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.
|No, wouldn't want anyone to think I was a poseur or anything.
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.