Mod fashion is not just a fashion fad. It is having a moment, or rather, still having a moment. While it’s best known for being wildly popular during the 1960s in London, it’s still very much relevant today.
The word “mod” is short for “modernist,” and as the name suggests, the style is modern – fluid and constantly evolving. It’s a type of fashion that is both timeless and of the moment.
What are Mods?
To understand mod fashion, we have to discuss first what mod is. It’s an eclectic sub-culture that relied on two main pillars: music and fashion. It originated in London during the late 50s, but it was in the 60s that mod fashion really took over.
Mods (modernists) are a group of stylish London-based young men (and later followed by women) who often wear tailor-made suits, listen to music genres of jazz, soul, ska, rhythm, and blues, and later freakbeat; riding Italian scooters like Vespa or Lambretta. The mod subculture was called a “fashion-obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool” youths and young adults who lived in metropolitan London or the new towns of the south. The mods’ focus on fashion and music was a form of release from the humdrum of daily existence at their jobs. Dating back to the original mod scene was associated with amphetamine-fueled nights and dancing into the late hours at clubs.
These people were post-war working-class young people who don’t recognize or associate themselves with the previous generation’s values. Instead of being all about work and responsibilities, they aimed at being cool, sharp, hip, neat, and smart by embracing all things sexy and streamlined. They lived to invest their hard-earned disposable income for designer clothes, records, and trendy events. They take inspiration from Italian and French films and magazines to create a clean and sophisticated style while embracing the American consumer culture that affected England.
During post-war Britain, people’s affluence was increasing, so the youths of the 60s were one of the first generations who did not have to contribute their money from after-school jobs to their family’s finances. As mod teens and young adults began using their income to buy stylish clothes, the first youth-targeted boutique stores opened in London in the Carnaby Street and King’s Road districts.
What is Mod Fashion?
The uniformity of the mod’s dress created a homogenous population. “Anything goes” was big during this period, and people reflected the shifting politics of the day. They have a “do your own thing” attitude, which applied to clothes.
When it came to the fashion revolution, the youth-driven this change that first began on the streets of Britain rather than the comfort of people’s homes. During this time, the Brits set the tone for this fashion change, while the rest of the world watched and followed.
Mod culture was huge, and it played a massive role within the fashion industry, which defined the 60s look https://didyouknowfashion.com/interesting-facts-about-the-iconic-1960s-fashion-scene/. The pastel palette of the 50s allowed the 60s to reinvent bright and bold colors that are often arranged in a geometric pattern.
Two youth subcultures helped pave the way for mod fashion by breaking new ground: the beatniks and the Teddy Boys. The beatniks are often seen with their bohemian image of berets and black turtlenecks, and the Teddy boys, from whom mod fashion inherited its narcissistic fashion tendencies and dandy look. The latter paved the way for making male interest in fashion socially acceptable because, before that, male interest in fashion was usually associated with the homosexual subculture’s flamboyant dressing and fashion style.
The mods may shop a lot, but they are not passive consumers. They are self-conscious people who like customizing the existing styles and making them pop art. This type of fashion adopted new Italian and French styles in part as a reaction to the rockers.
Mod Fashion for Men
For men, mod fashion was the polar opposite of the rockers’ leather outfits and greasy motorbikes. This fashion is all about sophistication – some men would also wear makeup such as eyeliner or eyeshadow to bend gender norms and chose scooters over motorbikes. Mod men were the “cool kids” of the era, and if you want to belong, you need to have at least one suit, often pinstripe or tailor-made.
1. Knit polo shirt
A soft-knit polo shirt is at the foundation of mod style, and it’s one of the most versatile and highly wearable items of their fashion. While bold colors, color blocking, and geometric details are common in mod fashion, the knit polo shirt keeps the details to a minimum. The mods wear shirts with no-frills logos or, better yet, no logos at all. The polo is buttoned all the way up to make a sharp and literally buttoned-up look. They dress it up with boots and chinos and a Harrington jacket.
2. Harrington jacket
It’s possible that you’ve never heard of Harrington jackets, but you’ve definitely seen them. Think about every photo you’ve seen of James Dean, Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, or Frank Sinatra in which they are wearing a jacket – that’s a Harrington. These jackets are also often called G9 or Baracuta jackets, and they are the epitome of the ultra-cool mod. Harrington jackets are lightweight, waist-length, have a standing collar, and are made of cotton, wool, polyester, or suede. Designs often incorporate a checkerboard-patterned lining or a traditional Fraser tartan. It’s a timeless fashion that is stylish, versatile, and utilitarian.
3. Roll-neck shirt
Taking a page straight out of the beatnik style, roll-necks (or probably more known as turtlenecks) were frequently worn by mods in the same situations as polo shirts. They wore it on its own with jeans or chinos, or under a jacket or a suit coat. The roll-neck shirts have a sleek silhouette, are soft-knit, and are comfortable to wear. Mod roll-neck shirts are often of darker solid colors or have a simple striped pattern.
4. Sim-fit trousers
In this case, trousers simply mean pants. Both jeans and chinos, especially the classic Levi’s jeans, are popular in mod fashion. Slim-fit pants or trousers honor the sharp, clean tailoring that’s the heart of the mod style. Straight or tapered-cut styles are ideal, but not the skinny fit. Also, pants must be worn with the cuff rolled up to show off the footwear.
5. Chelsea or chukka boots
There are not many choices of footwear among the original mods. When Chelsea or chukka boots are among the choices, men don’t need much else. Both shoes are low-profile and close-fitting. Chelsea boots were sometimes called the “Beatle boots” because of the band’s fondness for this shoe style. Meanwhile, chukka boots (a form of desert boots) have open lacing that is usually added for decoration. Both look fantastic with everything – either with jeans or chinos and even suits.
6. Tailored suit
Suits were nothing new in Swinging London, but tailored suits were. Mods were focused on dressing sharper and smarter, and with that came a natural preference towards sleeker and form-fitting silhouettes. They love details, so it was common at the time to see double-breasted styles, bold buttons, and exaggerated structured shoulders. They wore suits with a roll-neck shirt instead of a button-down shirt.
Mod Fashion for Women
Initially, female mods were rocking androgynous looks, with their short pixie haircuts or bobs, men’s shirts and trousers, flat shoes, and little makeup that’s often just pale foundation, false eyelashes, brown eye shadow, and pale lipstick. But with the bustling arrival of the Swinging Sixties, embracing Mary Quant’s miniskirts and Twiggy’s shift dresses became an iconic mod fashion.
1. Shift dresses
The most iconic garment when it comes to women’s mod fashion is the short shift dress – either with geometric shapes or bold colors. These shift dresses are often sleeveless and adorned with Peter Pan collars. Cut short with an A-line silhouette, the shift dresses proved the perfect alternative to restrictive fashion styles of the previous decades. Thanks to their chic and comfy design, shift dresses are still popular today.
2. Mini skirts
Miniskirts became progressively shorter between the early to mid-60s. Designed by one of the most famous mod designers, Mary Quant, miniskirts were a must-have for the hip and the young.
3. Peter Pan collar
Dressing like a child became a trend in mod fashion because a true mod is basically a young man or woman who’s anxious for change. The Peter Pan collar was an age-old fashion applied to children’s clothing as early as the 1830s, but the youth embraced this collar style, becoming a go-to style for their era’s mini dresses.
4. Mondrian dress
The Mondrian dress is a creation of Yves Saint Laurent in 1965, which was a homage to the work of several modernistic artists. The color block design with bold black lines and white blocks is inspired by Piet Mondrian’s paintings. Basically, a Mondrian dress is a sleeveless A-line shift dress that reaches the knees with straight, graphic black lines and white blocks, while some blocks are colored blue, red, and yellow.
5. Op art prints
Op art is short for “optical art” as the geometric shapes and finely calculated lines of designs tend to create optical illusions for the eyes. Mods were obsessed with black and white lined fashion that can be traced back to a 1965 exhibit called “The Responsive Eye.” These op-art prints are often seen in dresses, but also in trousers as well.
6. Knee-high boots
Knee-high boots were also the signature footwear of choice for a mod woman. It’s often paired with shift dresses or miniskirts.