Friday, June 1, 2012

Sharp Stylings #40.1: David John Dry [UPDATED!]

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.

I don't think I can find a better illustration of how staggeringly stylish a person can look on a scooter:
Photo courtesy of David John Dry, original 1960s Mod.
 One of the best Mod photos I've seen with everything right going on. Scooter not hidden beneath a wall of lights and mirrors... check! Sharp suit... check! Parka... ch--- wait! No parka??? Dang! That's what makes this image the shizznit!

Check that guy out there... he's sporting a beautiful overcoat with tight, thin lapels. A perfect extension of the style he's wearing underneath. That suit ain't covered up by a grubby parka. No way... this kid's settin' the standard!

Any young Mods out there looking for inspiration? The search is over.

[UPDATED: Thanks to the power of the internet, someone was able to track down the person in the photo, and he was very kind to offer a better version of the photo along with information on this look. I want to thank David John Dry for allowing the use of his photo and to remind you to keep an eye out for Paul Anderson's upcoming book, Mods - The New Religion, which looks to include more stories like this! To keep up to date on the progress of his book, LIKE his facebook page:

Now let David Dry explain his photo in his own words:

"The picture, I think, was taken in 1965/6? It was shot in a road called Friars Place Lane quite close to the Western Avenue in Acton W3, London.

The coat was made to measure from Harry Fenton's in leather with two vents in a Wine (Maroon) colour. Levi jeans (Indigo - so called: 'Shrink to fit) at the time, now known as 501's are in evidence - a relative rarity in England at that time. Often purchased from American servicemen via their PX, such was the supply problem. The nearest airbase was West Drayton, near London Heathrow, not that far away. The button down shirt is white with a box check in brown from Lord John's in Carnaby street. The jacket is a four button grey wool mix FROM TAKE 6. Tie was, I think, a woven slim style cut. Shoes hand stitched Italian and are from Toppers of Carnaby Street. The look, less the coat, was a mix of American Ivy League and Italian style - British MOD!

Just as a point of information - wearing a crash helmet was not a legal requirement in the UK at that time. This legislation came in in 1972. The Vespa (Douglas) Sportique Supreme is also featured in the picture - silver paint and chrome plated side panels (called 'bubbles') and front fender (just for you in the US!). This scooter was not mine and belonged to a friend called Mick Derry. "] 

Seriously, guys... this is the kind of stuff that brings back the excitement I once felt as a teenage kid learning about Mods for the first time!


  1. Replies
    1. I know, right! The only thing more impressive than the photo is his memory of all the details!

      I really can't wait for the 'New Religion' book to get published!

  2. Classic photo and well written blog! I love your rant on the Parka which continues to through this thread.

    In my opinion the Parka was something "practical" that later became "fashionable" as time went on. I can seeing a young one having a bespoke suit made and not having the cash to purchase a coat like the one above and just picking a Parka up at a local surplus store to cover the suit when one went out on their scooter. But as time went on the look of it became fashionable, iconic and part of the mod mythos.


    1. Thanks for your kind words, Leonardo!

      I agree with you on the parka. It's interesting, because when you read what most original '60s mods have to say about the parka, you see that they didn't think anything of them other than protection for the clothes underneath.

      It wasn't until, I think, the '70s really that they took on a newer, 'fashionable,' status especially when patches and fabric paint came into play. These days, many Mods have created icons out of them, thinking that's what you need to 'be a Mod.' And, unfortunately, many stop at the parka!

      I just don't do it that way. I'm much more into the idea of Mods wanting to look as slick as possible at every opportunity. That's the mythos I've chosen to follow. And when it comes to a choice between a parka or a sharp overcoat, well...

  3. Well said! These days I prefer to wear the long coat as well. When I was younger I couldn't afford a nice coat like that, now that I'm older I prefer to have a coat over a's just were I'm at in life right now!


  4. I still wear the same style leather coats , brown 3/4 and black knee-length, as I did in 1966 and have worn them consistently since that time.The parka was just function , not fashion , although there were plenty of kids that didn't have scooters that actually walked around in parka's to give the impression they owned one,we even had pretenders in those days lol.
    The pic shows a true typical mod in an area of London not far from myself in those days, not an artists impression or magazine photo shoot.
    Reggie Webster

  5. Reggie, I tend to wear 3/4 length coats (brown or black) on a daily basis, usually on my way in to work. The knee-length in the photo is probably my favorite though.

    Yeah, it's funny just how huge the parka has become to Mods (or Mod enthusiasts) post-1960s. Many times, people invest more energy into dressing up their parkas instead of into their wardrobe underneath. Thanks to the internet and original '60s Mods now online, it seems the original mystique behind the parka has finally been getting dispelled.

    That's what I dug most about this photo... an actual 1960s Mod without the parka on. Also, on a scooter not overtaken with a million lights and mirrors.

    On Facebook, someone brought up the fact that he's wearing jeans with a suit jacket and tie. Out of curiosity, do you remember the original appeal of jeans? Or your first pair, even? These days, especially in the U.S., jeans are taken a bit more for granted. But back in the '60s, they seem to be much more appreciated for the time.

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  7. Personally I would never have mixed the the two , jeans were casual wear and trousers'jackets were dress wear , my mates were more or less the same,I did get around the country alot as well and really never saw the two styles put together. I still wouldn't wear jeans with a tie or suit jacket , it always seems to be a bit middle aged trendy TV presenter lol.
    Jeans with a Levi/Wrangler/cord jacket , monkey jacket or harrington style coat looked right, a similar thing with shoes also really,never wore desert boots or similar with a suit,only with jeans,they seemed to be more in the casual day wear range.
    I have a pic with a pair of brushed denim jeans,think they were Fentons or Blacks ? but usually Levi's,Wranglers or Lee's were the benchmark,Levi's being the most common. Later on in the 60's Brutus did jeans,so did a few of the chainstores like Fentons,but they didn't have the same credibility.
    Funnily enough,the scooter on the above pic was the same as mine , a 64 Sportique GL , quite a rare thing , chrome bubbles and mudguard were standard as was metalic paint (mine was gold),but the big give away of the GL was the floor mounted rear footrests in chrome , popular with the ladies ;-)
    I did have a parka and a Nam cape (much better in the rain),but they were usually stuck in the backrack or under the seat for emergencies or as a groundsheet lol!/photo.php?fbid=201682116620240&set=a.129727483815704.21423.100003353603306&type=1&theater

    1. Great photo! Funny you mentioned not wearing desert boots with a suit. That was one of my first posts... my personal dislike of that particular look, which I'm sure many followed since Jimmy dressed that way in Quadrophenia. Desert boots are best casual.

      You reminded me of Lee's. When I was much younger, vintage Lee's were more sought after. A friend had a really nice Lee's jacket in a brown color. Another had a great pair of Lee's corduroy trousers, if I remember correctly.

      Also, what really blows my mind is how many details you guys remember, both you and David, especially after all these years. Like I said in this post, this is the stuff that originally got me excited about reading about '60s mods! For years, all we had was Barnes 'Mods' book and the writings of Paolo Hewitt (ugh). But it's the individual stories that are great to read up on.

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    3. I still have the same feelings about jeans as I did in the 60's funnily enough ,they were for 'hanging around in' compared to going out at night or going to town for the day. As I remember it,Levi's were
      fairly easy to get hold of,but because of their popularity,like most things,they were more expensive.There used to be a couple of dealers at Petticoat lane that always had a good selection,for me it was the fit,not the label that was more important.Little things like a white Levi jacket were more important than the standard denim that virtually everyone had,I even had a pale yellow Harrington in 68,whilst the majority were black lol.
      I think we remember our clothes because as David says , we weren't wealthy , I took home £4 18/6 in those days and made a few quid spraying scooters as well , a good quality item wasn't cheap.personally,I never had a made to measure suit as it appears we all did lol but I did do what many of us did,which was to by an off the shelf and have it altered,and usually a 3 button standard that wouldn't be out of fashion in 6 months time. Those standard clean cut suits stayed in fashion from 1964 to 1971,again function for a low paid teenager lol.I know I wasn't adverse to shopping at second hand stalls and shops for good clobber as well as the rarer charity shops,the better the area,the better the clothes. I bought my first Prince Of Wales suit from a charity shop in Oxford whilst visting , £2 lol in 1967 that was still very cheap , a week later I bought an original Crombie from a stall on the Portobello Rd. for £3 lol The average everyday mod didn't always have an East End tailor to make him look the part lol.

    4. I'm not as big of a jeans guy, but these recent posts have got me re-thinking them a bit. Growing up with them at a time when EVERYONE wore jeans made them a little less special for me growing up, so it's really interesting to read about what the attitudes were toward them originally.

      When I first read about jeans and the Mods connection, but when I was much younger, I couldn't believe it! But, again, back then I was just starting to learn about everything. Years later, I remember some vintage clothing shops used to sell vintage Levis at ENORMOUS prices... turned out, Japanese tourists would come into town and buy them up!

      Yeah, I would think second-hand shops and charity shops would have been the way to go on a budget when you're younger! Not everyone had that extra cash for tailor-made. And personally, great inexpensive finds like that are still exciting! In the 1990s-2000s, all of my clothes were bought at vintage or thrift shops. It's only been recently that I've explored tailor-made or even new brands.

      I think it's funny when some people today talk about how expensive tailor-made clothing is, yet I think new Ben Shermans, Fred Perrys, etc are expensive in their own right! Heck, I'd rather save a little more and get something personal done up. About the cost of 2 Fred Perrys these days!

  8. better link

  9. Interesting comments....
    The 'New Religion book' has many more striking pictures that have not seen the light of day in print. For those looking for inspiration there's the obvious (and still in print) Mods! and the magazine Scooterist Scene that frequently runs retro items on 60's scooter related themes that invariably show photographic period sartorial elegance.

    As for the jeans (Levi's) and jackets look. Hmmm...
    Best that can be said is that Levi's in the UK at the time of the picture featured were in very short supply, were very expensive - at least twice as expensive as, say, the common Lee Cooper brand (£1 approx as compared to 49/6d - £2.50. Yeah, silly money, but when your wages were only £5 per week - quite a chunk of your dosh). Point being that you were wearing an expensive, rare garment, so the pros and cons of the mix should not be judged by 21 st century 'standards'. Levi's with a Baracuta Harrington, Loakes Loafers (the brown ones)would be my choice of a 'walking out' outfit today - the ultimate 'smart casual'. Lounge jacket and Levi's - probably best avoided?

  10. Yeah, David, that book and the new Action book are two I'm looking forward to a lot! 'Mods!' was a book I finally explored a few years after I was already walking around in a parka and bowling shoes. It really was a great 'guide' overall to that period, but looking back, it's hard to take everything as 'gospel,' especially now that many of the original participants are out and sharing their stories. Plus, many people I know took that book too literally at the time. I know some who still don't like The Beatles... I'm guessing because the 'Mods!' book said you guys didn't.

    Over on the Facebook page for this blog, the comments relating to this post have veered toward a discussion on Levis jeans! It's actually interesting to read up on people's passion for them still!

    As I said above, in reply to Reggie's post, growing up in the U.S. in the 1980s-now, the attitude toward Levis is much different, only because we take them for granted. When I was a kid, they were everywhere in different styles. So, it's a trip to read about what a commodity they were back in the 1960s in Europe. Such a different time and attitude! These days, I wear Levis, but in boot-cut style (I like the flare). After reading more though, I'm considering going back to the 501s.

    Interesting what discussions a photo like this starts.

  11. Hi Supermod,

    we would be very grateful to receive David John Drys permission for using the photo you presented above in our independent documentary about the Vienna’s underground soul scene and its influences.
    It’s about life, passion, dreams, old vinyl, and soul music - Vienna-style.

    So, we would be very happy to get a hint, how to get in touch for clearance.
    Perhaps you are the one to help in this case?

    Greetings and all the best from Vienna,