The term "greaser" is used to describe a youth movement that began in the United States during the 1950s. Usually greasers were involved in street gangs that evolved in both urban and suburban neighborhoods. To greasers, image and attitude were incredibly important, and greaser fashion is iconic to the 1950s. Greaser fashion championed simplicity and is said to have heavily influenced the development of punk fashion.
The term greaser comes from the greasy-looking hair styles that young men would wear. Usually hair was combed through with gel, pomade or even petroleum jelly until it was saturated. The pompadour, a hair style where the bangs are elevated off of the forehead and the hair is slicked back, was often seen on greasers, as was the duck's tail, where the hair was combed toward the back of the head and a seam was formed where the hair from the sides met in the back.
Shoes and Accessories
In terms of footwear, greasers often wore Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high-top sneakers, motorcycle boots, cowboy boots or black leather engineer boots with steel toes. Often footwear was worn with exposed white socks. Tattoos were common, as were cigarettes and Wayfarer or Aviator style sunglasses.
Blue jeans or black pants were the standard pants worn by most greasers. The leg was tailored and straight. It was important to roll the leg up at least to the ankle to reveal the white socks worn underneath. A solid leather belt with a buckle was also iconic to the look. Greasers were also known to carry switchblades or combs that flicked open like switchblades. Often a handkerchief or bandanna was left to hang out of a back pocket. Wallet chains were also common.
Shirts and Jackets
Simplicity was an important aspect of greaser fashion, and most men would wear plain white or black t-shirts, undershirts or ringer t-shirts. Often greasers would roll up the sleeves of their shirts and store a pack of cigarettes in the folds. These shirts could be tucked into a belt or left out. Greasers often wore leather motorcycle-style jackets, gasoline jackets or even trench coats.
Meredith Hambrin is a freelance writer based in Canada. She has covered film and music for "The Ubyssey" university newspaper and served on the editorial board for "Prism International" literary magazine. Hambrin earned her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of British Columbia.
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