Skandalous at Costume

Rude boys rocked the runway at the Costume National SS12 menswear show.

There were checkered, stacked shoes, tapered, cuffed pants and buzzed and tousled hair.

Be still my Beat-ing heart.

Hit play and… “are you ready, are you ready to go?”



I knew something special was in the air, when I saw these.

Costume National Menswear Checkered Shoes for SS12 on
Remembering a checkered past at the Costume National Menswear SS12 show.
The Specials Album Cover on
Soul food for the ska-starved.

It is interesting that the brand showed this ska-inspired collection 20 years to the day (!) that The Specials’ Ghost Town was number one on the UK charts.

Some things are classic – but not mass classics. They exist a bit below the regular radar. Worn with a suit, these shoes might get some initial reactions as being quirky or fun – but a man doesn’t wear these to illustrate those facets of his personality.

A man wearing these has a checkered past with this era. He’s got the 7-inch single with the original artwork, to prove it.

Costume National Menswear Checkered Border Shoes for SS12 on
Music and fashion crosses all borders, 'innit?

As I’ve said before when it comes to music I like, I don’t separate the music from the look of the band – they are synonymous for me. The Specials and other ska bands of their ilk, had an unstoppable style to accompany the non-stop sets of finger-snapping, head-bopping, am-I-really-jumping-up-and-down tunes.

They may have been singing about rude boys, but these were gentleman. In suits. Note the looser jackets, the skinny lapels, the layering, the proper head wear.

The details in this one photo alone, I can discuss for miles: the pocket ruffle and pant pleats on Lynval Golding; the tilt of the hat on Neville Staple; the mirrored shades on John Bradbury; the tense scowl on Terry Hall’s face contrasted by the easy jacket; Jerry Dammers’ infamous tooth-less grin and wrap-around shades; the knot on Horace Panter’s tie; the layering and pouf of hair peeking out from Roddy Byers’ fedora.

See why the boys from Coventry were and are special?

The look of The Specials on
The band had such a distinct look: The Specials, circa 1980-ish.

I look at this model off the Costume catwalk and I see a Terry of today.

Costume National Menswear Skinny Tie Guy for  SS12 on
Love the looser, wider jacket and love the suggestion of a skinny tie in the shirt stripe at Costume.

There was always an element of taking sportswear and adding tailoring with the ska sartorialists. Look at the side cut of that jacket, just below the pocket. Look at the zippered pockets on the vest below. I also love the chunky bracelet and the “don’t mess” earrings. Very Rude Boy.

Roddy’s hair made the current cut, too.

Costume National Menswear Tousled Hair for SS12 on
This do will make my head turn, each and every time. Retro reflex.

The flap of the shirt flashes back to the ’80s, as do the red, black and white shoes.

Costume National Menswear Red White and Black Shoes for SS12 on
Perfect for strutting in the Concrete Jungle.

However, it’s not about reliving the past exactly as it was.

Costume National Skinny Rude Boy for SS12 on
The classic knit shirt gets a modern treatment.
Costume National Menswear Grey Suit with Black and White Details for SS12 on
The grey suit gets a splash of black and white.

You can keep your style, but still be up to date and relevant. The gents in the band are the best examples of that.

The Specials photographed by Andy Willsher on
The Specials on their recent tour, photographed by Andy Willsher.

It’s all about borrowing elements but keeping that original personality that you brought to the clothes.

This tie, for example gives a nod to Terry’s ascot in the Message to Rudy video.

Costume National Menswear Grey Suit with Black and White Tie for SS12 on
Is it wrong that I want one for myself? The tie. Not that I'd mind if the gentleman sporting it came along as well.


It’s taking things like the slouch of an original jacket and removing the sleeves in the current version. It says casual and dressed at once.

Costume National Menswear Sleeveless Jacket for  SS12 on
No style slouch, here. Costume National Menswear SS12.

It’s about keeping that inner style star bright and taking him (or her!) one step beyond.

Costume National Menswear Black and White Shoes for SS12 on
Here's the skinny on cuffs.
Costume National Menswear Glitter Shoes for SS12 on
The perfect soles for skanking!


Images: Collection images courtesy of GQ and Costume National. Specials images courtesy of, except for recent tour image, which was taken by Andy Willsher.

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