"This new south London working-class style had actually derived from an upper-class ‘Edwardian Dandy’ look that had started to be worn in gay-circles, and particularly young guardsmen, around Mayfair and St James in the late forties. Young dandies such as Bunny Roger (who also invented Capri pants whilst on holiday there in 1949, as you do) were seen around Piccadilly proudly showing off their svelte figures by wearing long and fitted jackets with generous shoulders and mean waists with half-collars and turned-back cuffs of velvet.
The neo-Edwardian look was completed with tighter tapered trousers and ornate embroidered waistcoats which echoed the Edwardian syle of fifty years previously. It was meant to be, and was, an antitheses of the commonplace, drab, shapeless and austere demob suit.
It was said that a shop-lifting gang from Elephant and Castle called the Forty Thieves were on a recce in the West End and were impressed by the rather flashy and expensive-looking new Edwardian-style and quickly took it for their own.
Around 1950/51 some young men around Elephant and Castle and Lambeth having appropriated the uptown Edwardian clothes started to mix it up with the look of a World War Two spiv but also borrowing from the hairstyles and style influences of American Westerns (the Mississippi gambler bootlace tie for instance) that were hugely popular in the early fifties.
This potent fashion statement could very well have been the first time teenage boys developed their own style of clothing that differentiated from their fathers or elder brothers.”
Wow. And of course, as this all got mixed up with early rock n’ roll fandom, it presumably led directly to the development of all the big-quiffed iconography we’ve associated with rock n’ roll/rockabilly stuff ever since, on this side of the Atlantic at least. By the time these fellas were beating up the mods a decade later, they’d mixed it up with a heavier American influence that brought in bikes, leathers etc (weirdly taking the style back to its gay roots in a roundabout sorta way), and there ya go. I think this calls for use of grant’s #unseen histories tag.