Friday, December 2, 2011

Sharp Stylings #18: The Small Faces

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

The very first Small Faces record CD I ever bought was From the Beginning. And the first thing to blow my mind wasn't their version of 'Runaway,' but rather their incredible outfits on the CD's cover!

My first real exposure to The Small Faces*. More images from this set at the Magic Mac blog.
At this point in my life, my wardrobe was bland to drab. Still into 2-Tone ska, I found joy in all the different ways you could match black and white items of clothing. Because my clothing was still pretty Mod-deficient, I had to rely on my parka and the pins attached to really let people know what I was all about.

But seeing the cover of this Small Faces CD really opened my mind to the beauty of colorful Mod stylings! Sure, I had cool images of The Who that I was tacking on to my walls, but this photo just knocked me over. The brownish-check jacket of Ian McLagen, the turquoise suede jacket of Kenny Jones, and man, how awesome was Steve Marriott's brown suit with the perfectly shaped lapels and his green shirt with the mustard collar? And yes, I was even into Ronnie Lane's plaid pants.

This was the first image of a Mod band that really made me appreciate how colors and patterns could be exploited for great effect. This photo, along with those of The Who circa 1965, made me want to dress more 'pop-art'. Of course, I didn't quite understand what that meant other than crazy colors and patterns.

And, I wasn't very successful dressing this way at first. Luckily for me, no photos exist, but I can tell you about the 'Mod' outfit I wore to my high school prom: navy 3-button jacket, white shirt (with black polka dots, if I remember correctly), red and black plaid 1-inch tie, pegged, brown sta-prest, white socks, and my black, pointed Dr. Martens. Trust me, it was hideous. But I thought I was lookin' like a Small Face! Pop-art! POW!


All thanks to the cover of this CD. But looking back on this image, I still gotta say these guys look great!

*Actually, the first image I ever saw of the Small Faces was the one in which they're wearing matching black suits while holding on to tiny crocodiles on strings.


  1. Great blog, cool!
    (thanks a lot for the add)

  2. What a brilliant post/idea! Funny you mention that croc pic, that was the second photo I'd ever seen of them. I could spend an eternity talking about all the cool pics I'd seen of them or my first records by them (which all had equally stunning pics on the covers). I will agree with you 100%, they changed my previous "mod" conception around from '79 mod/Jam to color. The SF's brought patterned trousers into my life (my first bespoke pair in '88 looked like something Ronnie or Mac wore in '66), they taught me the trick of buttoning your top shirt button even though there was no tie and they introduced me to non-desert boots suede shoes. And everytime I run into Ian McLagan what's the topic of conversation? Clothes!

  3. Bill, ask Sean Cavanaugh about Ian McLagan. Ian used to live in southern CA and I think Sean actually had some of his old clothes! Argh!

    Just glad my first image of the SF wasn't from 1968!

    And thank you for the great photos, Tarkus!

  4. As an "ex" Mod I've had a good read through your blog and thought where do I post a little response. Well, the Small Faces I suppose.
    In 1979 I was 12 years old living in Liverpool, UK. The tales you tell of discovering the "true" Mod look are pretty funny and similar to my own. In '79 the whole look had a real Two Tone thing going on but it wasn't long before me and "me mates" were searching vintage clothing shops and Uncles' wardrobes for button downs and cool ties (school uniforms were compulsory but our tie was plain burgundy, so I managed to get away with a nice Tootal paisley number). This approach annoyed the other Mods: "Where's your Madness patch on your parker? Your hair's too long!"
    I started collecting 60's singles (even had a copy of "My Generation" on original Brunswick). In the early 80's I even managed to get to Scarborough for a scooter rally, the estimate was 2000 mods mostly on scooters, I can smell the two stroke now. We had to lie to our parents telling them we were camping in the Lake District.
    Getting back to The Small Faces, I got a copy of Ogdens Nutgone Flake and it all went slowly down hill from there. These days I care little about clothes and labels, but the Mod in me is still there. If a pair of jeans aren't right then they're wrong, whatever the label (or price).
    Anyway, Cheers.
    p.s. I found your blog while searching for pictures from the Quadrophenia booklet, I got it for my 13th birthday. It was pretty expensive but Father must have felt guilty about leaving our Mother. And yes, flares and a tattoo were wrong, wrong, wrong.

  5. Thanks for readin the blog, Alex!

    I get jealous when I hear stories from you '79 guys who had access to the 'vintage' clothing of 10-15 years before, especially in the U.K.!

    It's so funny, those first steps some of us take starting out with the 'uniform' and easy signifiers of 'Mod' (patches and buttons). From there, some of us (and it sounds like you) move on into the real good stuff... the actual styling!

    You may be "ex" now, but hopefully you'll get some inspiration to, I don't know, toss on a French Cuff shirt... for old time's sake! Thanks again and glad you found the blog!