Famous Fashions, Then vs. Now (Hollywood’s Menswear History)

Welcome back to the Gentleman's Gazette. In 
today's video, we discuss how men's style and   style icons changed over time, and what influence 
movie celebrities had on classic menswear,   and if that influence is 
as strong as it used to be. [The Gentleman's Gazette theme song plays] Before we compare the movie stars of yesteryear 
to the men on the red carpet these days and how   they impact classic style, let's go to a time 
when the silver screen wasn't even imaginable.   While there's the popular quote, "clothes maketh 
the man," there are certainly a few individuals   that actually got people talking about clothes 
in the first place. Throughout most of history, fashion was defined by monarchs and aristocrats. 
They governed the land, set the trends,   and paid handsomely for their 
clothes. Unless, of course,   they stiffed their tailors. Today, of course, 
we have famous people who set the style trends.   But, back then, from ancient 
history until the era of film, the ruling class influenced style just like 
famous people do so today.

The people in church   back then would even go so far to use the legal 
systems to create hierarchies that kept everyone   in their place. That, of course, also extended 
to fashion and certain people could wear   certain things and others couldn't. And by wearing 
one thing, you were communicating one thing.   And it had a huge profound impact on society. 
For example, some Roman emperors would forbid   their non-royal subjects to wear the 
color purple under penalty of death.   Talk about having a fashion police right there. [ba dum tss] In many European countries, there were some sure 
laws not allowing certain people to wear things   and others were forced to wear things. For 
example, a law from 1397 in Venice dictated that   Jews had to wear yellow badges 
so they could be identified   visually. Other people were not allowed 
to wear certain things. For example,   the so-called "Negro Act" from 1740, which 
was passed in the province of South Carolina,   forbade slaves to dress above their status. It 
also prescribed certain fabrics that were only   to be worn by slaves. Around the same time, in 
1746, the Act of Prescription was passed in the   British Parliament.

It forbade anyone in Scotland 
to wear highland dress or tartan. Of course,   the fact that it was forbidden ingrained even 
more in Scottish culture. Without this act, chances are we wouldn't be able to enjoy tartans 
and highland dresses today. At one point in time, rich fabrics like silk or velvet or urban fur 
were reserved for the upper class of society. Now, once nifty businessmen and members, who were not 
part of the aristocracy, found ways to also wear   these expensive fabrics and furs, the upper class 
had to come up with something else to distinguish   themselves from the non-blue-blooded counterparts. 
So, in the 19th century, the rich opulence that   previously characterized the aristocracy now had 
to make way for much simpler clothing.

While that   shift might appear like it was in line with the 
general ideas and principles of enlightenment, that wasn't quite true. Hierarchies 
weren't abolished, they just shifted   towards rules of elegance. The rules on what to 
wear and what not to wear were closely guarded   among the aristocracy. And so, if you weren't 
part of that, you simply didn't know what made you   part of the group. Rather than just displaying 
bold colors and rich fabrics, fit became much more   important and the little details of correctness 
could decide about one's social fate. Of course,   the upper class kept the secrets of what to wear 
and what not to wear very close guarded. So,   if you were an outsider, you remained an 
outsider.

The whole shift in menswear culture   towards more simplicity became really obvious 
when Beau Brummell entered into high society.   Even though many consider him to be the dandy par 
excellence today, he was, in fact, at the time,   someone who had made menswear more muted and less 
colorful and flamboyant. He wore his coats with   just a white shirt and tie and waistcoat, and it 
wasn't about the color anymore. It was all about   how it was worn
and how the tie was tied   and how long it took him to make it look that he 
actually didn't spend any time on it at all. This   concept is now also known as "sprezzatura" 
and if you want to learn more about it,   we have an entire video about it here. As 
society moved away from feudalism and monarchies, towards a new vision of democracy, things changed. 
Now, entertainers had an increasingly bigger sway   on what people on the streets would emulate. 
And it didn't matter if they had a high pedigree   or if they came from humble beginnings. 
Along with the cultural evolution,   the views around consumerism and traditional 
style shifted once again.

James Dean, The Beatles,   and Marlon Brando became cultural figures of 
the mainstream, and therefore, they influenced   the contemporary style of their day. Fame, as we 
know it today, was born then. These days people   in the entertainment industry have full-time 
stylists, and one of them is Ashley Weston,   which also has a Youtube channel. The cultural and 
industry methods of how celebrities are portrayed,  how they're marketed are somewhat different, 
but at the same time, you can find similarities   to how things were during the golden age 
of menswear in the 1930s. So, what was the   style of famous men back then? Unlike musicians, 
businessmen, or statesmen before them, movie star   actors were seen almost on a daily basis, be 
it on the silver screen or in the newspapers.   So, because these actors were seen more often, 
people just felt they knew them better and they   became bigger stars. Interestingly, the stars of 
the 20s such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton,   or Fatty Arbuckle often dressed poorly on camera 
for a comedic effect. Today, mocking homeless or   poor people and their clothing choices on screen 
is not considered to be gentlemanly behavior, especially not if it's done for entertainment 
purposes.

On a side note, actors wear sunglasses   in between takes to prevent their eyes getting all 
that harsh light. Now, people caught on to that   and started wearing sunglasses to add a touch of 
glamour to their own, sometimes not as glamorous,   lives. Soon, identified men's figures, like 
Rudolph Valentino, would pop up playing   heartthrobs and gaining mainstream acceptance and 
significance. Rudolph was known for his rakish,   rather flamboyant taste that had influences 
from Italy that was distinctly bolder than what   most Americans were used to see at the time. He 
often wore his signature slick-backed hairstyle. You can see him wearing cufflinks, rings with 
dark stones, and he would also not shy away from   wearing fur. Overall, his style was rakish through 
and through. Even though film was developing   into a mainstream medium for entertainment, small 
studios like RKO or Warner Brothers had somewhat   tight and limited budgets.

This often meant that 
especially male actors were expected to supply   their own wardrobe, which was used for filming. 
And this just shows that the needs were a lot   more simple at the time. However, that also meant 
that these actors actually had their own style.   They would probably get custom clothing that 
fit them well and just spoke to their character.

Now, this wasn't just true for C-list or B-list 
actors, but also for the stars at the time. Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, and 
Fred Astaire would often wear their own clothing   in contemporary productions. Obviously, one of the 
key differences was that actors were expected to   build their own brand while on and off-camera. As 
such, one's style and the clothing one would wear   became a big part of what an actor had to 
understand and master. So, even off the job,   Clark Gable was known for his formal wear 
and his double-breasted suits, as well as   three-piece single-breasted suits. His clothes 
showcased all the hallmarks of 1930s style. He had   pants with big pleats that were full cut and had 
cuffs or turnips. His jackets had a wider lapel   with a lower gorge, sometimes patch pockets 
and he was definitely a fan of the drape cut.   To learn more about that, check out this guide 
here.

The jackets also had shoulder padding   had some waist suppressions and he would always 
wear a tie and a pocket square. Cary Grant,   who bought dozens of suits throughout his 
career, openly admitted that he didn't choose   fashionable suits, but more middle of the 
fashion stuff and he never considered himself   to be well-dressed, while people looking back 
today think of him as this timeless style icon.   Choosing a lapel that was neither too slim nor 
too wide and being very much middle of fashion   is probably the secret to why his stuff still 
looks wearable today and timeless. Here you   can see him with a three-piece suit in mid-gray 
flannel with a darker overcoat and a white shirt,   shoes, and hat. Nothing special, nothing 
fancy, but just very classic. At the time also, many musicians transitioned into film via 
musicals because they were quite profitable. So,   consequent singers like Bing Crosby, 
Frank Sinatra, or Louis Armstrong   became a lot more popular and well-known.

In 
this photo here from Frank Sinatra in 1961,   along with fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin,   you can see elements of his signature style. It's 
a charcoal single-breasted three-piece suit with   a five-button vest that's rather on the shorter 
side. You can see the pants are cut high-waisted. He has a white shirt with an impeccable 
collar. He's wearing a tie and a pocket square, along with a hat. Here you can see a dark 
straw short-brimmed trilby with a wide   contrasting ribbon. To learn 
more about trilbys and hats,   check out our playlist here. Note the 
pleats on his pants and the fact that   he's wearing opera pumps. At the time, opera 
pumps were popular for men for evening wear,   but not typically for regular suits. 
But, it was just a style that he liked   and so he wore it. So, if you think back about 
the well-dressed men from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, chances are you think of actors first and 
foremost.

Not politicians, businessmen,   or other important men at the time. Now, one 
could say, "Wow! They had such great style,   but compared to today, their clothing 
choices were a lot more limited."   As a man, you basically had to wear a suit. 
There wasn't really a way around that. Sure,   you could try wearing jeans and a wife-beater, 
but that was socially less acceptable   for their status and position. At the time, style 
moved much more slowly. Fashion was well-curated and coordinated with manufacturers, and materials 
were a lot more expensive. So, people bought a   lot less, less frequently. But, spent more in 
individual garment. Fabrics are also heavier   so they lasted longer. But, the finishing wasn't 
quite as refined as it is today.

That being said, later on, actors like Marlon Brando or James Dean   became famous for their 
non-suit, more casual looks. And even actors like Steve McQueen, who would 
sometimes wear suits, was also highly regarded   for his more casual, rugged personal style. To 
learn more about the style of Steve McQueen, check out this video here. Steve McQueen's 
style wasn't complicated. Just look at this   photo. He wore a pair of khaki pants with some 
white socks and then, a pair of well-walked-in   chukka boots. His sweater was darker than his 
crew neck. He had a lighter shirt and a coat.   The only thing is missing here is the traditional 
signature personal sunglasses, which you can learn   more about in this video. So, what's the style of 
the people today? Hollywood is certainly part of   the mainstream and pumps out a lot more films and 
movies than they used to. On top of that, you have   places like Amazon and Netflix that also produce 
a lot of stuff. With big-budget Hollywood films, Amazon, and Netflix dominating the entertainment 
mainstream world, how come not more male actors   are known for their style? Sure, they're actors 
like Tom Ford, Ryan Gosling, Jay-Z, Kanye West,   George Clooney, and, of course, James Bond, Daniel 
Craig.

It is no longer necessary for an actor   to really have this personal style and personal 
wardrobe. Just think about the Black Tie outfits   on the red carpet at the Oscars and how many 
people get it wrong. Oftentimes, they just wear   whatever stylist pushes because, maybe, it's part 
of the PR campaign. Even low-budget productions   today have enough money to pay for all the clothes 
of the individual character and, oftentimes,   roles are much more varied and nuanced than they 
used to be. Most male celebrities today gain more   attention for their good looks or their level 
of fitness. Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, or Brad   Pitt are more well-known for what they look like 
without a shirt on than with a suit.

This current,   sort of, obsession with fitness and looks wasn't 
as pronounced during the heyday of classic men's   clothing. Also, there's a much bigger emphasis on 
product placement these days because that can make   a lot of money. Just think of Daniel Craig's 
famous scene in one of the early Bond movies,   where he corrects Vesper Lynd on the 
brand of his watch, Omega not Rolex. [Scene from Casino Royale]
[Vesper Lind] Easy smiles and expensive watches.   Rolex? [James Bond] Omega.
[Vesper Lynd] Beautiful The influence of streetwear, hype culture, and 
comfort has really changed the way status and   wealth, and style are perceived in the public eye 
today. Old Hollywood may have been more interested   to give that flair of upper class, but 
today, it's more about being bold and   being true to yourself and just expressing 
yourself.

Even some famous men look down on   dressing up. Just think about Mark Cuban or 
Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, for example.   Now, if you look at famous men today in the 
film industry that are hailed for their style,   one of the first name that comes up is George 
Clooney [The suit-up scene from Batman & Robin] Frankly, in my mind, he wears more of a uniform   and he doesn't have a very 
interesting personal style. Typically, he wears a suit that 
is neither too slim nor too wide   with a shirt, without any neckwear, without any 
pocket square, matching shoes in black.

Overall,   an unexciting outfit. Nevertheless, most people 
in the mainstream would consider it to be a   classic suit look that is timeless and stylish. It's a bit like the old Cary Grant approach 
in our era. But, because everything around us   has changed, it's a lot less nuanced 
and more boring than it used to be.   Now, an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, on the other hand, has a more 
distinct personal style. But,   he's also British. You can learn more about 
him in our in-depth guide gentlemen of style   here. For example, here you 
can see him at Wimbledon   wearing a green suit with rather slim lapels 
that suit his silhouette, a light blue shirt   with a blue knit tie, and brown derby shoes, and,
of course, sunglasses, and a more relaxed haircut. Even though we appreciate stars who have a knack 
for classic style, there are other actors, like   Mahershala Ali or Timothée Chalamet, who use suits 
in a different way. Mahershala Ali often likes a   monochrome look. I've seen him wearing tuxedos 
with a black shirt and a black tie, or he wears a   navy suit with peak lapels that's double-breasted 
but with a turtleneck sweater, and then, maybe,   some yellow sunglasses and shoes that are
spectators and loafers, which is not something   you would have traditionally worn with a 
double-breasted suit and, then, without   socks or no-show socks.

He's not afraid to wear 
bolder colors such as burgundy suits, for example, with less contrasting shirts. Timothée Chalamet
is known for his bold outfits. It can be a suit that's super trim cut with a 
bold flower print or something else that's just   over the top. So, the question becomes: "What 
has changed since then and now?" At first glance,   it may seem that actors back then were just 
themselves versus today it's all just about   marketing. But, if you take a closer, look you 
realize that, even in old Hollywood, they had   their ways to protect the reputation of actors. 
Back then it was important for the studios that   their contract actors and performers had a squeaky 
clean reputation because anything else was bad   for business. This aspect of Hollywood is pretty 
well-covered in the Coen Brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" [Scene from Hail, Caesar!] It was so simple. [stuttering] Cut. Because of that, studios and 
record labels pay top dollar   to make instances simply disappear. Clark Gable 
and Mary Pickford are certainly the most infamous   cases for that. Today, exposing scandals is 
just part of the game of the show business.

There's even an entire industry of bloggers and 
influencers who do nothing but highlighting those   things. As a lover of classic style, it's much 
harder to find role models in Hollywood today. Fortunately, there are a lot of period productions 
that pay great attention to the clothing worn   at the time. I'm sure many of us gonna do classic 
menswear by watching Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire,   Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey, and so forth, 
or just think about Kingsmen, for example.

They created an entire range of clothing. And even 
though we disagree with many details in the movie,   it definitely helped to create an interest 
with mainstream men in classic men's clothing and that's a good thing. By the way, to 
learn more about Kingsmen and the details,   check out these videos here. Now, another big 
difference between then and now is the fact   that men are much more free to choose whatever 
they want when it comes to clothing. Back then,   you could wear a suit, maybe a slightly different 
color, your tie could maybe be different.

But,   today, you can truly wear whatever 
you feel comfortable with and express   yourself through your clothes. We believe 
that's a good thing and with the internet,   it has become easier than ever to find 
like-minded peers at the other end of the world   that you can nerd out with about the details of 
your particular style interests. In the last ten   years, there has been an increasingly large 
number of influencers, Youtubers, and lately,   TikTokers who help keep classic style alive. 
Maybe you're even watching one right now. And while you can't rely on Hollywood giving you 
great examples of classic style, you can bet we   always will. In today's video, I'm neither wearing 
a 30's suit nor a modern outfit. Much rather, I picked something that really reflects my own 
personal style and it goes well with the season.   It consists of a rather unusual mottled green 
fresco suit, which I bought secondhand as my very   first high-end suit years ago on eBay for 40 or 
50 bucks. Fortunately, I haven't outgrown it yet.

Fresco is a really airy material and you can 
feel every breeze in it, which makes it great   for warmer climates. Yes, the color is bold 
but if you tone down the rest of your outfit,   it can still be a great classic look. Here, 
I'm combining it with a thin blue and white   striped shirt, which is a Winchester shirt, and 
if you want to learn more about those, check out   this video here.

It has a white club collar. 
I'm pairing it with a brown model knit tie,   which is, likewise, very summery and works with 
the green. My pocket square is a darker green,   so it has some contrast to the suit. It has 
elements of blue, which picks up the shirt, and   elements of brown, which you can see in my belt 
and shoes. My cufflinks are gold and tiger's eye   with an eagle claw from Fort Belvedere.

And I'm 
pairing them with a gold ring that is green with   a green tourmaline. And the colors work well 
with my green belt, which is from J. Press and   Ivy style inspired. By the way, you can learn 
more about that style here. I'm pairing them   with dark brown suede derby shoes and I put 
in a green pair of Fort Belvedere shoelaces   to just spice it up and tie together with 
the outfit. By the way, all Fort Belvedere  accessories can be found in our shop, just like 
the pair of socks I'm wearing here, which are our   two-tone solid Oxford socks in cotton. This is a 
mix of blue and light blue, which has a sheen of   green and, therefore, it works well with the suit. 
It provides enough contrast but it's not too bold. [The Gentleman's Gazette theme song plays].

You May Also Like