Top 10 Youth Subcultures

65

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

flapper

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?

9. Greasers

greasers

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

glam

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.

7. Gangsta

gangsta

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.

6. Rockers

rockers

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

kanye-west-at-proenza-schouler-show

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.


4. Punks

punks

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.

3. Emo

emo-fashion-guys

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

2. Grunge

grunge

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.

1. Hippies

hippies55

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.

Honorary Mentions

Goths

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

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


Other Articles you Might Like
Liked it? Take a second to support Toptenz.net on Patreon!

65 Comments

  1. I can’t believe I read this entire piece. This is so horribly written. I feel ashamed for the internet’s sake.

  2. DAVE, TEDDYBOY NO1 on

    This is all wrong,they forgot to mention Britains own rebels the great British Teddyboys,with out the Teds there would not be any of these other groups,these other groups have a lot ot thank the Teds for…………

  3. well acording to the fire up here visual kai and otaku are not subcultures cause they have yet to be mentioned so whatever

  4. I hate labels by this list I’m a emo greaser grunger punk
    And metaller all together correct term metal head

  5. DAVE, TEDDYBOY NO1 on

    It matters not what anyone says,we Teds were and are the first subculture in Briton,we always have been and always will be,and we are still out there today,in as bigger numbers than ever before,we even have Teds in other countries,mainly throughout europe………

  6. Mods were long gone by the time punks appeared in the streets of London around 1975.

    The first real youth culture in Britain were the Teds (Teddy Boys) who dressed in the most sartorial manner they could. Mostly remembered for their greased hair with a Tony at the front and D.A. at the back, long frock-coats with velvet collars and cuffs, shirts with wyatt earp ties, ornate waistcoats, tight drainpipe trousers and brothel-creeper crepe-soled suede shoes – and cut-throat razors. They sigued into bikers or Rockers (with caff racer motor bikes) and, for dancing, suits with short, bum-freezer jackets, drainpipes and very pointed winklepicker shoes.

    Their antithesis were small groups of young guys in London who wanted to live a sharp, stylish, even secret lifestyle – French art movies, Italian-style clothes, modern jazz (such as John Coltraine, Thelonius Monk etc), all night dancing and recreational drugs such as Benzydrene and Dexadrine etc. These Modernists began to grow in the London scene and adopted other obscure elements, such as black American soul / R&B artists still unknown to white audiences in the USA and Britain. These were the Mods and they began to grow in numbers about 1962. Also about then, their numbers grew by the appearance of suburban Mods who got around on imported Italian motor-scooters, such as Lambretta and Vespa.

    By 1963, the Mod scene grew even larger and had spread to the Home Counties and other big cities. When “Ready Steady Go !” appeared on British TV’s that year, its audience was mainly made up of Mods and music and presenters began to tailor the programmes for them. The Mod scene spread around Britain and by 1964 was in full swing. Mod clothes shops opened up and that was the year the much-publicised fights at seaside resorts hit the papers. The tabloid press had a lot to do with stirring up trouble between Mods and Rockers which had the effect of demonising Mods in the public eye. The “purist” Mods distanced themselves from the expanded Mod scene, calling themselves “Stylists” and bit by bit the Mod scene receded in the London area by 1966 and by 1969 in the other parts of Britain. The Mods in the London area were turning to more flamboyant wear, as characterised by the parody “Austin Powers” and by Twiggy etc and weren’t Mods anymore.

    The working-class Mods, who kept closer to their roots and were nicknamed “Hard Mods” were turning to Jamaican Ska more and more as well as soul, cutting their Mod hair short and wearing their archetypal Mod fashions such as three-button suits, Ben Sherman shirts, Fred Perry tennis shirts, straight Levis etc, as well as adopting new items such as work-boots (Doc Martens were popular), braces (suspenders) and Crombie coats (which the red outside breast pocket lining turned out to look like a kerchief) and continuing the Mod Jamaican pork-pie hat. The Skinheads had arrived and in those days, ’60’s to early 70’s, the Skinheads were not the racist neo-nazis of later times and easily integrated with Jamaicans etc.

    “Up North” as well as Skinheads arriving on the scene, younger brothers of ex-Mods were keeping the soul music tradition and Mod dress code alive though adapted a bit to the ’70’s with baggy trousers and they created a scene all their own, a direct Mod descendant – Northern Soul – and had all-nighter dance sessions. Their dancing tended to be more frenetic than their older Mod brothers had done and included all sorts of front and back-flips and fancy moves, hence the baggy trousers !

    But Skinheads and Northern Soul were a minority and by the mid-1970’s, there were teenagers and early 20’s all over the UK wanting a scene, bored and frustrated by the bloated self-importance of prog rock and the sillyness of glam rock and sleepfest of country music, the 3 day working week, strikes, racial tension, unemployment, power cuts and the s**t that was Seventies Britain. That’s where Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and “Sex” the cutting-edge clothes shop claim to have stepped in. McLaren matched the clothes to a new, basic grating music style and an anti-hero band to play it – The Sex Pistols and voila, the UK Punk scene was born.

    By the end of the ’70’s, Punk had moved on a tad and become more flamboyant, the music had improved and spin-offs from the scene developed new (or resurrected) sounds, both new and re-born youth cultures appeared (eg – neo-nazi Skins, Mods, Teds, Rockers, Rockabilly, Rude-Boys, New Romantics etc) Unlike the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s where youth cultures/scene tended to come along one at a time, by 1980 not only could you hand-pick the scene you wanted, you could choose who could be your enemy to fight !).

    Me ? Well, my brother was a Mod in the mid 1960’s era and when he got a good job and progressed out of the Mod scene, I adopted the Mod scene in 1967 when I got old enough – 14 – and stayed with it till it died out by early 1969.

    I have always thought the Mod scene was the best of all of them and was the one which first gave teens a scene in the UK. Maybe I just biased.

  7. Goth was born from the Punk. Goth bands are not cradle, but are Bauhaus, Siouxsie, Cure, Joy Division, Alien Sex Fiend, Virgin Prunes, etc

    Ah… Mainstream ignorance…

  8. DELETE THIS ARTICLE! this is terribly inaccurate. WTF MOD ISNT EVEN ON HERE, YET GREASERS, AND ROCKERS ARE??? I am reading a fairchild book right now, you should probably look into their books (Survey of Historic Costume fifth edition) and not just wing an article haha. Mod, hippies and punks basically started everything. I don’t even think greasers should be on here, because that really wasn’t relevant unless you wanted to base decades of revolutionary fashion off a popular fictional movie.. Rockers was merely a fad of a subculture, same with Teddy Boys and although mod lost it’s popularity towards the early 70’s, it deeply influenced many styles. In my opinion hipsters are like a reformed mod and that’s a huge trend right now, with just one of the many subcultures it influenced. And a lot of these comments were saying how punks influenced other dress which is completely true, and I’m glad to see punks on the list, as well as hippies. But really no mod? Come on. Beatles? Twiggy? No so much hippies as they were modernists… And I don’t understand the order. Emo is #2 when punks are #3, yet emo derived from punks?…… The captions really have no facts either, they appear to be ignorant thoughts. please delete this article asap.

  9. Goth is stated and also wrong. The Gothic culture was brought up somewhere in the mid to late 1700’s. Goth fashion was origionally Victorian style clothing with all black (and occasionally other dark colors). The youth of today has ruined it by mixing it (also confusing it) with Emo (Even though the subculture was just recently introduced) because of MTV and other things like that thinking they are all the same. Kids and adults need to stop mixing them up and changing the style of clothing and calling it Goth. It irritates true Goths and gives people the wrong impression about the best subculture there is (in my opinion, sense I am one).

  10. The author of this article is misinformed with no research to show her work. Methalheads, not metallers, have been around since the 70’s. And glam rock and New Romantic are 2 entirely different subcultures.

  11. The teenage demographic didn’t really exist until after the war (folks went from short trousers to working downt pit) and these subcultures are really a youth phenomenon. So I’d suggest flappers was the fashion of the day rather than a subculture.