The classic ted was characterised by his hairstyle and the long drape jacket with velvet trimmings. By the late 1950s, there was a growing fashion for hair not to be greased or combed back which was to predominate at the time of the mods and the Beatles about 1963. In the intervening period, between 1958 and 1963, ted hairstyles persevered in diminishing numbers but along with new clothing fashions, Italian style bum-freezer jackets, turn-up jeans and winklepicker shoes were increasingly replacing the drapes, waistcoats, drainpipe trousers and brothel creepers of the classic mid-1950s teds.
This was the clothing fashion of the early mods, but the instantly recognisable distinction that was kept by all who adhered to what was considered by all as rock’n’roll remained the greased-back hair with quiff.
Debbie Clarke from Bolton, aged only 14 in 1957, has painted a vivid picture of the change from the classic mid-50s teds to the newer rock’n’roll fans:
In 1957, there were still the old original Teddy boys, and girls, from the early ‘50s. … / .They danced a very tight jive, hardly moving, with the girls doing the work, but still quite restrained, except for some nutters … / They were the old brigade and liked Johnny Ray and Guy Mitchell, then Elvis, Tommy Steele, Eddie Cochran, Chuck and Bo, the Platters, Bill Haley, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Larry Williams, and some old jazz/blues singers. … / The girls began the change by becoming bobby-soxers, wearing same as above, but with short white socks, which started the American trickle, which then became a flood. I was one of the Sweet little Rock’n’Rollers, being 14, whilst the older ones were the Rebels Without a Cause. … / Duffy was like me, in mid-1957, one of the new rock kids. He and his mates wore black sweaters with a white stripe down the sleeves and music notes on the front, over a white shirt with the collar turned up, black jeans and black suede beetlecrushers or white tennis shoes. They had “hybrid” haircuts, a bit teddy boy DA and a bit American crew cut. Crew cuts eventually seemed to take over. … / For going out bopping, (we no longer called it jiving, and we said hip instead of hep,) the boys wore black pants slightly too long, so that they creased a bit over their 14 inch bottom pants and white socks and black suede slip on crushers, and a white jacket over a white or black shirt, buttoned up, but no tie. … / Our dancing was more energetic and boppy, with a bit of throwing around, and we had the singers named above, but also newer and younger ones, doowappy groups like Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, Little Anthony and The Imperials, and Buddy Holly, Duane Eddy, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Rick Nelson, Frankie Avalon etc. The girl singers were only really Connie Francis and Brenda Lee. [EXPLAIN IMPORTANT page 21 Edwardian Teddy Boy]
Debbie’s ‘new rock kids’ of 1957 were the beginnings of the tail-end teds. You no longer needed to buy expensively-tailored drape suits to dress in a rock’n’roll fashion, a quiff and new American and Italian fashion accoutrements were all waht was needed.