“The Teddy Boy look” began in 1950’s England when young men wore clothing inspired by the dandies of the Edwardian era. They were originally named “Cosh boys” until the Daily Express shortened ‘Edwardian’ to ‘Teddy’ for a headline in 1953, changing history. Saville Row tailors encouraged the trend by making the 40’s Zoot suit drape jackets with velvet collars and pockets. They also fashioned the drainpipe pants which Teddy boys often wore— the leg hem always a bit too high to better expose their socks. Hair was combed back on the sides with a molded quiff in the front. The British shoes, Creepers, actually came out of Teddy Boy culture, as “Creeper” was another nickname due to a slow shuffle dance they vibed out to called ‘The Creep.’
Teddy Girls wore drape jackets, pencil skirts, flat shoes, tailored jackets with velvet collars, cameo brooches, espadrilles, and coolie hats. They were also the first teenage girls to rock jeans. They often made their own clothes, as they couldn’t afford (and probably didn’t like) department store clothes.
Record players were spinning jazz until 1955, when rock and roll, became the preferred choice of Teddy Boys. Unfortunately, some Teddy’s started gangs, attacking rival gangs, and in one historic incident, they attacked a West Indian community. Pick up the pulp novel Teddy Boy by Ernest Ryman, to learn more …
– Amy Haben
“We weren’t bad girls. We were all right. We got slung out of the picture house for jiving up the aisles once, but we never broke the law. We weren’t drinkers. We’d go to milk bars, have a peach melba and nod to the music, but you weren’t allowed to dance. It was just showing off: ‘Look at us!’ We called the police ‘the bluebottles’ – you’d see them come round in a Black Maria to catch people playing dice on the corner. But we’d just sit on each other’s doorsteps and play music.” – Rose Shine (Teddy girl)
Teddy girls were known as, “Judies.”
No one paid much attention to the Teddy Girls before I did them, though there was plenty on Teddy Boys. They were tough, these kids, they’d been born in the war years and food rationing only ended in about 1954 – a year before I took these pictures. They were proud. They knew their worth. They just wore what they wore.” -Ken Russell (One of the few photographers who took pictures of the Teddy Girls in Notting Hill in 1955.)
Long before Ken Russell directed the Who’s rock-opera, Tommy, he compiled a photo book of the East End Teddy Girls named, The Last Of The Teddy Girls.
In the mid-seventies, a resurgence of Teddy boy fashion sprung up with a dirtier edge– almost like a bloated, drunken Jim Morrison had been thrown into the mix. Rockabilly slid into the melting pot of Teddy style as greasy side burns were worn with pompadours, and shiny satin shirts were worn with bootlace ties and big belt buckles. Check out some examples below…