Essentials of Style - Poly Styrene

In this week's "Essentials of Style" we are looking at the late, great, iconic style of Poly Styrene from Punk band, X-Ray Spex. We've included quotes from Poly herself on the origin of X-Ray Spex and her idiosyncratic style.


Before starting the band Poly ran a stall in Beaufort Market on the Kings Road, London. In 'Diary of the 70s' Poly describes coming up with her stage name;

''Mad mad day! No sales! Everyone comes to see the curious girl with the braces on her teeth. Me! I am now Poly Styrene, the face of my homespun label. This is fun! THE SUN has even reported me hiding behind a fake façade. Think I will use Poly Styrene for my Nom de Plume. It’s so much cooler, than Mari Elliott, the boring girl next door Cliché. I like this caricature, Poly Styrene feels like a fantasy comic book name from THE BEANO.'' 


 "I decided to follow my childhood ambition of wanting to be a performer. Even when I was still at school, I'd write protest songs about the dinner ladies." 


 "I wrote the band's first song after seeing one of Vivienne's 'Seditionaries' outfits hanging in the window. It was more about slavery, the suffragette movement and the silencing of women, but her clothes had such a strong imagery; when you looked at them, a million ideas flooded to mind."

"I wish I'd never worn... a blue foam dress with an army helmet, which I wore to perform at the Brixton Academy in 1991. I looked like the world's biggest hot water bottle, a giant oblong with protruding limbs. It had little planets all over and was meant to replicate something I wore at the Roxy in 1978. It didn't work." 


"It's not fashionable but I like... twin sets and pearls – punked-out versions, of course."

 Zillah Minx (a friend of Poly's) recalls her style "Poly made her own clothes in the true punk DIY way. She made kitsch clothes using plastic, pegs, slogans, day-glo  feathers, Oxfam clothing, she recycled." 



"My style icons... are size 14 ladies of the Hollywood Golden Age, such as Marilyn Monroe and Joan Shawlee in Some Like it Hot: they're perfect." 


"I don’t feel there is unfinished business; the one thing that Germfree Adolescents achieved is longevity. My aim with X-Ray Spex was to spread joy, fun enthusiasm and maybe subconsciously raise awareness of issues other than romantic love." 


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