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Fashion – Lads v Fellars
By Phil Thornton
When you stop being a ‘lad’ and become a ‘fellar?’ I only ask because I’ve just passed a fellar on Bold Street who looked to be well into late 50s or even early 60s (unless he’s just had a very hard life that is) wearing a very fetching old skool Peter Storm ( a design I’ve never seen before) and a pair of what appeared to be original Indoor Supers. Sometimes you see fellars who look accidentally cool, who’ve just stuck on their lad’s gear or struck lucky down the booty but this fellar had the right hair (what was left of it), right walk, everything about him said ‘I know the score’ and y’know what he did!
Recently I’ve been thinking on this; I’m soon to be 43 and is it healthy for a ‘lad’ of my age to still be, if not obsessed then certainly very interested in fashion? There’s the crucial word; ‘lad.’ Not meant in that Britpop/ Loaded/post-ironic tits-out-for-the-you know what manner but ‘lad’ as how we used to understand it. Let’s face it, most of us are going to be ‘lads’ till we die, not in that sexist, self-congratulatory, I’m a proper character I am, a bit weey a bit wooh, but just as some young men were born ‘fellars’ some of us were born ‘lads’ no matter how old we get.
My aul fellar was always a fellar. He was one of the lads too, but in his closed macho world of hard labour, hard drinking and hard discipline, there was never any doubt that he was a ‘man.’ His mates were men too, even though now I realise they were still youngish men in their 30s and 40s when I was growing up, they were not the same kind of men in their 30s and 40s as we were and are. Ex-teds the lot of em, still rocking the quiff but dressed in typical 70s bad suits and now rocking out to Johnny Cash not The Who, they’d stopped evolving as ‘lads’ sometime in 1963. They never got Beatles haircuts, they never bought scooters, they didn’t buy into that Swinging 60s myth because they were too busy supping and striking and bringing up little twats like us.
My dad turned 70 last year and we had a surprise bash for him at the local club and arranged old photos of him at various stages of his life around the walls, as you do on these occasions. As a young ted, he was an Elvis ringer, he was smart, stylish and I must admit, very handsome (the genes didn’t pass on to me unfortunately). But somewhere in his 20s or 30s, he stopped bothering about the trivialities of fashion and those teds who remained teds, not as he was a ted in his Italian suits but as Showaddywaddy clowns, became figures of ridicule. Grow up, for fuck’s sake!
We were in the same position ourselves not so long ago; we were accused of being a retrospective, nostalgia cult, living on past glories, wallowing in the fashions of our collective past. Fila Bjs and skinny Lois and Trimm Trabs and backperms except, it was never about that and it still isn’t. Certainly there are some who do indeed dress more or less as they dressed in 1980 but then this sometimes has more to do with fashions regurgitating or standing still. The 45 year old lad in his Sambas, Lyle and Scott and Berghaus may just be wearing what he’s always worn; it’s a form of ‘classicism’ of knowing what you like and what suits you. That’s why the likes of Barbour, CP, PS remain as classics but formerly obscure Italian, American, Scandinavian or Inuit brands come along to challenge them as favourites amongst the self-elected ‘scalliban’ fashion fuhrers.
Style never goes out of fashion. Ofcourse those whoppers who waltz around various ‘designer shopping outlets’ rocking boyband haircuts, ripped kecks and stupid t-shirts with Jaguars attacking snakes or wacky 80s record sleeve graphics look like tits whether they’re 20 or 40, but they look bigger tits if they’re 40. That’s called ‘dressing younger than you are’ and it looks as daft as a 43 year old scally in a three sizes too small Lowe Alpine hat and sports-ninja clobber. Old age Mods are as big an anachronism as Old Age Teds, Skins or Punks.
There’s nothing modern in the clothes of the mid-60s or the early 70s or the late 70s or indeed the early 80s, yet our ‘scene’ (such as it is) keeps moving forward, still evolves and mutates, taking elements from the past, true, yet also looking ahead, constantly seeking the new, the rare, the ‘classic’ and that aesthetic applies as much to the 12 year old Jungen Scals in their re-issued Dublins and Barbour Liddesdales or the 60 year old in his Peter Storm and Indoor Supers. After all boys will be boys and ‘lads’ will always be lads!’
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