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Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Atom Retro's Guide To Mod Clothing
History of Mod Clothing:
Mod Jackets and Coats:
Jeans and Trousers:
Suited and Booted:
In the beginning Mod created Heaven on Earth... oh wait that's just a form of plagiarism from some other quite famous works, but where did it all start?
The Prequel to Mod!
It's story is a kin to the greatest of dramas, with twists and turns, romance and tragedy, good times and bad. After the end of WWII, Britain emerged still very much conforming to well served, yet age old traditional values - but this time with an added despair.
A country that had lost a whole lot in the ravages of war had also conjured up a loss in direction for many of it's young people. A sense that outmoded traditions and overly strict moral conscience were stifling creativity and the ability to express ones self in turn generated a subversive reaction amongst many of Britain's youth.
This creative rebellion manifested itself in the form of fashion, music and the arts. The affluent youth began pushing the boundaries, with previously conservative fashion trends slowly being replaced with a more flamboyant and individual style - The first sub culture to emerge amongst Britain's more expressionistic youth was the Teddy Boy.
The Edwardian look defined a new generation and Drape coats, quiffs, bolo (shoestring) ties, sideburns and creepers became the order of the day. By 1953, Teddy Boys had become a recognised and rapidly growing phenomenon and when the Daily Express printed the words Teddy Boy (Teddy being short for Edward?ian) in it's September 23rd edition, the movement was gaining momentum.
Heavily influenced by American Rock and Roll with the likes of Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Eddie Cochran and the film Blackboard Jungle all coming to prominence - The archetypal Hero's and icons of the Teddy Boy era were born - Themselves, a reflection of this new rebellious attitude.
To grasp an insight into the extrovert fashions of the Teddy Boy, it's advantageous firstly to create a snap shot in the mind of the typical member.
The average Teddy Boy adorned the classic drape jacket, often with the authentic velvet collar feature. It's Edwardian inspiration was also practical for the time. Hanging out on cold street corners (always was and will be a typical teenage past time) meant that the woollen fabric was an ideal solution for beating the cold.
Style and substance - a drape jacket also had many concealed pockets, not just for protecting hands from the bitter cold, but also for concealing weapons and contraband such as alcohol. The more elegant, sophisticated and sought after a persons drape jacket, the more being in possession of such a garment became a symbol of status within the group - a badge of honour if you like.
The Teddy Boy's would also wear drainpipe jeans, often short length to leave a portion of the sock on show and to act as a stark contrast between the dark black trousers and the striking footwear.
Classic gibson shoes with thick crepe soles or the famous brothel creepers became the shoes of choice for many a Teddy Boy. The outfit would be finished off with a smart shirt, often with wide collars (a traditional Americana influence) and the classic bootlace (bolo) tie. Hair was lovingly and time consumingly quiffed, sometimes in an audacious overblown manner, tapering out in to the iconic duck arse (also referred to as duck tail or DA) at the back.
... and so what of the Teddy Girl? As with their male companions, the Teddy Girls dressed out of a need to shock the older generations. Once again, the American Rock & Roll influence featured heavily on the agenda - toreador pants (close fitting trousers that extend to or slightly above the calf) and the classic circle skirt became an instantly recognisable trait of the typical Teddy Girl. In order to create a true identity, away from the excessively respectable, prim and proper look of previous generation, the Teddy Girl opted for low cut tops, experimenting with different styles and looks in order to achieve a new and outrageous appearance and ultimately be the envy of the burgeoning social scene.
Despite it's rapid growth, by the end of the Fifties the Teddy Boy movement was in decline and bored teenagers began to look for new ways to vent their frustrations. With the foundations set for change the time was right for a new sub-culture to emerge - a new generation waiting in the wings, ready to put their stamp on Britain's cultural heritage.
What next for Britain's Youth?
Part 2 - Coming Soon...
In the meantime, here's a few hints of the aforementioned Teddy Boy fashions that are still relevant to todays Retro Clothing enthusiast. Styles that easily cross over into the finest tailored Mod Clothing ensemble and garments that would find a good home in any Indie Clothing aficionados wardrobe.
All these Mens Clothing gems are available to buy online at ATOM RETRO.
First up The Gibson London 'Vinnie' - Inspired by the classic Fifties drape Jacket with crucial Sixties Mod updates. A fab Article of Retro Clothing - complete with velvet collar, exquisite check fabrics and stylish Mod ticket pocket detail.
THE GIBSON 'VINNIE' MENS OVERCOAT
For the full range of GIBSON LONDON available to buy online at ATOM RETRO Click Here
For classic Drainpipe Jeans, the stylish Madcap England 'Cavern '59' combines Fifties Cavern Club era styling, Sixties Mod charm with a contemporary Indie edge - A Retro Clothing icon and a very versatile garment - Part of the Mens Clothing collection from Madcap England.
To view the full range of Madcap England Mens Clothing Click Here These Common People 'Playboy' inspired 'Dylan' blue suede shoes have an authentic thick crepe sole. A genuine Sixties Steve McQueen style in real Dandy Mod colour way, 'Dylan' are the perfect stand out shoes to compliment any Retro outfit.
To view the full Common People Footwear range Click Here
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Atom Retro Mod Clothing guide..... After having serialised the beginnings of youth subculture in the Fifties we are going to be turning up the heat and getting seriously into the nitty gritty of Mod Culture.
Welcome to part 2 of the Atom Retro Guide to Mod Clothing. We left off last time having discussed the Teddy Boy Movement and it's demise in popularity towards the end of the Fifties - Paving the way for new subcultures to emerge and define a new generation. Part 2 will observe the late Fifties Beat Generation, the modernist movement, Beatnik culture and the dawning of a new era!
Mod Clothing Guide Part 2 - I had a dream.... and that dream was Mod!
Modernists, Beatniks and the Beat Generation!
Firstly perhaps we should start by stating the obvious - that the 1960s is arguably the most talked about and most fondly remembered decade of recent times. A period of time that witnessed much cultural change and laid to rest many ghosts of shame that had preoccupied the Western world for far too long.
It was an optimistic time, particularly for the worlds youth - an exciting time for music, film, fashion and indeed for opportunity. Whilst slightly digressing from the subject matter, the above expresses the sentiment that the Sixties was a time for change, a change not solely underpinned by socio-political, technological and economic advances, but moreover a sense of prevailing freedom for all, realised by a spirit of belonging and a sense of humanity that cultural advancements facilitated. Here we will endeavour to demonstrate that the Mod movement was a part of this change, having an impact that still lingers today - A catalyst that allowed many to grasp an identity, a sense of belonging and a way of life.
.... and so to the story!
The Beat Generation!
Mod as a term derives from modernist, a word associated with the growing modern jazz movement that rose to prominence in the late Fifties. Modernist (and/or Mod) being the perfect antonym to emphasise the stark contrast in styles between themselves and traditional jazz players (or Trads as they became known).
The affiliation between modern jazz enthusiasts and Beatnik culture led to an amalgamation of interests. A coffee bar culture emerged and as an off shoot of these aligned interests a new cultural wave was growing - and so, the first stones were set, paving the way for a very modern phenomenon.
..... 'That was a vision that we had'.
'It is because I am Beat, that is, I believe in beatitude and that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to it... Who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?' (Jack Kerouac; excerpt from "Is There A Beat Generation?", November 8, 1958, New York's Hunter College Playhouse).
What's the difference between a pub and a coffee bar? Ask that to the youth of today and you'll probably get a totally different answer. However, back in the Fifties and the dawning of the Beatnik culture the viewpoint was clear and concise - Pubs would close at 11pm, whereas the coffee bars would often open to the early hours and were generally equipped with jukeboxes. Whilst jazz and blues music became the predominant music played at coffee bars in the late Fifties, the early Sixties witnessed a sea of change and wild eyed R&B began to filter through - a new and alternative playlist for a new and emerging sub culture!
The modernist movement perhaps set in wave a new motion - whilst the affluence of Britain's youth was indeed a factor of change, so too was education. Here was a time when Britain's youth were better encouraged to pursue a higher education, but more than this is a sense of educating oneself - garnering further knowledge of the world and also of the cultural niche that enthused the individual.
Having established some sort of resemblance to the early days of the modernist and Mod movement in terms of the social scene and hang outs, lets delve into the fashion that defined this early era and how the seeds were sewn ready for the full scale Mod explosion!
That's why I'm a Mod, see!
The late Fifties bred a youth culture that observed a penchant for existentialism and the need for a person to give his/her life it's own meaning. As such a sub culture that generated a sense of belonging and meaning represented a productive life decision.
Belonging meant submerging oneself into the scene, wholeheartedly adopting the lifestyle. It wasn't so much adhering to a set of rules or maintaining individuality within the constrains of that movement, it was a freedom that the culture provided. As well as music and the arts, Fashion played a key role in the early days of the modernist movement. The first generation to have a disposable income and ready available funds to spend on clothes may be partly true, but some would go without food for a few days if it meant furnishing themselves with the latest fashions as well.
The fashion adopted by early Mods had previous sub culture trends to draw on. As discussed in Part 1, the exacting and punctilious tendencies of the Teddy Boys teamed with their immaculate and distinctive dandy look helped break the barrier that had previously prevented men in particular from expressing a fashion statement construed as different to the norm. It also paved the way for a tailored extravagance the likes of which had never been seen before.
The bohemian styling of the Beatniks had an equally prominent effect on the forward thinking Mod Clothing pioneers. Though perhaps a stereotype of the beatnik look, berets and turtleneck jumpers are an iconic image of the era, styles that endured the Sixties Mod phenomenon and combined comfort, style and character. Much like the Teddy Boys, Beatniks and indeed modernists also favoured black skinny drainpipe jeans - a lasting testament to the appeal and longevity of a true symbol of Mens Mod fashion.
The modernists (style conscious modern jazz fans) favoured the Italian, tailored look - a look that would also prove to be the cornerstone of Mod fashion in the Sixties. A key past time for any modernist would be to peruse the latest Italian magazines and watch both French and Italian films to obtain style ideas and fashion inspiration. Adopting French inspired hairstyles, often influenced by French films of the era - the emphasis being on short and neat and wearing Winklepicker pointed shoes, the look was very much a sleek and stylish one - a pioneering first incarnation of the immortal Mod image.
Slim narrow lapels to tailored suits would slowly emerge as a fashion favourite, paired with striking pointed collar shirts. The very epitome of cool, these early Mods would take great care and attention in both fashion and lifestyle rituals. Cleanliness was important and a crease in the wrong place or a dirty shirt could easily spoil a whole day.
With the arrival of an equally sleek mode of transport for the fledgling Mod scene, Vespa and Lambretta and Scooters, the need for a practical way of keeping Mod suits spic and span was eagerly required. The Parka fit the bill perfectly. Originally designed for the military, the classic army green oversize jackets were ideal for wearing over suits - the essential riding wear!
Although the Mod movement was steadily growing it was still confined to the few - the cultural landscape was changing, but as with the Teddy Boy movement in those previous years, it would take the press to acknowledge this change in youth culture allowing the word to spread more quickly and further afield than previously seen. In this respect the media played a crucial role in the growth of the Mod movement.
The disposable income available to teens in the early Sixties combined with their willingness to spend it on styling themselves, led to the emergence of the first youth targeted fashion boutiques. The period could be referred to historically as an economic masterstroke, moving into a viable and previously untapped market, but was at the time seen by some to be an instance of corporate big wigs exploiting the affluence of young consumers and the youth market . It's fair to say, the blatant emergence of a new High Street culture was sometimes crudely dismissed as nothing more than a killer marketing strategy aimed solely at the generation of baby boomers. The reality was though, it was actually more a natural extension of youth culture - pioneered by young people themselves.
In fact Boutiques often resulted from a common interest in the sub culture, designers themselves stretching the boundaries of their new found love. Freeing the youth market to dress as they wished in the context of the fashion world can largely be attributed to the Sixties and of course Mod culture. Indeed, Boutique fashion played a crucial and important role in coaxing a young persons greater expression - an element that has since snowballed into a big part of modern youth culture. Rather than the faceless and soulless organisations dominating the market place it was in fact people like Mary Quant, John Stephen and Biba who came to prominence - all three shared an affection and dedication to the fashion aspect of the Mod subculture they would later become synonymous with... and remember this is just three, there were many more!
Part 3 of the Mod Clothing Guide will take a look through the doors of these such boutiques and give a useful insight into the new fashion forward designers shop fronts and a glimpse at the ever more extrovert Mod fashions.
OK, so as with Chapter 1 of the Mod Clothing Guide, lets take a look at some typical Modernist/Beatnik/Early Mod styling that is available to Atom Retro Clothing... and remember Part 3 is coming very soon.
A selection of Mod and Retro Clothing styles that have endured the test of time and have remained fashionable and distinctive from the late Fifties, through the Sixties to the present day are listed below.
The late Fifties infancy of the Mod movement saw fans of modern jazz to Beatnik and coffee bar culture adopt a distinguished and smart dress sense, from Italian style tailored jackets and suits to the intellectual style of the roll neck jumper.
The sleek and slim fit style of the classic Mod 3 button suit is a staple of the modernist era. This Ben Sherman Camden Slim Fit Suit is a striking Retro incarnation - Typically Mod and an Atom Retro bestseller. Available in a multitude of colours with more styles to come. Seen here in Bright Blue.
To view the full range of BEN SHERMAN Tailoring available at AtomRetro click Here! For other Mod Tailored styles please feel free to visit he Atom Retro 'Suited and Booted' section of the Mens Clothing site.
A cool pair of Retro Sixties style Winklepickers will help you achieve a desirable Mod look and with a host of styles and shapes available to buy at Atom Retro, you are really a bit spoilt for choice! Here's a small selection.
Classic Black 'Veer' Winklepickers by Paolo Vandini also available in Suede.
... The Winklepicker would prove to be a style that would become an enduring image of the Sixties Mod movement and we will touch on this in more detail at a later time - We will discuss the impact of the classic Chelsea 'Beatle' Boots and it's cuban heel counterpart, as well as the more extrovert and flamboyant incarnations of the stylish Mod Winklepicker shoe.
In the mean time to view the full range of Retro and Mod Winklepicker Shoes at Atom Retro click Here! ... and for the full range of Sixties Mod and Retro Chelsea Boots click Here! For the more reserved and intellectual Beat Generation style, look no further than the luxurious and classic Retro Mod John Smedley range that includes the following Mod Roll Neck Jumpers - John Smedley 'Belvoir', 'Pembroke' and 'Richards' and not forgetting the Mock Turtleneck style of the 'Oxford' John Smedley pullover. See Below.
John Smedley 'Belvoir' John Smedley 'Pembroke' John Smedley 'Richards'
A brand synonymous with Sixties and Mod Culture, the full Mens John Smedley range can be viewed Here. ... and the womens range Here
Remember, stay tuned for the next installment in the Atom Retro Mod Clothing Guide.... Coming soon! Featuring an insight into Boutique fashion of the Sixties and it's impact on growing Mod culture. Don't worry though because we will return to the early part of the Sixties Mod movement (1960 onwards) in a later chapter!
The roots of the Mod movement began in the late fifties, evolving from The Beatnik and Teddy Boy subcultures that had grown across the USA and Europe since the end of the Second World War. The affluent youth of the late fifties and early sixties found themselves in a unique position. The traditional victorian values were changing, the permissive society of the sixties had started and free from the finacial problems the war had created, now young people had spare cash to spend on luxury items - records, cars and clothes.
The Teddy Boys, or Teds, were the forerunners to The Mods - a movement that used style as identity in the same way The Mods came to. For the first time it became socially acceptable for young, hetrosexual men to be fashion concious and concerned about their appearence. Women's fashion would experiment in equally radical ways; skirt hemlines crept up and up, resulting in the Mini Skirt, while other clothing became androgenous, not so frilly or femine as before.
Saville Row of London, the world famous tailors and suit makers, quickly took advantage of the changing trends. They recreated the 'Dandy' image for The Teds and later, The Mods, with garments such as Drape Jackets and Drainpipe Jeans in the fifties and early sixties, and later the classical Mod Suit.
Drainpipe Jeans - extreamly tightly cut trousers, tight to the ankle and tight around the waist, became the must-have article in the late fifties. Already controversial, parents would often disapprove of the look and the 'beat scene' culture that drainpipes had already come to represent. To remedy this, thier sons, unable - or forbidden, to have the real drainpipe trousers, would secretly gradually alter thier regular cut trousers to narrow the leg and make them fit tight to the ankle.
Drainpipes - often now refered to as Skinny or Skinnyfit Jeans in contemporary clothing circles, are a mod staple. Arguably the first icon of the Mod wardrobe, no budding Mod gentleman or lady can be without a pair or two. Atom Retro's range, pictured above, include the classic fifties and sixties designs and more recent indie-mod popular designs - but all are styled after the vintage Mod drainpipes - unisex, very tight fitting to the waist and ankle, with a hipster waist.
In 1958, a group of young men in East London began to adopt a new smooth, stylish, sophisticated new look, heavily influenced by contemporary late fifties French and Italian fashions. This was the emergence of the quintessential Mod Suit. Italian styled with narrow lapels, tailoring was the key.
To finish the Mod Suit look, Winklepicker shoes and later in the sixties, Chelsea Boots were the Mod footwear of choice.
The defining aspect of the Winklepicker is the elongated toe which comes to a point and giving the shoes their name, by resembling the type of pin used to eat periwinkles. As the Winklepicker became a mod icon, so the designs and styles becames more daring, dashing and sharp. Pictured below are some of Atom Retro's range of Winklepickers - each carefully chosen for their authentic Sixties vintage design and style and made in England. They include the classic Black Winklepicker Shoes in either patent leather or crimped, patterned leather, Paul Weller - Jam -esque black and white 'Carnaby' Winklepicker and the ultimate Mod Winklepicker - White leather.
The Chelsea boot also usually sported a winklepicker toe. A slim, tightfitting ankle boot, usually with an elastic band to the side, they were originally made for horse riding with a flat, block heel. Later, the addition of the Cuban heel, a slanted stylish heel that was higher than usual for mens footwear, saw the boots become one of the defining fashion icons of the sixties, as they were adopted by The Beatles, Rolling Stones and many others, (Giving rise to thier nickname, 'Beatle Boots'). Traditionally in Black leather, black suede also became a staple for Mod Chelsea boots - the 'booted' in 'Suited and Booted'.
Atom Retro's bestselling range of Chelsea Boots includes all the iconic styles which are synonymous with Mod style and clothes. In black leather, either with the flat, block heel or the authentic slanted Cuban heel, or in Black Suede Cuban heel - the ultimate mod footwear and perfect to set off any Mod suit or mod look. The range also includes the striking and unforgettable 'Chelsea Dagger' Chelsea Boots - the fusion of the retro classic sixties Chelsea Boot with a modern indie twist - this pair of boots is perfect for the Mod who wants to create an impression - the footwear of choice for any 'Face'.
Baracuta and The Harrington Jacket:
Apart from the Mod suit, the other staple coats and jackets of the Mod wardobe include The Harrington and The Parka.
The Harrington Jacket was first made in Stockport, Cheshire by the Baracuta company. Known then as simply the Baracuta or Baracuta G9, it was designed by the Miller Brothers in 1937 who were seeking to make a lightweight short jacket that would be both wind and waterproof. The jacket they came up with was a slim fit blouson jacket with elasticated waist and cuffs. The iconic tartan lining was originally the famous Fraser Tartan, permission having been granted to the Miller Brothers by the decendant of the Fraser clan, Lord Lovat. In the sixties the Baracuta jacket found favour among Mods, as a warm, waterproof jacket and ideal scooter wear. It appealed with its fuctionality - but also its style - smart and dapper - it fit perfectly with the mod look.
It was also made fashionable by movie and rock stars such as Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen, but was its association with Ryan O'Neal that gave the jacket its new name. Named after O'Neal's character in the American soap opera, Peyton Place, the coat would be forever known as the Harrington Jacket.
The Harrington Jacket is the casual Jacket of choice for Mods and Retro fans. Traditionally a zip fasten, blouson jacket with elasticated waistband and button collar, the Harrington Jacket has been re-worked and re-styled over the years into many different versions, looks, colours and fabrics.
The original Harrington Jacket was the Baracuta G9 Harrington, which first appeared in 1937, created by the Miller Brothers, John and Isaac. The following year, the Millers were granted permission to use the iconic red Fraser Tartan in the lining of the jacket and the Harrington as we know it began to take shape. The G9 is the classic Harrington Jacket, with the trademark G9 reverse which sets it apart from all other jackets, with its famous 'umbrella' shaped 5 point vent to the back. Baracuta also make a flat backed version of the Harrington, known as the G10 and also a open waist version, the G4. [View all Baracuta Harrington Jackets]
The Baracuta Harrington fit in perfectly with the Mod Ivy look, popular in both the USA and UK in the late Fifties and Sixties, and quickly became the casual jacket of choice. John Symons, owner of The Ivy Shop in the Sixties, coined the name 'Harrington', naming it after a character from American soap 'Peyton Place', Rodney Harrington, who wore the jacket. The Harrington was soon picked up by style icons, worn by Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and in later years The Clash, Liam Gallagher, Johnny Borrell, Daniel Craig and numerous others.
Later in the Seventies and Eighties and onwards the Harrington's popularity continued with Mods, Scooterists, Mod Revivalists and Skinheads all adopting the look, and making it their own. In the Nineties and Britpop, the Harrington Jacket was also adopted by Indie fans and came back to the forefront of fashion and claiming its place as one of the most enduring Mod garments.
Although, Baracuta made the original Harrington Jacket there have been many different versions, with almost every Mod, Retro or heritage clothing brand producing their own Harrington Jacket at one time or another - so there are many to choose from, and enough to fit every taste or budget.
True Mod Clothing purists will point you towards the Baracuta - and you can't go far wrong - as if you only own one Harrington Jacket, then surely it needs to be the Baracuta?! Classic colours include Black, Natural and Navy, but each season Baracuta bring out new and different versions of this iconic jacket in new fabrics, colours and styles. (Check out the recent Millerain Baracuta Jackets in the limited edition 'Project 137' range!)
Ben Sherman also have their own Harrington Jacket made in a very pure, clean, simple and Mod fashion. A classic design which usually sports the Ben Sherman House Check to the lining. [View all Ben Sherman Harringtons]
Merc London are equally as famous for their Harrington Jacket, and make many new colours and designs each year - each season usually features two or three new takes on the classic Harrington Jacket. [View all Merc Harringtons]
[View all Mens Mod Jackets]
Another functional jacket that has become synonymous with Mod Culture is the Parka. Again, it was the practicalities of the jacket as scooter wear coupled with the possiblity of getting a good looking one on a budget (as opposed to the tailored, made to measure suit or the designer Baracuta Harrington) that gave rise to its popularity. The Parka was further immortalised and inextricably made Mod by the 1979 film, Quadrophenia and the cover of the same titled 1973 album by The Who, depicting a Parka clad Mod on a scooter - but it was earlier, in the late fifties, that the Parka first became a Mod icon.
Ironically, considering the emphisis on need for the new, the tailor made and the impeccably neat for other items of mod clothing, the origninal Parka jackets came from an army surplus store. It had been designed with warmth and protection against the elements in mind, based on the design eskimos and innuits wore, for American soliders in cold climates. Usually fur lined, Parkas are hooded and zipper fastening, in contrast the the anoraks of the time, which were a whole piece, put on over the head. The optional fishtail back of the coat also became iconic of Mod clothing. Originally coming in regulation army green, many Mods of the sixties and seventies would dye their Parka to match the colour of their scooter, in contemporary fashion Parkas are now available in many colours.
Atom Retro's range of Parka jackets, pictured below, remain faithful to the sixties and seventies style Mod Parka. In army or olive green, or black they are big fitting, hooded and different lengths to suit the needs of the Mod who wants it to accompany their scooter, or for the Mod who wants it to complement their Mod wardrobe.
In the begining, Mod culture and Mod style was dominated by men. From 1960, women slowly started to become interested in Mod life and by 1963 were setting thier own Mod trends. One of the most important designers of womens Mod clothing was Mary Quant. She had opened her first boutique in 1955, in the Kings Road, Chelsea - another location that became famous for Mod clothing boutiques and designers. Her second was opened in Knightsbridge in 1961. Famous for designing many iconic Mod garments, it is probably the revolutionary Mini Skirt for which Mary Quant will be remembered. Hemlines had been creeping up since about 1958, and in 1963 were just above the knee. By 1965, a hemline five inches above the knee was not uncommon. Quant invented them, but it was the sixties boutique, Biba that put them on to the high street and into Mod fashion.
The Mod Shift Dress was also a staple of any Mod girls wardrobe. A straight dress without a waist, made of almost any pattern and colour, it was the op-art influenced, black and white designs that became the most iconic and perhaps the most Mod styles. This straight style dress removed much of the feminity from a traditional dress design, making it the quintessential Mod womans dress. Most Womens Mod clothing is androgenous in style, or masculinised as male fashions were feminised. Women wore flat shoes, trousers such as the drainpipe jeans that were previously only worn by men and shirts and sweaters that matched or in fact were mens.
John Stephen, often credited as the founder of Carnaby Street, is sometimes overlooked as a key figure in Mod fashion. Carnaby Street became the mecca for Mod clothing in the sixties and was dominated by John Stephen's shops, with 15 along the bredth of it. He began simply in the late fifties, with a boutique just off Carnaby Street, His Clothes in Beak Street. It was to revolutionise Mens clothing. His method was to provide what the male Mods wanted and kept his shops well stocked with the latest trends. His first significant contribution to Mod fashoion were hipster (low waist) trousers, designed for young hetrosexual men (and previously only associated with homosexual men), which were often made of thick 'elephant' corduroy. He also brought floral shirts, fitted velvet jackets and kilts to the fashion forefront. By 1967 he had added womens clothing to his Mod boutiques and had become one of the defining designers of the Swinging Sixties.
John Smedley is a clothing company that was originally founded in 1784, and is still going today. However, it is perhaps most reknowned for the sixties mod clothing it produced, namely italian polo knitted tops, polo shirts and turtle necks in cashmere or wool. Crew neck and V-Neck sweaters were also popular, but it is maybe the polo knit, with its button neck that is the most iconic. With its large collar, Mods would often wear it buttoned as close to the neck as possble, in long or short sleeves, and frequently with horizontal striped pattern.
Two factions of male Mod culture had developed by the mid sixties; the mainstream slickly styled Mods and the Scooter Boys Mods. Both groups wore the John Smedley type polo knit (also copied and homaged by the Mod Revival Fred Perry Polos), but it was the Scooter Boys who would usually pair them with plaid or checked trousers, bringing plaid and checks in as iconic Mod styles. Later, in the Mod Revival period it would be these patterns and styles that became the staples of Mod clothing in every area, including footwear and accessories.
One artical of iconic Mod Revivalist footwear is the Dr Martens Boots, also known as Bovva Boots, 1460s or Beetle Crushers, although these were worn by the Scooter Mods of the sixties. Designed originally as an orthopedic shoe, when the infamous Dr Marten broke his foot during a skiing holiday, the first Dr Marten Boots were produced commercially on the 1st of April 1960 (hence the 1460s nickname). Available in black or cherry red leather, they were great footwear for scooter riding, and also useful in the legendary Mods versus Rockers Rumbles.
Another iconic garment of the Mod Revival was the striped Boating Blazer. Made famous by Mod revival bands such as The Jam, the jacket was also a mod icon in the sixties and worn then by icons such as The Who or Brian Jones. The Boating Blazer orginated as a Mod article of clothing from the classic Carnaby Street era, and continues now as a great rock and roll iconic jacket, worn by neuveau mods such as The Kaiser Cheifs.
The Harrington Jacket also came back in fashion during the Mod Revival period, along with a variation on the classic jacket style, the bomber jacket. Again, practical as a warm jacket for riding scooters, the bomber jacket also fitted in with the revivalist style. Retro, but hard-looking enough to pass.