The way we dress now is an amalgamation of years of experimenting with cloth and leather. Here’s a look at those past-time youth cultures that helped inspire the styles of people today.
10. Dandys / Flappers
Way back when the US was young and looked like something from Bugsy Malone with grown-ups, Dandy men and Flapper girls prevailed. Red lipstick, hair plastered to the head with lacquer and sequined dresses were the order of the day for girls, and the men wouldn’t be seen dead in anything but a pressed tweed suit with a bowler hat. The youth of that day hung out in back-street jazz clubs drinking moonshine and playing cards. Knowwhaddamean?
The Greaser look – which was an product of the British Teddy Boy culture – can be summed up by saying the title of one popular film: Grease. Tight jeans, tight t-shits and slicked back hair was the über cool look for the boys, whereas the girls’ had large but perfectly coiffured hair, ra-ra skirts and lots of girly bows. Back then, it was all about looking cool, juke boxes, milkshake bars and smooching in cars.
8. New Romantic / Glam Rock
All hail the eighties, where hair was big, bangles were bountiful and synthesizers rocked the airwaves. The Glam Rockers were all about colored leggings and leg-warmers, a la Fame, Cyndi Lauper and Paula Abdul, whereas the New Romantics preferred a darker look, complete with black denim, make-up for boys and shiny shoes, like The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
The emergence of rap music saw throngs of young people’s jeans get baggier and baggier, and bling increased so much it’s a wonder there aren’t more neck problems. The Gangsta look is still going strong, with clothing lines such as FUBU and Rocawear feeding the need to wear all things ‘street’, and icons such as 50 Cent and Jay-Z carrying on the walk-with-a-limp, show-off-boxers, plaster-on-the-face look like it’ll never go out of fashion.
In the early sixties, rockers were the rougher, dirtier version of Greasers, but the antithesis to hippies. To be part of this club, you need a mean-looking motorbike, long hair, tattoos and a curled lip. Indeed, this was the era where the Hell’s Angels were born – a subculture still going strong today, with all ages and creeds welcome.
5. Geek Chic
This style has a resurgence every few years, with the latest one still in full swing – think Travis from Gym Class Heroes, Andre 3000, Johnny Depp or Justin Timberlake. You too can achieve this interesting look, designed to make the wearer look intelligent yet interesting, by teaming thick-framed glasses (it doesn’t matter if you need them or not), drain-piped checked trousers with sneakers, and a tucked-in t-shirt.
Some say punk was born in a small specialist London boutique owned by the eccentric Vivienne Westwood back in the seventies. In an extreme reaction to the other popular, neatly groomed and tidy style of the time – mods – the punk look aimed to shock by combining mismatched patterns, ‘work’ boots, ripped denim and lots and lots of safety pins. Combine with a brightly-colored, starched mo-hawk and a bad attitude, and there you have one of the most infamous subcultures of all time.
Radical youth subcultures seem to have died out over time, as there are so many ‘types’ of people that almost every combo has been done. Nevertheless, it would seem the emo look could be classed as the latest new look, even though it does draw comparisons from the Goth and New Romantic looks. Inspired by bands with long names such as The Day My Dog Went to Town or Fire Eat Boy Eat Lamppost, morbid youths all over the world decided to wear their hair in extreme side-partings, don neckerchiefs, black eyeliner, and jeans so tight that they can no longer feel their legs
The nineties brought us nu-wave rave, complete with neon trousers and shell-suits, which people soon realized was a stupid look. However, it also brought us Kurt Cobain, and with that, a look that was adopted by millions of people for years following. Long, lank hair, knitted jumpers with holes in and scruffy jeans became the uniform of choice for grunge-lovers.
One of the most iconic looks of all time would have to be that of the hippy. Immortalized by The Beatles, Twiggy, and anyone that went to Woodstock, this look was all about color, flower power, corduroys and looking laid back, man.
Nobody really knows where Goths came from – they just happened. They’ve always been around in some shape of form and they probably always will be. Just look for the black nail polish, crucifix, bat tattoos, long dark hair and Cradle of Filth t-shirt.
Metallers are a bit smarter than grunge, and more colorful than Goths. They love to thrash out at rock concerts, only ever wear band t-shirts, have very long hair and wear a chain on their jeans. They started out in the 80s and early 90s thanks to ACDC and Metallica, and you’ll find them at the front of most mosh pits round the world, drinking – and spilling – cheap beer from a plastic cup.
Written by KATHERINE WATT