CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON
Style Tribes by Caroline Young
Sub-cultures, counter-cultures and style tribes. I've belonged to many. From my years as a goth/punk and rocker, to my nihilistic grunge days to my hedonistic clubbing days, I've crossed through many style tribes and explored counter-cultures - being 'normal' just never appealed to me.
When I was asked to review this book, exploring various style tribes through the ages, I was thrilled. A small but reasonably hefty hardback, the book takes at look at everything from the Flappers of the 1920's right through to the modern day hipster, and what was the impetus for the creation of each tribe and what the signifiers are.
There are many 'tribes' in the book that I'm not familiar with, so I can't account for the accuracy of each and every section within the book, but with regards the ones I was part of, or familiar with, then I can honestly say Caroline has certainly done her research, as most of the information and recollections are fairly accurate and how I remember them myself. Of course, anyone who lived within a style tribe will have their own experiences, but reading the accounts and seeing the photos of those moments in time certainly brought back lots of great memories.
There are lots of brilliant photos throughout the book and timelines of key events.
I was sad to see the omission of 80's metal as a style tribe though. Whilst there were many distinct looks under the umbrella of metal, there was still a definitive look associated with the metalheads - most often tight black jeans, long hair, band t-shirt and baseball boots. Stand outside any metal gig in the 80's and there was no doubt you belonged to a specific tribe, as we all dressed this way. She does refer to the Rockers/Greasers of the 50's but that tribe was more a precursor to the Biker. That would be my only disappointment with the book.
Overall I just loved it. For someone my age who has lived, in realtime, from punk onwards, the
book was a fascinating look at how throughout history those of us who don't fit into the mainstream have carved our own environments. Many of these 'tribes' were born out of sense of not belonging. My own sense of not belonging into the mainstream, from a very early age, bestowed upon me a terrible sense of isolation and it wasn't until I found another girl, who liked the same things, that I finally found strength to be comfortable with not fitting in with everyone else.
This book, whilst not exactly life-affirming, certainly re-assured me that, even now, it's still OK to be different.