Break out the sharply tailored suit, bang on some jazz and get those wing mirrors polished as the latest instalment in our Style Sheet series focuses on one of the most iconic and enduring British subcultures – Mod.
In contrast to their long haired hippy and rocker contemporaries mods were neat, clean and impeccably well turned out ensuring the longevity of the look through the decades – donning a typical mod outfit is not something you’ll back on with regret and shame in ten years time! It’s a style that looks great no matter what your age.
A defining aspect of being mod was caring for your appearance, requiring a keen eye for detail and a competitive yearning to look the sharpest out of your friends and fellow mods. This attitude of wanting to have the latest cuts and styles was expressed pretty eloquently by a 13 year old Mark Feld in a 1962 issue of ‘Town’.
“‘I mean, you got to be two steps ahead. The stuff that half the haddocks you see around are wearing I was wearing years ago. A kid in my class came up to me in his new suit, an Italian box it was. he says, “Just look at the length of your jacket,” he says, “You’re not with it,” he says. “I was wearing that style two years ago,”
Carnaby Street and the Kings Road were the fashion heartlands of the mod subculture with sartorially inclined young mods spending their disposable income on knitted ties, Chelsea boots, cashmere v-necks and the latest suit cuts. To this day Carnaby Street continues to have a vibrant mod presence with Ben Sherman, Fred Perry and other smaller boutiques still going strong.
While the subculture still remains alive and well, with Miles Kane and Bradley Wiggens notable celebrity mods, there is plenty for the rest of us to take from the movement without having to fully embrace all things devoutly mod. Have a look at our ‘Key Elements of Mod’ below along with some impossibly cool contemporary photographs from the 60’s for some fantastic sartorial inspiration.
Key Elements of Mod
It’s starting to feel as if a Style Sheet wouldn’t be a Style Sheet without the obligatory mention of the harrington jacket! And justifiably so, the harrington is an undeniable men’s style staple – versatile, durable and perennially sharp, chucking on an harrington is an easy ticket to instant cool. Its simplicity has seen the harrington adopted by a plethora of subcultures and styles from American Ivy League to skinheads and casuals. When it comes to mod wear however the original Baracuta Harrington is the authentic jacket of choice – although the prices have comparatively sky-rocketed since the heyday of mod.
Named ‘Chelsea Boots’ because of their association with the well heeled youth of the King’s Road in the 1960’s these easy to wear ankle boots, along with penny loafers and their more rugged footwear cousins desert boots, are considered iconic elements of mod style. Popular with the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Chelsea boots quickly became synonymous with cool, youthful working class style. Mod’s often wore the boots with tailored suits and are equally at home with a smart pair of jeans for more causal style. A pair with a crisp polished finish, like the ones pictured from Grenson will go a long way in helping to give your wardrobe a touch of mod.
Beside from the fantastic music, italian modes of transport and general gang camaraderie, a major draw in adopting the subculture and embracing all things mod was attracting girls! As early mod Dicky Dodson discusses in Richard Weight’s excellent ‘Mod’:
‘The girls started cutting their hair like Jean Seberg and we all wanted to be Jean-Paul Belmondo, he was the hero. We wanted that lifestyle, we wanted a girlfriend that looked like Jean Seberg’
An easy way of achieving this Belmondo new wave cool was through a well chosen knitted tie. The devil was in the detail when it came to ties, stylish mods were particular about the width, material, colour, clips and how it matched with their suits. This continental influence was important in all aspects of mod from the wardrobe to literature, movies and music.
As mentioned earlier a quintessential element of mod style is appearing smart, pulled together and generally looking the business – as it were! By choosing a crisp button-down shirt with a nice collar size and roll you’re already over half way there. Brands popular with mods such as Fred Perry, Brutus, Ben Sherman and Merc all offered a fantastic variety of options for a chap, or girl, looking for a button-down and all brands continue to make variants of the classic shirts to this day. It’s the basic building block to build the rest of your outfit around. Whether checked, striped or plain, a button-down shirt is an fundamental part of a modern gentlemen’s wardrobe, mod or not!