Teddy Girls

Elsie, 15, and Rose Hendon with Mary Toovey and Jean Rayner, 14, in front of the Seven Feathers Club in Edenham Street, North Kensington. ©TopFoto/Ken Russell

Teddy Girl Style: the forgotten sub-sub culture

I first read about the Teddy Girls in an issue of Bust in 2006. They did a photo spread which included photos of past Teddy Girls as well as some current Teddy Girl styles. I loved the mix of masculine and feminine style as well as the girls 'je ne sais quoi' attitude.
According to the BBC-
Teddy Boys were the original teen rebels, influenced by rock 'n' roll music from America. The Teddy Boy subculture started in 1950s London and spread across the UK. 
Teddy Boys had their own distinctive style, influenced by the fashions of the Edwardian period, which tailors in Savile Row had tried to re-introduce to post-war Britain-hence the name 'Teddy' Boy. 
The Teddy Boy culture tended to be gang-led, with an overtly macho overtone. They had a reputation for violence-and they, along with rock 'n' roll music, were blamed for many of society's ills in the 1950s.  
          18-year-old Rose Price, shop assistant from Tottenham, sporting a manly hairstyle. ©TopFoto/Ken Russell
Since the Teddy Boys were seen as a violent gang most of society focused on them, the Teddy Girls were often overlooked. In fact, there was only one article published about the Teddy Girls with photos taken by Ken Russell in 1955. Reading about the Teddy Boys reminds me a bit of the book and film "Clock Work Orange". 
In October of 2006 Ken Russell's photographs of the Teddy Girl's were rediscovered and shown in London. The curators, Judy Westa cott and Joe Cushley wrote-
The Teddy girl is all but absent...Yet, just as much as the boys, the Teddy Girl was creating a new world for herself. It may be that the Teddy Girl was difficult to see because fashion was naturally considered a feminine sphere...she wore a variety of personal styles. Cameo brooches and other accessories hark back [to the Edwardian style], but the fact that these girls wear trousers is very interesting. Most surprising the younger girls even wear jeans. As the boys look back for inspiration to a bygone era, the girls seem to be looking forward to modernity, out towards the future. 
14-year-old Jean Rayner in the exploratory stage of Teddyism. ©TopFoto/Ken Russell
Now for the Americanized version. This is a photo of my grandparents around the time they got married in 1955 that I found in an old photo album that included photo's of Poppy's time in Korea. 
My grandfather is on the left and my grandmother is in the white sleeveless shirt. 
Teddy Girl style is still around today, not only possible with vintage clothes, but the constant reinterpretation of fashion from the past means that bygone eras are available today. Below are a couple of style guides to set you on your way to being a Teddy Girl.
{1- Vintage 1990's French Connection Jacket found on Etsy, 2- Authentic wool US Navy sailor pants at Etsy, 3-1950's scarf from Brussels. Wear it tied as a headband in your hair., 4-1940's black oxford shoes.}

{1-1980's Suit Coat, 2-Red Patent Leather Handbag, 3-Cameo Pin, 4-Capri Jeans and 5-Ankle Boots}  
What do you have in your closet to channel your inner Teddy Girl?

Originally Published 4/2/13

Sign Up For the Monthly Newsletter

Full of DIY Tutorials. Design Tips. And More, but never spam