When it comes to pop culture, the cliché eventually turns into the quintessential. With mod fashion – which originated in late 1950s London and then resurfaced in the 1970s before becoming prominent in North America through the 1980s – this is the image of the Beatles, all in perfectly tailored dark suits, one indistinguishable from the next.
There’s something about mod fashion that transcends the casual-formal divide. Perhaps it’s the aspirational working class origins; the fact that its androgynous appearance – tailored and fitted for men, A-line and moderately spacious for women – goes against the strict 1950s gender lines; or the confluence of American, French and Italian elements.
Whatever it is, mod fashion’s timelessness evokes both a period image and one that effortlessly integrates with current trends.
AW13 Mod Revival
Whilst researching the AW13 trends showcased at this year’s global fashion weeks, it became apparent that mod style has returned to the fore.
Countless collections emphasised the dark, tailored suit – a key component of mod style and a silhouette composed primarily of straight lines with a hint of a waist – whilst the re-emergence of desert boots and turn-up trousers, coupled with the occasional roll neck and striking pop culture graphic, helped to flesh out the trend.
But unless you’re the vintage type, replicating the original 1960s mod look (or even resuscitating it with a 1970s vibe) has the potential to appear dated. So, if the slim-cut casual suit has caught your eye this season, or you are simply a fan of mod fashion, here are the key styles you should be on the lookout for, along with a few tips on how to bring the look bang up to date…
If any garment embodies mod style, both 1960s and current, it’s the suit. Casual or formal, this bastion of menswear accentuates a man’s form. Original mod fashion, before the mid-1960s commercialism, involved adapting something to your personal style – whether a scooter or suit, the item perfectly fitted your body and tastes.
Neither too tight nor too loose, the look you are going for ‘just-tailored’; as if both the trousers and jacket were specifically designed for your body.
For a vintage look, the suit should be in a dark colour, have a three-button jacket and contrast again a light button-down Ben Sherman shirt.
How To Modernise It
Dark coloured, tailored suits exude a sense of timelessness. They could slot effortlessly into any moment in time and any setting – from dandy to the Mad Men era. Yet the detail that always gives away the period is the buttons.
The good news is, within AW13 suiting – from Balenciaga’s casual velvet take and Band Of Outsiders’ large pocket, grey flannel version to Ermenegildo Zegna’s silk-infused options – the three-button look is gone. Instead, a double-breasted or single-button design adds a modern touch.
Along with your choice of jacket, try stepping outside the traditional black-grey-brown palette. Designers like Hardy Amies, Tom Ford, Jil Sander and Jonathan Saunders start with this timeless structure and then apply a pattern (sixties checks are perfect) or bold block-colour – another mod element that is blended with contemporary style sensibilities this time around:
- Asos Skinny Fit Suit In Brown Fleck
- Farah Vintage Suit In Tweed
- Vito Suit In Bordeaux
- Asos Slim Fit Double Breasted Jacket In Brown Dogstooth
- Reiss Belgravia Textured Blazer Rose
- River Island Grey Check Slim Suit Jacket
- Topman Dark Green Tonic Skinny Suit
- Gucci Slim-fit Check Wool Suit
- Topman Charcoal Fleck Skinny Suit
- Topman Navy Fleck Skinny Fit Suit
- Hardy Amies Slim-fit Check Wool-blend Suit Jacket
- Vito Check Suit In Jungle Green
The image of the scooter-riding mod creates an American-European confluence: the traditionally Italian ride juxtaposed with American-inspired fashion. In spite of the fact that the subculture went against a 1950s visual and cultural aesthetic, it absorbed what would’ve been considered fringe 1950s Americana looks at the time, such as beatnik.
Embodying this are pegged/tapered jeans (complete with turn-ups), roll necks and footwear silhouettes like desert boots, Oxfords and bowling shoes.
How To Modernise It
Unlike the suit, the casual end of mod style requires minimal modification to blend into the present. Retailers from low to high-end offer tapered trousers and denim, whilst roll necks have risen to prominence over the past couple of years and were spotted again in the Hermes and Ermenegildo Zegna collections for AW13.
As emphasised by recent articles on FashionBeans, desert boots and Oxford shoes retain an ageless appeal, save for the occasional colour change. Perhaps, then, consider sticking with the classic form but experimenting with the colour:
- Topman Grey/white Mix Rollneck Jumper
- Reiss Moon Extra Fine Merino Roll Neck Bordeaux
- Allsaints Nord Cashmere Roll Neck Jumper
- Ps Paul Smith Roll Neck Jumper
- Wrangler Roll Neck Jumper Cable Knit
- Gucci Ribbed Wool-blend Rollneck Sweater
- Ben Sherman East End Moleskin Trousers
- Topman Navy Herringbone Tapered Trousers
- Ben Sherman Smart Tailored Flannel Trousers
- Nudie Jeans Thin Finn Heavy Dry Slevedge
- Dr. Denim Alfred Raw Jeans
- J.crew 484 Slim-fit Selvedge Denim Jeans
- Pierre Hardy Velvet-trimmed Suede Desert Boots
- Topman Ben Sherman Blue Suede Desert Boots
- Ask The Missus Hirst Brogue Shoe Bordo Leather Navy Nylon
- Grenson G-lab Dylan Suede And Leather Wingtip Brogues
- Maison Martin Margiela Burnished-leather Oxford Shoes
- Kg By Kurt Geiger Bert Oxford Leather Shoes wine
Although a great deal of mod style revolves around a solid dark or two-tone outfit, later influences veered toward colour-blocked, geometric patterns – think Pete Townshend’s Union Jack jacket and the striking pop art from the period.
While Townshend’s 1960s sartorial choices now appear questionable, colour-blocking has been the ‘it’ trend since early 2012 and, with the wide range of shades now available to men, becomes simple to implement.
However, if you’re looking for a mod-inspired take, what choices do you have?
How To Modernise It
Geometric shirts with sharp contrasts emerged within several AW13 collections, including kaleidoscopic patterns at Iceberg, shapes-on-a-solid-colour-background at J.W. Anderson and text blended with horizontal stripes at Kris Van Assche.
As much as bright and colourful pieces are continuing to dominate menswear, colour-blocking and patterns have fused to create the graphic garment. Selecting such a piece and combining it with fitted trousers alludes to that mid-1960s mod look:
- Paul Smith Multicolour Mohair Houndstooth Knit
- Paul Smith Jeans Colour Block Jumper
- Anerkjendt Tjalfe Multicoloured Sweater
- Reiss Birdie Colour Block Felted Wool Jumper Grey
- River Island Navy Angular Colour Block Jacquard Jumper
- Ovadia & Sons Striped Knitted Cotton Sweater
- Black Fleece Diamond-weave Patchwork Cardigan 163202
- Topman Villain Colt Jumper
- Topman Samsoe And Samsoe Pattern Jumper
- Allsaints Malden Shirt
- River Island Blue Colour Block Shirt
- Marni Contrast-sleeve Cotton Shirt
Modern Lookbook Inspiration
Finally, we bring you some modern lookbook examples of mod-inspired outfits from recent high street and designer campaigns:
Just as 1960s mod style and culture emerged as a reaction to the drab and restrictive 1950s, the modern reincarnation appears to have come at the right place and time.
Within both casual and formal wear, and the smart-casual space in between, colour experimentation, fitted cuts and striking silhouettes have replaced the conservative and characterless look of the noughties. Although it has yet to be determined if this mod revival is intentional or organic, the pervasiveness of its key pieces shows the time is right and stylistically appropriate.
Make sure you let us know your thoughts on the resurgence of mod style and whether you will be integrating some of the key pieces showcased today into your look for AW13…