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How a Rebellious Shanty Town Look Became a Rude Preppy Fashion Movement

Let the world debate normcore. The new fashion movement – neither rude nor only for a dude – comes from Jamaica, and has infiltrated street style and pop culture. We give you pointers on how to be “rude” this season.

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The Look  Rude boy/girl, like punk, was an anti-preppy subculture born out of youthful rebellion in the ’60s in the shanty towns of Kingston, Jamaica. Think tailored Savile Row suits + a little bit of punk + a little bit of ska.

The Role Models  Outkast frontman Andre 3000 and street-style darlings Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh of London-based design collective Art Comes First are the perfect modern-day poster boys. The ladies who match their swagger? Pauline Black, frontwoman of ’80s ska band The Selecter (and Gwen Stefani’s style inspiration), and singer/Karl Lagerfeld muse Janelle Monae.

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Bella Freud’s Fred Perry line

The Brands  Decades after Jamaican immigrants brought the style to Britain (it influenced mod and skinhead culture), English labels are reviving the look. Fred Perry’s teamed up with Bella Freud – designer/reggae fan/great-granddaughter of Sigmund – for a capsule collection inspired by the city’s Jamaican diaspora: pullovers, and polo dresses with motifs of military stars and the Jamaican flag. Meanwhile, shirt label Brutus reimagines the rude girl of the ’70s, pairing short-sleeved plaid shirts with bell-bottoms and suspenders.

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Brit label Brutus

The Must-Haves

1. Blazer: double-breasted (because dandy is key here) or boldly printed (tartan or retro wallpaper pattern is preferred) that says “look at me – I’m fly”.

2. Button-down shirt: goes under the blazer (we like it in poplin – dressy enough without wrinkling easily).

3. Cropped pants: for showing off the next item.

4. Patterned socks: Think of them as another way to add personal quirk. The more pop, the better.

5. A trilby, pork pie or bowler hat: Rudies were wearing them way before hipsters (or Pharrell) did.

6. Masculine shoes: There’s a tomboy-ness to rude boy/girl style, so step out in brogues, loafers or lounge slippers.

7. Bomber jacket: for dress-down days and a street vibe.

8. Retro dandy accessories: little flourishes to stand out from other rudies.

The Playlist
(10 songs to name drop, and none by Rihanna)

1. 007 (Shanty Town) – Desmond Dekker and The Aces

2. Jailhouse – Bob Marley and The Wailers

3. Let Me Down Easy – Paolo Nutini

4. London’s Burning – The Selecter

5. My Jamaican Guy – Grace Jones

6. Too Hot – Prince Buster

7. Tougher Than Tough – Derrick Morgan

8. Rudie Bam Bam – The Clarendonians

9. Rudie Can’t Fail – The Clash

10. Run Boy Run – Dudley Sibley

 This article was originally published in Female November 2014.