Men's shirts, early 1960s

Here’s a Mad Men-era question: how were American men’s business shirts worn in the early '60s? Full? Trim?

Usually full as that was the traditional standard.

There were very strict rules of dress (not necessarily written, but well understood) in large, corporate office environments. IBM had a strict code that men could only wear white shirts. There’s the story of the executive at GM who showed up in a brown suit and was sent home to change to an acceptable grey or blue suit.

Trim cut shirts came long after the 60s.

My dad worked as an executive for a large defense contractor in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and full cut white shirts were de rigueur, complete with cuffs that used honest-to-gosh cufflinks. He had them washed and ironed at a local shirt laundry, heavy on the starch. Each one came folded around a stiff piece of cardboard, which was recycled into many a craft project or school assignment.

Actually, they showed up around the late 60s. The first “trim cut” shirts had curved seams along the lower chest that resembled the darts in a woman’s dress. They were very “mod” and didn’t catch on in men’s business dress until years later.

But the standard men’s business shirt of the era was cut more like a pillowcase with sleeves.

Shirts were full-cut and white. Suits were not brown, unless you were a used car salesman.

I worked for my father at his clothing store from 1959-61. We carried some taper fit Arrow brand dress shirts. They should show up in ads around then in Life or Look or The Saturday Evening Post magazines.

Slight tangent… I remember in one of the William Manchester books about JFK, that Kennedy was quite a clotheshorse, changing shirts as often as six times a day (!). He did not all approve of the custom of the times for a man to wear a dress shirt more than once without washing if it didn’t look too dirty/wrinkly.