Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: Another Mod Revival. Of A Revival. Of A Revival. Of A...

When there's a Mod "revival" every 2-3 years, is it even a "revival" anymore?

With MySpace and Facebook constantly churning out people with re-invented new Mod profiles, a guaranteed Mod spread in fashion magazines at least once a year, and Paul Weller/The Who/The Small Faces gracing the cover of Uncut and Mojo several times a year, you would think that there's nothing here that really even needs "reviving." But, it seems I'm incorrect.
For the latest news on the latest "Mod revival," read on:

Now I present to you the 5 things that bug me most about this article:
  1. "Known for scooters, amphetamines and punch-ups, the Mod sub-culture sprang up in the late Fifties."Yes, the essence of Mod distilled into 3 ingredients and not one of them is style. Or fashion. Or 'attention to detail.' Heck, not even a love of soul music made it into this description or the article itself! Well, Quadrophenia (the movie), you strike again. To an outside observer, this is the legacy you've left behind: a bike, a pill, and a fight.
  2. "It peaked with startling clashes between Mods and their arch rivals the Rockers – who rode motorbikes, wore leathers and listened to rock 'n' roll. "
    Yes, Quadrophenia (the movie), it seems you've helped glamourize thug battles so well that this is what Mods are remembered for by the general public. In fact, the primary focus of this article really seems to revolve around the fun days of handing out black eyes and bloody noses to guys dressed different than you.  According to the author of this article, this is the peak of Mod culture. Sigh...

    For all the "Mod vs. Rocker" events that still seem to go on these days, thank you. Thank you for keeping the dream alive.

  3. "On the seafront, everyone looks the same – green parka jackets, smart haircuts and pointy shoes. "
    For a sub-culture that stresses the idea of not wanting to be like everyone else, the people involved sure do like to be like everyone else. Let's remember the basics of how this whole Mod thing started: a group of like-minded young guys who strove to dress better and look better than those around them through the power of their own pocket books and their own set of rules. Constantly, they developed new detailing to their outfits to set them apart from everyone else, other Mods included. Fast-forward 40 years and it seems a good number of the originals' ancestors are happy enough with a parka, a smart(?) haircut, and pointy shoes. Progress.
  4. "And his experience of Mod culture goes way beyond fashion."
    Luckily, they've tracked down an 'original' Mod to give us some insight into those days. No, not one of the actual originals who helped create the look over 5 years before the riots took place, but rather someone who was there in the heat of battle. In 1964.

    Now, up to this point, this article has defined Mod 'fashion' as green parka jackets, smart haircuts and pointy shoes, along with wearing badges on a jacket. (Come to think of it, this article only mentions fashion around 5 times while anything violence-related is mentioned at least 12 times!) Mod fashion really takes a back seat here.

    But this guy, see, he goes beyond that. Yup, he goes beyond fashion straight to the violent side of Mod culture. In fact, this is the stuff he's actually nostalgic for: fighting Rockers at the beach!
  5. "'I went to all the riots. I remember in Clacton that one of my mates was stabbed in the back and through his hat, too. ... But he was all right in the end – and the guy that did it regretted it. I threw him through the window of a Wimpy.'"
    So is this how aging gangsters fondly look back upon their gangbanging youth? Will the gangs that were around when I was growing up come together to celebrate an anniversary release of the 1988 film Colors or 1992's American Me? (Yes, I know there's a whole escalation of violence thing here, but still.) There was just something about this guy waxing poetic about a beating he gave that made me feel a little weird.
It's easy to get down on 'the media' for articles like this, but seems there's plenty of subject matter out there on Vespas strengthening the stereotypes we see all the time. Sigh again... It's too bad too, since these days a lot of people who grew up and still actually take part in the Mod thing have actually tried to start businesses reflecting their love of it. We've got people trying to sell their original clothing designs, records, graphic work, etc. Yet, people celebrating the 'Mod vs. Rocker riots' get the press.

Well, I've griped long enough.  If you've read the article, what did you take away from it? In the mood to beat someone in a leather jacket up? Is this a proper Mod revival, even?

Monday, August 29, 2011

One For the Ladies

There are 2 main reasons why I concentrate on the male side of Mod style on this site: 1) There are already several great blogs out there covering women's '60s/mod/vintage/current fashion, and 2) I'm a male.

But today, I will make an exception due to a personal pet peeve of mine: proper go-go boots. If you'd like a simple history of go-go boots, you can't go wrong with Wikipedia. Today, however, I'd like to keep it simple.

THESE are proper go-go boots:
The calf-high go-go boot. Rrrr....
Courregès's famous Space Age versions. Click here for more of his clothes designs.
My personal favorite, the Mondrian go-go boot!

Action go-go boots! And for a great story on a young girl's experiences with go-go boots in the 1960s, drop by here.
Note a common theme on all of the above: the more subtle, low heels, the slender, pointed toes. Trust me, you show up to a club in these types of boots and you'll have earned those jealous stares!

These, on the other hand, are drill team/cheerleader boots:

Oh, I bet those black circles had you thinkin' these were 'Mod' for a moment, huh?

Chunky heal and round-toed. Yup, cheerleader boots!
For the men whose eyes have moved beyond the boots, you can see more here.
Find yourself needing boots for a drill team routine, then you can find more here.
...oh yeah, we were talking about boots, huh...
Go-go Drill team boots after an Austin Powers make-over.
What do your eyeballs tell you? Yup, chunky heels and round toes... good for doin' cheers in, but not for turnin' Mod dudes' heads around (unless you're wearing the accompanying Laker Girl outfit). So ladies, next time you're hittin' the clubs and want to blow people's minds with your kicks (shoes, for the over-25 set), go the proper go-go boot route!

Oh, and to bring this back to the MALE Mod side of things, if these are considered the guy's version... I'll take 'em. (Oh wait, turns out I already have a pair of these!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sharp Stylings #5

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.

Okay, here is where I risk losing some readers.

There's a certain cable program that a certain someone in our household just has to see every Sunday on HBO. And yes, I get caught up watching it as well... but only because it's on while I'm resting on the couch... sometimes enjoying the bowl of popcorn on the coffee table. And, truth be told, True Blood is a pretty alright show. But I'm only watching it because my wife has it on! For reals.

Well, sometime ago last season, I was kicking back while she was tuned in to the vampirerotica up on the screen. But then, one of the characters caught my eye:
"Hello, my name's Russell Edgington and I let my threads sparkle for me."
"Dang! That guy's lookin' cool," I busted out! Yeah, that's right, this guy is dressed pretty hip. Now please put your "God hates Fangs" attitude behind you, stop being a hater, and admire what this dude is rockin'.

First up, the light color and fabric of that suit jacket. No, it's not a 3-button, but the peak lapel is thin and very well-shaped. And the color looks to be a neutral silver tone that can be adapted to so many color combinations. Imagine how much nicer this would be, though, if two more buttons were added to bring the cut of the lapel higher.

Dig that purple pocket square peaking out at you. I absolutely love purple. (It's been difficult though, thanks to memories of high school and college girls deciding to make the color purple their theme in everything they wore right down to accessorizing with purple lunch pails.) But purple just goes with so many things, and in this particular case, I think that pocket square just fits so well with the flowery shirt this guy's wearing. That's the key to the pocket square: don't match it exactly to your shirt but use it to pick up one of the less prominent colors in it.

Now let's get to my favorite piece here... the shirt! In addition to purple, I also love floral shirts! I think this harkens back the days of wanting those Modnick flower-power shirts seen in 1960s Playboy ads. (And yes, I eventually found one that I still have yet to wear.)
The flowers in Russell's shirt, however, look a bit more refined. And a great array of colors represented: grey, blue, orange, purple, lavendar... makes it easy to match up with almost any outfit. Just an amazing pattern to my eyes. [And If anyone knows what brand of shirt this is, please share!]

Although a 3-button coat would have made this whole thing perfect, the entire color combo and outfit choice are spot on for me. Makes me almost forget about those angsty Twilight vampires.

And if you dig shirts similar with floral patterns and are adventurous, you may want to look into one of these (if you can afford 'em):

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: John Galliano

Okay, now close your eyes and imagine if Duran Duran had gotten caught up in a Mod revival. Having a hard time? 

Well, let me help you out:
Photo taken from Fashion Fame.
Okay, to be fair, these guys are obviously part of a fashion show and from what I know about fashion shows (not much), the more ridiculous the better.

Now, is this too easy to point out the flaws? Is it even worth it to point out the blush? Eyeliner's bad enough, but this just might make the Mod set think blush is a cool thing too.

I love scarves, I really do! The scarves on these guys though... just a tad too Captain Jack Sparrow for me.

Now, I will end this on a positive note: I would have TOTALLY worn those pants about 10 years ago! Heck, what am I saying, those pants don't look too bad TODAY. (Unfortunately, I don't think I can pull off the tight(er) pants at my age.) For those Bay Area people who remember, you tellin' me the pants on the far right couldn't have been found at New Government 17 years ago?

If you're in the Bay Area and looking to make your Friday AWESOME, then come on by the Milk Bar in San Francisco this Friday night!
Sweater Funk brothers Jon Blunck & The Selecter Dj Kirk will be doing their '70s modern soul thing plus special guests Carlos Perez (MOD MALE!) and Mick Marsh (NYC/Three Lonely Guys) will be dropping '60s soul & other funky mod stuff. No Cover - Just Love.

Stay in touch and join their '70s modern soul group on Facebook:

Monday, August 22, 2011

My First 'Mod' Suit

We all had to start somewhere.

Friends, I know what you're thinking, but no, no, no,  I wasn't born with a pair of cufflinks in my mouth. In fact, it was actually pretty late in the game (in my eyes) before I even got my first suit. And no, this doesn't count:
Don't worry kid, you'll be diggin' it in about 12 years.
My first steps down the ol' Mod trail were difficult as I did not have the benefit of a sibling guiding my path, a group of friends already way into this, or knowledge of any fanzines dedicate to the culture. All I had was a vague, basic description of Mod style that my dad shared with me: thin ties, parkas to protect their suits, and scooters

Out of these three things, what stuck with me most was the thin ties. For me, that became the defining factor of what separated a Mod from the regular guy on the street in the late 1980s... a time of wide, obnoxious, Ralph Lauren ties. So, for the next couple of years, that was what I noticed in the photos I hunted down. And early on, the main photos I had to go on were from a couple of Jam records, a picture of The Who, one Specials LP, and one Madness LP. Yes, these were all a part of my first fashion inspiration.

At this time in my life, around the age of 15, my dad had just turned me on to the idea of shopping at thrift stores for clothes. Prior to this, my wardrobe had just shifted from Bugle Boy sweaters and pants to Smiths t-shirts and, well, Bugle Boy pants. See, I was never one of these guys who came to school one day sharing a love of '80s alternative music and the next day transformed, overnight, into Mod guy(!). I saw people at school pull similar transformations, like switching overnight from Depeche Mode t-shirts to flight jackets covered in ska pins or showing up on a Monday in new, pre-Hot Topic goth wear after spending the last several months in Esprit labels. No, an immediate shift in style like that and I risked being labeled, *gulp*, a poseur
No, wouldn't want anyone to think I was a poseur or anything.
My switch from new-wave-KROQ kid to Who-patch-covered-parka kid was a long, deliberate process. I felt I had to first get the music down before jumping into the clothing. Plus, other than thin ties and suits, I still didn't know much about the clothing. I had yet to see Quadrophenia or read the Richard Barnes Mods book. But, those Jam, Specials, and Madness albums gave me a clue. (Note, I didn't mention my Who LP... Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy was not the path I was leaning toward.)

So, one day, I went on a thrift store trip with my dad, grandma, and aunt. I went straight for the suit section and started hunting for my first Mod suit. And boy, did I find it! A two-piece, B&W, houndstooth number... just like the one I could swear Paul Weller or the Specials would wear! I ran to my dad, "Look, a Mod suit!" Yes, it was slightly large on me and, yes, I'd either have to get it tailored to fit or else grow another inch, but still, this suit was totally Mod! All that was missing was the thin tie. 

We got back and I hung the suit up so I could study it. I opened up my Jam LP and tried to compare the two looks I saw.

Okay, so something wasn't quite right... I thought it was the shoulders maybe. Paul Weller's suit shoulders weren't as big as the shoulders on my suit. That had to be it. (As you can tell, at this stage in my life, my Mod attention-to-detail Spider-sense still wasn't quite yet honed.) My dad just looked at the suit and made a face... he knew something I didn't. 

Later that day, his friend came over for a visit. My dad pointed out my suit to him and said, "Hey, the kid thinks this is a Mod suit." His friend looked it up and down and said, "Naw, man, the lapels are too wide." I looked again... that was it! He was right! The lapels on my jacket were HUGE compared to Paul's!
Yup, imagine this in black and white.
I never wore this suit. After experiencing my first failed attempt at a Mod suit, I put this in the back of my grandmother's closet and didn't think about it again until fairly recently. But I learned something important that day... it wasn't just thin ties that made, what I considered then, a Mod look. It was also thin lapels. 

About a year later, my buddies and I were off to our first actual Mod show. Unfortunately, I still didn't have a suit yet that fit me. One of my friends, kind as he was, brought over a jacket to lend me from his older brother's closet. I took a look and thought, yeah, the lapels seemed to be a little thinner. But I wondered... what could I do to make them even thinner? Oh my god, I got it! I asked another friend to add a THIRD button to the jacket which would raise the cut and thin the lapels out perfectly. So, my friend sewed the button in... as in sewed the button straight through both sides of the jacket without a button hole so that I had to pull it over my head to wear it! But it didn't matter.... this, my friends, actually looked like something Paul Weller would wear! I was ready for my first Mod show.

And it started a love of 3-button suit jackets from that day forward.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sharp Stylings #4

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.

There's a lot we can take from fashions and styles that aren't necessarily 'MOD!' Often, I see guys out there pullin' out the works and I'm not afraid to learn from them. A lot of Moddishly-oriented guys should take some cues from other stylish looks out there as well. After all, as Kevin Pearce wrote in Something Beginning with 'O' (1993), "Mods were magpies. They took the best from wherever..."

Take a look at the dapper happening right here with this gentleman, one Theodore Crispino:

Photo by Sarah Slobada at*
Beautiful, muted browns with a waistcoat that reinforces the motif and a red/purple/orange paisley tie to complement the whole ensemble. Imagine how well you'd stick out walking around a club in a similar outfit amidst a sea of black suits and parkas. Sting would have nothin' on you! Another thing I like about this fellow's suit is the lapel peak. It just adds to the overall clean, 'sharp' vibe of the whole look. And the surgeon's cuffs... nice bespoke detailing to complete the image.

I understand many guys out there dig the simple, but classy black suit look. However, if you're going to go that route then you need to nice up the details. You can't just show up in an off-the-rack black suit, white shirt, black tie without making sure the shirt, jacket, or tie has some sharp detailing or, better yet, some bespokeness to it. Otherwise you're lookin' straight up Reservoir Mod. And a bland one at that.

My overall advice if you're going the black & white route: add a dash of color somewhere, either with the tie, a pocket square, or, heck, your socks. But even better, invest in some new suit colors!

*Sarah kindly granted me permission to use this photo so I encourage you to visit her site and blog, particularly this post for more shots of cool:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: The Worst of Britpop?

Okay, everyone, let's time-travel back to 1994... a time of Britpop and New Wave of New Wave.

New Wave of New Wave... anyone else old enough to remember that term? Frankly, I thought it was a MUCH better way to describe many of the Britpop bands of the time. I was never a fan of Britpop, to be honest, unlike a lot of other people. To each his own, I guess. Plus, other than shaggy hair and Fred Perrys, I didn't see much of the Mod thing everyone else seemed to see in these bands. As my friend put it, a "watered down version of Mod as filtered through the '70s." And to my ears, the music of many of these bands seemed to be much more influenced by various New Wave and 'alternative' bands than the Small Faces or The Action. Now, let's take a look at one of my 'favorite' bands from this period, Menswear (click to enlarge), in an article from November, 1994:
I remember reading many articles on how these guys were the new direction of "Mod!" (Yes, I know it was a whole media publicity thing, but I was younger then and easily riled up!) A couple of friends and I hated this stuff! While we were out searching the bins for the Zombies, Arthur Alexander, Pebbles and Rubbles comps, and anything Carnaby Street-looking, this band and their ilk were taking the Mod thing down a path of post-punk pop wrapped up in Lonsdale sweatshirts. Argh! (Believe it or not, I've mellowed out over the years on this, but remember... we've traveled back to 1994 so you gotta deal with my '94 rage!)

Now, although Menswear were, from what I can remember, a music industry creation, they were still a face of this new "Mod" movement. So, let's take a closer look at their awesome "Mod" look, shall we?
Click to Menswear-size it.
  1. Okay, this guy doesn't look horrible, especially for someone who looks to be 16-years-old. I'll cut him a break, despite the fact that he looks like he's shrinking within the suit. Either that or he's got incredible shoulder strength!
  2. The second guy in the line-up just looks uncomfortable in his get-up... almost as if he's waiting for the photographer to finish up before tossing aside these clothes for a t-shirt, baggy pants and Adidas 'trainers'. Overall, he looks okay, but I will point out one of my pet peeves: the bottom button of his jacket is buttoned! I can't criticize him too much though, as I learned that rule myself probably around the time of this photo.
  3. Now this guy ain't even really tryin'. By the look of his tired eyes and greasy hair, he must have been up all night schmoozing industry bigwigs at a Blur show and being, as per the article text, a "cheeky f***er." Look at the lapel of his 2-button jacket... I'm guessing he borrowed it from the photographer of the shoot.
  4. Rock star sneer before becoming an actual star. 'Nuff said.
  5. Y'know, his sneer is really making me hate everything about him, even the suit. It's probably the closest thing to 'Mod' these guys came to, but for my tastes, it's just a bit too 'glittery'. I'm sure I'd have a different opinion of the outfit if I replaced his head with someone a bit more humble and like-able.
  6. Geez, they took this photo on Savile Row, home to some of the greatest bespoke tailors EVER! This is like taking a photo of a Happy Meal in front of The Russian Tea Room.
  7. Oh boy... did I even have to circle these for you to notice them? The clodhoppers of the first two fellows are bad enough, but even I'd wear them if given the choice of that last guy's CREEPERS. There you go, folks, the 'New Mod of New Mod' as the article states. Creepers. Hey, maybe I was on to something when I wore creepers at ages 13-15 in junior high and high school. But, heck, even my creepers were a cool, pointed, black-and-white pair! Kids made fun of me then, but THIS GUY actually does have on Frankenstein's Monster's shoes!
Yeah, believe it or not, I'm much more mellow than the 20-year-old me was when I first read this article. In my old age, I realize that some people probably did dig their sound and these guys probably did act as most young kids would if given 15 minutes of rock'n'roll fame. But looking at what they had to say back then, years later, there are still a couple of lines that irk me:

"He's an Ace Face. If you push him too hard, he might Blow Up!" and "The true mods now are the ravers, the people who are into jungle and music that sounds futuristic."

God, these guys sucked.
And by the way, if this post somehow reaches anyone back in time in 1994, here's a message for you: skip these guys and stick with Detour Records!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Mod Target

Yeah, I get down on the Mod target a lot, as seen here and there. It's not at all that I don't dig it, really, but it's just so over-used as a Mod image. It's as if putting a target on anything makes that thing 'MOD!' I just don't buy it. Plus, in my eyes, only one guy has really ever made the target look slick:
My fave image of the Mod target as clothing on Keith Moon.
As seen above, the target as a design motif can be pretty cool. The Parka Avenue blog has a nice write-up on the target-as-Mod-icon worth checking out: For me, though, the standard blue/white/red target has been done to death.

However, over the years, I've always appreciated the attempts at either creating variations on the ol' blue/white/red image or coming up with something new altogether. For instance, as a teen, I thought this was amazing and oh my god why didn't anyone think of doing this earlier:
It's like the standard Mod target, but something's just a little off...what could it be...?
Wow! By reversing the colors, I was blown away by the look. (Hey, as a teen I was easily impressed, so lay off.)

I was also really taken, at the time, with the color contrast of this, my ol' Squire pin:
Back when I used to walk the streets thinking it was a Mod, Mod world.
Such a simple, great design that can really work well with other color schemes. In fact, the Anorak Thing blog had a great post a while back on the varying Air Force roundels that have influenced many a Mod badge:

But why limit it to just 3 colors? During my last year of high school, I saw the Mod target taken to a new, cool level with this record sleeve:
Oh yeah... bringin' back memories of senior year in high school!
I loved the liberty taken with the old Mod icon on this sleeve... and no, I'm not talking about Paul Weller and his love beads. Adding in an extra ring along with the green and yellow colors made the the target seem new again. After this, why go back to the standard?

Today, with so many awesome graphic designers out there, the target can be an excellent tool or jumping-off point for nice designs. Saw this recently for an all-dayer thing that recently occurred:
I just like how they built the imagery over a usually stale target.
 Some time ago, this guy I know tried to take the target and build it up with slightly psychedelic paisleys for a club night. Don't know if it was successful or not:
And no, I didn't swipe the idea from Ben Sherman... in fact, didn't see their version until a month later!
Back in high school, I would spend so much time trying to research anything Mod and, thanks to The Who, anything pop-art. That's how I came across Jasper Johns, the guy I thought responsible for the target imagery in the first place:
Jasper Johns, age 29. For more info, click here.
I'm horrible because I used to cut images of his paintings out of books to hang up on my wall... one of many things I'll have to answer for come Judgment Day.

Now, oddly enough, there was another pop artist around this time playing with targets: Sir Peter Blake.
Self-Portrait with Badges  1961 - This must be where the idea to cover up your jacket in badges came from!
Peter Blake is an interesting guy, especially when it comes to Mod iconography, such as his painting of... you guessed it:
The First Real Target, 1961
Most famous (I think) for his design of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, Blake has also gone on to design record sleeves for The Who (Face Dances), Band-Aid (Do They Know It's Christmas?), and Paul Weller... and what's that I see on the sleeve:
That's a pretty awesome cover, you gotta admit.
According to interviews, Sir Peter Blake refers to himself as a 'lifelong Mod' and has recently teamed up with Fred Perry to offer a limited range of shirts taking cues from his art style:
Interested in what this is about? Look no further than here.
And the amazing ModCulture website posted a very recent interview with Sir Peter Blake that's worth checking out for his take on pop-art and the Mod thing:

The target can be a great visual tool in design, but overall, I'm just a little burnt-out on its use to identify anything as Mod. These days, you won't find any targets on me. Not on my suits, not on my coats, not on my shirts. My target days are behind me because I think that at my age, I shouldn't need to brandish a target to let anyone know what I'm all about. Too easy.

Now excuse me, I've got some shopping to do:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sharp Stylings #3: Miles Davis

Relax a moment and take in everything this photo has to offer:

Taken from Miles Davis Online.
There is absolutely nothing about this photo that doesn't make me giddy like a schoolboy. Let's go through this one slowly and clockwise, shall we?

  1. Even Kenny G. would look cool standing here and y'know why? Because he'd be standing in front of the Prestige Records office/storefront! Just look at those sleeves up on the wall! 
  2. Speaking of sleeves, dig the juxtaposition of Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet as he does just that outside.
  3. My favorite style of collar on a shirt... the rounded collar. Hard to find these days, but if you can, then go out and flaunt it!
  4. Not only a great pattern on that jacket, but what I love most is the tiny, downward lapel notch... it's the little things that count, sometimes.
  5. A fine piece of jewelry right there, the ID bracelet [ACTUALLY, A WATCH AS NOTED BY NICK IN THE COMMENTS]... a very slick look on men. I remember the one I used to wear fondly, right out of college. Unfortunately, I have the wrist size of a skinny, 5-year-old girl. If you're like me, I highly recommend NOT swaying your arms too much while struttin' down the road, otherwise, by the time you get home, that wrist'll be bracelet-free. Sigh... I really miss that thing.
  6. Remember everyone SMOKING KILLS. SMOKING CAUSES CANCER. But damn, Miles looks cool with that cigarette.
Hopefully, this photo is making you yearn for some nice jazz posts from a modernist perspective. Well, here you go:

Now, can anyone tell me what year this photo is from? Not a quiz... I just need to know!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: Cute Overload

Last week, during my search for the hipster Mod target trucker hat, I came across these shoes:
I wonder if they come with matching Mod Mod Kuma-chan backpack, pencil, and eraser set?

Although they combine, in my opinion, the two easiest and laziest Mod signifiers (target and Union Jack), I thought these would be incredibly cute for someone's lil' modnik running around the playground.

But upon closer look, I noticed these were for ADULTS! Seriously? What woman in her right mind Okay, just found out my wife would wear these because, duh, there's a 'cute bear' on them.

Oh, wait, no... looks like there's competition in the Bash-You-Over-The-Head-With-Cute-Mod-Symbolism category:
Well, at least next year's Valentine's gift will be easy.
********BREAKING NEWS********THIS JUST IN*************

On the subject of 'cute', how lucky was I last night that this video came into my life? I was folding and hanging up clothes while my wife was watching this video on YouTube. I was ribbin' her about the power-pop sounds and noticed, "Hey, that girl kinda looks like you." She responded, "She kinda does, huh." I went back to my clothes, turned, and looked again. "Wait, that's YOU isn't it?" She began to blush! And now, here it is... the dancer in white sweater and turtleneck... cutest thing EVER!

Looks like someone's gettin' anime mod sneakers this year!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Desert Boot

First off, I'd like to share a link to an article on local tailor Al Ribaya of Al's Attire in North Beach:

Pretty cool write-up on what he's about and I'm excited to be picking up my first Al's Attire bespoke suit tomorrow! (Blog post on that coming soon.) 
Okay, now on to today's subject at hand: the desert boot.

Not gonna lie to you folks, not a fan of desert boots. Yes, I know they are a staple of casual Mod wear and many people do look good in them. I repeat, many people do look good in them. But, they're just not my thing. A friend recently posted a pic of some zebra-striped desert boots (see below) for discussion, so I thought I’d talk about the desert boot, in general, here.

A quick Cliff Notes history of the desert boot, specifically the Clarks Desert Boot: According to the Clarks website, the Desert Boot debuted in 1950, designed by Nathan Clark, who recently passed away on June 23, 2011. 
Inspired by the suede, crepe-soled boots WWII servicemen acquired in Cairo, Clark designed a version made for comfort and (a lot of) walking for the general public. Sixties Mods, at some point, took to these shoes and helped popularize them, and today they’re a hit all around. (I recently overheard a couple of older guys looking at a pair in a store window commenting on how “in style” they are these days.)
Nathan Clark with his designs.
My wife and I often see a man in the neighborhood who looks to be in his late ‘40s/early ‘50s and usually dressed in a Levis jacket, 501 jeans, a sixties-ish hairstyle, and black desert boots. The guy looks mellow and cool, and he ROCKS those desert boots!

Like I said before, I think desert boots look fine on other people when worn correctly. They’re casual shoes and I hear they can be quite comfortable.  Many of my friends sport them throughout the week and I think they look great in them. Plus, I bet they're perfect for those times you need to get down 'n' dirty working on your scooter! But for my personal tastes, I just find them just a bit too bulky and clunky. I’m more of a narrow, chisel-toe, leather shoe guy. Or, even a narrow sneaker kinda guy when I’m really crazy lazy or about to go on a long hike.

As history has shown, many people have made these things look good over the years. For instance:
You gonna tell this guy he ain't lookin' good?
Photo from the Steve McQueen Style blog.
These desert boots show their use as they keep this Carnaby Mod from tipping over.
From the Belt and Braces blog.
Yeah, now that's how you wear a pair of desert boots. (Of course, I'd much rather be wearing John's or Pete's shoes here.)

On the other hand, many people have worn them with just the wrong type of outfit, like, y’know, an actual SUIT. Sorry guys, not a good look. I know he’s a ‘Mod’ hero and all, but nah, just doesn’t work. In fact, one of the lessons I learned from Jimmy was that not every fashion choice in the '60s was a good one. Case in point:
Oh, that's right... he's off to fight Rockers. No wonder the suit and sloppy shoe look.

Did you know they now have patterned desert boots? Some things just aren’t meant for customization:

As you can see from some of the photos earlier, desert boots can look really cool with the right outfit. They are a CASUAL shoe that look good on many people. And I know many Mods in the 1960s wore them with suits, but remember, not everything done in the sixties was a winner and for me, desert boots just don’t do justice to a nice two-piece suit. If you’re gonna take the effort to tie a tie around your neck, then you can find a nice pair of dress shoes to complete the look. Leave the desert boots for the following morning.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sharp Stylings #2

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 (except for the tardiness of this post due to travel yesterday), 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.

This week, let these kids start the school session off right:
From Eric Musgrave's Sharp Suits, via the vs tumblr.

Okay, you know you have a problem when you're letting kids this age out-suss you.

See the guy on the far left... he is straight darin' you to find something in your closet that comes close to his level of cool. Good luck, my friend, and hope you're up to the challenge.

The kid to his immediate left along with the kid second from the right... well, geometry must be teaching them something, because the angle of those hats are perfect!

And that last kid on the far right... he's my favorite. Something about him tells me he's about to pull some pigtails later in the day.

Are any of these kids Mods? No, of course not... but they're slicker than most. Now let them school you the way I've been schooled.