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The 1970s Fashion Lookbooks and Youth Culture

I don’t wanna be the same as everybody else. That’s why I’m a Mod, see? I mean, you gotta be somebody, ain’t ya, or you might as well jump in the sea and drown”. Jimmy Quadrophenia The mod’s original term derives from the 1950s modernist; another word to describe the brand new modern jazz musicians and fan. Since this series of lookbooks coined from the period 1970 – 1980 is naturally to include the mod revival that happened in the late 1970s, however, to understand why this happened and where the fashion came from one have to go back to the swinging 60s London.

The Mod Girl Fashion Lookbooks

 The mod revival

The second wave of mod culture also named mod revival happened in the late 1970s. It started in the UK with thousands of mods attending scooter rallies in places like the Isle of Wight and Scarborough. This brand-new wave and fashion were mostly created by the new-age bands such as The Jam, Secret Affairs, Purple Heart and the Cords that took inspiration from the earlier punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and the most influential British band in the 1970s The Clash. Furthermore, the youth culture classic film Quadrophenia(1979) was the biggest reason for the mod revival; the film takes place in the new fast-living consumer society of the 1960s. The film is loosely based on the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who. 

Mod youth culture and its roots

The mod culture fashion and origin roots came from the increasing affluence of post-war Britain; the youths of the early 1960s were one of the first generations that did not have to contribute their money from after-school jobs to the family finances. Therefore, a new shopping culture evolved as young adults and mod teens could use their disposable income to buy stylish clothes, the original youth-targeted boutique clothing stores opened in Carnaby Street and Kings Road districts of London. As every generation from the 1950s and onwards, the mod was not understood by their parents, and the culture is seen as spoiled, fashion-obsessed and hedonistic; as they could never in their youths spend money on what they regarded unnecessary. The fashion of its time was maybe inspired by a world of glamour and stardom; however, what they wore is different for many reasons.

The Mods Boys Fashion Lookbooks

My generation

To understand the big gap between the parents and the new generation growing up in England the In film Quadrophenia illustrates this; as Jimmy stands in the kitchen with wet Levi’s jeans on, home with his parents the following conversation takes place: “(Jimmy) “Mum? Mum? Where’ve you put them old newspapers? (Mum) Are you not gonna make my carpets wet again? Nah, I’ve wrung ’em out this time. They’re under the sink. (Jimmy’s father continues) Gordon Bennett! What have you got on? Is this some kind of new fashion thing I haven’t heard about? Sopping wet trousers? (Jimmy) They’re Levis. Never mind what they are, they’re bleedin’ wet! You gotta shrink ’em on you, so they fit right. [Dad] He’s definitely gettin’ worse.” See the scene from the movie, and the story about the Levi 501 jeans shrink to fit.

Mod fashion, style and origin

The youth cultural movement and ways were inspired and took its origin from the beatniks, bohemian style of black turtlenecks and berets. Another great source of style came from Teddy Boys with their dandy look, and they paved the way for making fashion appealing and socially acceptable for men. The inspiration also came from the new ways of travelling, international movies such as the French Nouvelle Vague cinema actors, for example, Jean-Paul Belmondo. Mods read French and Italian magazines for looks and style inspiration.

Rock Steady Go!

The top-rated television program for teenagers Rock Steady Go! Started in 1964 that played and showed the most favourite bands then set the criteria as in the 1950s with Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean. The show was on every Friday and, youngsters up and down the lengths of Britain were glued to the Television screen to access the emerging pop scene; most parents could not stand the noise as Jimmy watches the show before going out to the clubs in Quadrophenia the following scene happens: “(The Who on TV) singing # I can go anyway # (Way I choose) # I can live anyhow # (Win or lose) # I can go anywhere… # (dad ) What’s this rubbish, then? Ready, Steady, Go! Ready what? Ready, Steady, Go! Ready, steady, go? Bunch of louts [Dad laughs] Bloody moron. I suppose they wear wet jeans and all? Eh, l…? Is that how you’re supposed to play the guitar now, then? Eh? H, gawd help us. Here, have you seen this? (Mum) I haven’t got time for that rubbish. [Dad] I can sing better than that little ape. You call that singing? Sounds like a drowned dog! That’ll make you deaf, you know“. A new role model was created as the presenter Cathy McGowan the queen of the mod scene hosted the show presenting female artists such as Lulu, Marianne Faithful, Cilla Black andSandy Shawn. The link between music and fashion is inextricable and especially about the British music scene. The art scene inspired the designers in the 1960s from the most crucial artist Richard Hamilton that in 1957, spelt out the criteria for pop art.

British fashion designers of importance

The British new breed of designers who came in the 1960s was famous as the young generation could now afford fashion clothing entrepreneurial people like Mary Quant, and Terence Conran’s that opened his first Habitat store in 1964 could establish economically affordable businesses. Mary Quant, Marion Foale, Sally Tuffin (Foale and Tuffin Ltd, David Sassoon, Jean Muir, John Bates, Gerald McCann; Caroline Charles were leading the brand-new wave of British designers. John Stephen, who sold a line named “His Clothes”; furthermore, style setters of the time Terence Conran, mostly in the world of interiors that opened his first store of Habitat in 1964. However, as always, they took their inspiration from the art scene, political and cultural happenings from late 1950 and 1960s. Since a significant part of the young British generation in the 1960s can be described as working-class mods, the subculture’s focus on fashion and music was a release from the daily routine and nine to five jobs the style of its time was maybe inspired from a world of glamour and stardom; however, what they wore is different of many reasons.

Working-class hero

The mod culture was, first, about the working class that for the first, time could afford fashion and nothing is more influential than clothing. Working-class style and dealing class trend happen to be about simplicity, quality, affordable and most of all British brands except jeans from Levi’s, American loafer (the original loafer is actually Norwegian). The Duffel Coat was worn through the modernists, the British Herrington, Shrink to fit 501’s, Flat fronted pants or Sta-Prest jeans from Levi’s, other fashion brands and garments Crombie jackets, Clarks Desert Boot, John Smedley, Fred Perry polo and Ben Sherman shirts. Furthermore, Chelsea boots, brogues and anorak.

The Anorak

The anorak was more specific the fishtail parkas as they wore for protection from wind and rain when riding the fashion extension of their skin; their Vespa or Lambretta scooters. Tailored clothing and suits got its style from Italian and French fashions a smooth and sophisticated look; English tailors adapted it to the end of the 1950s. The shirts with pointed collars and shoes pointed to the extreme. Fashion is all about details and for the mod boy, the hairstyles were essential, inspired by the French film stars the hair should be neat and short, the mirrors on their scooters show their obsession of it.

We are the mods, we are the mods

The mod look is the modern, stylish, sharp and clean look. A unisex style obsessed with details in every single garment from the label to the inside coating, the colour was pure, classic colours with contrast, however, not extreme and bold as the mod girl. Their addiction for the scooter was both practical, affordable transportation; at the same time, an extension of style and a symbol of their belonging.

Girls will be boys

The mod girl fashion was opposite of the ultra-feminine as seen in the old Hollywood movies, as the boys a modern, clean and sharp look with the emphasis on strong silhouette’s rules, androgynous, and tailored fitting clothes. Use of sharp contrast, colour blocking, bold patterns with the base colour in black and white with supplementary colour as pink, orange, royal blue and of course pastels. The designs include symbols as Union Jack flag, stripes, pointillism and geometric. A girl’s mod hairstyle was most often short for Fringe. Pixie cut, and Beehive.

The Mod DNA

  • WHEN: 1950s and peaked early 1960s and the revival or second wave late 1970s with films such as.
  • PLACE: UK, London, the mod revival in 1970s Scarborough and the Isle of Wight.
  • INSPIRATION, FASHION AND STYLE ORIGIN: The beatniks, Teddy Boys, the WHO, French Nouvelle Vague cinema, Jean-Paul Belmondo, foreign magazines, political events, Vostok 1, consumerism, Richard Hamilton, pop art and TV program Rock Steady Go! 1960s British new breed of designers, Terence Conran’s Habitat, David Bailey, Carnaby Street, London’s swinging 60’s, Nova Magazine and colour printing technique
  • FASHION: Modern, sharp, clean look, fitted, tailored style, androgynous.
  •  Colours: Base of black and white with supplementary colour as pink, orange, royal blue and pastels
  • HAIRCUTS: Short Pixie cut, Fringe, and Beehive.
  • SHOE BOYS: Chelsea Boots, Clarks desert shoes, loafers, brogues, Dr Martens
  • SHOES GIRLS: Flat shoes, high heels boots
  • JACKETS: Baracuta Herrington, Duffel coat
  • PARKAS: M-1951, M51 and the Classic M-1965, M65 fishtail parka
  • SKIRT: The miniskirt
  • JEANS GIRLS: Androgynous, often men’s trousers or jeans
  • JEANS: Levi’s Sta-Prest Jeans, shrink to fit 501 Levi’s
  • SHIRTS: Both boys and girls wore shirts, Fred Perry polo, Ben Sherman, Paisley, button-down collar shirts, wool or cashmere jumpers (crew neck or V-neck).
  • TIES: Thin ties
  • BRANDS: Clarks, John Smedley, Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, Levi’s, Sta-Prest, Mary Quant, Lacoste, Dr Martens
  • DESIGNERS: Mary Quant, Marion Foale, Sally Tuffin (Foale and Tuffin Ltd, David Sassoon, Jean Muir, John Bates, Gerald McCann; Caroline Charles were leading new breed of British designers and John Stephen, who sold a line named “His Clothes”; furthermore, style setters of the time Terence Conran, mostly in the world of interiors that opened his first store of Habitat in 1964. However, as always, they took their inspiration from the art scene, political and cultural happenings from late 1950 and 1960s.
  • FASHION STORES: John Stephens Mod Male, Mary Quant’s Bazaar, Carnaby Street, Foale & Tuffins Boutique, Biba, Clobber, Carnaby Street, and Kings Road
  • FASHION MODELSJean Shrimpton, Twiggy
  • TRANSPORTATION: Mostly, scooters like the Italian Vespa and Lambretta brands.
  • MUSIC STYLE: African-American soul, Jamaican ska, and British beat music, R&BS, rock steady, the British invasion, Northern soul, Stax Records, Trojan Records, Blue Beat records, 2-tones (the late 1970s)
  • BANDS: Small Faces, the WHO, later wave also named the Mod revival with groups such as The Jam, Secret Affair, Purple Hearts and The Chords. They were inspired by earlier wave and energy of the new-wave music.
  • CLUBS: Nightclubs as The Roaring Twenties, The Scene, La Discothèque, The Twisted Wheel
  • SONG: The Dedicated follower of fashion by the Kinks (1966)
  • FILMS AND TV: Ready, Steady, Go!
  • DRUGS: Amphetamines also nicknamed purple hearts.
  • ART AND SYMBOLS: Pop art, union jack flags, Royal Air Force roundel,
  • SOCIALIZING: Coffee bars with a jukebox, later nightclubs
  • CHARACTERISTICS AND ATTITUDE: Working class lads, nostalgic, proud, dandy, fashionable, androgynous), boundary-less, experimental, futurism, entrepreneurial, sexy, and self-confident

Useful Websites and Additional Information


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