In The Outsiders, how do the Greasers and Socs dress?

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Style is an important distinction between Greasers and Socs. Greasers wear blue jeans and T-shirts, leather jackets, and sneakers or boots. They have long, greased hair and leave their shirttails untucked. Socs wear clothes such as ski jackets, tan-colored jackets, wine-colored sweaters, and striped, checkered, or madras shirts. They are clean-shaven and have "semi-Beatle haircuts."


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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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According to Ponyboy Curtis, the protagonist and narrator of S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Greasers and Socs dress themselves differently. The Greasers, the group with which Ponyboy identifies, wear their hair in a longer style than the Socs. Dallas Winston prefers not to use hair oil, but many other greasers do, like Sodapop's friend Steve Randall, and Johnny Cade, whom Ponyboy describes as "the gang's pet."

The Greasers tend to wear similar clothing, all characterized by a worn, careless appearance. Blue jeans and t-shirts are Greaser essentials, as well as leather jackets, tennis shoes, and boots; Johnny Cade wears a jean jacket instead of a leather jacket. Sometimes, their clothing has rips and the sleeves of sweatshirts have been cut off, but usually their shirttails are untucked. Switchblades are a favorite accessory of Greasers, and they help to reinforce their dangerous reputation as "hoods." Ponyboy does not go into much detail about the fashion choices of Greaser girls, but he does imply that most of them wear dresses that are much shorter than the girls who associate with the Socs.

The Socs, on the other hand, wear madras shirts as well shirts of other colors, like white and yellow, and one Socs is described as wearing a "semi-Beatles haircut." Madras is a distinctive plaid cotton fabric, and shirts made out of madras are typically in a button-down style. This slightly more formal, mature choice of clothing suggests that the Socs have more money than the Greasers, and this image is reinforced by the sports cars they drive, like Mustangs and Corvairs. According to Ponyboy, Socs girls like Cherry and Marcia tend to be "sharp dressers," but not much more detail is provided about their fashion choices.

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In The Outsiders, the Greasers wear their hair long. They often wear their hair slicked back with grease and sometimes sport long sideburns. They dress in jeans and T-shirts and let their shirttails hang out of their pants without tucking them in. They also wear leather jackets, sweatshirts with the sleeves cut off, and sneakers or boots. The girls the Greasers hang out with wear a lot of eye makeup.

The Socs are the wealthier kids who wear their hair shorter and sport madras shirts or ski jackets. They wear more expensive clothes, like wine-colored sweaters, checked shirts, and tan-colored jackets. They drive fancy cars like Mustangs, and the girls they hang out with tend to be cleaner-cut than the girls the Greasers hang out with. Ponyboy notes that the Socs tend to wear a lot of English Leather cologne. He also notes that the Socs are clean-shaven and have "semi-Beatle haircuts." Ponyboy says of the Socs, "They could just as easily have been going to the movies as to a rumble." The Socs dress in a very clean-cut way, even when they plan to rumble with the Greasers.

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Throughout the novel The Outsiders, the two rival gangs, the Greasers and Socs, dress and act differently. Since the Socs come from affluent families, they can afford expensive clothes and typically wear clean, striped or checkered shirts with madras ski jackets. Their style of clothing could be described as being "preppy." They look like innocent adolescents but are actually violent, entitled bullies who pick fights with the poor kids in town. In contrast, the Greasers wear untucked white tee shirts with leather jackets and blue jeans. They typically wear tennis shoes or boots and are known for their greasy, long hair. The Greasers' style is edgier and adds to their "bad boy" image. Society clearly favors the Socs because they are wealthy and dress in a clean-cut way, while the Greasers are discriminated against because of their poverty and unconventional style.

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