The British Teddy Boy subculture is typified by young men wearing clothes inspired by the styles of the Edwardian period, which Savile Row tailors had tried to re-introduce after World War II. The group got its name after a 1953 newspaper headline shortened Edward to Teddy and coined the term Teddy Boy (also known as Ted). The subculture started in London in the 1950s and rapidly spread across the UK, soon becoming strongly associated with American rock and roll music of the period. Although there had been youth groups with their own dress codes called "Scuttlers" in 19th Century Manchester and Liverpool, Teddy Boys were the first youth group in England to differentiate themselves as teenagers, thus helping to create a youth market.
The US film Blackboard Jungle marked a watershed in the United Kingdom. When shown at a South London Cinema in Elephant and Castle in 1956 the teenage Teddy boy audience began to riot, tearing up seats and dancing in the aisles. After that riots took place around the country wherever the film was shown.
Some groups of Teds formed gangs and gained notoriety following violent clashes with rival gangs, which were often exaggerated by the popular press. The most notable was the Notting Hill riot of 1958, in which Teddy Boys were present in large numbers and were implicated in attacks on the West Indian community.
Teddy Boys made it acceptable for young people to care about what one looked like all the time and dress purely for show, instead of just having one's work or school clothes or Sunday best. This trend arose as young people's disposable income increased during the post-war years. Teddy Boy clothing consisted of: long drape jackets, usually in dark shades, sometimes with velvet trim collar and pocket flaps; high-waist "drainpipe" trousers, often showing brightly coloured socks. Favoured footwear were chunky brogues, large crepe-soled shoes, often suede (known as brothel creepers). Plus a high-necked loose collar on a white shirt (known as a Mr. B. collar because it was often worn by jazz musician Billy Eckstine); a narrow 'Slim Jim' tie, and a brocade waistcoat. These clothes were mostly tailor-made at great expense and paid for through many weekly installments. Preferred hairstyles included long, strongly-moulded greased-up hair with a quiff at the front and the side hair combed back to form a Duck's Arse at the rear of the head. Another hairstyle was the Boston, in which the hair was greased straight back and cut square across at the nape.
Teddy girls adopted a style similar to Teddy Boys; they wore items such as drape jackets, hobble skirts, long plaits, straw boater hats, cameo brooches, espadrilles and coolie hats. Later they adopted the American fashions of toreador pants, voluminous circle skirts, and hair in ponytails.
During the 1970s, rockabilly music enjoyed a renewed period of popularity and saw a resurgence of interest in Teddy Boy fashions; the look was taken up by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren through their shop Let it Rock on London's Kings Road. This new generation of Teds adopted some aspects of the 1950s Teds, but with a large amount of glam rock influence, including louder colours for their drape jackets, brothel creepers and socks. Additionally, rather than using grease to style their hair, they were more likely to use hairspray. In the latter part of the 1970s, the new generation of Teds became the arch-enemies of the Westwood and McLaren-inspired punk rockers.
The early 1990s saw a revival of the original Teddy Boy style by a group of men known as The Edwardian Drape Society (T.E.D.S). Based in the Tottenham area of north London, they were concerned with reclaiming the original style that they felt had become bastardised by pop/glam bands such as Showaddywaddy and Mud in the 1970s. They have been the subject of a short film, The Teddy Boys, by Bruce Weber, which premiered at the Cambridge Film Festival in July 2006.