Neo-Historical Fashion and Youth Sub-Culture

As some of you may or may not know, I’m currently studying Dystopian Fiction in Post-War Culture for my dissertation topic at university. It’s a fascinating topic and I’m learning loads about the culture of the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as finding a new outlet into science fiction. However, it does lead to a rather disappointing and upsetting analysis of our own modern culture. I’m not saying there is anything particularly wrong with our culture in general, save for a few economic depression issues and a war in the Middle East, we’re doing ok. That is…apart from the social culture of the ‘chav’ and the ‘gangsta’.

One topic within my dissertation looks into the youth violence phenomenon of the 1960’s and gang culture that seemed to rise up at the time. So, I’m looking into the likes of Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Bodgies, Widgies, Stilyagi, Greasers and the like. Which made me realize something. Something upsetting. Something that puts this generation to shame.

We forgot how to look respectable.

Now, I’m not praising these former youth gangs in any way. They were occasionally violent, threatening, anarchistic and in many cases caused a lot of riotous trouble. But at least they knew how to dress themselves!

Teddy Boys were renowned for a neo-edwardian style!
Stilyagi rocked out in jackets and cravats!
Bodgies turned the working-class ‘farmer’ image into an ironically neat-pressed fashion!
Mods followed pop culture fashions with neat, clean cut hemlines!

And don’t get me started on the effort that went into hair!

So what do we have now? Ironic neo-industrial coveralls and bracers to mark the depression? Straight-laced cybernetic style fashion to celebrate the explosion of technological progression in our time? Maybe even Neo-victorianism to mark the second largest scientific progression in history?!


We got kids with trousers around their knees and the heart-stopping, terrifying idiom ‘bruh’. 

What the hell happened?

I have my theories. Firstly, pop culture. Rockers and Mods were primarily fueled by the music trends occurring at the time. Greasers followed suit with the rock and roll phenomenon. So, with our music being dominated by ‘wub wub wub’ and ‘talkingsofastaboutgunsandviolencethatyouwon’tevenhearawordofituntilyou’velistenedtoitsomanytimesit’simprintedinyourbrainlikesubliminalmessaging!’ it’s not surprising that our youth culture ended up looking like convicts and drug dealers. It’s not an attack on the music, or our music industry in general (though I do have my issues with them), but simply with the role models that sculpt the behaviour and habits of our youth. Rappers, Gangsters and Thugs seem to be the iconic musical figure….

The whole baggy trousers scenario is the most ridiculous aspect. How on earth could I be intimidated by a kid who might trip over his own waistband at any given second?! What’s worse is that this has been described to me as a prison fashion habit for ‘receivers’ to offer their…uh…’services’ to rather lonely fellow jail-mates. Whether this is true or not is yet to be determined, but now every time I see this absurd fashion trend I can’t help but think they’re offering something they have no idea about…

Maybe I’m a vintage aesthetic fanatic. Maybe I’m just a little too enamored with Victorian fashion. But if Teddy Boys can make Edwardian fashion intimidating and stylish, then why hasn’t culture continued that way. I would much rather be attacked in the night by an Edwardian, braces wearing Droog than by a nappy-waddling, incoherent ‘bruh’. It just has more dignity somehow.

Needless to say, something needs to be done. I don’t care if we need to resort to Hipster vintage (which is, incidentally, very rapidly losing its vintage aesthetic in favour of beanies and big glasses), as long as something is done to provide this generation with a suitable image. Just think, in fifty years time, our predecessors are going to assume that all the belts in the world got used for drug tourniquets or something. I’d rather they looked back and thought, ‘wow, the youth culture back then was pretty awesome’ ……

I can dream.


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