A New Fashion Thing
by megan

Because I started listening to ska and going to shows in the early 90's I have always considered myself a child of the 3rd wave. I have held the image of the Rudeboy/Rudegirl in respect but I know where my loyalties lie - if it wasn't for that first NYCitizens tape I would not be the ska fan I am today.

In the early 90's it seemed that people at shows fell into 1 of 3 camps:

  1. traditionals, rudies, skins, and generally people who'd been listening to and involved with ska for awhile
  2. newbies like me who had learned enough of ska culture to want to wear a skirt or suspenders but had no sense of the underlying history or style of the music and culture (yet)
  3. people ther for the music and not involved in any history/scene aspect (yes, you could do that back in the day)
While most people are now familiar with the traditional and skinhead styles (enough to try and emulate them) I think that people overlook that a new style was inadvertently being developed by us newbies - a style that was more garish and very definitely 3rd wave. Probably the best indicator of this is the Bosstones, who inspired an army of plaid wearing fans. I also think that this is where checkerboard came into the picture big time. We'd picked up the 2Tone collections nad responded to the simple geometric pattern which anyone could draw - a simple symbol for who we wanted to be. All the new kids at shows had to have something checkerboard - skirts, ties, shoes, suspenders, you name it...

We were obviously the new kids at shows, but I liked the diversity of style. It's something that I miss. Today the crowds all look the same as everyone tries to emulate old pictures and each other... Everyone's too scared to look different, afraid they'll be mocked for not being "traditional" or a "true fan", as though your outfit decided your musical taste, instead of just reflecting it.

Embrace individuality, I say, and recognize that there is another style of dress. Pleated skirts, checkerboard ties, band t-shirts, plaid designs, untucked shirts, converse sneakers - these are the true gear of the 3rd wave kids, and I think it's time that it's recognized as such. As long as people don't call themselves "rude" when they dress this way, it's a totally valid form of fashion for the 3rd wave - not as stylish as the first two, granted, but created by the fans in an effort to associate themselves with the music, and a lot of fun to wear.