Fashions: A Matter Of Class


In post-war years, young fashions were largely created by the children of the rich. Teddy Boys got their names from the New Edwardians. Punk was famously a fashion born of class conflict, but ended up becoming a commodity sold off in portions to high school kids who wished to appear rebellious. (One of the characters in ‘Glee’ has a toned-down mohawk to signify his ‘bad boy’ status, the joke being that he’s a nice middle-class Jewish kid).

Fashions are still born in the working class, though. I snapped this couple in Oxford Street yesterday, although the photo doesn’t do them full justice – both were dressed in Chav trackies, the boy in many, many sizes too big (the trousers must have been nearly a metre too long), more to make a statement than to be merely comfortable. I was wondering if it’s driven by eighties nostalgia, and then deliberately exaggerated. They were about 16 years old. I wonder if this is a coming look and whether it has a name.

8 comments on “Fashions: A Matter Of Class”

  1. Alan says:

    I believe it’s called “jailing”. It’s an emulation of a fashion from the USA.

    The theory being that prison clothing over there is issued on a “take what you’re given” basis – so very often trousers are far too big and the seat hangs down to the knees.

    So – young lad above is pretending to be an American convict?

    Oh Dear…

  2. Chris Tandy says:

    How is the extra metre of trouser worn? The photo, sadly, doesn’t show this critical detail. If not rolled up or folded, I presume it drags along half-under his feet. It would not serve well in a fight; something of a trip-hazard, I’d guess…..
    …but is that worse than the loon-pants of yester-year?

  3. Helen Martin says:

    If he is standing on the extra metre I’d say he’s in great danger of losing the pants altogether. Other than that I don’t much comment on fashion because every era since the twenties has had ridiculous clothes and since young people have so much money and say the fads are more extreme than ever. (Never mind those medieval toes that had to be chained to your belt, or the sleeves that trailed on the floor or Tudor farthingales or 18th and 19th century hoops.) You have to have money to take part in any fad and the more money the more items.

  4. Vicki Goldie says:

    Great article in The Times about this and Human Rights, but as a previous post stated it basically is black US jail chic!

  5. Anne Hill Fernie says:

    The saggy-arsed look was prevalent in South London when I left in 2002 so it ain’t nothing new. Try coming up to my part of South Manchester though; shiny trakkies (both sexes) have never gone away. The icing on the cake though is the blokes with their trakky bottoms tucked into the (resulting) lumpy socks – class.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Having figured out ‘trakky’ (from track shoes, I assume) I would like to present the bright pink and the bright lime green shoes which have appeared on the skate boarding males on our street. The extra long pants wouldn’t work, though because a. you couldn’t see said shoes and b. it would interfere with the cool board manoeuvers.

  7. Alan Griffiths says:

    Helen – Track Suit. The shoes would be “trainers”.

    But the colour sense would seem to be the same.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    My thanks, Alan. A child asked me once why characters in books always used mostly proper language. “We wouldn’t talk that way.” Slang changes quicker than publishing dates sometimes, although I should have remembered trainers because that’s been around long enough to be almost standard English (UK).

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