Greaser fashion has a long-standing history in American society. Firstly, the name ‘Greaser‘ originated in the mid-1800s. It was used to refer to Mexicans who did medical acts like greasing shopping carts for money. Eventually, in the 1950s, the Greaser fashion got its name and meaning from the “Greaser Act” in California.
This “Greaser Act” was meant to protect Californians from greaser gangs. Although greaser gangs weren’t exactly violent people, they were considered disorderly and noisy.
Although the Greaser concept had existed for a while, it wasn’t until the 1950s, when movie filmmaker Stanley Kramer saw a motorcycle club and was influenced to create a movie revolving around
biker fashion did the Greaser fashion and style begin to gain popularity.
The movie Stanley created in 1953 was called “The Wild One” and it starred Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin who played the roles of two bikers who cause mayhem in a small town. Their style and charisma lead to the inclusion of the Greaser persona into society.
Ultimately, the greaser fashion defined a person with bad boy traits and although the older generation frowned at it, it had crept into many societies.
Eventually, two more movies were produced portraying the same Greaser style; “Rebel without a cause” and “On the Waterfront”. These further pushed the Greaser style to the mainstream, influencing teens and youth to be a part of the trend.
The concept of teenagers in marketing was new in the 50s and as such, many adults did not entirely understand it. The greaser fashion was made to be appealing to the young and so many stores took up the marketing strategy and began massive publicity of the style.
Greaser fashion encompassed nearly every clothing item, but with a certain appeal to it. Skirts were either tighter or shorter than normal. Black was the go-to color for most attires, but other colors in dark shades were also acceptable.
Pedal-pushers were one of the most common pant styles, but any other type that was figure-hugging was acceptable, including denim. They could be high-waist or not.
Skirts could be pin-up or flouncy. They could also be either long or short. Dependent on the season, poodle skirts were a norm for most greaser girls.
Leather or denim jackets were a constant addition to the attire, and accessories like sunglasses were used. In movies like Grease, we observed that most greasers carry combs to always keep their hair in good form.
Crop tops were becoming a part of feminine fashion at the time, and they were a big part of greaser girl fashion. Off-shoulder tops, short sleeves, and other shirt styles were commonly worn, as well as turtle necks for males and females as well as plain color t-shirts, however, the most common were black or white.
For shoes, they mostly had on boots, All-Stars, or kitten heels. Their boots were either in all black; however, the kitten-heeled stilettos came in a variety of colors, red being the ultimate favorite.
Greaser hairstyles were also specific for the ladies. While the guys made use of a lot of pomade and wax, greaser girl styles were mostly messy and curly or straight ponytails and fringes.
Their make-up was mostly bold; characteristic of nearly everything from the 50s fashion. Red lips were a trend during that decade. Eye makeup was dark, with dark eyeliners, mascaras, and natural brows or defined slightly with a pencil. Face makeup was mild and natural.
Based on details captured from the novel The Outsiders and the movies of the time which accurately portrayed the greaser material culture like their dressing and non-material culture like their slang, greasers were portrayed to be a lot more dangerous than they generally were in person.
In books and movies, they depicted gangs with cigarettes, slang, and fights. However, in reality, most individuals who portrayed the style only mimicked this fictional persona. It was simply a ‘bad boy’ or ‘bad girl’ look that was appealing.
How to dress like a Greaser Girl from the outsiders
The Outsider is a novel from 1962 which tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers Darry and Sodapop who try to fit into a society where they consider themselves to be outsiders or outcasts.
The novel portrays the greaser fashion and to pull off the greaser girl style portrayed by the author, you would need to;
- Use dark eye make-up; including catchy eye shadows, dark eyeliners, and bold mascaras.
- Bright colored lipsticks, particularly red.
- Natural or neutral facial make-up.
- Hair should be teased to its full volume and tied in a ponytail or a pompadour style. The pompadour style has a high front held up by hairspray; a crest is formed, while the rest of the hair is tied to the back.
- Typicalgreaser style fashion: tight clothing, short skirts, and leather jackets.
- Boots and kitten heel stilettos.