How to dress like a Mod: An iconic fashion movement
Originating in the 1960s, Mod fashion started out in London as a youth subculture before going on to influence fashions across the world.
From tailored suits to fishtail parkas, where other trends have fallen by the wayside, Mod clothing has managed to stay relevant and popular with well-dressed men today.
Read on to discover how Mod fashion first emerged, why it’s stood the test of time and our top tips on how you can embrace this style for yourself.
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What is Mod?
A term first coined in the late 1950s, Mod came from the word ‘modern’ or ‘modernist’ and was used to describe the emerging lifestyle and trends of Britain’s fashionable youth.
The baby boomers were coming of age and seeking both fashionable and financial independence from their parents. Keen to shake the muted, demure tones of 1950s style, Mods were well dressed in streamlined, well-tailored clothes featuring geometric designs.
With money to spend, these teens spent theirs on their lifestyle, congregating in the coolest Jazz clubs in Soho.
It was their love of modern jazz that earned them the title of mods, but the term made sense beyond their love of music.
Modern in their way of thinking, they were the new generation that looked beyond the borders of the UK for both style and musical inspiration.
What was it like to be a mod in the 1960s?
In the 1960s, London was the epicentre of popular culture. Dubbed “Swinging London”, the city led and the world followed. It was the decade of the boutique, with Carnaby Street and The King’s Road becoming a mecca for the stylish elite, hosting iconic stores such as Mary Quant’s “Bazaar”.
As the first post-war generation not to face austerity or national service, it was liberating to be a teenager in the 1960s.
With most earning more money than their parents, the Mods were keen to smash through any societal expectations placed upon them. Rebelling against the older generations, the lifestyle they cut for themselves had deep roots in music, fashion and the world outside of the UK.
Looking to Italy for their love of tailoring and scooters and to the Caribbean for SKA music, this generation was the first to embrace immigration and accept the new Britain that was beginning to take shape.
For Mods in the 1960s, their look was a uniform that represented their views, politics and societal beliefs, irrespective of race or social class.
The clothes were well-put-together and thought out and the attitude was aspirational.
Mods were widely regarded as the acceptable face of 1960s youth, but negative connotations would develop later, as rioting between mods and rockers changed public opinion of the groups.
Mods and Rockers
Whilst the Mods were heavily focused on music, fashion, clean-cut tailoring and riding Italian scooters, a second subculture known as rockers, had also risen to prominence.
For Rockers, inspired by the teddy boy movement, their look and lifestyle centred around motorcycling. With their black leather jackets, motorcycle boots and pompadour hair, their style was influenced by Marlon Brando in his film ‘The Wild One’.
During Easter weekend in 1964, many Mods and Rockers were jailed for rioting on the beaches of Clacton and Hastings.
This led to more conflict during the May Whitsun weekend of the same year, when conflict between the two groups spread from Brighton to Hastings and back, earning the riots the title of ‘The Second Battle Of Hastings’.
During this second riot, a group of Rockers were isolated and assaulted by the Mods, despite having some police protection.
Calm was restored and heavy fines were issued to those involved, but media hype labelled the two groups as louts that had a lack of respect for law and order. Widespread perception changed and both Mods and Rockers were seen as violent troublemakers.
When was the Mod revival?
Violent connotations and the rise of the hippie movement towards the end of the 1960s to the early 70s, saw a drop in the popularity of Mod culture.
But by the end of the 1970s, Britain’s youth were in disarray. The hippie movement no longer spoke to them and many weren’t invested in punk.
Then, in 1977, the Jam burst onto the music scene with their debut album ‘In The City.’
Fronted by Woking teenager Paul Weller, the band adopted the clean-cut Mod aesthetic, and teamed it up with music influenced by both punk and 1960s mod bands.
Then in 1979, the release of the film ‘Quadrophenia’ starring Phil Daniels, which romanticised the 1960s Mod subculture increased the popularity of the Mod revival.
The Mod revival epitomised everything that the original Mod movement represented. Style conscious young men, with forward-thinking, non-conformist attitudes and a modern take on life.
Although the Mod revival came to a natural end once the Jam broke up in the early 80s, Mod has gone on to influence many modern music and fashion styles, such as the 1990s Britpop movement with bands such as Blur and Oasis clearly influenced by the Mod scene.
How to dress like a Mod
The original Mod look involved slim-fitting Italian cut suits. Stylish and form-fitting, they were a massive departure from the conventional suiting of the time.
When riding their scooters, Mods wore fishtail parkas over the top of their suits to protect their fine Italian tailoring from the dirty roads.
The look was finished with a classic pair of penny loafers or desert boots and the signature mod hair cut, also known as a Caesar cut for its likeness to the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar.
The Mod look was never about the labels; it was all about that signature look.
Although over time it has changed and developed, the principles have remained the same.
Here are some classic pieces that you can add to your wardrobe, to nail effortlessly cool mod style for yourself.
A polo shirt
Easy to pair with tailored trousers, jeans or chinos, a polo shirt is a signature style staple of the Mod look.
Whichever polo shirt you choose, remember to keep those details to a minimum for that no frills, no (or minimal) logos look.
Toning down logos, don’t be afraid to level-up on bold, geometric designs or colour blocking.
A Harrington jacket
Functional, versatile and above all else, stylish, a Harrington Jacket, like this one from Fred Perry, is a core staple to any Mod’s wardrobe.
Originally called the G9, the model code given to it by its creators, British Manufacturers Isaac and John Miller, when it was first launched with the brand Baracuta in 1937, the Harrington jacket is a Mod style icon.
Nicknamed after Rodney Harrington, a character from the 1960s TV drama Peyton Place who could often be seen wearing a G9, it was on the movie screen where the Harrington really rose to prominence. Favoured by iconic actors such as James Dean and Steve McQueen, Harringtons were adopted by many youth subcultures during the 1960s and 1970s.
The epitome of ultra-cool, Harrington’s come in a variety of classic colours. Lightweight with a tartan, plaid lining and standing collar, they’re the perfect pairing to slim jeans, chinos and tailored trousers.
Slim fit pants
Whether you choose chinos, jeans or tailored trousers, it’s essential to go for a slim-fit cut to achieve a Mod aesthetic.
Classic, clean and sharp tailoring is at the heart of Mod style. The original Mods wore Italian cut suits which were form-fitting, and although wearing a suit isn’t essential, your trousers tailoring should still reflect that style.
Avoid skinny trousers or jeans and opt for fitted pants in straight or tapered cut styles that are boxy but slim-fitting, like these jeans from Bugatti.
Roll up the hem and pair yours with desert boots for ultimate Mod style points.
Although many of the original Mods opted for the penny loafer, inspired by the American Ivy League trends of the time, the original Clarks’ Desert Boot is the Mod shoe that has stood the test of time.
Designed in the 1950s by Nathan Clarke for Clarks’ Shoes and popularised by films such as Quadrophenia, the desert boot is comfortable, practical and stylish, fitting the Mod ethos perfectly.
Adopted by Britpop stars in the 90s and a popular staple of stylish men today, Desert boots are a great, year-round style staple that complements both smart and casual looks.
Pair yours with your slim-fitting jeans, chinos or tapered trousers, rolling up the hem to put those boots on display.
Dress like a Mod at Loofe’s
Mod aesthetic is still very much a thing.
Since the late 1950s, Mod fashion has managed to stand the test of time, constantly evolving and updating to suit its current tribe of devotees.
Not only for the style-conscious, it’s for the non-conformist and the forward-thinking and its style codes represent a uniform of subscribing to those beliefs, irrespective of social class or race.
Still championed by popular icons in music today, such as Liam and Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn and Paul Weller and their fans, Mod still represents the same values and is a style of dress worn by the style-conscious, completely inspired by music.
To update your Mod staples, shop the brands featured above at Loofe’s and get ready to stand out from the crowd.