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Vintage Suits – The Rundown

The Breakdown On Vintage Suits

Vintage Suits are much more than a work uniform. The modern style suit may be a staple among business men and fashion acolytes alike, but the retro suit however, has a unique cut that really accentuates a persons individual character.

Suits of the past tended to differ in very subtle ways. If you’ll notice, conservative style suits really haven’t changed dramatically. The big changes came in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, and even then most people stuck to conservative suits that don’t differ much from today’s suits.

1920’s style suits – In the 1920’s it seemed that most people had slightly wider lapels and baggier pants. These pants were also cut a bit higher than todays and could be seen as high up as the belly button.

The lapel sizes changed with each decade, but the high cut of the pants lasted quite some time. It really wasn’t until a decade or so ago that the cut of suit pants came down.

Also, the bagginess of pants lasted up until about the 1960’s.

Vintage Suits That Stand Out

Below, I’ll talk about some of the more outlandish suits and go into the more sought after used suits of the 1970’s.

Sharkskin Suits

Sharkskin suits were a staple of the 1960’s fashion. These suits had a certain shine to them that makes them much more appealing to vintage suit lovers. The 1980’s retro suits are comparable to the amateur, but a die hard can spot the difference right away.

This type of suit has become increasingly hard to get. Almost 50 years is a long time for clothing to hold up well, even if you take care of it. These suits can occasionally be found at estate sales, yard sales, consignment shops, specialty shops, and online retailers.

These days, you can find new versions of the old classic. However, most of the newer versions lack the high shine of the old time versions. The main similarity is that they are made from the same sharkskin fiber.

Its interesting that the suit is named a sharkskin one when the material used to make one is somewhat unnatural. Sharkskin fabric is typically made from rayon or acetate. It can also be made from a combination of the two fabrics.

These days you can also find mixes of wool and other all natural materials.

The advantage to this suit is that it can be lighter, warmer, and less prone to wrinkles than some other suit fabrics. On the other hand, this suit can be more expensive and less pleasant to feel and to touch.

1970’s Style Suits

1970’s style suits are the most common vintage suits on the market. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise though since this era’s style of clothing is popular in all of its forms. You won’t find any vintage bowling shirts on this page though.


1970s style suitThe styles of this generation are markedly different but the basic concepts still remain. Two and three button jackets with appropriately tailored pants.

However, you will notice that flat front models are much more prevalent than pleated pants. Also, many fashionistas would wear their suit pants just as tightly as people wore jeans during this era.

Many vintage suit wearers will pop on the 3 piece version to fully differentiate between their suit and the new age style suits. Main differences are wider lapels and slim stream lined waists.


Colors range from traditional black and navy blue to anything you might find on the color spectrum.

Bright and interesting colors were the flavor for this decade so don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the color that most suits you.


Suits can be found in wool in any decade and the 70’s are no exception. However, polyester suits made a big splash in this era and dominated many of the items of clothing found in this era.

You’ll find that 90% of all disco suits from this era were made exclusively from polyester.

The main difference between the polyester suits of the 70’s and the ones today are the fact that they didn’t even bother to blend them back then.

These days a suit made with polyester will also have wool in it so that you can hardly tell that it is not genuine wool. They use the polyester to provide the wearer with a suit that will not wrinkle quite as easy. Some companies refer to the suit as their traveler’s model because it can be taken on trips without fear of wrinkles.


These suits are most easily found on sites like Ebay as well as other auction sites selling vintage clothing. Prices can be quite low on these sites but be willing to spend a few extra dollars to buy from an established seller.

Also, one should keep in mind that although there are many 1970s style suits that stick out uniquely as such, there are just as many that do not. This is because although there are always certain suit style variations that stick out, the moderate and conservative style can always be found.

These conservative suits make great business suits that are always up to date no matter whether you are going to work in the 70’s or whether you are going to work in 2011.

Zoot Suits

Zoot suits were another popular style that didn’t quite make it. They are now used as costume suits which has created a nice zoot suit rental market.

Today, you will find a very wide variety of suit fashions. Men can choose between traditional suits, modern suits, slim fit suits, and even suits with low rise pants. As always though, the conservative suit wins out over all of them.

Keep this in mind when you go shopping for a new suit to wear to an interview or to the office.

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