1980’s New York – Why It Was Such a Unique and Inspiring Period


This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.

There is a specific breed of masculinity that is a wholly American concept. You can see this type of man on Instagram mood boards and in classic Hollywood movies alike. From movies like Wall Street to clothing brands like Le Alfré, the Gordon Gekkos of the world still seem to have an iron grip on our collective psyche on how men of a certain means should dress, act, and party.

These men – the bankers, stockbrokers, and lawyers of 1980’s New York City – were completely a product of their time. The Eighties were an economic boom whereby globalized growth, technological advancement, and a lack of red-tape in burgeoning industries meant that those at the top got rich–and quickly. In some ways, the 1980’s were a direct result of the more free-loving 70’s where a reigning-in period and election of Reagan ultimately put an emphasis on economic growth and the banker-types just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

Ultimately, the axis of the world, for a period of time, seemed to spin right smack-dab on Wall Street and the men at the top reflected their power through their clothing. Of course, businessmen have been dressing the part for centuries, but this breed of banker-types added their own flair which is still relevant and attractive today for the modern man.

From bold shoulders to a higher rise on the trousers, we can look at archetypes like Gordon Gekko as signifying their masculinity through their clothing by adding more heft to their frame. Accessories were an easy way to show wealth and act as a signifier of good taste: a Rolex on the wrist was subtler than a garish Gucci pattern.

And perhaps most inspired by their father’s generation, was the banker’s shirt, the colored dress shirt with a contrasting white collar. These shirts, which were popular in the 1940’s by way of England, gave the Wall Street workers a sort of uniform that harkened back to the post-War period of economic optimism within the mid-Century period. Shirts like Le Original by Le Alfré add a touch of color without being ostentatious, a bit of pastel without being feminine, and an imposing uniform when paired with a bespoke suit.

Today, we remain inspired by this period in menswear not for the over-the-top lifestyle of many of the Wall Street types (if anything, The Wolf of Wall Street is a cautionary tale), but for the subtle cues in which wealth could be represented through the clothing choices of these men. If you want to talk about the original “stealth wealth”, look no further than the 1980’s in New York. And if you want to relive this style today, we recommend starting with a fresh shirt from brands like Le Alfré, who have updated the classic Gordon Gekko look for the modern gentleman.

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