Groovin’ To The Late 1960s-1970s

I never thought I’d be writing about the late 60s-70s, much less feel like it’s had an impact on my style.  Perhaps it’s because I grew a beard and started growing out my hair.

But certainly the wide lapels, long collars, and runaway collars already have a place in my existing style?  Read on.

Introduction

I’m a huge fan of vintage style. You guys should know this by now.  There’s just something special about taking inspiration from decades past or even simply wearing period garments in the modern day.  Sometimes I do it to be contrarian and “punk rock” against the mainstream.  Other times, its just a literal obsession with vintage details that you just don’t find readily available on contemporary garments. To my friends, colleagues, and style icons, vintage menswear is a huge part of personal style and its references (both big and small) are scattered all around their attire.  You’d be hard pressed to find a truly stylish guy in classic menswear who is always following every magazine’s trend report.

However, we must remind ourselves that when most guys say vintage, they mean they like specific eras.  And to them, those decades are usually the 1920s-1950s with a small splash of the 1960s, in order to reference the Golden Era of Menswear and Ivy respectively. These were all times of “refined” menswear, where suits looked sharp and casual wear was still smart and mainly consisted of nice sportshirts and tailored slacks. What these men don’t mean is the decades after, especially the 1970s.  But perhaps they were wrong.  Maybe there is something applicable to pull out of this gaudy-meets-rugged, polyester-filled time in menswear.

Some Background

I still remember the days when I first got into vintage menswear. As many of you know, collecting 1920s-1940s clothing was how I developed an interest in personal style.  Since I was a young guy finally attempting to break out of my H&M habit and starting to get intrigued by J. Crew (but wanting something more tailored and different), I hung on to every word they said.  And they hated the late 1960’s-1970’s.  I mean, they mainly disliked anything after 1950, but it was the aforementioned decade that they really despised.

From a clothing standpoint, the contrast between the late 1960s-1970s was clear.   It was a gaudy era, filled with meta references to how insane it was.  The ads and photographs looked fun, but the vintage guys wouldn’t have any of it. Suits became dramatic and less “classic”, presumably on purpose.  These suits still built a figure, but it was more “elegant” (or even feminine in my eyes) compared to the strong, bulky pieces of the 1940s-1950s or even the standard ivy sacks of the early 1960s. It was visually similar to some aspects of the 1930’s (or even Edwardian clothing) in terms of flair, but just bastardized due to the heavy pagoda shoulders, nipped waists, and other odd details.  Their ties were wild, but not in the cool 1940’s way, but in an ugly way. The rise of designers over classic tailors and “future fabrics” like polyester (instead of natural fibers) also did the era no favors to stallwart vintage heads.

Despite some carryovers of classic menswear (high waists, proper overall fit), it can definitely be seen as a slap in the face to the hard core vintage enthusiasts I had grown up with.  Even most major well dressed contemporary guys (at least at the time) didn’t exhibit any sort of affinity for that groovy era. Even though these tailoring enthusiasts had no desire to wear a 1930s suit, they still  vibed with that ideal.  And as a result, I held a similar view for a long time. I shunned everything 1970s and onward, from thrifting finds to even gazing upon photography; the Golden Era (and later Ivy) was enough for me.  But then something changed,  or rather, I did.

The Draw of the Era

Breaking out of wearing strictly period menswear was a big part of my style journey.  Suddenly, I was making connotations from Ring Jacket and B&Tailor to my beloved 1930s photographs saved on my  computer.  Drake’s ties, with their fun designs, were able to evoke the fun, artisanal feeling from my collection of vintage ties, just now I didn’t have to worry about the fabric breaking down.

Later on, Ivy was able to exude the simple Americana, business/smart casual looks with some extra vintage flair.  I had finally realized that sticking to one period wasn’t doing my personal style any favors and that there actually is a lot to learn from other periods. Could it be possible I was wrong with the 1970s?

Perhaps I was just getting older, but I began to look upon the era a little differently. The late 1960s and 1970s was a time when things were changing for America (and the world). Films were grittier in a post-Hays Code, filled with violence, sex, and other mature themes.  Loss of innocence with the youth was  no doubt due to Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement was prominent.  Values between generations were becoming more and more delineated.

Obviously, all of this leads to clothing being interpreted differently than it was before.  In my eyes, with all the disruption of style rules and silhouettes, it became the true start of democratization of clothing, rather than a obsessive pursuit of whatever the masculine or classic ideal of menswear should be.  Like I said earlier, the late 1960s-1970s was fun and they knew it.

That realization was powerful for my mindset. I began to see the era not as a Flanderization of the ones prior to it, but as it’s own time period of self expression and unique voice, embracing this change. The sexyness was alluring.  The ruggedness wasn’t sloppy, but an actual use of sprezzatura (studied carelessness).  I gathered this not just through the countless images of Harrison Ford, Mick Jagger, and Jack Nicholson, but because many of my peers were starting to feel the same thing.

They all have some sort of attraction to this era, perhaps as they similarly move into their next stage of life past the idyllic times of college.  I see this across my fellow mid 20s friends, both in and out of menswear. The appeal of the gritty-yet-sexy 70s is apparent, across their film choices from the Criterion to how they just throw on a tweed jacket and jeans (something unheard in the mainstream until that very era).  They don’t wanna have the luxurious life of 30’s High Society- they’d rather sit in their apartment, grow out their locks (both on their head and beard) and smoke.  I even remember seeing a guy I saw at plenty of Golden Era vintage events grow out his hair and beard and start to look straight out of 1971!

Even the Gold Era vintage inspired classic menswear guys like Ethan Newton or Tony Sylvester have incorporated ideas of the 1970s into their attire, moving away from a strict tailored look to something more rugged and sexy.  With all this back-and-forth with inspiration and mentality, it’s almost comes across like a  post-modernist view of menswear (and life). I can’t deny that the entire vibe was attractive to me; it’s only natural the clothes followed.

This is even true outside of classic menswear. I began to see many well stylish guys take cues from the late 1960s-1970s.  MaleFashionAdvice is one such place, where guys like Warp do the look so well, but it’s evident everywhere as the youth begin to set the direction, not in a peacock sense, but in a tasteful rugged-yet-classic way.  Bold aloha shirts with tailoring, SLP/rockstar chic rising to prominence, the return of white socks, and even just the direction GQ has turned to under Will Welch, are all evidence of this.  I truly think that everything in the past 10 years of menswear has lead us to this point, where it is truly evident that we address the influence of the 1970s.

I will say that we are all young and m

any of us never actually lived through the 1970’s, so it’s clearly just a faux-nostalgia thing, much like how the teenagers of today seem to be reliving the 90s and early 2000s in the same vein.  I can’t say that I advocate for all of the 1970s, much like how I no longer advocate for true period accurate 1920s-1960s fits either. Polyester in tailoring will always be awful.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t filter this gaudy, sexy/rugged era with what we’ve already learned thus far in vintage and contemporary classic menswear.  I just happened to create two different categories for my own peace of mind and use them to filter how I’d incorporate the style into my existing style and wardrobe.

The Sartorial Details

Conservative 1970s suits that still had the trade mark details of the era.

Before we dive into the vibes of this interesting era of menswear, let’s first dissect the cut.

The jackets are always a good place to start when looking at how an era defines its style. Shoulders weren’t too square and extended like the 1940s-1950s, but much more elegant with varying degrees of pagoda-ness with their structure.  Natural shoulders were still a thing, but the construction and fit (especially with a high gorged lapel) pointed toward a broad top block.

A lightly draped chest with a nipped waist was done to compliment the shoulders. Since the body was slimmer than what came before, a longer jacket length was meant to make everything proportional and possibly as a reaction against mod/continental style (which was natural extension of ivy).

As we talked about on the pod, Ralph Lauren was one of the leaders of this new suit style since the beginning of the 1970s.

Strong shoulders, wide sharp notched lapels (with a high gorge), slightly lowered button stance, and no-break, flared leg trousers.

Note the shoulders, long length of the jacket, and the flared leg trousers.

Lapels were wide, bellied gratuitously,  had sharp open notches, and featured a high gorge, which along with a lowered button stance (you can see that the bottom button goes past the pocket line), only emphasized the strong shoulders and echoed the long lines of the body.  Long vents were also done not only as another echo, but to presumably add more comfort in movement, since everything was so form fitting. This was one way it diverged from the 1930’s, where ventless backs were common unless it was sportswear.

The trousers were high waisted, but not as much as the previous eras, settling (in most cases) slightly under the belly button.  Tapering through the thigh was a common theme, being carried over from the ivy-mod that came before, but this time, it was modified with a slight flare at the hem.  It’s dramatic, but I think it was necessary in order to play along the other exaggerated features in the tailoring.

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An early 1930’s suit that definitely has some proto-1970s details.

To me (and to many vintage enthusiasts), it’s definitely a send up of a lot of older vintage aesthetics.  With it’s structured shoulder and nipped waist, the tailoring very reminiscent of the early-mid 1930’s with just a few elements made longer and more dramatic.  For example, the 1930’s had short jackets, high waists, and wide legs (with a bit of flare); these things were retained and transformed in the 1970s. You could even say that the overall style of the late 60s-1970s was a send up of the thirties, due to the heavy use of belt backs, almost-spearpoints, and the runaway collar.  There is also a bit of late victorian/edwardian influence as well, which funnily enough was also a time of bold luxury in menswear.

Now let’s dive into the vibes.

1930s suits, cut with a strong shoulder, short length, and wide semi-flared legs.  Very proto-70s.

Highrise with a fitted waist and a wide leg.  Not quite the bell bottoms, but very close.

1910s suits were the basis for some late 1960s tailoring.

Sartorial Sexyness

Men adopting the silhouette and attitude of the era welcomed the low button stance and tighter pants.  Like the #menswear of the 2010s, the styles of the 1960s-1970s was definitely done as a rebellion of the “wide” (or shapeless) tailoring before it.  It was just so sexy.  Elegant still, as it was reminiscent of the 1930’s in a way, but much more sexy and bold.

I don’t mean that in terms of nudity (though the amount of severely unbuttoned shirts is plentiful here), but rather in the silhouette and vibe. Just look at the suits of Yves Saint Laurent, Tommy Nutter, and Edward Sexton- the whole look contrasts sharply against the straight cut sack suits of the early sixties or even the bolder look of the 1940s-1950s.  As a result, these tastemakers and their followers began to create something new that changed the world of menswear.

For the first time, boldness for the sake of boldness was becoming accepted again in menswear, not just in the cut but in the actual fabrics and colors choices. The corporate/plain vibes of ivy or the Mad Men look was on it’s way out, allowing men to wear garments with more character than ever before.  It’s still rooted in the classics, like checks and pinstripes, but just over emphasized, which really was the theme of this era. Color overall was also embraced, with vibrant yellows, oranges, and blues being present all around; blacks and browns were also common and worn together which is rather subversive in the bigger realm of menswear.

Shirts boasted bold bengal and awning stripes, requiring thick plain knit ties to tone down outfits, especially if men wore these shirts with checked jackets.  Foulards, striped shirts, and checked jackets make me think of the 30s, but a plain navy or black knit? Super 70s in my mind.  We also can’t forget the boots, which works well in tandem with the dramatic cuts of the suits.  If I see a flared leg, it’s practically begging for a boot!

And yes, I’m perfectly aware that ivy-trad was still a thing even in the 1970s.  Brooks Bros even widened their lapels, lengthened their jackets, and in a moment of novelty, produced fun patch work oxford shirts.  But we’re not talking about ivy-trad here in this article. Nor are we talking about leisure suits or safari jackets- we’re talking about good old fashioned tailoring that simply had 70s make over.

Die Workwear’s avatar is a great example of 70s trad: wider lapel, lower button stance, and big pocket flaps.

You could definitely argue that the low button stances, wide lapels (with high gorge) and tight, flared trousers had a phallic theme. And guys definitely adopted it, what with their severely unbuttoned shirts (also rather slim fit).  Let’s not forget the prominence of polyester, which helped keep fabrics nice and smooth (despite running hot), leaning into the sleek tailored lines of the era.  All of this sounds bold, but instead of being classically masculine, overt sex appeal was the driving force.  Both braggadocious, but in a different way.

While many suits of the era adopted the aesthetic, I actually don’t think that it works for corporate looks or even “safe” tailoring.  If you want that more “everyman” feel, I think it’s better done with older aesthetics, like with 60’s ivy or even just regular 40’s tailoring.  With the 70’s cut, a normal suit/separates with a tie comes across a bit too try hard.  I think that this era of menswear is best done with a casual mindset.  You may be wearing something structured and dramatic, but you’re okay with just wearing an unbuttoned shirt.  It’s all you needed.

You see, while the cuts were certainly crazy and daring compared to other eras, the best dressed men of the era didn’t let it overpower them. You can see that they did it with a  slouchy demeanor, one that makes everything look easy.  They weren’t wearing suits because they wanted to be formal, clean cut, or professional; they wore suits because it provided a spring board to a new approach to being free. We can certainly thank the rise of rock stars in suits (like the Rolling Stones) who helped push the narrative that  it was all so simple. You can see this energy in all of the photographs below, where the wearers have an air of easy, sexy elegance that is certainly envious.

Let’s also not forget that Derek has also written about pulling off bold shouldered/70’s style suits.

Wild square bottom jacket.

I think Robert Redford looks cooler  with a casual suited look than the more corporate guys on the left.

Heeled boots, flared leg (with no break), and a wild jacket.  Certainly not business appropriate.

A conservative example of an early 70s sack suit. Not bad actually.

Okay, these aren’t bad.

Solid knit ties were definitely popular!

Now this is a vibe.  Easy and casual, with just a DB suit, unbuttoned shirt, and black shoes.

A 6×3 DB suit. Common for the era and a send-up of early 1910s/edwardian jacketing.

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Adopting the style today isn’t actually all that hard! Obviously some guys today have been into this look and wear it well with a slightly updated lens. SLP is an example of a movement that does it will, though from a designer rather than a classic tailoring focus.

Edward Sexton is probably the most well known tailor firm for this aesthetic, who has combines it with a muted English palette (he even notes that this is what separated him from Tommy Nutter in a Blamo! episode).  Seeing his work on guys like Aleks Cvetkovic only helps hammer in how wearable it is today, even if they do still lean toward bold (but not period bold) patterns. Husbands Paris and Maxamilian Mogg are relatively recent brands that also use this era to define its house style. Even Natty Adams, the author of I am Dandy who started in Golden Era-inspired style, has even started doing boot-cut suits with pagoda shoulders, no doubt evident in this newfound appreciation for the late 60s-70s.

What I think is interesting is the push for the attitude and vibe rather than straight reproduction.  By that, I mean that things still are done through a contemporary-classic menswear mindset. We aren’t seeing pink check suits or lurid stripes but instead, rich browns and a hearty use of navy.  Hell, we see more use of black, which I think is actually much more effective at being sexy (and rebellious) than any other color.  It’s only natural that if the late 60s-70s came back, it would be done with more restraint, in order to make sure it wasn’t shunned immediately.

In fact, you could say its being embraced nearly wholeheartedly by the classic menswear community.

Edward sexton boys. Not the shoulders, low button point, and long jacket length.

A tasteful DB.

More of an early 1960’s vibe but it still works. If the pants were wider, it’d be solid for this era.

Absolutely wild and yet cool as fuck.

Aleks Cvetkoich stand out to me for his 70s-meets -30s mode of dress.

Husbands.

Aleks leans into it a lot.

Natty Adams with a delightful cord suit with flared trousers.

Navy + Grey is supremely classic, but with the cut of the jacket and the use of boots, this particular image is very rock-and-roll.

I love that Husbands even mimicked the fat knit tie.

Check out the cut of the trousers on Natty.

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Articles of Style doing their best 70s impression.

These oversized plaids are very 70s, but it’s done here in an ivy way.

Max Mogg with a belied DB that seems very 70s. Its yellow-cream color and bowtie help tie it into the era especially well, despite being a modern creation.

Incorporating the late 60s-70s into black tie is a great way to spice-up  attire that is typically supposed to be fairly traditional.

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I want to also shout out Damon, a local lawyer and menswear enthusiast in LA, who is also a big fan of this style of suit. As a result, it was the first time I actually saw someone in person with a sartorial style that took after the late 1960s-1970s.  As you can see in the pictures, his suits take after Edward Sexton. To my surprise, Damon actually works with a secret LA tailor that he was able to mimic the cut he wanted.

With Carmina shoes and Drake’s shirts, he provides a contemporary take that is actually wearable! It’s obvious that Damon likes the sexy rockstar appeal, but he found a way to combine the cut with a much more somber approach; he is a lawyer after all!

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Now ties aren’t all that necessary when doing the 1970s. In fact, I would advise against it. To me, ties are a great way to exude the vibes of a certain era and most ties pre-late sixties are rather almost completely versatile.  However, the ties of the 1970s are not good and at best, distracting when combined with the exaggerated lapels and flared legs.  I personally think that this era is best done sans tie, with open collar shirts, tees, and turtlenecks!

Of course, solid knit ties or simple repps (as seen in the other pictures) will get you through it if you really want to wear a tie.  And if you must add pattern, adding in a boldly patterned shirt is the way to go! It’s still period and can take the place of a tie in terms of “outfit completeness”.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that cloth was actually 70s vintage.

Navy jacket, cream trousers, and a blue shirt, done a la late 60s-70s.

Despite those guys making a strong case for modern structured shoulders. Like my approach with the all the other vintage style cues, I don’t believe in going all in; so don’t worry, I’m not going to abandon my soft shoulders! But honestly, if you’re already into classic menswear, with it’s naturally wide lapels, high rise, and wider legs, adding in late 60s-1970s vibes is rather easy.  In fact, I think that my style inspiration has rapidly been moving into that era naturally, just done even more slouchy.  Guys like Ethan Newton and Tony Sylvester provide 70s-inspired inspo done through relaxed contemporary tailoring.

I personally think the vibe and attitude of the late 60s-70s expressed through tailoring is most important to put on, rather than the structure of the suit.  However, that could just be my bias.

The shirt is very 40’s, but done mono chromatically and with this cut of suit, it appears very 70s.

Black loafers. The refined classic menswear alternative to black chelsea boots.

Soft white summer suit made 60s-70s with cowboy boots and a crazy printed sportshirt.

A western hat with tailoring is very 70s.

It’s no secret that Rob Spangle likes to delve into late 60s-70s looks.

Bold knit, bold check, and black shoes.

Orange wide trousers with tall black chelseas? Very 70s.

Wide lapels and a sportshirt are 40s style, but here it has a 70s vibe in terms of boldness.

A very late 60s to early 70s color palette worn by Jake on the right.

Jonas (right) has more of a mod look, but it fits the era.

As a frequent user on r/MaleFashionAdvice, I’m exposed to a lot of great styles and I’ve even noticed this  aesthetic coming through on some of the other active members.  One person in particular is Warp, who does the look so well.  With slim-flared trousers, boots, and fun patterned shirts, it was a welcome contrast against the more tailored focus of my contemporaries.  Like the true 70s style icons, it helps that Warp is actually a musician, so it seemed only natural that his personal style came down this road.  I’m a composer, but I don’t think that John Williams or Hans Zimmer are any semblance of fashion inspo.

I think that Warp provides a great blend of tailoring and casual style that gets those late 60s-1970s vibes across well. It’s even better than the extra skinny SLP look.  From what I know thus far, he doesn’t use much true vintage but instead finds brands that allow him to dress in this aesthetic or just uses what he already has. I actually think seeing him dress up through his posts on reddit and IG were some of the major drivers on how I’ve come to adopt it into my own approach to classic menswear.

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Whenever I pull inspiration from this era in my own outfits,  I find that going minimal is the best way for me to apply it and  remain comfortable.  My tie-wearing looks (both suited and with separates) tend to take after the 1930s-1960s, but I’ve felt that my minimal-yet-dressed up sartorial style needed some inspiration, so this era (and my contemporaries) really help in that regard.  I shouldn’t have to tell you that solid suits (whether vibrant or dark) help anchor in any other “wild” choices like a bold colored sportshirt with a runaway collar.  And while my spearpoints are perfect for 70s looks (they are the grandfather of the 70s point collar), I actually prefer using sportshirts even though they aren’t “accurate”; they’re just easy to pop on!

One point about leg openings; despite my trouser silhouettes being wider than what was en vogue for the 70s and using a straight fit rather than a flare, I like it a lot.  Not only is it better for my wardrobe (could you imagine if I had to buy/commission new trousers?) but they’re better overall for a versatile classic menswear wardrobe.

In order for me to give these suits a more late 60s-70s spin, I just wear black chelsea boots as a finishing touch. The heightened and sleek foot profile gives the leg a rock-and-roll spin even if the tight flares aren’t being worn!  Loafers and lace-ups can be a bit too classic and don’t really point toward this specific era, but if I do wear them, I make sure they’re black in order to maintain that same sexy attitude.  It’s the alternative theory in action, done for something very specific.  Black bit loafers would be cool, since their hardware plays along with the gaudy vibes, but I personally don’t think they would work well in my regular attire.

The idea is to use what you  already have to approximate different looks without having to buy anything new.  All hail classic menswear, right? It’s also about exuding those edgy menswear themes, just in terms of the tailored vibes rather than simply wearing all black.

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The outfit above is probably a great example of everything in practice.  You see, even though the suit is smooth gabardine from the 1940’s (with the shoulder pads removed), it gets the vibe across, especially with the black chelsea boots. A sawtooth westerner was worn to give it a bit of a rugged vibe, though any runaway collar would’ve been fine!

Honestly, this “base” of a suit (or dark separates), chelsea boots, and an open collar shirt is one that is easily repeatable that exudes the sexy tailored style of the late 60s-1970s. It also helps that because the 70s took a lot from previous eras, you can approximate it with true vintage that isn’t necessarily from the that specific time period. The result is something that isn’t exact but gets the vibe across.  To me, I prefer my own method since it not only saves me money (so I don’t have to get new things just for this newfound obessesion), but it feels much more relaxed and slouchy.  I just don’t think structured shoulders are for me.

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Here’s another late 60s-60s inspired fit that is a bit more contemporary.  It certainly is trickier to do using separates, since you can’t lean on the slick sexy monochromatic traits of a suit.

My goal here was to combine spring-summer style with the periods boldness, mainly echoed by the vibrant pink checked sawtooth and my new Ring Jacket wool-linen-silk houndstooth jacket (more on that later).  It’s a wild combination that actually goes together thanks to the scaling of patterns and the color.  I don’t think someone would do this in the 1930s-1940s and if they did, they probably would’ve done it with something plain, either in the shirt or the jacket.

The white cotton-linen trousers are flat front, so they help fit more of the  60s-70s style (since pleats weren’t as common). What gives them the kicker is the use of suede chelsea boots, which work to replace suede tassel loafers, a more “traditional” #menswear piece.  Again, boots with tailoring is the one of the best ways to get the groovy 60s-70s vibe across, especially here where the intention isn’t as overt as the last outfit.

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Hardware like sunglasses and rings can also anchor in the intended period.

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Of course, nothing beats a navy suit.  Like I said, plain suits or minimal pieces are the best springboard for you to add onto.  And similar to the other outfits, this one actually has more roots in the 1930s-1940s, but regular guys wouldn’t know.

I was intrigued by the conservative outfits worn by Aleks, Damon, and Edward Sexton, but they have more obvious vibes due to the structure of their suits.  This navy cotton suit was made by my friends over at Atelier Fugue and done with a soft shoulder, since that’s what I like most.

In order to give it the late 60s-70s vibe, I added a blue stripe shirt with no collar bar.  Without that collar bar, the spearpoints fly free and can finally be intentionally associated with the seventies.  A bold deco stripe 30s-40s tie mimics the wildness of the 1970s ties, so all together, it’s a good imitation outfit. And as you can notice, I did wear my trusty black chelsea boots with it, as tassels or oxfords would’ve been too “normal”.

Overall, the red tie and slouchy navy suit is my impression of Philip Marlowe from The Long Goodbye.

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Brown worsted suit with a 1940’s checked rayon shirt and black chelseas. Just try to tell me that this doesn’t look 60s-70s!

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Brown cotton suit, severely unbuttoned aloha, and black chelseas.

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It’s a 1950’s shirt, but the monochromatic look has a updated-groovy vibe.

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John with a similar look to mine, just with more ivy and with black tassel loafers.

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A bold jacket and an open shirt feels very 70s to me.

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Slick dark suit with dark runaway collar shirt.  Black tassels replace chelseas here. Note the full cut trouser; I still refuse to wear overt flares.

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Brown checks and bold checked tie are calmed by a plain white shirt and dark navy (almost black!) trousers.   If I wore black chelseas instead of tassels, it would be a very Husbands-esque picture.

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Bold browns and dark blacks. A more somber take on the 70s palette.

I haven’t made the plunge for bandanas or neck scarves yet, but including them with tailoring is a great way to lean further into a late 60s-70s vibe.

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A full navy suit cut in a classic way can be a great base to add onto.

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A 70’s-does-30’s suit I made through Natty Adams that works well for tailored looks.  I even leaned into it with a bold shirt and tie.

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Bold checks and solid knits right?

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Black and brown. I was just missing the runaway collar.

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Another 1940’s cut suit with strong shoulders, but with the bold striped shirt and solid tie, becomes very late 60s-70s.

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Orange tie and black shoes with a brown suit seems very 70s to me.

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A soft shouldered DB that has 70s vibes with its wide belly, high gorge, and bold brown check.

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70s palette but done with 30’s inspired pieces.

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A more traditional look, but with the dark vibes, it feels like it exudes the era (in my head at least).

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Another 70’s trad look with bold houndstooth and a solid knit tie.  Chelseas again would give it a Husbands look.

The Casual Side

The casual side of the late 1960s-1970s is interesting.  On one hand, everything was cut similar to the suits: odd jackets still had the wide lapels and jeans, chinos, and cords had the flare.  However, creating a casual outfit wasn’t as thought-out as previous decades.  It wasn’t just an oxford shirt tucked into chinos and loafers.  Like the cut of suits, it got wild.

People started mixing things like crazy, creating high-low outfits that were simultaneously sexy and rugged.  Patterns and stripes still showed up in full force, whether it was as pants or a shirt.  I’m not sure why this is, sociologically speaking, but perhaps you could just chalk it up to the changing times.  There was no precedent for non-suiting.  Rules were now guidelines and people no longer had to follow traditional convention. Other decades were stylish in their own right, but the late 1960s-1970s was a time of personal style and self expression. You no longer only had to get a fun tie or a patterned sportcoat to show how different you were to the other guy.

This is why you saw the rise of jeans and a sportcoat. It’s a classic look that many of us take for granted now, but really wasn’t adopted into the mainstream until the 1970s.  You may have seen it done a bit in the 1930s and other older decades, but it was mainly done by the working class who seldom had other trousers to wear for separates.  In the 1960s-1970s, it was something new and subversive to do as a fashion statement. Hell, denim overall became even more widely accepted. Denim jackets became equals as leather jackets, being worn with slacks, trousers, and jeans!

It was less about buying things that were designed strictly for one use (like ski wear) but instead, combining things you got from different places into your existing wardrobe.  Military jackets  of all kinds could replace sportcoats (or leather/denim jackets).  Overalls were worn with OCBDs. Turtleneck base layers.  Cord trousers and short jackets. Knit caps outside of workwear.  Novelty graphic tees were no longer just for kids and were an acceptable top layer.  Leather tennis shoes (not the “classy” canvas ones) with slacks.  Crisp non-work boots with jeans.  Western fedoras and cowboy hats had separated from cowboy attire.  Ugly-but-cool pieces, like Wallabees, were coveted. Waistcoats were casual and went with your t-shirts.  People routinely switched between tucked and untucked shirts at random, presumably based on how it went with the outfit. Leather jackets were back, but not in a dad-way but in a sexy, cool way.

It’s almost like all of these things were freed from context and now were able to be worn at will.  It’s a little bit utilitarian, but most likely just sprang from the idea that you could wear whatever you wanted.  This could be due to the fact that thrifting and second hand clothing came in a bigger way, especially after all the military surplus in the 1950s and 1960.  People wanted to wear things in a maximalist way to compete with the new focus on trends and designer clothing.  Anything goes was the theme and everyone rolled with with this new attitude toward clothing.

There’s also a slight western twinge to everything.  I’m not sure why, but its apparent!

Good mix of different things here, from sack jackets and truckers, to workshirts and hoodies.

Sneakers, now being pushed for athletic wear and regular casual wear.

Western shirt, military jacket, jeans.

Classic.

A 1950’s two-tone jacket!

This is absolutely cool as fuck.

Leather jackets, cords, and boots.

Lee jacket and denims.

Navy sportocat, tan workshirt, and jeans.

Andy Warhol, wearing jeans with a tie.

Untucuked OCBD and worn jeans.

White leather sneakers and cords abound.

Popover with cord pants and suede derbies.

Wallabees!

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DB jacket with raw hemmed jeans and black chelseas.

Many of our ideas of casual men’s fashion (at least on a current mainstream level) come from this time period of experimentation, so it’s nice to give the era proper credit. Like my philosophy on incorporating the late 1960s-1970s tailoring vibes, the way to do it today isn’t so much about straight copying (though guys like Brent do period accurate extremely well) but the mentality on how to combine/incorporate different things.

I think there are two ways of approaching it. The first is by leaning into the sexy tailored vibes, just through casual wear.  This means dark colors (or being rather minimal) with fun shirts, slick jackets, high rise trousers (that are straight-wide), and boots.  Its definitely along the lines of SLP, but with a bit more of an intentional vintage spin. Even if I don’t necessarily go too casual (I still prefer wearing trousers), I keep the vibe in mind. Again, many of these are related to the casual Americana outfits of the 1940s-1950s, but done in a sleeker, sexier way that was still rugged.  A healthy dose of edgy/black menswear helps!

And as you can expect, Warp is the king and the best source of inspo for this done in the contemporary time.

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With the black patterned shirt and black loafers, I think the 70s vibe is clear.

A black biker, brown cords, and black chelseas instantly make it.

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The other way to do late 60s-70s casual is by taking inspiration and literal pieces from all over classic American clothing and incorporating them in a cohesive yet subversive way. I’m not taking about doing it willy-nilly, but intentionally, like my alternative theory.   You may wear something slightly preppy, but instead of a pair of derbies, go with brown suede chelsea boots.  Swap the cuffed blue indigo jeans with something light wash. Trade the khaki chinos for camo. Wear an aloha shirt with a denim chore coat! There’s a lot to mix with.

You get bonus points the more rugged and earthy it is, with plenty of faded blues, dark browns, and olives.  Bringing in boots and denim shirts in places where they weren’t traditionally is also a good style move.

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Sawtooth denim shirt and M43 Army pants.

Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure that all of our workwear/milsurp/rugged ivy inspirations like Newton Street Vintage get most of their ideas from the 1970s.   It’s not that the pieces themselves were made in that time period (many were from the 1940s-1960s), but that the mentality of mixing them together is a new way was indicative of the late 1960s-1970s and evident in the photographs.  Perhaps thats why to many people, incorporating a variety of vintage pieces (in a slouchy way) seems very 1970s.  It’s a very American themed thing and when the context/counter-culture influence is clear, its a no-brainer evolution from the strict, clean cut ivy style that came before. If you apply that to how my friends and I dress, it certainly makes sense why we’ve been slowly getting into this “new” mentality.

I’ve grown up in menswear with an intense passion for tailored clothing.  After expanding my tastes with in it, it left casual wear as an open book.  Prep-ivy casual was easy was easy to grasp, as well as 1940s-1950s casual. But with all of those specific looks in mind, where else was there to go?  The idea was to combine them at will, to create rugged looks that make sense and yet challenges the original purpose of the items. If I could combine different aspects of tailoring at will, why not do the same to my casual clothing?


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A 70s does 40s casual look.

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A sleek silhouette that is similar to the darker outfits from earlier but thanks to the specific choices, becomes rugged.

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A denim jacket and beanie over trad basics.

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Workwear + milsurp but with cowboy boots.

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70s color palette with workwear over prep.

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Overalls and leather jackets! Classic, but the combination is a 70s-does-40s mentality.

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Camo, khakis, and chelseas?

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Aloha shirt, canvas jacket, olive fatigues, and converse.

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1940’s shirt, but the color palette and slouch makes it feel 70s.

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Short jacket, vintage tee, well worn jeans, and boots are easy to do for a 60s-70s look.

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Spencer - silverbelly western fedora, brown workwear short jacket, red polka dot sport shirt, thee teenaged denim jeans, white converse

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A toned down fit that has plenty of precedent.

Conclusion

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Honestly, I never thought I’d ever write anything about the late 1960s-1970s. It’s such an odd period that for a long time was shunned by both the vintage and contemporary-tailoring community.  I mean, it is gaudy and filled with polyester.  But when you look past the horrid disco pictures and absolutely campy advertisements, there is more character to be found. And within my personal style journey, it definitely is a natural progression from my experiments with milsurp, workwear, slouchy casual style (which is technically the basis of my alternative theory) and my new affinity for wearing black.

The truth is that it has a lot in common with all the previous eras of American style, just updated slightly.  After all the corporate-standardness of the early 1960s, it sought to bring a return to the dramatic flair of 1930’s tailoring, just with a bit more exaggeration.  Jackets were made longer with wide lapels to emphasize the male figure; trousers were slimmed and then flared, to promote a sexier take on suiting.  It was meant to be elegant and slouchy, rather than look professional and clean.  The actors and rockstars who grace the photographs certainly adopted it with aplomb and popularized this idea of making suits glamorous in a delightfully tantalizing way that was as yet unheard of.

Casual clothing was still largely made up of classic pieces, at least in theory. Denim for the first time made it’s full entry into the lexicon of clothing not just as jeans or workwear, but as the fabric that everyone could wear even if they weren’t out working with their hands.  Leather jackets, plaid shirts, turtlenecks, short jackets, and tees are all things we’ve already had.  The only difference is that they had the 70s mark all over them, whether it was being made more dramatic or made into a novelty.

However, instead of magazines dictating how to wear things, people were finally able to mix and match as needed. Maybe it was creativity. Or maybe it was utilitarian.  I also wouldn’t discount maximalism, since the entire era was bold! Either way, it provided us with a lot of the ideas we currently do in menswear.

The truth is, we have a lot to learn from the 1970s.  Despite how gaudy it was, you can’t deny that everything looked so easy and cool (and they certainly knew it too). I wouldn’t say that we should lift everything up exactly but instead, filter it through a modern lense.  As we can see in tailoring, guys are able to do the late 60s-70s cut with a restrained palette.  The fat-and-thick ties are done away with, as it’s easy to subvert the structured silhouette with open shirts and knitwear. It’s not just about the colors, though a healthy dose of oranges, greens, and brown+black is a good way to get the vibe across.  Don’t forget how important chelsea boots are. Their sleek, minimal charm, sharp toe, and high heel provide that groovy edge to tailoring that regular loafers and oxfords just can’t do.

As for casual wear, I think we’re already in a good place considering how much of modern Americana takes after it.  Olive chinos and OCBDs have their precedent in this era, as well as the heavy use of denim truckers. Mixing in workwear and milsurp with other clothing is all based in this period,  done with a plenty of personality, with fun textures, colors, and patterns.

It’s hard to say why this suddenly became a topic of interest to me. It could just be a rest stop on my journey to menswear nirvana. As you can tell, I’ve been coming more into my own with my approach to style, both in tailoring and casual wear.  A lot of it has basis in existing vintage styles (through a modern lens), so gaining inspiration from here helps to fill in the gaps. The best part is that its all happened naturally; I used a lot of old pictures to show that the vibe is easy to do without having to totally revamp a wardrobe.

On a deeper level, it could just be maturity and simply getting older. I now understand that you don’t have to be boxed in, which is certainly reflected in how the late 60s-70s rebelled lovingly against the decades before it.  It’s also a bit edgy, with comes with a naturally youth-minded desire to be rebellious against typical convention while still being respectful of the past.  Perhaps thats why many of my menswear compatriots have an intense respect for the Golden Era, ivy, and trad tailoring but it’s now done with a seventies twist, both in mentality and actual designs/pieces.  With the amount of guys who are going through something similar, it’s seems like this transformation is almost natural of anyone who likes menswear.

Most of us now have done away with clean cut hair are done away with in favor of messy locks and beards. Why not do the same with our clothing?

Always a pleasure,

Ethan M. Wong

**Also, thanks for listening and reading along! Don’t forget to support us on Patreonto get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. And we stream on Twitch too.

The Podcast is produced by MJ and Matthew.

10 comments

  1. Chingstein · June 14

    In answer to your question why western wear was popular in the 80’s that was in large part due to a John Travolta movie, “Urban Cowboy”. I was a NYU college student during that time period and remember it clearly even though I was still in my Trade phase (and yes, I did wear a burnt orange down vest over my blue blazer…not to make a statement but to keep warm). Some bars in NYC even had bucking bronco machines. Btw, I enjoy your podcasts even though I’m an old fogey currently living in HK and in a Gianni Agnelli phase 🙂 Cheers.

    Like

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  3. Daniel · June 17

    Always enjoy your articles and podcasts! This is helping me see 60’s-70’s fashion in a different light, especially that it’s becoming en vogue once again. My personal favorite designer for this is Lemaire, who incorporates a lot of these era’s influences with contemporary casual wear, which is also present (albeit a bit tamed) in his recent Uniqlo U line. Wide pants and wide lapel shirts and jackets I never thought I’d enjoy wearing! So much inspiration in the photos you posted here, I find myself saving much of them on file!

    Like

    • Ethan M. Wong · June 18

      Definitely! Lemaire is cool and his Uniqlo U stuff has definitely had a big part in the transformation of my casual style.

      Like

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