4 Types of Retro Fashion That Guys Should Bring Back

When fashion historians look back on this decade and its menswear trends, they’ll note that not only did anything and everything go, but there was also a heavy emphasis on retro fashion. Today’s style is all about standing out as an individual and creating a unique look. There is no uniform to speak of. And while we love that, we also love a few throwback styles. Why not start your own trend by incorporating the following old-school style habits into your wardrobe? It may feel strange at first, but you could end up becoming a trendsetter with a signature style.

1. Regularly wearing a hat

a stylish man wearing a hat and sunglasses

Wearing a hat | iStock.com

According to The Art of Manliness, up until about the 1950s, men were rarely seen out and about without a hat upon their heads. Since then, hat-wearing men have been on a steady decline, and there isn’t a specific reason why. Most likely, the changing times branded the hat as unnecessary, and didn’t deem it a good fit for the casual attire we wear today.

But it’s time for its resurgence in everyday menswear style. Start by pairing your hat with a casual outfit at night, and slowly but surely rock the look during the day. But don’t do it ironically — do it for the purpose of diversifying your fashion choices. Having trouble finding a hat that best suits your face shape and personality? Try this guide from The Art of Manliness.

2. Suspenders

a man wearing suspenders

Suspenders | iStock.com

The bow tie has officially made a comeback, so it makes sense that the next accessory to make its inevitable return is suspenders. But these are not your grandfather’s suspenders. They are more of a chic fashion statement. The history of the suspenders traces back to the 18th century. Today they are closely associated with CNN interview icon Larry King, whose suspender-ed look is part of his iconic style and often a topic of discussion when interviewing guests.

According to Time’s brief history of suspenders, they unofficially fell out of style in the early 20th century, when lower-fitting pants didn’t require them. However, they didn’t disappear completely, notably donned by famous actor Humphrey Bogart in many of his movies in the ’40s and ’50s.

Suspenders reemerged again in the ’80s when they became associated with obnoxious Yuppy wealth, thanks to actor Michael Douglas’s portrayal of ultra-capitalist Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Then, in the early ’90s, suspenders officially became a symbol of geek culture thanks to super-nerd Steve Urkel from the TV sitcom, Family Matters. Today, they are usually worn as a uniform by smug bartenders who fancy themselves mixologists.

It’s time to move suspenders into the casual-wear category. Try pairing them with darker slacks or black jeans with a chambray shirt and leather jacket for an instantly cool look. Consider substituting your belt for a pair of suspenders. Regardless, keep it basic with a neutral color like black or brown.

3. Leather pants

leather pants

Leather pants | iStock.com

When you think of leather pants, you may recall Ross from Friends being stuck in his date’s bathroom, using baby powder to help pull his leather pants back up. Or, perhaps you associate them with lizard-king rock god himself, Jim Morrison, who never met a pair of leather pants he didn’t like.

Despite some of the mishaps, leather pants are undeniably sexy, and only a confident man can pull them off and look cool doing it. If you want to give them a try, switch out your black denim pants for a pair of black leather pants. Make sure they’re fitted, but not too fitted, and wear them with a denim or chambray shirt to up the casual cool factor. Finish the look with boots.

4. Bell bottom jeans

Blue Jeans, clothes

Jeans | iStock.com

Hear us out before you veto the style completely, because at one point in time men needed to wear these pants to be cool. Since menswear has tended toward slim-fit jeans, chinos, and pants, why not deviate slightly by trying this old-school style? We are not talking about massive-flare jeans, but more of a subtle bell bottom. According to Levi Strauss & Co., hippie culture in the 1960s elevated the bell-bottoms to fashion icon status, even though the trend had been around since the 17th century.

Originally, the bell bottom served a functional purpose for sailors if they found themselves in a distressing situation. The wide legs of the pants could be rolled up easily when performing messy jobs like washing the deck, and if they ever fell overboard they could pull the pants over their boots and the wide legs would inflate with air to work as a sort of life jacket. By the ’60s, the bell bottoms became a symbol of rugged counterculture, as young people began to reject conservative garments in favor of casual wear that you could find in thrift or surplus stores. By the ’70s, the bell bottom trend became a mainstream stay.

Today, the bell bottoms have made a strong comeback for women, and it’s time to transition the style to menswear. Start off small with a subtle flare. Do not pair it with any hippy-esque garments though. Remember, you’re going for a modern interpretation.