The mods wore parkas, punks wore metal spiked jackets and glam rockers shiny blazers. Subcultures listened to the same music and had their own dress codes.
The 21st century is an evolved state of all of the ideas the emerged in the previous 100 years. We still see the fashion influences of all of the subcultures that appeared and disappeared through the decades.
Hippies, mods, punks, glam rockers, metals, goths, ravers, rappers - they all had their popularity peaks with shared views on the world. Their opinions were what was bringing them together, while the music they listened to and the way they dressed distinguished them from others.
The exciting thing about subcultures' fashion was that they always had one favourite type of jacket and shoes. Let's see what iconic outerwear was a choice of British subcultures.
The Teds Influenced by Rock'n'Roll and Edwardian Dandies
When rock'n'roll arrived on Earth, it was really something new. Not just the sound, but the way the audience started to behave.
Today, Elvis Presley's songs may be evergreens for a dance night at a retirement home, but back in the fifties, they were as rebellious as they can be.
In the UK, the rock'n'roll teenage rebel subculture started in London. They were a bunch of hooligans with "pompadour" haircuts well known for the mess they made in 1956. after Bill Haley's movie, Rock Around the Clock arrived in cinemas. Fireworks, bottles thrown, cinema seats slashed - hooliganism at its finest.
They were called the Teddy Boys as the other source of their inspiration, along with the rock styling were the Edwardian Dandies.
Their dress code included high-waist drainpipe trousers wore just above the ankle to show some socks and the shoes. They usually wore oxfords, loafers, blue suede shoes and motorcycle boots. The top was usually a loose collard high-necked white T-shirt and the jacket that distinguished them was the drape jacket in dark colours.
Mods: Cool Rebels on Vespas in Parkas
Mods were modern and cool; they were the youngsters that tried to escape the factory working life that overtook life after the Second World War.
They rebelled against all the rules society expected them to follow - the customs and family expectations.
They appeared in the late fifties and continued in the sixties till the subculture became a bit too mainstream. They liked the nightlife and parties and listened to different types of music: Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent in the 1950s while in the 1960s it was all about ska music, soul and R&B, as well as The Who, The Yardbirds and The Kinks (check our Mod music playlist).
Modest wasn't something that describes mods. They spent all of their money on their lifestyle (used a lot of drugs like speed) and clothes. Their outfits were tailored made slim fit suits and brogues or boating shoes. But they, in particular, chose one jacket - the parka.
The movie that describes the culture that passed by on Vespas is Quadrophenia, a film by Phil Daniels. Just watch the trailer, you'll get what the subculture was all about.
Hippies, the Flower Power People that Adored Patches
The flower power movement of the sixties is one of the most-known subcultures of the 20th century.
Hippies were confronting the system in a non-violent way, mostly with mass protesting. Love and peace were in the centre of their philosophy and values. They liked to go on "spirit journeys" with their travel companions such as LSD and marijuana.
Unlike Italian designed Vespas, hippies liked vans as they could fit more people. The way they dressed was the opposite of posh and fancy.
Second-hand clothes, anything hand-sewn and bleach dried clothes, hippies were known for their colourful clothing like ponchos and dot-printed fabrics. They didn't have the jacket as others did, everything was acceptable, as long as it is natural and groovy.
Torn, the Dress Code of Punks
The punk movement appeared in the mid-1970s in the UK. The ideology of the subculture was revolutionary, an anarchist, and someone who is anti-establishment.
Musicians, like in other cases were the spokesmen of the movement - The Buzzcocks, The Clash, and of course The Sex Pistols. Their song "No future" describes the ideology of the era the best.
The punks fashion was just like their ideology - anarchistic. They were provoking with their mohawks, torn offensive T-shirts, tight jeans, leather boots Dr Marten's style and leather jackets with metal spikes, patches and controversial images.
Glam Rockers, Men in Shiny Glittery Jackets
In the early seventies, somewhere around the same time as the punks were shouting out their nihilistic messages, glam rock emerged.
First, it was a music movement, and it ditched all the revolutionary messages rock had in the sixties. It was just - glam.
Even though David Bowie is the icon of the era, the musician that started the movement is Marc Bolan, frontmen of T-Rex. He appeared in BBC's Top of the Pops in 1971 wearing glitter and satins.
Later on, the movement got close with gay rights activism, and a lot of men wore women's clothes and pushed the androgynous look.
The fashion rule was to stand out, to draw attention and provoke. The jackets were just like that, colourful, shiny, glittery blazers.
Goths Always Wore Just Black
Goth subculture is probably the darkest one of the 20th century. Goths started in the UK; the movement evolved from the post-punk genre. The first bands were Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division and The Cure.
Goths didn't and still don't have a lined up ideology. Mostly, they appreciate individuality and the freedom to be whatever you like.
Goths fashion is all about black: dark make-up, black hair and black clothes. A lot of clothes that are part of the styling are inspired by the clothes from the Victorian and Edwardian era like, e.g. corsets or long coats.
There are several types of goth jackets, but they are always black. Long or short black coat, or a leather jacket, in their variations.
Ravers’ Party Clothes Had a Lot of Pockets
Ravers liked to party, and partying is the core of this subculture. In the UK the subculture started in the late eighties, and it's connected with acid houses, the warehouse where young people were taking LSD and listening to music to have a better experience.
Electro music, techno, house, and trance, they all had the same mission - raving.
Ravers usually wore baggy pants, oversized pants with lots of pockets, sneakers, and T-shirts with smiley faces. Clothes in which they could dance for hours. The classic rave jacket was the top shell sport jacket or a colourful faux fur one.
As long it was colourful, it was acceptable.
Today, people are still a part of subcultures, but they are inspired by the past subcultures and the style are often combined. You can go to a gala wearing a punk mohawk, or dress just ordinary for a goth concert.
Subcultures gave fashion a lot, and we're thankful for that.