In the early 1950s, at exactly the time that the teenage Elvis Presley was making the first forays into clothes and music in Memphis, disaffected post war youths of Great Britain were granted the less colourful set of options. The homegrown pop music scene was still dominated by the big bands and dance halls, which had sprung up after the war. More excitement was generated by the far more stylish imported American acts such as Johnny Ray, Frank Sinatra and Guy Mitchell, but they had in turn inspired a set of UK copy cats such as Teddy Johnson.
Many in the UK were turned on by the Jazz scene that was awakening. The mode of dress was baggy flannel trousers and loose jumpers with college scarves and duffel coats for men and women. More adventurous women wore ponytails, gingham blouses and dirndl skirts or Juliette Greco fringes with dark make-up around the eyes and black clothing.
Dowdiness was prevalent amongst the middle class music fans, but there was one trend that had started in the immediate post-war years among the upper classes and had been popularised by the working class lads: the neo Edwardian look. This in turn gave birth to the first youth cult: the Teddy Boys.
Many Ted's settled for tight jeans beetle crushers and a DA Because the Teddy boy look was associated with teen violence the idea that fashionable clothes were a threat to society was made. That was how James Dean, Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando came to symbolise rebellious youth.
When Hollywood looked around for rebellious images that would suit stars like Dean and Brando they settled on White T-shirts, jeans and leather jackets. When the kids in Britain saw it up on the big screen they wanted the look too.
Women dressed "smartly' in the Fifties. Good grooming and a tailored look were prized. Acting and looking "every inch the lady" was taught virtually from the cradle.
The poodle skirt is the look most associated with the Fifties. Young women wore them. A... [continues]
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