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Men's lifestyle blog to include Fashion and Style, Fitness, Art and Culture, Travel and Grooming

The makings of a ‘Rudeboy’ – Ska, Porkpie hats and fashion

Return of the rudeboy exhibition – Covent Garden

When a good friend Cano told me about the exhibition and launch of a book called Return of the Rudeboy, curated by Dean Chalkley and Harris Elliott, I immediately sprang into action by first entering the dates into my diary, and then proceeded to doing a bit of online research on the origins of the concept. I was quite keen to check out the exhibits this time round as I missed their very first London exhibition at somerset house in 2014.  I have heard and seen Dean and Harris’s body of works before and even follow their Instagram page but did not really know much about the history of Rudeboy and wanted to have a deeper understanding of its roots. What better way to do so than speaking to the two men who made it all possible, so off I went to the hospital club in Covent Garden.

‘Rudeboy’, no I am not referring to Rihanna’s  2010 hit song.  Just in case this is your first time hearing about “Rudeboy” in this context let me try to give you a quick background to it Jamaican origins from the 1960s to its present day use here in England.

Harris Elliott, creative director of return of the Rudeboy and I

What is a Rudeboy and how is the style relevant today?

Rudeboy is said to be the first youth subculture of Jamaica after the country gained independence from Britain in the 60s. This subculture was necessitated by poor living conditions in the shanty towns of West Kingston were an underground economy grew and young people had to find ways to survive by any means necessary. The youth quickly became disenfranchised and violence ensued, even leading to curfews being put into place to curb such violence. With these struggles by marginalised citizens came the need to form informal and sometimes illegal groups and gangs to protect and fend for friends and families. The original Rudeboys was formed. The rudeboy wore sharp suit and pork pie hats to create their own personal style. Some say they did so to mimic the lifestyle of the upper class adding sunglasses to the look which they wore at all hours of the day. Living in the slums of West Kingston but wearing sharp suits and ties makes the rudeboy identifiable by their neighbours in the slums and suspicious to the upper class of Kingston. They literally stood out and with time,  Ska music was associated with the Rudeboys.

Looking back in history, it may seem like Ska music and the Rudeboy subculture have enjoyed a close relationship from the start. However, Ska music came before the Rudeboy image was recognised as a subculture in the mid to late 60s.

Ska itself is a music genre with elements of mento, calypso, American Jazz and rhythm and blues and in the late 50s Jamaica and a predecessor of genres such as Rocksteady and Reggae.

Mind the details

Apart from dressing well and being huge fans of Ska music, the Rudeboy subculture helped spread the music to the working class which later became known as 2 Tone Ska upon it revival in England in the 70s. Subsequently, Rudi and Rudies (Rudeboy and Rudegirl) became terms used to describe fans of 2 Tone Ska as they enjoyed a strong presence within the genre.

British youths in the 70s, both black and white wore sharp suits, with slim ties, pork pie hats and shoes to match to identify with the movement’s Jamaican roots. As with its earlier days, the Rudeboy movement divided opinions and Ska artists of the 70s were no exceptions as some see the subculture as a menace whiles some celebrated it.

Part of the Rudeboy collection

Fast forward to present day “Return of the Rudeboy”, fashion photographer Dean Chalkley and creative director Harris Elliott curated various pieces of sharply dress individuals who show the essence and spirit of a Rudie through what turned out to be successful exhibitions both in London and in Tokyo. Speaking to Dean himself on the last day of the London, Covent Garden exhibition, it became apparent that all the Rudies photographed had their unique styles through which their individual personalities shown but collectively embodied the essence of the Rudeboy look. Dean made sure to point out that none of the photographed Rudies were styled by himself or Harris.

As Harris Elliott himself put it, ‘Rudeboy image is not down to the clothes but the wearer of the clothes. The spirit and attitude the wearer channels through their personalities’. It is easy to see this as I admired the printed exhibits.

Exhibits

The looks of a Rudeboy back in the 60s is a far cry from what we identify today as Rudeboy in the inner cities of London. Rudeboys or Rudegirls these days are more likely to be wearing sportswear showing their bottoms than a well-tailored suit. In fact the youth that refer to each other as ‘Rude’ today deliberately wear hoodies as a way of differentiating themselves from the suit and tie, which is seen as conforming to the status quo.

The re-emergence of original Rudeboy dress code highlights how inner city subculture usually associated with disenfranchised youth has evolved over time.

From the dance moves of the Ska music, to the way Rudies wear their hats and ties means that the Rudeboy movement is not limited to what you wear but the attitude and spirit the wearer gives off defines one as a Rudie.

A copy of the signed book

Just before leaving, I asked Dean when we should be expecting another exhibition. He simply smiled and said we shall see. So until then I recommend you get the book here.

Scissors with seasons – Give you hair attention.

As the weather gets warmer, time to reduce the hair on your head, trim the sideburns, and clip the beard for a polished and fresh look.

Getting a haircut by your favourite barber/stylist is just one aspect of grooming most men take for granted, especially if it is done regularly. We actually forget the value a haircut adds to our look until it goes wrong. For the most part, all we have to do is show up, sit in a chair and relax whiles the barber does all the work. But does this mean we cannot up our grooming game by learning a thing or two about our hair?

Woodhouse clothing in-house barbershop, Notting hill, London.

Haircuts are very essential and have the potential to add extra confidence and panache to a man’s look. Not only does the right haircut make you feel good, it has the ability of setting a man’s mood for at least a few days after it has been done. I know for a fact that whenever I step out of a barbershop and know that my cut is spot on, I feel like I am walking on air. Getting the right haircut is pretty much out of your hands but there are certain things you can do to enhance this repetitive but important aspect of your look. I have listed a few tips below to help build your hair grooming game.

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Know your hair

Every man who intends to take an active role in enhancing their hair grooming game should know basic information about it, such as understanding your hairline, growth pattern, density, type, and texture, and what category do you find yourself on the colour scale. Some of this information does not only come handy when you visit a new barber, it also goes a long way in helping you choose the right hair products and the type of haircut that suits you.

Care for your hair

Caring for you hair should not only come in the form of applying hair products directly on it but also eating the right kinds of food to get that extra nourishment. Just as much as we eat certain food to enhance growth and nourishment for different parts of our anatomy, we need to do the same for our hair. Number one on my list of nutritious food for hair is wild Salmon and sardine or other oily fishes.  Wild salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and also contains iron and vitamin B12 which are all good for hair growth and nourishment. Next is spinach. Spinach and other leafy vegetables contain Vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and other nutritious pedigrees to help nourish and moisturize you scalp which in turn support your hair. Poultry is a good option for protein as it is lean and has less saturated fat compared to beef and pork. Protein is essential for healthy growth of hair strands. Other great sources of hair nutrition are sweet potatoes, dairy products like low fat yoghurt, beans, nuts, and oysters.

The beauty of adding the above food products into your diet is that not only do they do wonders for your hair; they are also beneficial to your skin, nails, and eyes.

Stick to one stylist/Barber

Only change your barber when you absolutely need to. You chose your barber for a reason and that reason is because he/she understands your hair better than anyone else.

Woodhouse clothing in-house barbershop, Notting hill, London.

Fancy shopping for your perfect hair grooming kit, clothing and accessories whiles getting the right haircut for the season? Then head over to woodhouse clothing’s flagship store at Notting hill, London to take advantage of an exceptional experience. These guys certainly know what they are doing and will help you with style tips whiles you shop. For more details, visit their website here.

Bow tie for no reason

Before delving into the details about this piece of accessory, let’s have a crash course on the history, just to put things into perspective.

Origins

It is believed what we know today as the bow tie can be traced back to the 17th century, worn by the Croatian army in what was known as the thirty years’ war between 1618 and1648. The purpose of this neckwear was functional which was meant to keep the collars of their shirts together. At the end of the war, the French army turned this otherwise functional piece of neckwear into a fashionable accessory and called it a cravat. At the time, the cravat was only worn by the upper class and was seen as a sign of opulence and grandeur.  With time, wearers of the bow tie diversified with university professors, lawyers, architects, and sometimes politicians all wearing it and making it a staple piece of accessory.

My favourite bow tie with a biker jacket!

The bow tie has never really been out of fashion but has seen a huge increase in use in recent years as the fashion world has infused its use into the everyday look. It is now more popular than ever which means you do not have to be heading to a formal dinner party or indeed a specific occasion to wear one. Traditional or stereotypical use has been dwarfed by an ever-increasing trendy demand.

Well know men who have been seen consistently wearing a bow tie includes Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire.

If you intend to wear one, here is what you need to know to help you not only have fun with it but also appear stylish.

Types

I have classified types of bow ties into three categories:

Clip-on – The clip-on is my least favourite even though it can be used with minimum effort. It is literally a pre-made bow attached to a clip, which is in turn attached to the front of your shirt. Unless you intend to wear one for novelty purposes, do not bother.

Pre-tie – A pre-tie bow tie has already been structured and made with specific measurements and style. This is similar to the clip-on but the bow is usually attached to an adjustable neck strap for ease and comfort. This type is the most popular as it is much easier to put on than the self-tie and not as cheap looking as the clip-on. You can literally have it on in less than a minute.

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Pre-tie bow tie

Self-tie – This is also known as the freestyle bow tie and is much more organic than the two above. As the name implies, wearers need to knot this type of bow tie, which in itself is a show of commitment to this piece of accessory. This is by far my favourite. The self-tie looks slightly different every time you knot it and may also look asymmetrical which gives it character and a bit of quirkiness.

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self-tie bow ties

Shapes

Since its popularisation, it has seen changes in function and looks diversifying its shapes accordingly. The butterfly, the big butterfly, the batwing, the diamond point and the rounded club are all shapes the bow tie come in these days.

Look

The diehard everyday devotees aim for the eccentricity it brings to their look, which can be seen as an extension of their personalities. The question is; what’s your look?

So break the mould, present a contrarian point of view in fashion this season and don a bow tie for no reason.

Thank me later!

The magic Pot!

Breakfast fit for a king. This is mine, what’s yours this morning?! Ditch your fry-ups for a healthy pot of porridge with all the trimmings! This right here is a pot full of magic! Here is a quick breakdown of the nutritional value of my breakfast.

Porridge – Made exclusively from Avena sativa or otherwise known to you and I as oats, contains amazing nutrients for muscle recovery and a great source of energy. Oats contains nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein, sodium, fibre, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium so many other goodies. It is also believed that Oats lowers cholesterol levels.

Raspberries – strawberries – blueberries – all low in calories but high in nutrients such as vitamin K, C, fibre, B complex group of vitamins, manganese and many more nutrients. Blueberries by themselves are known to have amazing antioxidant qualities needed to fight free radicals, which damage cellular structure.

Pineapple – packed with Vitamin C, copper, vitamin B6, B1, fiber and manganese.

Natural yoghurt – contains vitamin B12 and B10. Yoghurt also contains calcium, which is good for bone formation, muscle contraction, blood clotting (among other things), and have essential amino acids, which will take care of your protein requirements.

Add a sprinkle of granola for extra crunchiness! Do you now see why I call it the magic pot?

Go ahead and swap your morning fry-up for a healthy and tasty alternative guaranteed to keep your energy levels high during workout at the gym. Remix your breakfast!