Meet The Crombie Boys

Hi everyone!

On the last post I mentioned that I had bought a magazine I had wanted for years… But I actually bought two!, that one and this one… OK, maybe a few more but you will find that out soon. Anyway, to continue with my magazine hoarding, today I am sharing this cool little article called “Meet The Crombie Boys”.

The article comes in a Sunday Times magazine from March 1971 and it shows a well-known photo already: 7 incredibly smart young guys who like wearing Crombie coats, button-down shirts, mohair suits and highly polished shoes. Enjoy!

Meet The Crombie Boys

The kids call these overcoats Crombies, but they are rarely the genuine article made from the celebrated Crombie cloth. Still, there is a touch of real class tucked into the top pocket – a pure silk handkerchief. This gentlemanly fad started in London, swaggering out from the East End on to the football terraces where it was caught like measles and spread to places as far apart as Highgate and Barnes. Now you can see Crombie boys getting off the football specials from the Midlands and North. It’s a look for boys (and a few girls) between 12 and 20 who want to give themselves a group identity that swings away from the aggressive look of skinheads and rockers; some South London Crombie boys have even been seen with rolled umbrellas. Shoes must be black and clumpy, shirts thinly striped and open necked, trousers knife-creased. When the ‘Crombies’ are shed as the weather gets warmer, the word is that the ceremonial order will be two-tone mohair suits – one of the gents in the chair has already been for a fitting. Shirts will have unbuttoned down collars. Black and white patents will probably be the shoe.

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And some close-ups…CrombieBoys2

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Interested in books and magazines from the 1960’s and 1970’s? Have a look at The Ballroom Blitz Facebook Page. Lots of items always up for sale!

 

Skinheads in Focus

Hi everyone!

A few weeks ago I received a magazine that I had wanted for years! I was always asking for it here and there and nothing, but that very moment I stopped looking for it, I saw it and bought it and, of course, I had to share it with you all.

The magazine is called Mirabelle and it dates May 1970. The article, as the title of this post says, is “Skinheads in Focus” and it shows us the simple but smart skinhead style. However, only the description of the girls’ clothes is available. Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did!

Skinheads in Focus

Snap! A new perspective to young fashions for true skinheads to follow. Snip! Lots of smart suits and dresses. Snap! Matching skirts and tops for everyday wear. Simple but smart. Snip!

Far left: Girl’s mohair suit. Colours: bottle green, wine, turquoise, black.

Centre: Mohair suit. Same colours as above.

Right: Prince of Wales coat. Three different colour tones.

Sitting: Keyhole mohair dress. Colours: bottle green, wine, turquoise, black.

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Jumper, various colours. Skirt, various colours.

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Jumper, various colours. Kilt, various colours.

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Knitted dress. Colours: white and beige, pink and beige, blue and beige.

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Sta-press trousers, various pale shades. Ben Sherman shirt. Cardigan, colours: black, brown, green, camel.

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Full view of the article:

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Interested in books and magazines from the 1960’s and 1970’s? Have a look at The Ballroom Blitz Facebook Page. Lots of items always up for sale!

And as always in parting, a nice Reggae tune. In the summer mood and I would love to eat a watermelon…

Skinhead Girl Hairstyle

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while and since the other day we were talking about skinhead girls haircuts on the Style Forum and I get traffic from lots of people looking for this information, I thought: why not write about it now?

Once again, it is impossible to generalise as we know not everything was (or is) black and white. It depended a lot on where you lived, your age, how strict your parents were, what you liked, etc., but hopefully we can cover a wide range of styles.  As usual, the best way to illustrate something is with photos so here you will find a few pictures of the different haircuts worn by skinhead girls in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

1. The “Julie Driscoll”

One of the prettiest but also one of the most ‘difficult to wear’ hairstyles. It consists of (very) short hair with longer sides and an arched fringe.  I call it the ‘Julie Driscoll’ because it’s similar to what Julie Driscoll looked like back then.

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Ann from Corby, 1969

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Late 60’s

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Olly, 1970

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1969

2. Feather cut

The most popular hairstyle. Short on top with longer back and sides. Often seen with short/no fringe and side parting, arched fringe, middle parting. . .

There are different lengths depending on the year but I reckon it’s been popular since the late 60’s. In the early 70’s ‘half’ fringe became popular, too.

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Linda and friends, early 70’s

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Ann from Corby again, 1971

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Lynn and friend, early 70’s

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Vivien and Annette ca. 1969

3. Hair brushed back

Imagine a grown out feather cut, then you brush it back and use some hairspray to keep the volume. Gotta thank Colin for the idea of the name!

I’ve only seen pictures from 1970 onwards with this style.

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Ca. 1970 at the Top Rank in Reading

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At The Tin Hat in Kettering, 1971. Girl at the back/left wearing her hair brushed back

Another variation would be the hair brushed back but then tied (only half of the hair with or without volume) like in these pictures:

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1970

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1971

4. Ponytails

Hair tied at the back, usually with middle parting, leaving strands of hair to the sides.

I’ve seen pictures from 1969 onwards with this hairstyle.

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Jean. A mix of photos from the late 60’s and early 70’s

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Ponytails!

5. Buns and Plaits

Hair was usually pulled back with no parting, leaving some strands of hair to the sides, straight or curly.

At the back, it would be plaited and tucked under or wrapped up in a bun, which is how I wear it.

I’ve seen pictures from early 1970 onwards with this hairstyle.

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Jan and friends, ca. 1970. Back was plaited and tucked under

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Long hair and probably a bun. Ca. 1970

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Buns! 1971

6. Long, plain hair

Often seen both in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Usually worn by older girls or by the ones who were not allowed to get a feather cut. With middle or side parting.

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Jan and friends, cool chicks with long hair. Ca. 1970

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Ca. 1971

* Bonus: Accessories

Accessories like hair clips and bun nets were also worn. The first one, usually with side parting and the hair clip to hold the hair like in this picture:

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Annette

So there you go, lots of hairstyle inspiration. There is more to life than feather cuts as you have seen in all these pictures from original skinhead girls or girls with the skinhead girl style. But in case you don’t believe me, here are some recollections of original skinheads too:

Maybe traditionally short in the next skinhead phase. I wouldn’t know though because I wasn’t there!! The boys hair was short, but not the girls as a rule. Some maybe.” – Jan

“Even back in the day, some friends of mine didn’t have a feather cut, they had long hair and wore it in a bun, but as I have said to you before, I think depends where you lived and personal style.” – Julie

I have loads of photos from my book That Beatin’ Rhythm that shows original skinhead girls from the early 70’s with long hair, not everyone had the short ‘feathered’ style.” – Paddy

I don’t remember girls with severe feather cuts that you see today i.e. ears sticking out. Most birds wore their hair similar to the photo above (see Jan’s photo in 6.). I do remember having a feather cut done by some bird with a razor blade at the local youth club. A row of lads lined up, next thing there’s hair everywhere.” – Paul

Hope you have liked the post. Special thanks to Dave, Stephen, Olly, Bob, Linda, Lynn and Tony for the pictures! Will try to start posting more often as before : )

As always in parting, a nice little tune.

Happy days up North: Gerry speaks

It’s always interesting to read the first-hand recollections of original skinheads. It’s like taking a time machine and go back to a period most of us try to “preserve” 40+ years after.

This time, Gerry speaks about his days as a skinhead: Football, music, clothes… Those things we all like. Let’s read what he has shared with us:

“The skinhead fashion was a natural transgression from the mods era arriving in the East End of London 1968-69. My first ever recollection of seeing skinheads was in London in the summer of 1969 on a visit to Wembley to see my local team North Shields in the amateur cup as a skinny 15 year old!

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A very young Gerry. Scotland ca. 1967

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Gerry, Dickie and Bill. Scotland 1967

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Scotland ca. 1967

A couple of months later I went to my first ever away game to see Newcastle at West Ham witnessing skinheads en masse. The North Bank was heaving with kids in Dr. Martens, Jungle greens, Sta Prest, braces, Ben Shermans, cardigans and the obligatory “razor partings”! …. And a steady procession of them being ejected from the North Bank.

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Plymouth ca. 1968

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Scotland ca. 1968

Football was instrumental in the skinhead culture and it rapidly spread throughout the land. I remember Chelsea coming up to Sunderland in 1969 lead by the legends Danny “Eccles” and “Chiefy” Greenaway (who hardly fitted the skinhead role!). We came over from Newcastle and tagged on with them as they casually strolled into the Fulwell End unopposed. Later that year Chelsea came up to Newcastle which was the subject of a brilliant Man Alive documentary at the time focussing on Chelsea skinheads and Danny “Eccles” Harkins in particular. A legendary Leazes End skinhead at Newcastle at the time, Colin Proud, appears on the clip (Colin sadly died a few years ago as did Micky Greenaway of Chelsea… Mr Zigger Zagger!). The first Skinhead I ever saw at Newcastle was Johnny Dodds, “Doddsy”, self proclaimed “King of the Leazes End”!

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Eccles and Proudy 1969

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Leazes End Boot Boys

Around about this time Newcastle had a small band of about 20-30 skinheads: the original Leazes End Boot Boys. These numbers rapidly swelled as the fashion swept through the UK.

I remember buying my dark blue full length Burberry mac from a second hand shop for the pricely sum of 2 shillings! (10 pence!) Amazingly Dr. Martens/Air Ware were not available in the frozen tundras of the Northern out post of Newcastle and we had to go to London to buy them or get Monkey Boots from the local Army and Navy Stores. There was a lack of very really good clothes shops in Newcastle then (apart from Marcus Price where I bought my first ever Levi’s, Ben Sherman and Italian leather jacket in 1968). Someone with a business sense would have made a killing as 6 months later when they did become available, they were selling out straight away!

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Monkey boots. Gerry, Tyer and Dickie ca. 1969

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Marcus Price. Mod shop, Newcastle

The skinhead fashion was not just boots and braces but they were meticulous in their dress code. Mohair suits by Dormueil, Weejun loafers, Loakes Royals, Crombies, Prince of Wales check, Doogtooth, Ben Shermans, Brutus, Jaytex shirts, Fred Perry, Slazenger cardigans… never took to the red socks thing!!). The Harrington jacket was essential and Danny Eccles is seen sporting a nice green number on the clip!

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Butlins ca. 1970

The music scene embraced the reggae culture after the mods’ soul/ R&B preference. There was a healthy soul scene for years previous, the forerunners of Northern soul at the Torch, Twisted Wheel, Va Va’s and later Wigan Casino and that fashion “black hole” period of flares and vests! The Marquee club in London and the Club A GO GO in Newcastle attracted “mod bands” popular at the time: Geno Washington, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, Alan Bown set (an LP which captured the mod scene in 1966 was “London swings: live at the Marquee Club… A classic!). Georgie Fame and the Blueflames, John Mayall, Chris Farlowe, Cream were popular R&B bands.

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Butlins ca. 1970

Mowtown/Soul was always popular with the skinhead movement but gave way to Reggae for a while. The Oxford Galleries at Newcastle used to play reggae: The Pioneers, The Upsetters and the legendary Harry J Allstars, still played at Chelsea!

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Butlins ca. 1971

Alas, amazingly the skinhead fashion scene was very brief for must of us, only lasting a year. Our friends down South led the way in growing their hair, Suedeheads and then Smooths rapidly gave way to bright patterned shirts, flares and the beginning of a fashion disaster period! The sight of football fans scrapping in platform shoes, tank tops, flares, etc, was surreal! There were pockets of skinheads in rural UK which had the fashion lingering on but, in the main, by 1970 it was gone for us.

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Butlins ca. 1971

HAPPY DAYS!!!”

Thanks to Gerry for sharing all his pictures and stories with The Ballroom Blitz! For more articles on original skinheads/suedeheads/smooths, please check out:

From Mod to Skinhead: Jan Speaks

Smooths playing it cool: Bryan speaks

I hope you have liked this article. Will be back soon with more nice posts.

And as always in parting, a nice little tune: One of the most popular tunes back in the day! Take care! x

Top Fellas: The Story of Melbourne’s Sharpie Cult (Review)

Gang wars! Rock ‘n’ roll! Fine knits! The two-fisted, two decade reign of Sharp!

Originally published in 2004, Top Fellas: The Story of Melbourne’s Sharpie Cult, was sold out in a few months. Luckily for our reading pleasure, there has been two re-prints, one in 2010 and another one in 2013, being this last one the copy I’ve got.

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The book was written by Tadhg Taylor, who was a skinhead in his teenage years in the mid/late eighties in Melbourne. Very often the topic of sharpies would arise and he and his friends started to take a real interest in this Australian youth subculture, an interest that increased rapidly. Years went by and they grew out of the skinhead thing but their interest in sharpies remained the same until Tadhg decided to set it down on paper.

Top Fellas is a real step into the world of sharpies. It is full of recollections of ex-sharpies who kindly shared their stories with Tadhg and it has more than fifty photos to illustrate them. The book is divided into 5 chapters: Chapter 1: 1964-1970, Chapter 2: 1970-1972, Chapter 3: 1972-1976, Chapter 4: 1976-1980 and Chapter 5: The eighties.

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As you might guess, my favourite two chapters are the first and the second because they show the roots of the Melbourne sharps. Melbourne could be defined as the homeland of the sharp movement which began sometime in 1964 with the so called “64 Rocker”, the opposite to the ’56 rockers’, inspired by the neat streamlined look of mod.

What I like the most about Top Fellas is the way Tadhg has given a full acount of this subculture throughout the years, not detracting from anyone who was a part of it and its different periods and guises. The language he uses is colloquial and makes the book fun and very entertaining to read. Once you start reading it, Top Fellas is a difficult book to put down.

The first-hand recollections of the former sharps are brilliant: “The point was to always look sharp, that’s why people started calling us sharpies, but we never called ourselves that, you were just one of the fellas or not one of the fellas”, says Dennis, one of those original sharpies.

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Chapter 1: 1964-1970

But what made you a “Top Fella”? To be a Top Fella you had to be good at fighting, a good dancer, confident with the “brushes” and really smart. You had to be known, connected and respected – a sharpies’ sharpie.

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Chapter 1: 1964-1970

Tadhg has done a great job and put a lot of effort in writing this book. With it, he has re-introduced the interest in the sharpie subculture not only in Australia but also all over the rest of the world. A good read and a perfect Christmas gift if you have an interest in youth subcultures, rock ‘n’ roll and smart clothes.

You can buy “Top Fellas: The Story of Melbourne’s Sharpie Cult” on Amazon here. Or if you really want a bargain get if off Book Depository here for only £6 including free worldwide shipping!

More pictures from Top Fellas:

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Chapter 2: 1970-1972

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Chapter 3: 1972-1976

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Chapter 4: 1976-1980

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Chapter 5: The eighties

And a very cool video of Melbourne Sharpies from 1974!: