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A Men’s Style Chronology for Dad’s Day (Pt. II)

So, when was it that dads seemed to have a sense of style overnight? And no, we’re not talking about bad ties – we’re talking about everything from tasteful interior design to the tackiest of man caves. When did all that start?

When we left off, in the foundry forge of the Industrial Revolution, we saw how style – and middle-class access to its trappings – was just being born. Technology brought jobs, jobs produced commodities and people had money to buy them.

But, it didn’t last.  

Style Boom & Bust (1840 – 1939)

You have to keep in mind that despite the consumer advancement made possible by the Industrial Revolution, America was barely half formed by the 1840s. Florida was only the 27th state to join the Union in 1845.

It was a tumultuous time for a lot of people, although several style movements thrived: Victorian, Art Nouveau, Modernism and Art Deco exploded in new urban areas, while Arts & Crafts the rustic look prevailed in the hinterland.

The country, and the economy, was growing at a furious pace – right up until the point where it stopped cold for 10 years during the Great Depression. Once again, dads (and everyone else) lost their chance to find a sense of style.

Technology, War Machines & Melting Pots (1939 – 1970)

World War II restarted the American economy, ushering in a surge in technological innovation, job growth and social upheaval. There were staggering losses, but they led to historical achievements in science, civil rights and, ultimately, economic stability for a growing middle class.

This would be more war, but there would also be more education, art and design, and an eye toward the future as the country entered the Space Age. Modernism and mass production flourished in tandem, and furniture and décor that were once a luxury became more accessible.

And, this is arguably when dad really started to hit his interior design groove. A postindustrial, postwar society is a ripe environment for style to flourish, and for dads to spend their paychecks on what they were seeing in adverts on a new-fangled invention called the television – stuff they never would’ve even thought to buy before.  

Tomorrow, in our final segment, we’ll look at how the dads of today arrived at their style destination via the ol’ Information Superhighway. 

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