How the Mod suit evolved

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thomas grayMods are synonymous with style: famous for wearing sharp suits and in complete contrast to the some of the scruffier ‘looks’ around in the late 50s, Mod fashion still has a classic aesthetic appeal and the tailored, sharp Mod-style suit is enjoying something of a resurgence.

The renaissance of Mod-style is due in part to celebrities such as Paul Weller and Sir Bradley Wiggins but also to a very British appreciation of bespoke tailoring. Not only was the suit as we know it invented on London’s Savile Row – still the centre of men’s tailoring – but almost every fashion cult was born here in the UK. In fact Mod could be described as the perfect combination of rebellion and convention which just happened to include a brand new version of the suit.

Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Mod started but from the start the movement was defined by smart suits which were strongly influenced by Italian and French fashion, whilst listening to Modern Jazz. All-things Continental proved a strong influence with early Mods enjoying French films which became their style guide, fostering an appreciation for the suits worn by the actors rather than the content of the films themselves.

These style conscious Modern Jazz fans favoured a tailored look, a look that we still recognise today as the face of Mod fashion in the late 50s and throughout the 60s. The Mod look developed over time and sharply tailored suits with slim narrow lapels would gradually emerge as favourite look, complete with slim-fitting pointed collar shirts and Winklepicker shoes. The very height of cool, early Mods would take great pride in their appearance.

Mods have always liked a smart suit but over time the style evolved and updated. Jackets gradually became waisted and veered away from a boxier style. The length of the vents on a jacket became very particular points of style but lapels were always thin and trousers always slim fitting with narrow, tapered bottoms. Mohair was the suit cloth of choice and although the suit came to be viewed as a Mod ‘uniform’, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than being ‘uniform’, each suit was tailored to fit the wearer perfectly and the Mod’s love of individuality meant that bespoke was the only option.

Bespoke suits are expensive and this was certainly the case during the 1950s and 60s. However the Mod movement included a strong Jewish element and because many Jewish boys had fathers who just happened to be tailors, they had the contacts they need to make suits in the new Mod style. The Mod look is all about looking different though and for those who couldn’t access bespoke tailoring within their very limited budget, having chain store suits altered was the next best option.

Mod fashion is still going strong and some of the original Mod labels are still thriving. Mod fashion is still as accessible today as it was back in the 50s and 60s – after all, what could look smarter than a beautifully made bespoke suit?

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