Men’s vintage suits: 60 bold power suits that were essential fashion in the 1970s

Men in 1970s suits

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70s style men’s vintage suits ranged from staid & conservative to wild & crazy

When we think back on men’s vintage suits from the 70s era, it may be the extra-funky and kitschy leisure suit that comes to mind.

But even if you set that style aside (it was largely reserved for club and otherwise casual wear anyway) and consider the average men’s business suits of the time… well, it still got pretty far out. The 70s were just an especially weird decade for fashion, y’all.

One thing you can say about 70s fashion is that — while bankers and lawyers still kept it conservative, relatively speaking — menswear options have rarely been as colorful and texturally varied as they were during this time, at least not since the 18th century (and even they missed out on polyester, poor things!).

The examples in the collection below span the range of ultra-conservative (though even those styles still have that distinctively 70s fashion flavor) to, you know… plaid everything. Enjoy the wild ride!

What kind of man are you? How to buy a designer suit in 1976

Ad spread from Newsweek Magazine – October 4, 1976

If you’re active, successful and over 25, you have a lot in common with Tony Trabert (tennis champ), Stewart Mills Reid (oil executive), Dimitri Villard (entrepreneur, VC angel, producer) and Ben Crenshaw (golfer). Probably a lot more than you thought you had.

But in the ways you enjoy your success — your taste in cars, food, sports, women, clothes — one of these four men is a lot more like you than the others. In fact, the odds are 9 to 2 that one man is very much like you.

Knowing which man that is, we think, can be a lot of help to you. Because once you find the man whose approach to living best expresses the way you feel, you’re going to be able to find the clothes that best express the kind of man you are.

A task that hasn’t been too easy over the last ten years.

men's vintage suits 1972

There was a time, before the mid-60s, when styles were so uniform you were safe with almost any suit you selected. It was a pretty dull time in the history of men’s wear. Then came the fad explosion, and more often than not you were faced with styles and stores and salesmen that really didn’t understand your taste or your needs.

ALSO SEE: 1970s men’s shoes came in a variety of bold (and sometimes offbeat) styles

A lot of men’s closets still hold the remnants of that explosion. (Remember narrow lapels? Remember double-knits? Remember the Nehru?)

We at Greif & Company believe there is no place in fine men’s clothing for dullness or for planned obsolescence. We believe the American man has a right to expect that the quality suit he invests in today will look and feel right now, and for the life of the suit.

men's vintage suits - Suits from the Cartier Collection - Botany 500 (1977)

And we believe — realistically, we think — there is only one way to assure this right. A man must be able to choose suits that complement his style of living. We have defined four distinctly different styles of living, each within the framework of success, and selected Messrs. Trabert, Reid, Villard and Crenshaw, not because they are celebrities, but because their lives ideally represent the various styles.

The four lifestyles are so basic to the thinking behind the suits we tailor that we have created four separate divisions within our company.

At the same time we have identified the four internationally renowned designers whose approaches parallel the way our four men live and had them create, each for his own division, four collections of suits, each of which will wear the designer’s label — a “Living Label.”

ALSO SEE: His and hers matching clothes: Was this 1970s unisex clothing trend romantic or weird?

men's vintage suits: Tan retro 1970s suit with brown tie (1973)

Looking down the road, the designers will continue to add to their groupings in the seasons and years to come, always consistent with the style of living to which each is dedicated.

Ralph Lauren designs for the kind of man Tony Trabert is. Donald Brooks designs for the kind of man Stewart Mills Reid is Lanvin designs for the kind of man Dimitri Villard is. Guy Laroche designs for the kind of man Ben Crenshaw is.

And now it’s for you to decide what kind of man you are. The following pages should help you decide.

Spend a few minutes with them. It’s worth it. Because from then on you’ll be able to buy clothing with a new kind of confidence, knowing the suits you choose won’t go out of style. Because they’re your style.

ALSO SEE: Johnny Carson’s line of polyester suits was a huge seller in the ’70s

Men’s vintage suits: Ralph Lauren designs for the kind of man Tony Trabert is. (1976)

“Tony’s the kind of man you could learn to hate,” Ralph Lauren says, “if he wasn’t so easy to like.

“I mean, Tony’s got it all. Captain of the current U.S. Davis Cup team, number one ranked tennis player in the world dur-ing his competitive days, still trim, ath-letic, great looking, great sense of humor.

“If anybody enjoys his life, it’s Tony. His clothes? They reflect it. As easygoing as he is. He once asked me why they don’t make tuxedos in tweed and coming from him it didn’t surprise me.

“Tony’s a traditionalist, sure, but within the bounds of tradition he wants everything he wears to have a touch of flair.”

If Tony Trabert’s style is your style and you like the look of his clothes, look for the “Living Label,” Chaps by Ralph Lauren.

men's vintage suits Ralph Lauren - Tony Trabert - Designer suits for men from 1976

Men’s vintage suits: Donald Brooks designs for the kind of man Stewart Mills Reid is. 

“Stewart is calm, understated, self-assured, assured, a true individualist, in control at all times, remarkable attributes for a young man,” says Mr. Brooks of the aspiring New York attorney.

“His self-confidence has al-ready led him to the conclusion that his clothes need never speak louder than he does.

“This presents an interesting challenge to the designer, who must create suits that are fashionable, yet still within the framework of the classic.

“If you’re the kind of man who likes his clothes to speak softly, too, I believe my clothing will suit you perfectly.”

If Stewart Mills Reid’s style is your style and you like the look of his clothes, look for the “Living Label” Donald Brooks.

Designer suits for men from 1976 - Donald Brooks - Stewart Mills Reid

House of Lanvin designs for the kind of man Dimitri Villard is. 

“Dimitri Villard is one American who is at home anywhere:’ says Bernard Lanvin, President of House of Lanvin, Inc.

“Representing ACLI International, Incorporated—one of the largest merchants in coffee, cocoa, and a variety of other commodities from metals to sugar—he is constantly on the go around the world.

“His day can begin with a business meeting in Tehran and end with the theatre in London. At 32, he is certainly one of New York’s most eligible bachelors, a true cosmopolitan man at the forefront in any setting.

“My designers like creating for such a man because he insists on being in the forefront of fashion as well. And indeed, our European style is perfect for him.”

If Dimitri Villard’s style is your style and you like his clothes, look for the Lanvin “Living Label.”

Designer suits for men from 1976 - House of Lanvin - Dimitri Villard

Men’s vintage suits: Guy Laroche designs for the kind of man Ben Crenshaw is. 

“Even living in Paris I know your young golfer Ben Crenshaw has already taken his place among the world’s great golfers,” says Guy Laroche.

“Ben is like me. Both of us like wearing casual clothes all the time. But neither of us wants to look like everybody else any time.

“nd that, I believe, is the trouble with too many suits, leisure or classic. They look too much like uniforms.

“Well, being in Paris gives me a different point of view, a point of view that enables me to design casual clothes with an international look, a touch of elegance.

“I call it city-sport, a sport suit in fact. I believe they’re the kind of casual clothes you’ll feel comfortable wearing to a cocktail party. I do. So does Ben.”

If Ben Crenshaw’s style is your style and you like the look of his clothes, look for the “Living Label” Guy Laroche.

Guy Laroche designs for the kind of man Ben Crenshaw is - Suits for men from 1976

1976: August Menswear report

The executive vested suit. Its traditional styling is exceptionally smart. Its price, $110.

This classic makes its fashion statement more strongly than ever with its contemporary cut, attention to tailoring, and, in this case, the unique fabric…

Tom Seaver’s navy pinstripe is only one of the many stripes, solids and patterns available in larger Sears stores. Priced higher in Alaska and Hawaii.

DON’T MISS: Vintage fashion: Sassy, stylish women’s suits from the 70s

Vintage menswear from 1976 - See what guys were wearing to the office (3)

Golden comfort shirts (1976)

August (1976) Menswear report: The European accent expresses itself in a more flattering fit. $11.

This season, fashion focuses on shape and style. This shirt has both. It’s cut closer to the body, and has tapered darts sewn in the back. Style is underscored in the spread collar, drop yoke front, and patch pocket.

Done in a handsome linen-look chambray, this cotton and polyester Perma Prest shirt comes in the mulberry shade Bob Griese is wearing, as well as sky blue, saddle, and light green.

Vintage menswear from 1976 - See what guys were wearing to the office (4)

Vintage fashion: The European look for men (1976)

October Menswear report: Our interpretation of the European look: Fresh, fashionable, very wearable

This is the European look that gained handsomely in Sears translation. Jackets are shaped, but not too severely; shirts are trim without being tight; trousers are cut slim on top rather than skinny. It’s the European look with a slight American accent. It’s the best of both worlds.

The 3 piece ensemble. $75.

It’s as versatile as it is fashionable because the vest reverses to match either the jacket or trousers. In addition to the cocoa and tan combination Gale Sayers is wearing, color choices include green and tan/navy. Available during October in larger Sears stores.

Kings Road sportswear, $14 to $25.

The styling says it all. And speaks very fashionably in Bob Griese’s jacket and slacks. Choose desert tan or black. The $14 shirt, $18 slacks and $25 jacket are woven texturized polyester. Available during October in larger Sears stores.

MORE: Vintage 1970s watches for men, women & kids in up-to-the minute styles

Vintage menswear from 1976 - See what guys were wearing to the office (1)

Tailored-stripe shirts for men (1976)

Tom Seaver (baseball player) is wearing our new tailored stripe in one of the brown variations; there are others in blue. To complement these cotton and polyester Perma Prest shirts, choose coordinated neckwear at $6.50.

Vintage menswear from 1976 - See what guys were wearing to the office (2)

The suit: The Edgerow, from the Society Brand, Ltd. Couture Collection (1976)

Vintage menswear from 1976 - See what guys were wearing to the office (5)

Men’s vintage suits: Light blue casual Lee suit for men (1979)

Meet her in Nassau — looking totally cool and collected in crisp Oxford Cloth.

Blue casual Lee suit for men (1979)

Men’s vintage suits: Lee blazer and blazer vest plus checked pants (1976)

The New Easy Formality — Blazer Plus Blazer Vest. Cut from a new darker navy twill, lined throughout, they have a matching complement of cartridge-tucked pockets and Lee brass buttons.

The Blazer has the update of shaped lapels and slimmed waistline. Together, they make a Separate Suit out of almost any trousers in the closet. Here, well-cut perfectly matched Lee tartans, about $25. Blazer, about $47.50. Blazer Vest, about $16. Everything, 100%

Lee blazer and plazer vest plus checked pants (1976)

Lee denim suit for men (1976)

Introducing Lee-Set in a 100% cotton real denim jeans suit. It starts softer, stays smoother, and won’t shrink out of fit — thanks to the Sanfor-Set process.

And because they’re cotton, Lee-Set Lees come a cleaner clean, keep you cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Let your body breathe naturally. Multi-pocketed soft-shoulder indigo-dyed jacket and vest to match.

Lee denim suit for men (1976)

Men’s vintage suits for men from JC Penney in 1973

Retro men’s blazers in striped navy blue/tan, navy blue plaid, red plaid, and red/blue diagonal stripes.

MORE: 80s shoes for men: Footwear that stylish guys were wearing back in the day

Suits for men from JC Penney in 1973 (1)

Men’s vintage suits: Various blazers paired with houndstooth slacks (1973)

Suits for men from JC Penney in 1973 (2)

Men’s vintage suits: Light colored menswear from Sears (1973)

VISIT ANOTHER ERA: Vintage 1930s suits: See 60+ old-fashioned menswear styles

Sears suits and menswear from the 1970s (1)

Men’s vintage suits: 70’s Sears blazers with plaid slacks (1973)

Sears suits and menswear from the 1970s (2)

Men’s vintage suits: Beige blazer and slacks with assorted retro menswear (1970s)

Sears suits and menswear from the 1970s (3)

Men’s vintage suits: The mixables… light blue Sears suits (1970s)

Sears suits and menswear from the 1970s (4)

Sears suits and menswear from the 1970s (5)

Men’s vintage suits: Football player Bob Griese for Sears menswear (1971)

Bob Griese wears The Traveller knit suit from Sears, because whoever heard of a wrinkled Dolphin.

Bob Griese, Miami Dolphin quarterback, likes comfortable, easy-to-care-for clothes, which is why he likes “The Traveller”.

You see, being a knit suit, “The Traveller” hardly ever wrinkles. And when it does, shaking it out and hanging it up for a while gets rid of the wrinkles. The comfortable part is the way “The Traveller” stretches slightly, then bounces back to its original shape.

“The Traveller”. The suit that was packed and unpacked 12 times in 18 days and never needed pressing. See it in The Traveller Knit Shop at most Sears, Roebuck and Co. stores (and on Bob Griese) in year-around polyester, and in all sorts of styles, colors and patterns.

Sears suit on football player Bob Griese (1971)

Men’s vintage suits: Jaymar redesigns tradition (1977)

Tailored Collectables. They’re Jaymar’s way of expressing great classics with a special flair.

Slacks, vests and jackets in traditional soft colors and quiet patterns. Tailored with exclusive Jaymar fabrics with the natural look of Today’s Dacron polyester. All to give you the trim silhouette and subtle refinement you want to express to the world. If you’re looking for style with more than a touch of class, ask for it by name.

Jaymar’s Tailored Collectables. Designed to collect compliments.

ALSO SEE: These 48 vintage indoor malls were so dazzling, you’ll want to hop in a time machine and shop ’til you drop

Retro Jaymar suits for men - Plaid jacket and grey vest (1977)

Men’s vintage suits: Earth Shirts — Mach II by Arrow. (1971)

Nature’ a better artist than Man will ever be. Her reds are purer. Her blues are richer. Her yellows subtler. So instead of inventing colors, we’ve taken them straight from the earth. Gentle purples. Quiet pinks. Soft. soft browns.

You can see all this in our exciting Earth Shirts. Colors as old as time itself. Yet somehow always new.

ALSO SEE: Macho cologne in the ’70s was ‘the powerful scent for men’

Vintage menswear - Mach II earth shirts by Arrow (1971)

Vintage TV host Dick Cavett in a red suit jacket (1972)

Here the flatness of Cavett’s customary “wet look” hair has given way to a far more becoming fluffiness. Cavett would seem taller if he would permit Press to alter his suit collar to fit snugly at the base of the shirt collar.

The resurgence of the button-down shirt requires a somewhat smaller knot to fit properly. The knot in the club tie Cavett wears here is the correct size.

The lines of the jacket have been tapered in order to eliminate a bulky effect. The shoulders have been given a bit more slope for the same reason. A tapered, shorter sleeve with increased show of shirt cuff also contributes to a more streamlined effect.

A higher rise to the trousers lends the impression of greater height, particularly when the jacket is worn open.Vintage TV host Dick Cavett in a red suit jacket (1972)

Men’s vintage suits: The American Executive retro menswear (1973)

American executive fashion from 1973 - Vintage menswear

Men’s vintage suits: Hammonton Park brand fashionable menswear (1972)

Raise a few eyebrows, and raise your spirits! Be seen in Hammonton’s “Great Persuader” sport coat — a suede-pocketed extravaganza. Or in a plaid suit with an offbeat, upbeat tempo.

Get “that Hammonton feeling!”

Hammonton Park brand fashionable menswear (1972)

Men’s vintage suits: Hammonton Park retro blazers (1972)

Tear into life! Wear a suit tuned to the new informality — as enjoyable nine-to-five as at Sunday brunch. In a dashing sweep of textured swirls, or a chipper lineup of chevron checks — both in knits that tell the fashion world you know what makes it tick. 

Hammonton Park brand menswear (1972)

Curlee Knits: The top rated-performers! (1971)

There’s nothing like winning… and that’s the feeling you get in a Curlee knit. Sport coats and blazers with colorful new gusto in solids and patterns that keep their shape and make wrinkles a thing of the past!

With all of this going, no wonder Curlee is a top performer, the official pick of the National Football League, National Hockey League and Sports Car Club of America. 

Retro seventies suits for guys (1971)

Men’s vintage suits: Golfer Jack Nicklaus double-knit blazer and slacks (1973)

Where color and comfort are concerned, Jack’s slacks and blazer are champions.

The 100% Celanese Fortre’ polyester double-knit fabric moves right along with you and snaps right back into shape. The blazer is boldly lined and brightly buttoned and comes in a whole gallery of colors. Jack’s slacks are trimly tailored and feature an adjustable waistband. There are ‘solids, stripes, plaid and checks. Put together your own favorite combinations. Any way you pair them, Jack Nicklaus  double-knit blazers and slacks really swing.

Suiting the American Man since 1887. Hart Schaffner & Marx.

Golfer Jack Nicklaus double-knit blazer and slacks (1973)

Men’s vintage suits: Johnny Carson brand menswear (1975)

Here’s Johnny!

“I’ve got a thing about checks. ‘Checks appeal,’ you might call it. And this spring we’ve got some great-looking checks in the collection. Like this mini-check suit with a bit of pocket trim and a big, bold check duo with a contrasting belt. Check it out — they‘re really cool and comfortable.” 

Johnny Carson “Kenwood” suit and Johnny Carson “Kenmore” duo with contrasting belt. Color-coordinated shirts and ties complete the wardrobe. 

Johnny Carson menswear (1975)

Men’s vintage suits: 70s casual suits for guys (1974)

Retro seventies casual suits for guys (1974)

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