Peg trousers are a forgotten part of the late 70s sartorial scene in my view – everybody remembers tartan bum flaps and the stuff most of us actually didn’t wear. But peg trousers were everywhere. Pleats on men’s trousers are now viewed as the work of Satan but in a world where flat fronted did not reign supreme, as many as sixteen pleats were acceptable on so-called Bowie trousers.
And looking below – what was it with the German NATO jackets that popped up everywhere between 1979 and 1981. There must have been some kind of job lot coming in from Germany and we were just conned into believing they were unbelievably cool. If you remember, they kind of elasticated at the waist.
Some New Wave clothes ads from the back of the music papers in 1979.
Aaaaah yes, back in the 80s you went to Camden market in London and it hadn’t been completely taken over by young Italian goths and market stalls that are now very slick – and way too expensive on the whole. People were selling bootleg tapes off the top of milk crates and there were racks of amateur tailored clothes that we still thought were cool as hell. But most important – there was Syd Strong – the barber that could give you the meanest flat top in town. Here’s what I looked like after he’d finished with my head.
You talk to people about 1981 and they’ll remember 2Tone and New Romantics but Rockabilly gets a bit swept under the carpet. Wasn’t that Shakin’ Stevens?
Well, he was around but more importantly – there was a whole underground scene with lots of clubs across London and bands to match. Clubs included the Orange Tree in Barnet and the White Heart in Tottenham…or the Royalty in Southgate. The bands tended to have the word “cats” in their name – Pole Cats, Stray Cats, you get the drift…
I remember a lot of the sports jocks at school adopted the rockabilly style at the turn of the decade because it was neat, cool, got the girls and had that pseudo-James Dean thing about it. Variations on classic 50s fashion continued to be popular throughout the 80s. HERE is a good blog post on “80s does 50s” fashion.
The late 70s/early 80s rockabilly revival seemed to emerge alongside the Mod revival – though neither side will thank me for saying that. It seemed to me at the time that the music faded from the charts but the look endured well into the decade. But rockabilly die-hards will of course deny that.