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Male Civilian Attire


I must confess that I have very little personal experience with 1940s-period civilian men's wear as I am strictly a military man. However, during the course of shopping around for other items, I have acquired some knowledge of what is available and where to find it. This page is currently aimed at the gentleman who wants to reasonably look the part at 1940s events rather than necessarily being authentically dressed for serious re-enacting.

As most casually-attended Forties events will occur during the warmer months of the year, it's probably sufficient to consider a shirt and trousers rather than a full three-piece suit. A good place to start is the so-called 'Grandad' shirt which is basically just a collarless style that emulates the old detachable-collar shirts of the era when men would omit their stiff collars in the interests of comfort. These shirts are freely available in a variety of colours from both Amazon and ebay for around 20. I'm not going to go into too much detail here other than to recommend that you confine your choice to the paler more nondescript colours such as grey, white, off-white and cream whilst avoiding the flamboyant shades of red, blue or black. Here is just one reasonably good example of what is available out there: Button Through Grandad Shirt

The trousers of the era ranged from the old pre-war split-rear-waistband style to the more generously-cut American-influenced male fashion for 'Bags' in the Forties. A search on ebay under '1940s swing trousers men' will produce a selection of suitable examples at fairly low prices. Alternatively, I have found what appears to be a very good source of accurately styled 1940s men's wear under the name of Morello. They stock American-style Bags of the era at quite a good price. All men's trousers of the era had turn-ups until the introduction of strict clothing rationing later in the war, so if you have an old pair of pinstripes with turn-ups hidden away at the back of your wardrobe, this is the perfect occasion to resurrect them! Another key ingredient of a classic Forties look is braces to hold up your trousers. Waist-belts only became generally popular in Britain through American influences in the post-war period - 1930/1940-era trousers didn't even have belt loops.

A waistcoat is a useful addition to this basic outfit. These can often be found in charity shops. Something like a plain brown, dark blue or black would be suitable, or even a brown or blue pinstripe, but definitely not leather or suede. Search under 'men's vintage waistcoat' on ebay and you will find literally dozens of colours and styles from which to choose.

Shoes that epitomise the Forties are, of course, the two-tone Correspondent style, also known as 'wing-tips'. These are relatively easy to source but one particularly inexpensive retailer is Viva La Rosa. Their ebay shop has wing-tip shoes in black/white, brown/white and tan/white for 35 per pair. Otherwise, a good old-fashioned pair of brogues will do the trick.

The last item to round off this basic Forties men's outfit is a hat. Aside from the trilby, the other classic hat of the period was the 'Newsboy'. This was a version of the simple flat cap but with a lot more style. The very best source of which I know is Village Hats. They have an incredible selection at prices from as low as 12.95. Alternatively, the good old straw boater can be put to good use here. These are plentiful on ebay at very low prices, but please don't be tempted to buy one of the fancy-dress ones as they are frankly awful.

Other extras that you perhaps might like to consider, depending upon your level of commitment to attending Forties events, are a traditional old striped blazer, which are plentiful on ebay and Amazon, or that old standby of yesteryear, the beige linen jacket.