Friday, September 30, 2011

Sharp Stylings #10: Raphael Saadiq

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 love Oakland, CA. Great neighborhoods, great walking routes, great restaurants, great bars, great shopping, and, oh yeah, great style! Don't believe me? Well, take a look at one of Oakland's most stylish sons: Raphael Saadiq!

Raphael Saadiq first made his mark as one of the lead singers of 1990s R&B band, Tony! Toni! Toné! In a time when modern R&B sucked out loud (and still does, really), they had a fantastic little song called "If I Had No Loot" that I dug then and dig still.

But Saadiq has hit the scene hard in recent years with his Motown-style brand of soul music that has been utterly incredible! I'm not much of a music writer, so I'll stop now, but if you haven't yet please track down his The Way I See It album and the new Stone Rollin'.

Today, I just want you to focus on his '60s-inspired sharp, clean look. There he is above, rockin' a dashing mustard suit with slim pants and a thin tie. But what's most incredible about this shot are THOSE CUFFLINKS! Bold, large, gaudy wrap-arounds with a jewel in the center... my absolute favorite style of cufflinks! With cufflinks like that on, I'd be checking my watch every 5 minutes just to get another glimpse at them.

Seriously, Raphael Saadiq is, hands down, one of the most stylin' dudes around on the current music scene. And if you haven't seen the guy in action yet, well, treat your eyes and ears to this:

Oakland represent!

[PLEASE NOTE: For the next two weeks, the Mod Male offices will be closed for vacation. Posts are still scheduled to go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so please continue to check in. The Mod Male Facebook page will be quiet, however, so if you see a post you like, please share with your friends since we won't be able to. Thank you and have a great next couple of weeks!]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: Scooter Madness

Okay, when does one cross the line into self-parody?
Want this photo on your wall? Just go here!
Hey, I'll give this guy credit for having the chutzpah, not to mention time and dedication, to blanket his scooter like this. Seriously, it's an insane feat of energy to get a bike this blinged-out! I just can't quite figure out what he's using to weigh the back of the bike down for balance... I mean he's not a big guy!

I understand that decking out your scooter is a unique thing to Mod culture and something that really helps identify the look. But I have always wondered when you know you've reached the "too much" mark. It was refreshing to hear, a while back, the attitudes of some of the original Mod(ernists) in regards to scooters. Many didn't adorn them this heavily (or at all) and some had no problem moving on to slicker cars when they had the ability. Scooters were an inexpensive way of getting around, and although you wanted to keep a nice bike, you didn't worship it. Along those lines, I subscribe to the Booker T. way of thinking: less is more.

Although I'm not into this style of decking a bike up, I really do hope it's on display in a museum somewhere. I'm getting down on the poor kid, but he must have blown his friends' minds when he first pulled up on this.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The 1990s 'Mods' Documentary

Things will be a little slower around here over the next 3 weeks or so. In the meantime, word-lite posts should still be going up and if you see anything you like, feel free to share it on Facebook or wherever else things are shared online since the Mod Male Facebook page will be quiet during this time. (Oh, if you haven't yet, just look over to right-hand side of your screen and click the "LIKE" button to get on the Facebook page!)

So, for today and the next few Mondays, I'm taking the easy way out and letting videos do the talking for me (for the most part). Today's video is a Mods documentary, directed by Rob Poswell and filmed in Sacramento and Berkeley, CA back in the early 90's. I'm sure many of you have seen this on YouTube already, but it's worth checking out again.

When I first moved to the Bay Area, this video was passed around on VHS and I was really taken with it. Not only did it feature people I knew and looked up to, but it was the first film (other than Quadrophenia) that captured the Mod thing for me at the time. It was filmed well, had great music, great quotes, and looked all-around cool to me.

It begins with the great intro: "I was a mod back in 1963. It was a bit different. Much different than rockers or teddy boys." It gave the film a feel of authenticity since an original 1960s Mod was quoted on tape. My fave part of the film, though, featured the Berkeley Mod scene of the time dancing to local Mod band, the Motives. I'd sit there picking out people I knew and wondering where others had gone. And the Motives on stage... they looked slick! It made living in the Bay Area more exciting just to think that this was stuff going on. Granted, this had all been filmed the year before I moved up, with things and people having changed since then.

Since that time, my own thinking and opinions on Mod stuff as changed or, hopefully, grown. That said, this film still really holds up for me. It looks stylish, as a Mod film should, and carries with it ideas that still hold well today. My only criticism of the film is that new music plays over the main scooter scene. The director of this film is a great guy, but he pulled a George Lucas re-dux for that part! NOOOOOOO!!!

When I first saw this, there was a quote in there that really struck me, and watching this film again today, it's one that still resonates: "To be a Mod, you have to be a Mod 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. The whole bit. You're just not a Mod on the weekends."

At my age, I'd sound a little cheesy talking like this and I don't think I am that guy walking around shouting "Mod! Mod! Mod!" all the time (contrary to the impression left by this blog), but I still believe in the idea of doin' this thing 24/7 and always looking to improve.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sharp Stylings #9: Shoe Edition

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.

Oh, what, you thought I was done talking about shoes?

Permission to use this photo very kindly granted by Lloyd Johnson, one of the original Modernists.
Earlier in the week, I spoke of my love for chisel-toed shoes. Well, they don't get much more chiseled than these! Just take a look at the beautiful detailing in the shoes above: suede/leather combos, slip-ons and lace-ups, beautiful heels, wingtips and stitched designs... seriously, with shoes like these around, how on earth did the desert boot become the Mod shoe staple?

If there are any shoe designers out there, hope these serve as some inspiration. Alright... I promise, next post will be shoe-free! I know, I know... you probably don't want it to stop either, but it's time to move on.

Now excuse me, I'm off to find a cobbler!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: On the Topic of Shoes...

When I was a wee little Modnick, back in high school, I TOTALLY wanted a pair of Union Jack shoes! Remember those Shelly's Jam stage shoes (is that right?)? I thought they'd be the coolest things ever as I strutted around school with those on along with my (again) highwater, tapered Dickies, Fred Perry, and parka covered in patches and pins. Heck, I even wanted a Union Jack 3-button blazer. (And all kidding aside, let's be honest... the Union Jack really is a great design.)

But that was then and this is now and the truth is, I ain't British. I wouldn't be caught dead walking around in Union Jack shoes. That said, is it me or are these actually kind of cool?

More info on these from Flickr.
According to the Flickr page, they were made in 1953! I think the shape and construction of the shoe is what makes it for me. Still, nope, wouldn't wear 'em. At my age, they'd be just a bit too overkill. Now if they were in a Mexican flag pattern, well...

Let's do one for the ladies now. We all love Mondrian patterns, I know, but this might be taking it a bit too far:
More awesomely crazy shoes can be found here.
QUESTION: What are some of the WORST shoes you've seen?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From Velcro to Chisel-Toe

Never count DSW out... found these awesome NEW shoes there!
Photo courtesy of Carrie Swing at
Okay, enough with old memories... let's bring this blog back to what I wanted to focus on in the first place: clothes! Specifically, let's talk about shoes. Mod shoes... starting with an old memory.

When I was MUCH younger, all I needed in a pair of shoes were some good ol' Velco straps. I was a no muss, no fuss kinda kid... toss a pair of shoes on, velcro them up, and off to play with my buddies. That changed in the 7th grade. As the idea of 'cool' was becoming painfully apparent to me, my parents kindly bit the big one and invested in a pair of white, round-toed Reeboks for me. Of course, by the time I got them, the shoe trend had moved on to British Knights (BKs).
Yes, I admit it. I once wore shoes this ugly.
That Halloween, my buddy Robert showed up in a kind of costume: white t-shirt, spiked hair, and green make-up. He was a 'crazy person,' if I remember correctly. What really caught my eye, though, were the shoes he was wearing: his older brother's grey and black, pointed Na-Na creepers. I thought these things were the coolest shoes EVER. He then told me that you could buy shoes like these at a magical place called Melrose. (Of course, I thought he was talking about an actual store.) Unfortunately, however, I had to live out the rest of my 7th grade life in those Reebok tennis shoes. 7th grade... the last time I ever wore tennis shoes again as a daily part of my wardrobe.

I started the 8th grade out in a type of grey casual shoe that I saw the Filipino dudes at my school wear. Nothing special, but I thought they were pretty 'hip' since they weren't tennis shoes. But they were nowhere near as hip as my birthday gift that year: a pair of black and white, pointed Na-Na creepers with a buckle and the stitching on top! Sure, I had to endure an entire day of getting picked on the first time I wore them out, but hey! Isn't that what being 'different' and 'anti-society' was all about back then? (And yes, that day was going absolutely miserable until my skater/new wave friends started complimenting the shoes!)
Can't tell you how many times I heard kids yell out, "Hey Frankenstein!" (Ironically enough, creepers were "in" the following year.)
My next big shoe purchase was a gift for 'graduating' from the 8th grade: a pair of Dr. Martens! I can't remember how I had heard of these, but I do remember them being a big deal to have if you were on the 'new wave/punk' tip. So, I picked out a great lace-up pair in black leather with a pointed toe and stitching along the top, exactly like my creepers but without the 2-inch sole. I felt like I had finally hit 'ultra-cool' status, what with being the first kid in my 'clique' with Dr. Martens and all. Unfortunately, these came at the end of my junior high life.
I dug these shoes so much that I wore them from the ending of the 8th grade up to my first year in college!  And hey, these shoes were for sale a year ago... and they were considered 'vintage!'
I was sold on Dr. Martens after these and ended up buying 2 more pairs at a Na-Na sale in Santa Monica right before 9th grade started: one gray lace-up pair with a pointed toe, and a second pair with a pointed toe and buckle, in marble blue leather. Unfortunately, these shoes were pretty large for my still growing (but not by much) feet. Still, I wore them around school and didn't care what people thought. Not so sadly, these were the last pairs of Docs I ever got, never veering into boot territory, because after this, I was on the hunt for 'Mod' shoes!

And by Mod shoes, I mean loafers. And by loafers, I don't mean Bass Weejuns, but rather whatever penny loafers I could find at the Buster Brown shoe store in the local Puente Hills Mall. Man, I can't tell you how cool I thought I looked in those penny loafers, along with white socks, high-water tapered Dickies pants, and burgundy flight jacket with ska/mod pins! Shortly afterward, I moved on to a slicker form of shoe... the kind meant for suit-wearin': wing-tipped tassle loafers! Oh man... rude girls, prepare to swoon! (No, no swooning was ever done.)
Then I moved to the Bay Area and it was here that I really fell in love with shoe wear... actual Mod shoe wear. Aww... I still remember it like it was yesterday. I found my first pair of 1960s pointed ankle boots on Telegraph Avenue at Wasteland (before it was called Mars Mercantile) and these started an obsession with '60s pointed and chisel-toed shoes that I still have to this day. Sure, I went through bowling shoe and Jam 'stage shoe' phases. Had to get these out of my system, because after this, it was all '60s-styled shoes for me!

Back in college, I almost passed by one of my now favorite pairs of shoes: a total suede and leather Carnaby Street number. A buddy and I were in Mars Mercantile one day and he was kind enough to point out this pair of shoes in the women's section. I dismissed them without even looking until he brought them out. So glad he did because $10 later, I had these:
Sigh... unfortunately, when you get cool shoes you can either store them away for safekeeping or... wear them. As you can tell, I've worn these.

Then came the Bay Area Vintage Shoe Glory Days! One day, around 8-9 years ago (yikes!), a bunch of us were spending our happy hour at the Casanova Lounge in San Francisco. My pal, Jason Ringgold, and I decided to take a break and walk up to Clothes Contact where you could buy clothes by the pound. We were surprised to find a beat-up pair of absolute cool sixties Mod shoes. They were relatively plain but with a nice chisel-toe (imagine a pointed shoe with the tip of the shoe cut off). After snatching them up, we found out that the owner of these vintage shops had come across a warehouse in Germany with dead-stock '60s men's shoes! For the next several years, we were finding a pair here, a pair there... it was absolute shoe heaven for us! My personal shoe collection grew with the following:
Ya can't beat leather and suede combos!
Love the detailing on the sides.
My Small Faces shoes... but these were hand-me-downs from Mike Therieau, not a part of the German warehouse stock.
Soon, us Bay Area Mod dudes were classin' up sidewalks all over town! Eventually, this surplus dried out, but every once in a while, you can still find a pair from this old stock. In fact, about a month ago, I found these:
Suede and leather again... SH-BAMM!
I'm still totally obsessed with 1960s-style pointed-toe and chisel-toe shoes. I'm not as into the winkle-picker points as I used to be and I'm still not into heavy boots of any kind (i.e., Dr. Marten boots, monkey boots, etc.) or desert boots, as I've discussed before. No, I like my shoes narrow, with some cool detailing, a nice toe, and all-around slick!

Now, allow me to get a formality out of the way: Mod shoes. Mod shoes. Mod shoes. Mod shoes. (There. Now when people from the future do on-line searches for 'Mod shoes,' hopefully they'll be pointed here instead of some company selling bunk bowling shoes.) Mod shoes.

QUESTION: If you have a moment, please leave a comment describing your favorite pair of shoes. And this isn't just for the male Mods in the audience. Or Mods, for that matter. Just in general, what's your favorite shoe?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sharp Stylings #8: Raymond Hawkey

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.

Let's spend some time today diggin' on Raymond Hawkey (circa 1970) cold loungin' on a Saarinen chair and table.  First off, like I've said before, guys into Mod style should NEVER be afraid of color. Here, he beautifully blends the muted blue shirt with a fantastic muted earth-tone tie which also includes baby blue stripes to match the shirt. The lavendar/blue pocket square brings it all together in a nice package wrapped up in a dark suit with clean, thin lapels and nice slim pants! Just a beautiful combination all around, including his cufflinks, which you can see in a B&W photo from this session in the new Brian Duffy photography book. The way he's put this whole outfit together, you'd think he had the eye of a graphic designer. Oh, wait! I almost forgot... this is Raymond Hawkey we're talking about... one of the most influential mid-century graphic designers!

Hawkey is most known for how he helped revolutionize book cover design, not to mention graphic design in general, in the late 1950s/early 1960s. By blending sans serif typography with photographic elements (something not done at the time), he helped create a visual style that still lasts to this day. I'm sure many Mod-oriented graphic designers today would recognize the influence of his style on their work.

The first book design to hit the public's eyes was the cover to Len Deighton's The IPCRESS File, which was considered shocking at the time:
Some other Hawkey designs include covers to subsequent Leighton books along with those featuring most people's favorite super-suave spy:

Raymond Hawkey passed away last year at the age of 80. And from the obituaries I've read, he remained dapper and well-dressed until the end. According to the Guardian, he never owned jeans or trainers. Heck, I wish I could make the same claim! But one thing I can learn from Hawkey, aside from his great designs, is that you don't let age get in the way of looking sharp.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong?

Click here for more kid hoodie cuteness!
Not this time, my friends!

As you all know, I've grown very weary of the standard, uninspiring, and drab look of Mod targets, Union Jacks, and checkerboards. This stuff is all great when you're starting out, but hopefully, by my age the age of 21, you've moved on from those *ya-a-a-w-w-w-n*... tired items.

But when it comes to children, all bets are off! In fact, the cheesier the better! This past weekend was our nephew's birthday and let me tell you we were dying with all the 'Mod' related stuff he got! The Who mini-tee-shirt, Fred Perry shirt, hip cap, and this:
BEEP! BEEP! Should I be jealous that this lil' guy owns a car in my size before I do?
Heck, we were wishing we had HIS bedroom, what with all the cool SHAG decor and toys he had in there. In fact, I'm going to buy up some SpongeBob Squarepants toys so that when he's a couple of years older, I can convince him to trade with me. (Yeah, what of it?)

So friends, if you have a special kid in your life, you need to take a look at this blog entry on the Modern Kiddo site (it's a great site, really... I mean, look at this kid) and stock up for the upcoming holidays. Amazing Mod-inspired kid goodness on this site!

But I'm going to warn you now: if you persist in pushing the Mod look on your kids too far into their lives you run the risk of them rebelling against you (like we've all done to our parents, I'm sure) by turning heavy metal, hip-hop, deadhead, emo, hipster, or *gulp!*:
Maybe he dressed his son up in too many target shirts when he was a wee one?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Discovering The Jam

So last week, I spent an unhealthy amount of time talking about how The Smiths played an important role in my my early adolescent identity and how that indirectly led me to the Mod thing. I figure I should probably follow that up with how I discovered the band that would replace The Smiths at that stage in my  life.

In the 8th grade, after I was put on the correct path towards Modtopia (a story for a future blog post), what little I knew about Mods was all I talked about to anyone who would listen. (And as you can tell, things haven't changed since.) I felt like I had discovered something that NO ONE else in the world knew about... well, at least no one at Giano Intermediate School.

So imagine my surprise when, after blathering on and on about how Mods wore army jackets before punks to this kid in home room, he responded that his older brother was a Mod! At first, I thought that this guy was completely lost on what I was talking about. How could his older brother be a Mod? They were extinct as far as I knew. Then, he went on to tell me that his older brother was even fan of a band called The Jam. THE JAM?? Now I knew this kid was mixed up!

Now, let's journey back to the late '80s when this conversation took place. Ahh... the late '80s, a time when guys wanted the Richard Marx hairstyle, 'bad' still meant 'good', and this song was a hit:

In addition to this song, the term 'jam' could also be used in the following contexts: "Hey man, I wanna mack on those girls. Let's jam!" and "Have you heard the new Pebbles song, Mercedes Boy? That jam is bad!" Also, Lisa Lisa and the Cult JAM were HUGE. So, this kid talking about his alleged Mod older brother who liked a band called The Jam just didn't sit right with me.

The following week, this same kid showed up in his older brother's red sweatshirt with the following logo in puffy white lettering:
How on earth could this 'tagged' logo be 'Mod'? I just didn't buy it. This guy just did not know what he was talking about... The 'Jam' being Mod? Pssh! (Now, you want to know the sad fate of this Jam sweatshirt? The kid ended up CUTTING THE SLEEVES OFF and using it as a P.E./gym shirt!)

The next time I came across The Jam was almost a year later, when I was a freshman in high school. I was record shopping at Aron's Records on Melrose, when I came across The Jam's This is the Modern World LP.
I was still very skeptical about this band so I had to study the record a bit. Let's see... they weren't wearing suits... but one of the guys did have a pin of The Who on his sweater. Hmm... the album was called This is the Modern World... hmm... no graffiti art on the cover... then I turned the record over and oh my god they were actually wearing suits just like the Mods used to!

So, I bought it, along with my first Specials LP and first Madness LP (but I'll save those for a future ska post) and brought it to my grandmother's where I was staying. Early in the 9th grade, I still associated Mod music with a more punky/new wave sound, so when I heard those first chords and Paul Weller shouting, "THIS IS THE MAW-UN WOOLD," I was sold!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sharp Stylings #7: Peter Daltrey

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.

This one's coming a little late today because I was up late last night at the Peter Daltrey show at Cafe Du Nord. Who's Peter Daltrey, you ask? Only the lead singer/songwriter from the BEST psychedelic band of the 1960s... a little band I like to call Kaleidoscope/Fairfield Parlour!

So, in honor of his amazing show last night, I'm sharing this photo from the above linked interview from the It's Psychedelic Baby blog:

Pre-Kaleidoscope days as The Key. I don't think they were very religious though. ('80s Mods will get that one!)
Daltrey is second from the right and looking sharp in a 3-button jacket complete with ticket pocket. I wanted to talk to him last night and ask him questions about his Mod past, but I'm horrible around famous musicians. I don't like to bother them and never really know what to say. I'd rather leave them to their peace... although, I did go up to him last night and tell him how much I loved his music. I mean, when's the next time he's going to be out here, right? I also didn't bring anything to get signed, although fellow Kaleidoscope super-fan, Dennis Ryan, was kind enough to get a poster signed for me. Thanks for that, sir!

These guys all look great in this photo though. I used to be so much better at knowing all their names, so if someone can fill me on the fellow in back, that would be most appreciated. I believe it's Eddy Pumer and I love how his look is reminiscent of the early Mod photo of Mark Feld in his waistcoated outfit.

I'm tired with not much to say today so I'm just going to dig on this photo for a while, check out the Kaleidoscope video on the Anorak Thing's blog, throw on some Kaleidoscope (White-Faced Lady, of course!) or maybe some Fairfield Parlour, and then read through the It's Psychedelic Baby interview again. Great show last night and if you're in LA this weekend, try to catch him on Saturday night!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mod Gone Wrong: My New Wave Roots

Okay, quiz time! 

Take a moment and try to guess what's wrong in the following photo:
Having a hard time? Seriously?? Okay then, let me give you a hint:

Yup, you guessed it! The Smiths poster in the background.* Not that there's anything wrong with liking The Smiths. In fact, I was a HUGE Smiths fan back in the day. They were the very first band that I felt understood my 13-year-old adolescent angst.

And yes, that's me  in the photo above, acne and all. When this photo was taken (about a month after I moved to the Bay Area to start school), I was proud to display my 'counter-cultural' roots (The Smiths) to all who walked past our dorm room. But see, little did I realize, I was probably contributing to one of my pet peeves and the reason for this post: people's confusion of 'Mod' with 'New Wave'. 

I'm guessing that this started in the '80s when people who were into punk, new wave, new romantic, post-punk, or (fill in the blank) started moving on to a Mod look or just started banding together with what few Mod types were around at school or in social circles. It's easy to see why people from differing subcultures, back then, would have come together in the face of overwhelming OP shirts and upturned polo collars. We experienced the same thing in my time, only we were trying to get away from all the spiked-hair mullets and NKOTB groupies.
Yeah, I can see why people would get confused. And yes, Blondie are lookin' pretty rockin' right here!
In the '90s, 'Mod' often got grouped together with 'New Wave' and 'Indie,' thanks to all those indie (and britty-pop) bands appropriating '60s touches. I'm sure shaggy hair, Fred Perrys, and name-dropping The Kinks helped blur any lines dividing these different styles.

Today, the general public is a bit more savvy, but I still get a sense that people think dressing like The Libertines or The Horrors somehow makes one Mod(!).
Wait, did Poison and Love & Rockets form a super group?
Now before I go on, let's get something straight: I think diggin' on New Wave, indie, alternative, or whatever you want to call it is really, really great. Seriously. We all have different tastes in music and I'm all down with celebrating diversity. (Heck, some of you would probably cringe at the fact that there's a Snoop Doggy Dogg record in the ol' Mod Male record vaults!) That said, New Wave/indie/alt-whatever does not equal Mod. I understand how it can be confusing, but they are totally different things.

Granted, if it wasn't for this confusion in the first place, I wouldn't be Mod-bloggin' today. Heck, I'd probably be writing about which Morrissey solo album is best (I wouldn't know since I stopped at the first one) or who would win in a lightsaber fight, Han Solo or Boba Fett.  Instead, it's the Mod thing that became the #1 target of my obsession, all thanks to my cousin calling me a 'Mod' because I liked The Smiths. So for that, let me stand up and thank New Wave music!

Of course, these days my Smiths records get played maybe about once every 3 years... if I'm feeling nostalgic and Morrissey bugs the living daylights out of me. But there was a time when they were on my turntable, on average, 4-5 hours a day. Whenever I felt the world was against me (which was daily for me as an average 13/14-year-old), I could get lost in pretty much any of their songs. If I didn't feel like eating my mom's corned beef, I could just say my political position that evening was "Meat is Murder." And if I couldn't find a date to the school dance, I could just say I was celibate like Morrissey. These reasons are why that band will always hold some significance for me.

And if I want to get defensive about my past tastes, I'll have you know that not only did The Smiths grace their record covers with awesome '60s imagery, they also covered a Twinkle song. Oh yeah, and did you know that Johnny Marr was a huge Small Faces, Who, and Motown fan (according to one of my Smiths quote books that, yes, I still have)? Plus, he rocked a huge back-comb at various points in his Smiths career.
Johnny Marr with back-comb and desert boots.
So there... take your Smiths-hatin' elsewhere! By the way, are The Smiths even considered New Wave?

*BONUS POINTS if you said 'Sunglasses being worn indoors' or 'Posing in a dirty dorm room.' 

Monday, September 5, 2011

The White Suit


Well, Summer's over. Doesn't bother me too much, really, since I'm more of an Autumn/Fall guy anyways. But now that Summer's done, it seems white clothes (or at least white shoes) are as well. I never knew about this rule until relatively recently, thanks to my seasonal style barometer, Karen Finlay. So, in honor of Summer's temporary death and the pause on white clothing, today let's celebrate the white suit!

According to Eric Musgrave, in Sharp Suits, the white suit was seen as "a symbol of gentility, an artistic streak, or a dandified attitude to dress." And indeed, there is a certain mystique that still surrounds the white suit. Me, though, I just dig the dandy side of it!

Of course, when you think white suit, Mark Twain is probably the first guy to come to mind. He's most likely the first public figure to popularize that look, despite the fact that it wasn't until his later years that he adopted the style. But let's take a look at some other great white suits throughout the 20th century.
Perhaps not famous, but definitely hip in white.
Peter Wyngarde in an episode of 1966's The Saint.
For anyone familiar with the Mods book, I apologize for cropping out the guy in the ill-fittin' suit.
Obi-Won Kenobi doesn't need the Force to keep his white suit clean.
Sold on the look yet?
The most popular, contemporary white suit guy would definitely have to be Tom Wolfe. He's actually my favorite:
I may not dig his politics, but I've always been a fan of his writing, his illustrations and his style. After all, this is the guy who wrote 'The Noonday Underground' in The Pump-House Gang and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby! (If you've not read 'The Noonday Underground,' hunt it down for a great write-up on the dandified Carnaby Street scene of the mid-1960s.) Wolfe adopted the white suit look in 1962 and has used it as his trademark look every Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring since.

Me, I've always wanted a white suit, mainly thanks to Tom Wolfe (and Barry Gibb). Well, this Summer, I finally did it! This week, I picked up a white suit from Al's Tailors:
I may have opened myself up to Kentucky-Fried Chicken jokes.
Rounded edge on the pockets.
Rounded lapels to match the pockets.
Attention to detail.
Unfortunately, I picked this up too late as Summer is done and no more white after Labor Day. Aw well... some fashion rules are made for breakin'!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sharp Stylings #6: Barry Gibb

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.

A while ago, I read though Jeremy Reed's recent John Stephen biography, and was struck by the following image:
Stare into my eyes... when you wake up, you will love disco music in 10 years.
Yup, that's Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees dapperfying your screen. He is wearing a white jacket, white shirt & tie, and white pocket square contrasting with, according to the book, cherry red waistcoat and pants. The only thing that bothered me about this photo? It's in black and white! (In fact, for a book about colorful Carnaby Street, there weren't ANY color photos.)

For me, though, this outfit struck all the right chords. But what killed me even more, and set me off on my current outfit goal, was Gibb's plan with John Stephen. He decided to have three 3-piece suits made: one in white, one in red, and one in blue. The idea behind this was so that he could then alternate the pieces and have a different outfit every time he went out! It's no wonder Barry Gibb won a John Stephen Fashion Award for Best-Dressed Man in 1968! (And yes, you do want to click that link, trust me.)

Yeah, this image sent me on a mission and part one of that mission has been completed. This week, I acquired a white suit! Well, off-white really.

Speaking of which, tune in on Monday for a Labor Day white suit post!