In the late 70s it was hard to find standard issue boy punk Dr Martens in smaller sizes, so the search for acceptable punk footwear had to be widened. Jelly Beans were the cheap plastic sandals that could be bought in the summer months from most budget High St shoe shops. Shoefayre would have sold them. They came in a range of bright colours, blue, red, and pink or even transparent ones, and if you wore socks of a contrasting colour underneath, then you got extra punk rock points.
Parents and non-punk friends couldn’t understand why we would suddenly want to wear children’s beach shoes; it seemed to niggle them. In their eyes these shoes were cheap and infantile, and somehow a symbol of misbehaving, of not growing up of not being sensible or playing by the rules, these harmless looking children’s beach shoes were now revealed as another unexpected weapon against the status quo. In a way they were right, there was nothing very sensible about wearing Jelly Beans. On a purely practical level they were uncomfortable and the initially clear and soft plastic soon became harder and cloudy and the strap and the buckle would dig into the top of your feet – hence the cunning use of socks.
Punk was a new high tide mark in youth culture fashion, gender lines were more blurred than ever before and girls had started to wear clothes previously more associated with boys including Dr Martens, leather biker jackets, metal studs, and belts. These were then mixed with jumble sale finds, pyjama tops, clothes from different eras, military surplus, which were then often ripped, cut, stapled, safety pinned, modified or written on. It was a marketers nightmare; punks were pretty much self sufficient.
And because the first rule of of punk club was that there were no rules, it meant that you could dress how you liked, say what you liked and be who you wanted to be. Punk had somehow managed to check-mate the mainstream, and explode into a youth culture force like no one had ever imagined and Jelly Beans were there for every blistering step of the way.
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