The casual menswear of the 1910s was different from what we think of as casual clothing today. Men wore suits at all times of the day and on all occasions, even the poor. Most sportswear included some form of suit or piece of suit paired with a sweater in cool weather. Most upper-class casual wear was borrowed from the lower-class men while lower-classes tried to imitate upper-class style of clothing. Edwardian men’s fashion was moving towards a more relaxed or casual style, especially after World War I. It was far from what it was in the 1930s, but in the second half of the 1910s, it was the beginning of new styles of suits, casual shirts, colorful sweaters and two-tone shoes.
London was the men’s fashion capital even for Americans, and although Americans didn’t know what “country clothing” meant, they preferred more casual and sports style clothes for watching and playing sports. The Norfolk suit was inspired by the Duke of Norfolk’s hunting jacket in the early 18th century. It had two pleated boxes on the front and a flapped patch pocket on the back. The Norfolk was first advertised as a golf suit in 1911, but was also used for cycling, croquet and horseback riding. It was a very practical men’s suit, which was suitable for young men. The Norfolk jacket could be paired with breeches buttoned below the knee, thick woolen socks and a tweed cap. It could also be worn with Harris or Donegal tweed trousers. In summer, stylish men usually paired a Norfolk jacket or standard suit jacket with white linen or flannel trousers, a straw skimmer or boater hat as well.
A man’s casual wear must be accompanied by a hat. In winter, hats were often made of wool, while cotton/wool/linen hats were ideal for casual wear in summer. While they may be plain, which most of them were made with bold patterns: plaid, checks, stripes, and they didn’t have to be matched with suits. Although the suit looked very formal, hats can be worn on any occasion.
In summer, men usually wore straw hats, such as a flat brim boater hat or sailor straw hat. A straw hat was also a casual hat, and it was ideal for driving in the countryside, with a flat rounded crown and a rolled brim in the back or on both sides. Panama hats were too dressy compared to other hats. They were not casual or sporty style, but Panama hat could be worn with white summer suits. Fedoras could also be worn with dressy summer suits or Norfolk sportswear. Fedoras or floppy bucket hats were economical and cool in popular sports like tennis.
When driving or motoring in the country, men usually wore a Norfolk jacket, matching vest, tweed shorts or trousers, tweed hats, such as fedoras or Panama straw hats, soft-collared shirts, neckties, cloth or leather gloves, Oxford shoes or lace up boots. For some sports activities, such as golf, tennis, cricket and rowing, white flannel trousers, white soft collar shirt, cable knit sweater vest, skinny knit tie, as well as a cap or a straw boater hat, the whole outfit was very suitable for playing sports.