1950s gangsters were often shown in movies and on television, which displayed their distinctive fashion. However, most gangsters in the 1950s projected an image of a typical businessman because of their formal attire. Typical gangster clothing was very similar to the common outfit worn to work by most men in the '50s. It usually included a slim-fitting suit, fedora and a skinny tie with a simple design.
In the 1950s, men’s fashion was dominated by conformity. However, there was much advancement in the men’s necktie, which became a staple for the '50s gangster. For fashion aficionados or men with money, like a typical gangster, the '40s and '50s were a great time in history for the classic necktie. Men acted and dressed less conservatively after Word War II and therefore, tie designers expanded their necktie lines. The Art Deco look was born through a wider range of man-made fibers, colors and dyes as well as new weaving methods. In the late '50s, ties became very narrow and involved simple designs. The skinny tie was worn by many gangsters at the time until the early '60s when the necktie became wider and more colorful.
Another distinctive feature of gangsters in the 1950s were their hats, which was commonly a fedora. The gangster fedora originated in the 1930s and came in a variety of colors. Gangsters were looked at negatively as being thieves and murders; however, most gangsters projected an image of a typical businessman because of their formal attire. Some New York designers at the time were requested to make clothing imitating gangsters, which included a fedora. Today, the gangster hat and fedora are making a comeback and sold at many hat stores.
The typical 1950s gangster dressed very similar to a common businessman not only because of their fedora but also because they wore suits. Men’s suit styles in the '50s remained more conservative and did not change much from the '40s styles. Suit pants typically hid the cuffs and, in some cases, the pleats. Men’s suit jackets were also much slimmer than they are today, and they typically had two to four buttons. Wool was one of the more popular fabrics used for suits, while sharkskin was sometimes worn by wealthier men. Suits were usually paired with a fedora style hat and a skinny tie. The slim-styled suits that were commonly seen on gangsters in the 1950s are making a comeback in today’s fashion and sold by many major retailers.
Kevin Kasarski began his professional writing career in 2007. He has written for companies such as Online Attorneys and the Cleveland Clinic and has expertise in the fields of legal, health care and marketing. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Dayton.