Fashion Style: Rude Boys Funk Things Up

By Marquila Herrera

The term Rude Boy dates back to the 1960s ‒‒ pre-Rihanna ‒‒ in the streets of Jamaica. At this time, Jamaica was facing overpopulation that led to housing, food, and employment shortages. Young men called ‘rude boys’ were hustlers and hoodlums, taking on illegal activities to substitute for the legal employment they could not find. It was a lifestyle that was introduced to the rest of the world after many of these ‘rude boys’ migrated to England to find work. Since then, the ‘rude boy’ style spread to all parts of the globe, and the image of this sharp, too-cool-for-school young man became inspiration for fashion designers and fans of Jamaican street culture. A typical ensemble for a ‘rude boy’ would be a three-piece suit, sunglasses, and a porkpie hat with some personal touches to add some funk to it.

The look was meant to imitate the upper classes with a dash attitude; this style is nothing without the signature ‘rude boy’ attitude. Each outfit represented the man wearing it and had its own flair. This was in the color of the suit, the printed dress socks, the bold brooches or any other way the rude boy chose to style himself.

The ‘rude boy’ way of dress still has a welcome place in its native Jamaica and its adoptive England. However, its popularity has grown such that its influence spans the globe from the United States to Japan. Its original gender has even lifted to include women who appreciate the clothing and attitude. A product of turbulent times, the rude boy lifestyle has been able to find a home in all sorts of environments and circumstances. The style is just as resilient as those who wear it.