Again in 1959, Colin MacInnes supplied up the next description of a younger gadabout-town in his novel Absolute Freshmen: “School-boy easy crop hair with burned-in facet half, neat white Italian round-collared shirt, quick Roman jacket, very tailor-made (two little vents, three buttons), no-turn-up slender trousers with 17-inch bottoms and absolute most, pointed-toe sneakers, and a white mac folded by his facet.”
Nowhere in Absolute Freshmen is the phrase “mod” talked about, however MacInnes’ Dean Swift embodies the ethos, from the look (sharp, clear, outward-looking), to the milieu (the jazz golf equipment and low outlets of late ‘50s Soho), to the angle (aspirational, good, in-the-know). However what’s additionally putting about MacInnes’ anatomisation of Swift’s outfit is that, over half a century on, it nonetheless feels very, properly, fashionable. Regardless of being some half a century previous, mod type could be very a lot related at the moment.
What Is Mod Model?
Whereas fellow youth subcultures – the teddy boys, the rockers, the punks, the brand new romantics – have both fallen by the wayside, develop into a hardcore cult, or dwindled into costume-party irrelevance, the unique ideas of the mod look are nonetheless taking part in out in males’s trend. The sharp tailoring, the knitted polos, the jacquard and paisley accents, the Clarks Desert Boots – these are all nonetheless trendy items that resonate with the person of at the moment.
There’s the manufacturers nonetheless flying the flag – Ben Sherman and John Smedley (and their descendants, akin to Liam Gallagher’s Fairly Inexperienced) in addition to the affect of mod-borrowing musical actions like 2-Tone and Britpop.
And let’s not neglect modern clean-cut modfathers akin to Paul Weller, Martin Freeman and Bradley Wiggins, and youthful bucks like Miles Kane, Jake Bugg, and The Strypes. So why has mod type retained such traction whereas the opposite seems to be have crashed and burned? It’s all concerning the garments themselves.
“You’ve acquired to do not forget that the phrase ‘mod’ is derived from ‘modernist’, and that the important thing factor concerning the look is that, sure, it’s clean-cut and good, however that it’s open to all types of influences, and it continually evolves,” says the tailor Mark Powell.
We’re speaking in his Soho atelier, only a winklepicker’s throw from Carnaby Road, floor zero of the unique mod detonation within the late fifties and early sixties, and Powell is guiding me by his rogue’s gallery of mod-con purchasers: Paul Weller in a double-breasted gray pinstripe swimsuit, primarily based on a ’60s type; Martin Freeman in an Ivy League-inspired short-jacketed, slim-trousered pinstripe swimsuit; Bradley Wiggins in a velvet double-breasted jacket, accepting his Sports activities Character of the 12 months Award. And right here’s Powell himself, trying equal elements Edwardian gent and East Finish gangster on the set of 1986’s Absolute Freshmen – the film.
“Paul, Martin and Bradley are mainly following the philosophy of the early mods,” says Powell in his gruff geezer accent. “Males have been all sporting fits again within the late fifties, however the mods tweaked the look by taking inspiration from jazz, the Ivy League, and Italian tailoring. Guys like Miles Davis had been by the zoot fits and bebop flamboyance, however then they went the opposite method, and embraced the preppy, conservative Ivy League look – slim fits, knitwear, loafers – and made it look actually modern and slick.
“The Italian factor then got here in with the boxier jackets and slimmer flat-fronted trousers. It was very aspirational – a option to stand aside out of your dad and mom and friends, and to align your self with this new Britain that embraced immigration, that seemed to Europe, with the tailoring and the scooters, and that was beginning to break down class distinctions. However the true mod look was by no means generic; it was at all times altering, at all times evolving.
“The jazz factor is an effective analogy – you’ve a strong, sharp baseline, however plenty of room to improvise on prime of that. I might argue that the flamboyant, late-sixties dandy seems to be of fellows like Terence Stamp, Justin de Villeneuve and Lord Lichfield – the crushed velvet, the white fits, the paisley ruffs – have been extra within the mod spirit than any variety of fishtail parka jackets you would possibly see in Quadrophenia.”
It was Phil Daniels’ Jimmy within the 1979 movie of The Who’s mod opera who uttered what may be the motion’s mission assertion – “I don’t wanna be the identical as all people else. That’s why I grew to become a mod, see? I imply you gotta be someone, ain’t ya, otherwise you would possibly as properly leap within the sea and drown” – so it was ironic that the film did a lot to ascertain the enduring cliché of mods as scooter-riding, parka-sporting copycats.
How To Costume Like A Mod
Any overview of mod price its salt must fold in some necessities: the Harrington jacket (the Baracuta G9 golf jacket, re-christened in honour of Rodney Harrington, Ryan O’Neal’s proto-mod character within the sixties US cleaning soap Peyton Place, by John Simons, an early Ivy League adopter who bought the jacket at his legendary mod retailer in London); the Crombie coat (adopted by the ska-loving suedeheads, a part of mod’s prolonged household); the John Smedley knit polo (a still-smart various to a collar and tie, and logo-less, which is essential to the mod aesthetic); and the Ben Sherman button-down (Sherman constructed his enterprise by capitalising on the mods’ love of imported Oxford shirt.
Sherman produced his personal, scrupulously sourcing US fabric, in hot-button colors like pink and mint inexperienced). “There have been solely blue-collar or white-collar shirts round on the time, so Ben added the color, together with stripes, a signature button behind the collar, and a again field pleat as his sign-off,” says Mark Williams, inventive director of the Ben Sherman model at the moment.
“It tapped into the unique mods’ obsession with element, one which I feel carries on by at the moment. For them it was about getting the most recent imported shirt, or shoe, or 7-inch R&B single. At this time, it’s nonetheless about issues like the correct reduce of swimsuit, working cuff buttons, the best way a collar hangs, raised seams, loud linings. For me, so long as you’re reinventing your look while listening to these sharp and most exacting guidelines of dressing, then you definately’re staying true to the mod spirit – even if you happen to wouldn’t essentially name your self a mod.”
However is the mod look nonetheless aspirational even at the moment, when tech titans are likely to have wardrobes filled with gray marl hoodies and/or navy turtlenecks, and hedge-fund billionaires uniformly sport cashmere crewnecks? “It’ll be round so long as males are into reduce, and match, and element,” says Powell. “New generations will at all times decide up on completely different points of the look and reinvigorate it. That’s why the mod aesthetic has endured – it may’t be pinned all the way down to a scooter and a goal roundel.”
“Ask your self, do I stand out from the group in my gray hoodie?” says Williams. “At this time, the thought of capturing this iconic look and providing it to a mainstream buyer continues to be about all of the issues that Absolute Freshmen was about: dwelling life by yourself phrases slightly than another person’s; being wiser; trying sharper; digging deeper; and having a thoughts of your personal. I imply, truthfully – who wouldn’t wish to purchase into that?”
3 Key Mod Seems
The knitted polo may be the very best, and most trendy method, to reference some mod panache in a up to date look at the moment. When executed with a pointy sample or stripe, it harks again to the early mods of the late Nineteen Fifties who turned to the continent for his or her inspiration – suppose Dicke Greenleaf in The Gifted Mr Ripley and also you’re heading in the right direction.
Pair it with some tailor-made swimsuit trousers – with a brief break – penny loafers (the quintessential mod shoe) and a few mild colored socks and also you’ve acquired a flexible outfit prepared for work or play. Costume it up with a blazer; down with a Harrington or bomber.
Talking of Harringtons, you want one. Within the light-weight jacket canon it’s up there with the very best – it’s an effortlessly cool piece and, with a tartan lining, is quintessentially mod. Navy or stone can be the apparent selections, however at the moment you may decide one up in a myriad of colors and materials together with suede or corduroy if you happen to fancy being, properly, fancy.
You may put on just about something with a Harrington, however for prime mod factors a button-down Oxford shirt, indigo selvedge denim denims and Clarks Desert boots are the proper enhances. Maintain the denims slim, tuck the shirt in and roll the hems of the denim to indicate off these boots, simply watch out with them in winter – suede is delicate and the crepe soles get particularly slippery when moist.
Consider basic mod type and also you’ll most definitely image tailoring. And but it’s so troublesome to get proper. The everyday mod swimsuit would characteristic a 3 button entrance, with slim lapels and pretty structured, roped shoulders. For a extra fashionable (get it?) replace although, flip to one thing extra evenly structured, with two buttons and ever so barely wider lapels. This might be comfier and can look much less like a fancy dress. Though hold it slim: “To an extent, all tapered, fitted fits are merely a nod to the mod,” says Ben Sherman’s Mark Williams. “And the extra modern, the extra mod.”
For the remainder of the look, flip straight to the sixties. Few sneakers end off a swimsuit fairly so properly as a pair of sharp Chelsea boots in black leather-based – make sure the trousers are hemmed excessive to permit their modern silhouette to shine. And with regards to shirting, strive a tab collar. It’s a comparatively troublesome type to select up today however you’ll look all of the sharper for it and the unique mods would admire your savvy sourcing. To finish the look a knitted tie is crucial – intention for a darker shade than the swimsuit to show enough distinction between the 2.