As fashion inspiration comes there are all sorts; the sleeve on an album, the opening to a book… The Sweeney was a programme I watched as a tot and its fashionable allure has hovered over me ever since. For those of you that don’t know The Sweeney, it’s an early 70’s cop show. Set in post flower power inner-city London our two boys, Regan and Carter, race round the metropolis lobbing themselves over walls and through warehouses in pursuit of the city’s scum. It’s gritty and rough and the punch lines are full of ‘Oi!’s and ‘You’ve been nicked ! ‘. It is brilliant. What’s also brilliant is the fashion. The whole feel of the show is a very brit-rock; think Kate Moss and Rolling Stones and a time when it’s still deliciously sexy to smoke. It’s a grainy look, a yellowed tinge on every frame of the episode.
Regan and Carter are always suited up – shirt, tie, tweed- no matter how ruffled and tumbled they get in the thick of the chase the suit jacket is impermeable (although the tie may be loosened and taken off back at the station for questioning). Juxtaposing the bill the bad guys don jeans, bomber jackets and the occasional cowboy hat. Genius. The good guys always in powder blues and navy, the bad guys in cheap beige and gaudy checks. The women are deliciously groomed in jewelled toned polo necks, fleeing the scene in kitten heels and swathes of suede, all cropped hair, cigarettes and faux fur. The cars were as much an accessory as the guns and one liners – I still hope and dream I’ll own a copper brown’ Mk1 Ford Consul GT someday.
The series impressed upon me the importance of a rough edge to an outfit; pairing a delicate tea dress with tough ankle boots, the importance of lipstick with skinny jeans, the feminine with the distinctly unfeminine. It’s a look that has been reborn throughout pop culture and will continue to do so because it’s just so damn cool. And that is what The Sweeney boils down to. It is effortlessly cool from the very swagger and snarl of our two boys, the contrast of shoot outs against the backdrop of London Bridge and useless coppers, wailing sirens and those crisp shirts and a tie blowing in the wind.