Teddy Boy is a British subculture started in London in the 1950s, and rapidly spread across the UK, soon becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll. The Teddy Boys were wealthy young men adopted the style of the Edwardian era.
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It featured tapered trousers, long jackets that bear a similarity to post-war American zoot suits and fancy waist coats. Teddy Boys were the first youth group in England to differentiate themselves as teenagers, helping create a youth market. Although there had been youth groups with their own dress codes called scuttlers in 19th century Manchester and Liverpool, but it didn’t spread.
Teddy Boys Riots
The craze exploded with the US film Blackboard Jungle marked a watershed in the United Kingdom. The Blackboard Jungle was about a teacher in an inner-city school were many of the students frequently engaged in anti-social behaviour. The teacher tries to engage the students in education. When shown in Elephant and Castle, south London in 1956, the teenage Teddy boy audience began to riot, tearing up seats and dancing in the cinema's aisles.
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Some Teds formed gangs and gained notoriety following violent clashes with rival gangs which were often exaggerated by the popular press. The most notable were the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, in which Teddy Boys were present in large numbers and were implicated in attacks on the West Indian community.
Teddy Boy Fashion
Teddy Boy clothing included drape jackets reminiscent of 1940s American zoot suits worn by Italian-American, Chicano and African-American communities usually in dark shades, sometimes with a velvet trim collar and pocket flaps, and high-waist "drainpipe" trousers, often exposing the socks. The outfit also included a high-necked loose-collared white shirt; a narrow "Slim Jim" tie or western "Maverick" tie, and a brocade waistcoat.
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The clothes were mostly tailor-made at great expense, and paid for through weekly instalments. Favoured footwear included highly polished Oxfords,chunky brogues, and crepe-soled shoes, often brothel creepers. Preferred hairstyles included long, strongly-moulded greased-up hair with a quiff at the front and the side combed back to form a duck's **** at the rear. Another style was the "Boston", in which the hair was greased straight back and cut square across at the nape.
Teddy girls (also known as Judies) wore drape jackets, pencil skirts, rolled-up jeans, tailored jackets with velvet collars, straw boater hats, espadrilles, elegant clutch bags. Later they adopted the American fashions.Their choice of clothes wasn’t only for aesthetic effect: these girls were collectively rejecting post-war austerity. They were young working-class women, often from Irish immigrant families who had settled in the poorer districts of London.
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They would typically leave school at the age of 14 or 15, and work in factories or offices. Teddy Girls spent much of their free time buying or making their trademark clothes. It was a head-turning, fastidious style from the fashion houses, which had launched haute-couture clothing lines recalling the Edwardian era.
Teddy Boys Revival
During the 1970s, rockabilly music enjoyed a renewed period of popularity and there was a resurgence of interest in Teddy Boy fashions. The look was promoted by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren through their shop Let it Rock, on London's King's Road.
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This new generation of Teds adopted some aspects of the1950s but with a large glam rock influence, including louder colours for drape jackets, brothel creepers and socks, and shiny satin shirts worn with bootlace ties, jeans and big-buckled belts.
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The 1970s Teddy Boys often sported flamboyant pompadour hairstyles in addition to long sideburns and were alleged toprefer hairspray over grease to style their hair.In the late 1970s, the new generation became the enemies of theWestwood and Sex Pistol-inspired punk rockers.
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In the spring of 1977, street battles between young punks andaging teds happened on the London King's Road, where the earliest new wave shops, including VivienneWestwood and Malcolm McLaren's Sex.