My fascination with the skinhead style of This is England continues, and was fuelled yesterday by watching the last episode of BBC 2’s brilliant British Style Genius. Focusing on street style, the episode included the skinhead style of the late 60s and had some really interesting interviews with a guy, Alan Mortlock, who used to be one of the first skinheads. BBC 2 summarizes skinhead style:
“With the decline of the Mods in the late 60s, the look evolved into the Hard Mod, which soon transformed into the first Skinheads. Hard Mods often lived in the same economically depressed areas of South London as West Indian immigrants and began to emulate the “rude boy” look of pork pie hats and short Levi jeans.
The movement was non-political and gave off the impression of an aspiring white working class, but the fissures of the inter-cultural mixing soon began to show. In late 1970s the Skinhead look became associated with inner-city racism.
The escapism from the Skinheads’ gritty industrial reality then took a darker turn to the football terraces where their aggressive football hooliganism against rival teams became their new entertainment.
With its roots in the Hard Mod look, early Skinhead fashions were visibly similar but soon grew into a distinctive style:
- The famous ‘skinhead’ itself is typically a grade two or three closely-shaved head for men and a Mod-style short feather cut for girls.
- The Ben Sherman trend prevailed from mod fashion with button-down, gingham shirts. The size of the check denoted your place in the gang – the larger the check the more authority you had in the group.
- Sta-Prest slacks and jeans were the choice of trousers and many skinheads would sit in a bath of water with their shrink-to-fit Levi 501 jeans to get the extreme skinny-legged look.
- Jeans were inevitably tucked into a pair of Dr Martens boots
- The look was completed with a pair of braces and a trilby or pork pie hat.”
Not that I would go for the whole look, I think you should only really dress like this if you can fully identify yourself with the skinhead culture (and I can’t) but I love individual style elements such as the button-down shirts, Fred Perry jackets and braces.