Book review: Dressers


Dressers: 80s Lads Culture, One-Upmanship, Football, Fashion & Music : by Stanley Smith (yeah, ok)

First Published : 2012

ISBN 978-0-9570340

Score out of 5 :

The production and publishing history concerning this book about the famous(ish) Saturday Service of Motherwell FC is a story in itself. Release dates put back without warning, pre-orders gathering virtual internet dust on last pages of email accounts, compulsory tabloid hysteria about ‘nazi salutes’ and other horseshit. But it eventually saw the light of day, and was worth the hype, even of the ‘outraged’ kind.

Motherwell are well known by the ITK illuminati (a group which I’m quite happily admitting I never was a member of) for having one the earliest, and certainly best dressed, crew of footbal lads north of the border. They boast in their ranks ├╝ber-casual ‘Kerso’, who has one the finest collections of The Stuff on the planet, and is a very nice bloke to boot apparently (again according to those ITK agents).

It’s just as well Kerso was SS, because I think he’s loaned most of the material for the frankly quite brilliant photos in this tome. The clothes on show here are the best you’ll see on the backs of any lads, anywhere, anytime. They are a credit to Scotland, a country usually renowned for tartan & Timberland whoppers and the shirt, scarf and bigotry cavemen who follow the two big Glasgow clubs.

The first half of the book contains the only weak point – a blow by blow account of how the SS battered everything in it’s path back in the day, yawn, another fantasy football hooligan account of this week’s latest ‘hardest mob on the planet’. The only saving grace of this section are the accompanying phots. I don’t know or care if the Saturday Service ran Rangers’ ICF round and round the concourse at Ibrox, but the pictures, some of them press cuttings, have some well dressed young chaps doing what young chaps (used to) do every Saturday. Even the permed mullet assassins have some nice threads in here.

The second half of the book is the meat in this casual gravy, it’s all about the clobber. And there are some beautiful items on show, from early 80s tennis gear, through to 1990s Osti chic. If Phil Thornton had had this kind of photo collection for his seminal (and still best) book on the subculture, they would be studying ‘casuals’ for University degrees today. Quite outstanding.

All in all, a very, very good book from Motherwell’s finest, and if you have more than a passing interest on the subject of football, fashion & fighting, you can’t really not buy this. Recommended.

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