The Way We Wore is a passionate and personal account of the dazzling array of street styles and trouser tribes Britain produced from the 1950s to 1990s. Robert Elms' memoir takes us from Teddy Boys to Acid house, from Notting Hill to Soho. A love letter to London Town and the overdressed, undervalued youth who made this city such a hotbed of cool.
'A wonderful book that should be read by everyone who believes that clothes are tools for living.' -- Tony Parsons
'Funny, accurate and touching' -- Dylan Jones, GQ
'If I could write and had to write a book about clothes, this would be it. A bloody brilliant book.' -- Paul Smith
'Incisive, obsessive and quite brilliant.' -- Observer Music Monthly
'as stylish and witty as the finery it obsesses over.' -- Independent On Sunday
'provocative, charming and fiercely proud' -- Daily Telegraph
'a brave, unexpected and wonderful book' -- Independent
'a hymn to the burning desire of young men to look right and look smart' -- Evening Standard
This is the story of a life's obsession. From Ben Sherman shirts to boxtop loafers, from bondage trousers to Comme de Garcons, Elms has been there, seen it, and worn it out. It's about why you'd rather not go out at all than go out in the wrong sort of brogues, and why you just had to have a Budgie Jacket to cut it in the playground in 1970. It is ultimately a hilarious, passionate social history of London street fashion from the Teddy Boys and rude boys battling it out in his homeland of Notting Hill in the 50’s to its end in Acid House in the 90’s. A fond memoir of working class lads in tumultuous times and lary schmutter.
One day in 1965 the five-year-old Robert Elms fell in love with clothes. His brother had just returned to the family’s Burnt Oak council house in a new suit he’d picked up from a tailor in Kilburn. Otis Redding was playing in the front room. This, as his mum would say, was “all the go” - whatever that meant. This, Elms realised, was what you grew up for.
Fast forward seventeen years through a slide show of looks – mod, skinhead, suedhead, bowie boy, punk – and Elms finds himself at the epicentre of hip eighties London. As lead writer for the new style bible, the Face, his pronouncements on what to wear and what not to wear, what to listen to and how to achieve cool, dictated youth taste to the post punk generation. In an era that saw style become a mainstream preoccupation, Robert Elms was an almost inadvertent high-priest of a new cult. Was salvage stitching really essential? (Yes) Was the ripped trouser look really a political statement? (probably not), was Cowboy chic really chic at all?. When the sartorial excess of youth fashion came to full fruition amid the pantomime outfits of the Blitz Club, Elms was in his element. And then it all changed.
About the Author
Robert Elms is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author. He writes regularly for the national press and hosts a daily afternoon show on BBC London. His previous books include Spain: A Portrait After the General. He lives in Camden.