The Definitive Guide to Mod Fashion

They’d roam around the hippest places in London and Brighton, showing off their new designer clothes or riding their Italian scooters. It’s the mods, ladies and gentlemen! A true staple of 60s fashion, the mod style has never completely disappeared and, while it stayed underground throughout some decades, it has seen more than one revival. Discover its origins and learn to dress like them with our guide to mod fashion!

Credit: Shaping a Generation

History of Mod Fashion

Credit: GQ

This eclectic sub-culture relied on two main pillars: music, since mods (modernists) listened to modern jazz, ska and soul rather than the rock’n’roll favoured by rockers, and fashion. It actually originated in London in the late 50s, but it was during the swinging sixties that mod fashion really took over, with its focus being Carnaby Street and its boutiques.

The mods were post-war working class people who didn’t recognise themselves in the values of the previous generation: instead of being all about work and responsibilities, they lived to invest their hard-earned disposable income in designer clothes and trendy events, practicing a newly-found cult for the cool. They also took inspiration from Italian and French films and magazines to craft a clean and sophisticated style.

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Quadrophenia, based on the album by The Who. Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock

Overshadowed by the hippie movement, the mod culture and fashion made another strong come-back in the mid-late 70s with bands like The Jam and reappeared on the big screen with Quadrophenia. Another notable revival came in the 90s thanks to Britpop stars like Oasis and Blur, who added new elements to it. The next one? The one you’re going to create by embracing some mod inspiration!

Mod fashion for Men

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The polar opposite of rockers’ leather outfits and greasy motorbikes, mod fashion was about sophistication: some boys would also wear makeup to challenge gender roles. If you wanted to be one of the cool kids, you needed to have at least one suit, often pinstripe and, even better, tailor-made. Round collar shirts with thin ties and tight wool or cashmere jumpers were also a popular mod look, whereas, for a more casual style, they opted for Polo shirts.

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Shoeware was another important mod statement and consisted of Beatle or Chelsea boots and Clarks. But let’s be honest: there isn’t a single fashion item that screams MODS louder than a baggy parka, perfect to protect their curated outfits whilst riding their Vespa or Lambretta. Other popular alternatives were trench coats and Harrington jackets.

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Mod fashion for Women

Initially, female mods opted for androgynous looks, rocking short pixie haircuts or bobs and often wearing men's clothes. With the bustling arrival of the swinging 60s, however, they started mixing them with more feminine elements, embracing Mary Quant’s revolutionary miniskirts and drawing inspiration from models like Twiggy.

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Twiggy's iconic makeup. Credit: Pinterest

The most iconic garment when it comes to women's mod fashion is undoubtedly the short shift dress, either with bold colours and geometric shapes or black and white with optical patterns. They were often sleeveless and adorned with Peter Pan collars. Since mini skirts and dresses were getting shorter and shorter, stockings would no longer work: it was time for bright colourful tights, perfect to create different outfits with the same dress and to rock some flat shoes. Knee-high boots were another signature choice.


As for makeup, it was kept to a minimum: no lipstick nor strong foundation, because the focus had to be on the eyes. False eyelashes and strong eyeliners were a must to recreate Twiggy’s iconic makeup and doe eyes! And, if you wanted to make a bold statement, accessories like big sunglasses and large plastic bracelets were exactly what you’d go for.

What's your favourite thing about mod fashion?

Featured Image credit: Wikipedia

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