Shoutout to the 20s

Dressing for better days means looking to the past – and noticing a pattern or two

Dress the part with the decade’s most dapper influences

Written by Buntu Ngcuka

Now that party season is almost here and we’re vaccinated, ready to leave our homes, the fun can begin. That includes dressing up. A trend we’ve spotted is the glorious return of the roaring 1920s fashion is cyclical in nature, so while the 90s and 2000s are dominating casual and streetwear, the dandy, sometimes over-the-top styles of a century ago have returned and we couldn’t be happier. What better way to say good riddance to a pandemic and the past decade’s special brand of social oppression?

Let’s go back to the 1920s, when the world was changing and fashion was a representation of the times…

A quick history lesson

After the end of the first world war, men and women alike continued moving away from the restrictive styles of the Victorian era and dressing up (in the context of that day and age), was actually dressing down. Putting utility first and function and at the top of mind, fashion began evolving into what we know today. Daywear was suddenly a thing – outfits were made for ease of movement and practical activities, and eveningwear was where people got to shine. For women, this meant beadwork, sequins, pearls and other dazzling details. For both genders, looks became about the entire ensemble: what you wore, how you wore it and the pieces with which you accessorised. 

For men, this shift meant ditching the three-piece suits in favour of two-pieces in more fitted silhouettes. Short suit jackets were introduced and the longer ones saved for formal occasions. Pants were shorter, with cuffs, often showing off the socks. Towards the middle of the decade, suit jackets became a little longer again, and trousers became baggier and roomier. You could say it was the birth of athleisure as sportswear: mostly sweaters and shorts started being worn on the field, shorts were knee-length, and off-duty, laidback style as we know it came to be.

So, how do you pull off inspiration from the best of the era without looking like you’re dressing up for Halloween or a Peaky Blinders-themed party?

The double-breasted jacket

The epitome of class and style back then was wearing a suit with a double-breasted jacket – and it still is. They used to be reserved for special occasions like weddings and dinners and they were often trimmed with satin, with thin lapels that had no peak. They came in either black or deep navy blue. Nowadays, there are no limitations to what colour you can rock. If you’re going to a wedding on a wine farm, for example, try pastel colours like pink or blue. For dinner, you may want to experiment with a checkered pattern. This leads us to this season’s essential…

The grey checkered suit

Few things say ‘dandy’ quite like a patterned suit. If you’re looking to make a statement this summer, this one’s for you. You can go subtle with a grey single-breasted suit and either keep it old school with a simple white button-up shirt and loafers or you can modernise it with a light hoodie or a plain white T-shirt and sporty sneakers. This look is ideal for your office Christmas party or year-end function: it’s formal without trying too hard. But if you really want to take it there…

Go for navy

It’s a classic colour that won’t let you down no matter the occasion, and since your social calendar is probably looking full this December, you can trust this two-piece to get you through the season, especially if you’re the cocktails-and-dinner type. Team it with a graphic or plain T-shirt and your go-to lace-up shoes – they can be formal or casual: either way, you’ll look the part.

Now that you know what to wear, it’s almost time to get your party on. But first, some words of wisdom: we’re still not out of the woods when it comes to Covid-19, so remember to wear your mask and sanitise. And if you arent going to be flexing a pair of brightly-coloured socks, then at least show some ankle – we’ve been in hiding for over a year and a half, they deserve to be seen.