Claire Mahoney decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane to the late 70s and 80s to take a look at how mod was then and how it has influenced women’s mod style in the here and now.
When we talk about mod – we tend to go straight back to the beginning: the early 60s (late 50s if you want to be precise). But this wasn’t the beginning for everyone. Indeed for most people active in the mod scene today, it all started around 1978.
The ‘revival’ or second generation mods, are sometimes seen as the brasher, less stylish relatives of their first generation forefathers and sisters. But as a growing number of teenagers and twenty-somethings are taking up the mod baton, we find that they are not just turning to the 60s for style inspiration – the mod look of the late seventies and 80s is just as inspirational.
So what’s the difference between the mod girls of the 60s and the ‘modettes’ as they were often called of the 70s and 80s? Well a lot of it is down to Punk and the rest was a mixture of the changing factions of mod through the 60s and 70s that gave us the hard mods, the suede heads and the skin heads. The mods of the revival were a kind of cross-breed of all of the above.
But at this particular time it was perhaps punk and its new wave legacy that had the most lasting influence on the resurgence of the scene. Punk blew fashion and music apart and gave it a completely uncharted direction. It was the biggest subculture that twinned music and fashion since mod and as such was a grass-roots force to be reckoned with.
As a result, the look of the young mod girl of that time was a lot more edgy and reflected the mixed bag of music we were listening to – Two-Tone, New Wave and Ska as well as the traditional revival bands like Secret Affair and Squire.
We wore pencil skirts just below the knee, with Fred Perry tops underneath loose-fitting v-neck sweaters. We wore tight-fitting jeans and trousers from brands such as Brutus and Harrington-style jackets with lots of badges. In fact badges and patches were a big deal then, another hangover from punk. If we wanted to be slightly more girly we would wear a head-band in our hair and a slick of eyeliner.
Leather coats were massive in the 70s and 80s and mod girls would wear them usually cropped with our ski-pants or slightly longer with a skirt or we would find ourselves a suede jacket with covered buttons from the local jumble sale.
Skirt suits with boxed jackets were also popular, worn with a plain shell top underneath or a checked or spotted shirt with a small near collar buttoned all the way to the top. We might even wear a tie! Any shoulder pads found lurking in our jackets would be promptly cut out.
Shoes were chunky loafers or flats, either a pump or a sling-back. These would be black, white or black & white. Our loafers would generally be worn with white socks. Often the only white socks available would be sports socks, so it would be a snug fit!
If you were into Ska and the skinhead girl look you would most likely wear these socks over your fishnets with your mini skirt just to add to the general feeling of gender confusion.
Even though the 80s were quite a garish era colour-wise, the smart mods of the 80s moved away from that and kept their palette plain and simple. We wore an awful lot of grey, blue and white, occasionally maroon and of course loads of black & white either in the form of checks, stripes or panels.
However 60s clothing was widely available in jumble sales if you wanted something original or indeed were on the hunt for a shift dress for a special occasion. There weren’t the charity shops of today and of course there was no ebay. More often than not though if would wanted something special you would have to make it yourself.
We asked some second generation mod girls about their revival style:
Tracey Dawn Wilmot
“I remember kitten heels and button earrings were all the rage and it was absolutely vital to have shoes and handbags matching. We were also challenged to find the perfect white lipstick in an age where Rimmel’s Black Tulip was the latest thing. In the early years, when I first discovered mod, I did look more like a boy than a girl, simply because none of us were clear what was the ultimate stylish look. Later in about 1980, I began to emulate the sixties models such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton’s style and watched 60s movies and TV shows for inspiration.”
“My look was mainly monochrome. I was very into the two-tone movement. I wore black ski pants and drain pipe jeans with sweaters. My day time look was a little boyish, but for evening I wore mini skirts and shell tops. I also used to pick up original 60s clothes from jumble sales.”
“In 1980 I used to wear tight jeans a Fred Perry polo, Fred Perry jumper and monkey boots. I also had a Crombie. So I looked like more of a Rude Girl.”
“When we first turned mod everything had to be black and white. I had a couple of check dresses which I wore with white shoes, white fishnet tights and a home-made black and white hairband. I moved on to original 60s dresses, which I used to shorten (had to be mini length of course) and make a matching hairband out of the spare material. I didn’t hit knee-length skirts until the smart mod era of 84/85.”
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