Teddy boys (and girls

"Our dress is our answer to a dull world"

The origins of the Teddy Boys go back to the late 1940's when Saville Row Tailor's attempted to
revive the styles of the reign of King Edward VII, 1901-1910, known as the Edwardian era, into
men's fashions. The Teddy Boy fashion of the fifties has its origins in what was an upper class
reaction to the austerity imposed by the socialist government regime in the years following the
World War II. However the working class has defined Edwardian style as it had been created
and developed on the street, by the street and by working class teenagers and not by Saville
Row or the fashion designers.

The name "Teddy Boy", was not officially born until September 23rd 1953 when a Daily Express
newspaper headline shortened Edward to Teddy and coined the term, 'Teddy Boy'.

Back in 1950s, there were also small groups of girls who saw themselves as Teddy Girls, and
who identified with Teddy Boy culture, dancing with the Teds, going to the cinema with them and
apparently getting some pleasure from relating the violent nature of the incidents instigated by
the Teddy Boys. These young women were primarily, maybe entirely, working class.


In the beginning there were drapes and drainpipe trousers. Then that look was customized; the
drapes with collar, cuff and pocket trimmings, even narrower trousers, crepe soled shoes or
beetle crushers and hairstyle heavily greased into a quiff and shaped into DA, or as it was
popularly called, a ducks arse as it resembled one. It has been widely acknowledged that in
Britain, Teddy Boys were the first group whose style was self-created.

As for girls, their choice of clothes wasn’t only for aesthetic effect: these girls were collectively
rejecting post-war austerity. Teddy girls wore drape jackets, pencil skirts, hobble skirts, long
plaits, rolled-up jeans, flat shoes, tailored jackets with velvet collars, straw boater hats, cameo
brooches, espadrilles, coolie hats and long, elegant clutch bags.

The Teddy Boy is a uniquely British phenomenon and pre-dates the introduction of American
Rock'n'Roll music into Britain. For example, Bill Haley & his Comets was the band that
represented the local Rock’nRoll . And then, Rock'n'Roll was immediately adopted by the young
generation and of course by the Teds. Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent,
Jerry Lee Lewis, and British artists like Bill Hayley, Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard and the Drifters
(and many, many others ... ) became the teenagers' idols. It was the beginning of something
new, a wind of freedom. In Britain, in September 1956, Bill Haley had 5 records in the 'Top 20.


Teddy Boys were the first real high profile rebel teenagers and therefore based on a single
incident, the media quickly described them as a menace and violent . When teenager John
Beckley was murdered in July 1953 by Teddy Boys, the Daily Mirror’s headline, ‘Flick Knives,
Dance Music and Edwardian Suits’ associated criminality with clothes

Another aspect of the street was the famous Teddy Boys march in London when thousands of
Teddy Boys marched on the BBC from all over UK demanding the BBC to play some real Rock
‘n’ Roll.