The Leary Larrikin: Street style in colonial Australia

Melissa Bellanta, Simon Sleight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the sartorial style of participants in a street-based youth subculture that thrived in late nineteenth-century Australian cities. Known as larrikins', the lower working-class youth so described had a distinctive style of dress including heeled boots and bell-bottomed trousers. Here we examine the material processes through which this larrikin look was produced, locating it in distinctive urban settings and placing it against a backdrop of nascent mass consumption. While also considering the cultural sources of inspiration for larrikin style, our key aim is to demonstrate the richness of an analysis attuned to materiality, preferring this to the semiotic approaches that dominate the relevant literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-283
Number of pages21
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Colonial Australia
  • History of dress
  • Material culture
  • Style
  • Subcultures
  • Youth

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