Friday, February 3, 2012

Sharp Stylings #25: Secret Affair

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.

Before I proceed, let it be known that I am not suffering from dementia this morning, I did not lose a bet, and today is not April Fool's Day.

This probably won't come as a surprise to some of you who know me, but I am not a huge fan of the '79 Mod Revival. Yes, there was a sprinkling of good bands from that period and I understand that it did help resurrect the culture we all love today. However, at the same time, a lot of the revival helped water down that culture so that many Mods today end up more interested in how many patches to place on a parka than worrying about what type of pocket square should be worn to complement a suit and tie. Plus, there are only so many Mod anthems one can take before crying out, "Enough!"

Also, as many of my friends know, I'm not the biggest Secret Affair fan. Okay, okay, I'll admit that I do like their biggest hit, 'Time for Action,' and used to sing it in my head many times on the way to school back when I was younger. And to this day, there are times when "I'm Not Cheap, But I'm Free" will sneak its way into my subconscience, for which I've found no remedy.

But I've never been in to their whole 'Glory Boy' angle. I get where they were going with it and it was an admirable effort, but it just sounded off to me, even as an impressionable lil' Modnick. First off, as I approached the dawn of 18-year-old adulthood, the last thing I wanted was for someone to call me a 'boy' and, secondly, what in the world kind of 'glory' would I have been looking for? Naw... for me, nothing beat the simple, time-tested, 'Mod(ernist)' label.

Bear with me, revival-lovers...

Now, let's put all that negativity aside. I, writer of the MOD MALE blog, stand here on record today to admit that these guys... were actually pretty stylish. Yes, that's right. And in case you didn't hear me, THE SECRET AFFAIR HAD PRETTY GOOD STYLE. For instance, this image, which was used for the cover of their Glory Boys LP:
Taken from the Banned From the Empire blog.
While many of their counterparts were posing for photo shoots in casual wear or track suits (thank you, Anorak Thing), the Secret Affair guys actually spent time dressing up for their shoots. The main guy, Ian Page, even made an effort with the way he mix-and-matched his suit, shirt, tie, and pocket square. It may not all work, but I have to commend the fact that they did try to give the Mod look a good face (no pun intended). The other guys in the band also keep up with their own suited-up looks, including the drummer! (Somehow, I always got the impression that drummers in Mod bands got a pass with wearing t-shirts and jeans.)

I don't think time has been kind to the Secret Affair and the whole 'Glory Boy' thing, and they tend to become the butt of some Mod jokes (guilty as charged!). But as I stand back and look at them objectively, well, yes, they were pretty snazzy. I'll need to re-assess my attitude toward them and admit that they've not been given a fair shake, especially by me.
I'll ignore the little white socks faux-pas and give these guys the props they deserve. Lookin' good, fellas!
So tonight, I may just put that LP on even if it's just so I can hear my wife sing along to her favorite tracks.

Oh, and P.S.: I personally do NOT hate the 'punk elite.'

[Weight Progress: X -1 lb.  Running total: 0 lb]


  1. Great post! Along with The Merton Parkas (people can laugh but dig their attire on their LP) I think S.A. were the sharpest of the '79 bands. The Chords always looked scruffy and that suited their music, The Purple Hearts, a tad more sharp but still fish out of water besuitted.

    PS:In high school Ian Page was my fashion hero, I will have to gig up my 1982 yearbook photo: black shirt, red tie. Twenty year later he was writing "Uppers" bitching about a review I wrote about their CD compilation....

  2. Thanks. Now I'll be singing "Time for Action" on my way to work today.

  3. @Karen, I still can't get it out of my head and that's after putting my iPod on!

    @Bill, it's funny that I like the Chords and Purple Hearts more, musically, but just can't find any good style shots of them. Secret Affair, on the other hand, musically weaker but much sharper.

    And are you talking about the Merton Parkas LP with them being photographed at a low angle? Yup, I'd agree there. (Post the Uppers link!)

  4. Haha! MR, even though I get down on white socks, you should never have to apologize for wearing them in the past. Heck, I used to walk around in white socks, bowling shoes 2 sizes too big, and... wait... I'm going to save the rest for a future post!

    Also, I think we've had these talks before in the past. I've always thought I benefitted from the lack of a 'scene'. By the time I started meeting other Mods, 95% of the LA/OC scene was gone and the Berkeley Mods were phasing out. But that's what made it more exciting for me, in a way. Sure, I missed out on all the parties and clubs, but since there were so few of us hanging out together, it was more special for me. There was no scene to try to fit into... just us getting excited over this stuff together.

    And it always came back to that question, "If there are no other Mods around to see you, would you still dress the same?" I've said it before, out of that whole Southern CA thing, you've always stood solid.

  5. Pretty much the entire Britpop scene recreated Secret Affair's vibe in the early 1990s and became huge in the UK. I don't think they were copying this band per se but both were rooted in the whole Jack-The-Lad, Spiv mod look. So Secret Affair were just a decade and too early LOL

  6. Totally agree with you, Agent00Soul. Back when britpop was huge, we saw it as more of an result of revival/new wave influences, as opposed to '60s ones.

    And back then, we were way more on a '60s groove (even now)!