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The rise of bogan style

Date

Stitched Up

Benjamen Judd looks at how clothes can make or break the modern day man.

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Actor Josh McConville teams the Aussie bogan staples, a flannelette shirt with a navy Bonds singlet.

Actor Josh McConville teams the Aussie bogan staples, a flannelette shirt with a navy Bonds singlet.

Growing up in Sydney's greater west before being transplanted to the North Shore, I copped a lot of grief from my new schoolyard peers , who seemed captivated by my regional Kath & Kim-style accent and distinct lack of boat shoes and upturned collared polo shirts in my weekend wardrobe.

Though it didn't really faze me at the time, I can't deny the pleasure I get when I look at the Facebook photos of my former tormentors and see that they've since taken to wearing clothes that look mighty similar to the garb I was once mercilessly ridiculed for. With items that were considered bogan back in the day reappearing as must-haves, it's possible to suggest that "westies" are ahead of the fashion pack by about 15 years.

With items considered bogan back in the day reappearing as must-haves, it's possible "westies" are ahead of the fashion pack by about 15 years. 

And it's not just a phenomenon peculiar to Sydney, either. With outer suburban style more or less the same throughout all our major cities, let's take a look at the trends that took inner-city denizens the better part of a decade to pick up on.

Skinny jeans with sneakers: high fashion today, high bogan in the 90s.

Skinny jeans with sneakers: high fashion today, high bogan in the 90s. Photo: Carol Sae-Yang

Skinny jeans

Once favoured by rock stars and now worn by every second person on the street, the humble skinny jean was once considered a bogan staple. But, just like Adidas tracksuit bottoms before them, they made the leap into the mainstream.

Typically worn in fetching stonewash by my mullet-wearing brethren back in the day, that treatment is still favoured in 2012 but mainly by fashion-forward women when it comes to a high-waisted number, with guys largely into plain black denim.

Check shirts

Though Kurt Cobain ensured that high school-aged kids everywhere rushed out to buy them for a spell there, the humble flannelette shirt has its roots in bogan culture - usually worn open over a navy blue Bonds singlet, tinny in hand, and offset by a Winnie Blue artfully dangling from the corner of one's mouth.

Available then for, at most, 10 bucks from Lowe's, you're likely to find them for around $100 in shops nowadays. Quick tip, though - you can still snatch them up for around $6 at Woolworths – hanging up next to the baked beans in aisle four.

Retro hair

From the "fauxhawks" of the late '90s to the Hitler Youth-issue undercuts seen on the streets of Surry Hills and Fitzroy at present, a line-up of the most popular haircuts in the past decade strongly resemble my Year Five school photo.

Our more glamorous, chain-smoking uncles sported the increasingly ubiquitous rockabilly quiffs back in the day, though it would appear that we're still waiting for a reprieve when it comes to the trusty rat's tail.

Sneakers and thongs

Jerry Seinfeld and fashion-conscious club kids weren't the first to dabble in sneakers and high-tops tucked into skinny jeans. No, among non-basketball players in Australia, it was a look first popularised by your workaday westie.

The same goes for the humble thong. Though we think nothing of spending $25 to $40 on a pair of Havaianas – and only Havaianas – today, you'd get a clip around the ears if you dreamed of spending more than five dollars on a pair of rubber flip-flops way back when. Sensibly enough, as you'd only bust them while playing on the Slip 'n Slide or joining the kids down the road for a game of backyard cricket, anyway.

So, fellow westies, is there anything else you've noticed from your youth popping up on the style pages?

53 comments so far

  • I think you will find Adidas tracksuit bottoms were never mainstream.

    Commenter
    Joe
    Date and time
    December 11, 2012, 8:47AM
    • From Jeremy Scott to Run DMC but still wouldn't ever claim the humble Adidas trackie went mainstream as a fashion item....

      Commenter
      Drexel
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 9:37AM
  • Not sure if trolling or actually believes westies are ahead of the pack.

    Commenter
    Leezy
    Date and time
    December 11, 2012, 9:03AM
    • Sad, Sad, Sad...

      What's next? kids in the Eastern Suburbs or the North Shore proud of having a rat tale or a mullet?

      I don't want to see that day happening

      Commenter
      ValM
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 9:28AM
      • You clearly haven't been looking closely enough at the kids in the Eastern Suburbs and the North Shore. The amount of ratties and mullets at my school is simply disgusting. But then again, when you pool the IQ of those wearing them you only get around 100 so it's hardly surprising.

        Commenter
        Tim
        Location
        Manly
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 3:21PM
      • They're generally more stylish ratties, and faux mullets.

        Commenter
        clubber lang
        Date and time
        December 12, 2012, 1:22PM
      • What the hell is a "faux Mullet"...

        Commenter
        James
        Date and time
        February 18, 2013, 1:32PM
    • there are enough of them around the place, so you've got to meet with the market demands.

      Commenter
      ??
      Location
      toorak
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 9:49AM
      • So.....looking like a tradie/blue-collar worker the "in" thing now? Surely there must be a union to look after the "new-age 21st century" tradie fashionistas.

        Commenter
        Peter
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 9:56AM
        • Dickies trousers. People wearing them would look like they're about to head out to a mine site if they weren't slung so far under their bum cheeks.

          Commenter
          Ben
          Location
          Newcastle
          Date and time
          December 12, 2012, 12:56PM

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