Time Of The Teddy Boy
The Hairstyle – The Bravado
The Suit – The Girls
They Were The Teddy Boys
For teenagers today it is probably impossible to imagine living in post war Britain.Rationing was still in force and for the youth of the working population,employment began at fifteen for a fourty eight hour week,to earn less than £4.Clothes for example were conservative and mainly muted,cars were black or dark shades,the likes of sparkling metal flake paint had not yet arrived,unlike now even newspapers were devoid of colour and clearly life for many could be exceedingly down beat.
The hugely successful ‘Festival Of Britian’ exhibition in 1951,promoted as a ‘tonic for Britain’ and the coronation of Elizabeth 11,gave something of a lift to the country but did little for the youth of the land.Countless numbers were at a loose end without purpose,they had no role models such as Elvis or James Dean,aspirations or real identity.
Juvenile crime was escalating and as it is often said the devil makes mischief for idle hands he possibly had a ball inciting the most notorious breed of wild youth that emerged from that period.This was the Edwardian Brigade,the drape coat fraternity,branded Teddy Boys by the media around the latter part of 1953.They were the villains of the time,taking over from the spivs and cosh boys.
Despite the vicious aspect associated with these dangerous youth,no one can dispute that there is a strange underlying level of sophistication often reflected in their extremely smart and flamboyant attire.Compared to the grunge,skinhead,rap and unshaven look of today the aficionados of the Edwardian style clearly showed their self esteem when strutting around as proud as peacocks.
It is belived that the style actually statred out in London as a discreet post war Savile Row revival,based on Edwardian aristocracy,but was appropriated by now the more affluent working boys of the day.In the begining their outfit consisted of a high or fingertip lenght,four-button drape in black or sombre colour,possibly with a velvet collar,sometimes referred to as a ‘coffin coat’.This was first worn over a matching waistcoat,later becoming brocade,prominently displaying a chain of the requisite fob watch.A high collar shirt,black ribbon or ‘Slim Jim tie’,high waisted trousers with 16″ bottoms with turn-ups and heavy brouge shoes completed the outfit.Chunky rings were also worn and the whole ensemble was finished off with a distinctive haircut in the style of the film actor Tony Curtis, achieved by using copious amounts of Brylcreem and water.There were variations of the ‘uniform’ and haircut in different cities throughout the country.
Today,the Edwardian image and lifestyle is very much alive and kicking.The uniform is practically unchanged,the haircuts,the music are still the same.At Rock n Roll clubs throughout the land Teddy Boys still strut their stuff on the dance floors,bopping and jiving to their favourite records.The only difference is that the aggressiveness of their predecessors as all but gone,the fighting in cinemas,and the weapons are but a thing of the past.But one thing is for sure,the great British Teddy Boy is here to stay.
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