Bring Back the “Classic” Gangster Look

June 16, 2014


Gangster Squad, with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I don’t get the neon gangster trend that seems so popular for teenagers. I can understand wanting to recreate the look of actual gangsters from the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. That’s when a real gangster was identified as being the nicest dressed man in the room, rarely seen outside of a well-pressed suit. His tie was neatly done, his hat removed if in public or the presence of a lady, and his shoes were polished. He was intelligent, savvy, and well-spoken. And the women were dressed just as nicely, donning perfectly fitted clothes, a high-quality coat, the latest heel, and hair and make up beautifully quaffed to perfection. Sometimes, they were even highlighted with a hint of bold, ruby red lipstick.

Personally, the gangster look of bright neon, baggy shirts, ripped apparel, bulky sneakers, sideways hats, and bright sunglasses isn’t one that appeals to me in the slightest. For what I feel is such an unattractive look, I’m surprised that it seems to be getting more common among teenagers.

The most recent exposure of the look’s popularity came in the movie Spring Breakers. The film brought about a lot of discussion after showcasing the gangster culture that today’s university aged and altogether younger crowd seem to be playing with. The movie follows four female college students. While on vacation for their spring break, they get involved in criminal activity after being drawn to the life of a local drug-dealing gangster played by James Franco.

Yahoo drew attention to the significance of the embraced gangster culture shown in stating that “audiences after a dumb teen flick will find themselves the target of an undercover art house film taking smug sideswipes at the same culture that let it slip into the multiplexes.”

Franco’s character as degenerate criminal is completely opposite from that of Martin & Gary Kemp from The Krays. Following the life of notorious English mobsters in the ’50s, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the characters are described as, “where charm and menace blend brilliantly,” on Picturebox’s movie blog. The two look dapper throughout the entire movie, dressed in the finest suits, and the company they keep is no different.

Now, while I can’t see myself wearing anything like the girls in Spring Breakers—or anything related to the modern gangster trend—I sure as hell would love to rock the look of a gangster girl from the early to mid-twentieth century.


Bonnie Parker 1933

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker, of famous American gangster duo “Bonnie and Clyde,” was one of the first major female gangsters of her time. Although shown in a well-fitted outfit [photo included], Parker’s stance and large cigar displays a rather masculine or even crude stance (for the time). It’s a look that is easily relatable to today’s photos of girls in gangster clothing holding up a bottle with their tongues out. But again, the difference was that Parker was actually a gangster at the time, assisting in over a dozen different robberies when she was at large. At the same time, she wore something that hugged her figure, giving Parker a feminine silhouette as the stance showed her “dangerous” side.


Bonnie & Clyde

Girls today might pose in ways to look like a wild child for a photo, but if they really wanted to dress like a gangster, Parker should be the one they get their style inspiration from. Or give the men’s fashion a modern-day twist with something like the women’s fitted suit that I talked about before in the post “Does the Suit…Suit?

I have no intentions of robbing banks like Parker, nor would I ever hold-up a restaurant like the girls of Spring Breakers. However, if I’m feeling bold and want to show it with my outfit, I’d much rather wear the following: a form-fitting dress, some kick-ass heels, and fire-truck-red lipstick over a loose shirt that shows my bra straps and a backwards baseball cap.


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