top of page


The 60s

Ska and rocksteady musicians like Prince Buster (pictured), The Skatalites and The Clarendonians were the first to bring rudeboy street culture to the mainstream, with tunes that warned about sharply dressed Kingston delinquents and, in equal parts, lionised them. They also often adopted the style affectations of their subjects, hence Buster’s brilliant – and ludicrously impractical – tiny hat.

The 70s

​The ultimate rudeboy depiction (in the original, crime-inspired meaning of the word) came a few years later, with the 1972 film The Harder They Come. Starring reggae singer Jimmy Cliff, the cult classic follows a country boy's evolution into a flamboyantly dressed gangster rebel icon. Cliff's crusade against The Man is a pretty brutal affair, but damn he looks good while embarking on it.

The 80s

The rudeboy look became a UK fashion phenomenon in the early 80s, when the look and sound of 60s Jamaica was revived by multicultural groups of young musicians from the Midlands like The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter (pictured). The 2 Tone groups' punk-infused take on ska style codified rudeboy cool for a new generation, replacing the celebration of outlaw swagger with anti-racist politics and inner-city social commentary.


There are couple of routes to go down when incorporating rudeboy attitude to your day-to-day look. First, there are the 2 Tone-era staples: buttoned-up Fred Perry shirts, pork pie hats, Dr Martens, skinny suits and Harrington jackets. But if that’s too prescriptive, remember that, at its heart, the rudeboy look is about combining a tough, masculine silhouette with enough self-confidence to add creative, dandyish touches like tie pins, cuff links, jaunty hats, pocket squares and scarves. Looting and shooting are strictly optional.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page