? La Mode: Style Guide

Subculture style, Vol. 3


Typically, people look back on the 1960s and think of hippies and mods like Twiggy. But they’re only part of the story – a kind of confusing story.

Rude boys influenced mods, which then split into two subcultures. This led to the creation of the skinhead subculture, which became integral to influencing the look of “the casuals.” English subcultures feel like a rabbit hole, where one subculture morphs into or influences another.

The mod style began in the 1950s and was more “subtle and subdued in appearance” than the teddy boys who wore extravagant suits, according to Dick Hebdige, the author of Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Female mods wore clothing that was directly opposed to the iconic poofy poodle skirt their mainstream counterparts wore. Like rude boys, mods grew up during the influx of immigration to Britain from the West Indies. They listened to reggae and ska, bought records with the money they made from work and carved out a space in the underground world of music and art for themselves.

The look that is often associated with mods in mainstream thought, like the color blocked shift dresses, bold geometric prints and dramatic eyeliner epitomized by the model Twiggy, is an off-shoot of the mod subculture hard mods came from. During the peak of mod style at the end of the 1960s, mod fashion took hold. This is the style that has gone down in popular history as an iconic style of the 1960s.

The split in the mod scene between “hard mods” and those with the “look” began in 1966, according to Hebdige. Hard mod style was the foundation for the skinhead culture that took an “aggressively proletarian, puritanical and chauvinist” stance against society, Hebdige wrote. Skinheads cut their hair much shorter than the hard mods, but both played on the original slim style of the mods.

Brian Windschitl, The Spectrum’s arts editor and a junior English major, and I used some of the iconic mod styles to create our looks for the day. Windschitl is in a plain white short-sleeve button up, Levi jeans and black Converse. I’m wearing a navy blue, white collared sweater from Ann Taylor, an H&M denim mini skirt, red American Apparel suspenders, red socks and my mom’s combat boots from her time in the Army.

While the skinhead subculture may sound jarring if you associate them only with white power – I assure you, being a skinhead and being a racist is an image predominately created by the media and true for only a tiny portion of skinheads – looking to hard mods for style inspiration will introduce you to a world of some of the best music and fashion around.

Mod style is one of the simpler subcultures – all you need is a pair of boots, rolled up jeans and a button-up shirt. Some mods wore “braces,” aka suspenders, like skinheads but many did not.

Female mods had a uniform as consistent as that of their male counterparts. They wore mini skirts, combat or work boots, brogues, button-up shirts or collared sweaters. Many mod girls wore the “Chelsea,” or feather cut, haircut – they would have thick bangs, kept the sides of their hair long and then shaved the whole back of their head.

To bring the mod look into your life, if you’re so inclined, listen to Cock Sparrer, The Business or The Who, lean up against a brick wall and roll your jeans just slightly above your rugged boots.

email: features@ubspectrum.com