatly in place. His tie appears to be burnt orange, blue and white striped (very art deco colors, although I am not sure its very accurate to the 20’s.) His pocket square is gold silk. The Gatsby’s hands are perched on a walking cane made of wood with gold handle.
Nick Carraway- His wealth is nothing to Gatsby’s thus his suit is typical for a middle class man. He is wearing a notch lapel, dark brown wool, 3 piece suit with coordinating vest and pants (it is possible his pants are an even darker brown instead of matching. Another sign that he is middle class.) His vest is a traditional 6 button high V vest with pointed tips. The shirt is a light pink cotton dress shirt with contrasting white pointed button down collar. Removable white collars had been a very popular men’s shirt accessory for over a decade. It allowed the shirt to last longer by only replacing the shirt collar when worn out or stained. Nick also wears a diagonal striped tie in green, brown, black and thin orange stripes. The final touch to his suit is a watch chain draped from one vest pocket to the next and attached to the center vest button.
Tom Buchanan – The man everyone wants to hate looks very gangster like in his double breasted, peak lapel, blue wool suit. His matching blue vest is also double breasted and fitted very high up exposing only the knot of this maroon and black striped tie. His suit has to large patch pockets on the front and an angled slit breast pocket with a maroon and gold stars pocket square. Tom’s dress shirt is a light blue pointed collar french cuff dress shirt with gold square cuff links. He looks extra gangster with large dark and round Aviator style sun glasses.
Note- Tom’s suits is similar to that of Meyer Wolfsheim (pictured top, left.) His is also in a double breasted grey wool suit with peak lapels, flap pockets, maroon tie, white dress shirt, coordinating vest and pocket square. Meyer adds a white straw pinch front fedora hat with wide black band.
Which Gatsby man do you want to dress like?
At VintageDancer.com I specialize in helping you find modern clothes with a vintage look. Here are some great options to re-create the three Gatsby men styles using new clothing. To shop 1920s style clothes start here, where I have aggregated the best vintage inspired 1920s’s mens clothes I can find online.
Tips on Choosing 1920’s Mens clothes:
Suits- A medium brown, grey or light blue suit are the best colors to wear in summer. Peak lapel suits were very popular but so were notch lapels. (A peak is the bottom lapel larger and pointed upward then the top collar. A notch is a V cut out of the lapel.) Suits fit very high up so a 4-6 button up suit will be the most like 1920’s. Unlike today men tailored their suits to fit snug on the body. When choosing a 1920’s suit find one that fits well, not baggy. Learn more about the history of 1920s suits or shop new 1920s inspired suits.
Vest– A matching suit vest and pants are a must for a Great Gatsby look. He was wealthy and showed it through his coordinated clothing. Middle class and working class men did not always have the luxury of wearing a matching suit. A vest in the same color family as the suit jacket would be acceptable. If you couldn’t even afford a suit jacket than any vest in solid colors, fun plaids, checks, or windowpane patterns were the thing to wear. Vests could be single or double breasted with 6 buttons up the front. Shop for vests.
Pants- Avoid fully pleated pants. The 1920’s suit pants had single pleats, button fly’s, classic width, cuffed hems at the ankle and were held up by suspenders. Belts were coming into fashion but button on suspenders were still preferred. 1920’s pants simple don’t exist today. The main challenge is the height of the waist band. They fit very high up to just below the rib cage. Modern pants sit very low around the hip. Do your best to find classic fit men’s suit pants or golf pants. They will have the most waist height and usually pre-cuffed legs too. If you can’t find coordinating pants then wear one shade lighter than your jacket. If no jacket wear one shade darker than you vest. Learn about 1920s mens pants or shop pants separates.
Shirt- A french cuff shirt with cuff links is a must! All classes of men wore them with suits. Pointed collars to round club collars were the two main options. I love the look of the white collar shirt for 20’s wear. It screams vintage. You can also wear a solid color shirt with matching collar. White, blue, yellow, pink, and green in solid colors, vertical stripes or subtle checks were best for summer time. Learn about 1920s mens shirts or shop 1920’s Style shirts.
Shoes– Don’t forget the very important vintage style shoes. They will really complete your look. Gatsby loved the new two tone shoes that were increasingly popular during the 1920’s. These brown and white or grey and white wingtip shoes coordinated with your suit. The more classic shoe was the cap toe lace up oxford in a medium-orange brown, or fancy wingtip brogue in dark browns. Read more about 1920s mens shoe styles or shop for 1920’s mens shoes here.
Hats- Men always wore hats in the 1920’s. It’s difficult to capture actor’s expressions with hats on so the movie will probably leave them off but it’s important for you to have one for your Gatsby look. The working class cap or casual summer hat was the linen newsboy cap or straw boater. Gatsby wore a white newsboy cap in the 1974 movie. A business suit friendly hat was the fedora in light straw for summer and fur felt for winter. A traditional bower or derby hat was still very common in the 1920’s as well. Read about and shop for 1920’s mens hats.
Tie- Men’s neckties in the 1920’s were usually of wide diagonal stripes, polka dots, deco patterns, and paisley prints. The bow tie was equally popular in the same colors and prints as the necktie. Don’t forget a matching or coordinating pocket square too. Learn more about 1920’s ties and shop for them here.
Thats it! Now you have the knowledge and connections to buy 1920’s style clothing and create you own Great Gatsby men’s look. Have fun with it and send me pictures when you are done. need more help? Just contact me.