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MID-CENTURY MENSWEAR: MEN'S 1950S STYLE

13.03.15

Though menswear is a constantly evolving landscape, each season the Reiss design team not only concern themselves with the task of creating innovative pieces, but also with channelling the most iconic designs of days gone by. Seen in everything from knitted polo shirts to modernised Harrington jackets, the sartorial spirit of the 1950s marks the Reiss SS15 collection moreso than any other period. But just what was it about the era that made menswear magic? We explore the cinema and celebrities that defined this well-dressed decade.

THE MOVIES

The Talented Mr Ripley

The Talented Mr Ripley may have graced cinema screens on the cusp of the millennium turning in 1999, but its sun-soaked evocation of late-1950s style is the definitive template for the quietly elegant dress code of the travelling moneyed.

As Dickie Greenleaf, Jude Law was the American in Europe with the enviably endless wardrobe. The look is American prep meets Italian playboy. Button down polo shirts, crisp chinos, espadrilles and Cuban collar shirts (and impeccable ironing) combine to make one of the best-dressed figures in cinema history.

High Society

While Grace Kelly's turn as haughty socialite in High Society provided endless sartorial imitators, Frank Sinatra's Mike Connor similarly cut a figure so stylish it's hard to imagine 1950s men's style without him.

The character's wardrobe is all sharp suits, jaunty hats and expertly selected accessories, and thus it's a prime example of why we're still so enamoured by 1950s menswear today.

Roman Holiday

Still widely regarded at one of cinema's finest romantic comedies, Roman Holiday's idealistic escapism is reflected in its characters' shrewdly selected costumes and forms the perfect backdrop for one of the silver screen's best dressed men.

Whether turned out in tipped polo shirts and knits tucked in to flat front chinos, or refined suiting woven from the finest fabric, Gregory Peck's Joe Bradley provides the benchmark for looking cool under the sun today as he did so too all those years ago.

THE MEN

Frank Sinatra

While Frank Sinatra's on-screen wardrobe is endlessly inspirational, for us it's his distinct personal style that marks him out as one of menswear's greatest icons and is the reason that he became a key figure in the formation of our SS15 collection.

Reportedly displaying a flair for dressing from a young age, Sinatra's sartorial signature of expertly cut and crafted suiting paired with one of his many jauntily-placed hats has deservedly established the entertainer as a style icon as well as a towering talent.

James Dean

That old cliché of James Dean being the personification of youthful rebellion may ring true, but during his heydey in the 1950s, James Dean's style knew no bounds. Whether as the teenage tearaway in Rebel Without a Cause or as a master of off-duty dressing, it's a chameleonic approach to menswear which marks him as one of history's greatest dressers.

The key to Dean's style lay in his appreciation of menswear icons which were always worn with  cool nonchalance. Whether in a simple T-shirt and jeans or in a jumper and chinos, an unfussy approach to style has earned the actor a place in menswear's collective consciousness.

Marlon Brando

The brooding anti-hero was Marlon Brando's natural role as an actor and fittingly - both on and off screen - his style was rugged, masculine and above all enduring.

Whether it be the biker jacket, the overshirt or the combination of a simple T-shirt and jeans, many of the looks which form the backbone of modern menswear can trace their roots to the wardrobe of Marlon Brando's favoured looks in the 1950s.