Bettering ourselves

Hi everyone. I was an old poster on Modculture and I've been into Mod and related style for about 20 years.

I have enjoyed some parts of this discussion board, such as music discussion topics and topics about the Mod scene, but one area I find very lacking is the clothing discussion!

There is some mention of influences on mod scene in the 60's. Original modernists etc but mostly this topic is glossed over. Talk more about the birth of mod in the 50's?

More talk about Ivy League collegiate style too would be good, don't you think? 

Mainly you guys don't seem to focus on real details. Shoulder construction of jackets, lapel width, gorge, quarter curve, pockets and angles of pockets, not to mention correct length of jackets and discussion of different tailoring styles that are Mod.

When you talk about trousers why don't you ever talk about taper of thigh and waist height (rise)? These are the details that make Mods stand out. Some of what I see here just looks like high street mediocrity.

Shirts? I saw a member recently say about Uniqlo shirts having 'proper 2 finger roll'. In Mod circles there is no such thing as a good 2 finger roll. Its 3 finger minimum. Dont you think not addressing these statements compounds the mediocrity we see in general discussion here?

Ben Sherman are not a good brand. Stop talking about them. Forget about brand loyality. You are letting brands tell you what is Mod.

Focus on the DETAILS guys. This place could be very good but you are not exploring Mod the way you could.

Most importantly... when people are getting it wrong tell them so. Don't praise them. Don't praise rubbish plastic shoes. Learn about clothes construction and shoe construction and then talk about things properly. Understand the origins and talk about them. Argue about them. Have views not just opinions.

I understand you will all mostly see this as an aggressive first post and as a personal attack but it is not. I say what I say to push this forum on. You are existing at levels Modculture never did. Modculture was far superior. But that does not have to be so.

I hope you can accept this post in the spirit it was intended. To inspire discussion not personal retaliation against me, the one who wishes to kick start real discussion.

Look at other forums for inspiration and to learn. The old Modculture, if any of you know it, The Film Noir Buff Ivy Talk board (very good knowledge here and best posters I think), Styleforums skinhead threads (very good posters here too who know a lot about Mod and the origins) and lots of blogs out there.

I want to post more on this chat board as I am still Mod. But then I won't just now as there is little to sink teeth into so to speak.

Good Luck


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  • I wasn't around on here when this was posted but I couldn't agree more with the well made sentiment. Where are discussions about break in a pair of strides, or the merits of a Goodyear welted sole? I'm prepared to be caned for this but shouldn't we be upping our game on this forum. There is nothing to stimulate debate and discussions and is slowly starting to die in my opinion...
    • As far as I know, I am the only Original Modernist on this site. I was seventy seven last month. I am still a Modernist. I have never been a Mod or bought a Mod record.

      The idea that there was some movement of kindred spirits moving in conjunction is a myth created by journalists and often not very good writers, normally about forty years behind the game, trying to make a few bob.

      I was a Soho Modernist. My family was from Shoreditch. I was one of ten and solidly working class. I had seven brothers. Two of my older brothers were Teds. I was a Ted from about 1955 to 1957 by which time the  Edwardian style was going out of fashion.

      The first Modernist I saw was an old school friend of my older brothers, that is how I knew him. He  had finished his National Service. He had been at the Suez invasion in 1956. So he was was about twenty two. I was eighteen it was 1958.

      I asked him why he was dressed the way he was. He was wearing an Italian style suit, bumfreezer jacket, trousers with eighteen inch bottoms (the fashion was still 14/15 inches.His shirt was not button down but  the collar was only wide enough for a slim tie and he had a College boy hair cut. Popularised by Kennedy. He said he was a Modernist.He was into Modern jazz and was a big  fan of Frank Sinatra, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker etc.etc.

      The way he dressed was a reflection of the MUSIC he was into. At this time Traditional Jazz was popular. Skiffle, thanks mainly to Lonnie Donegan, who was from the  Traditional jazz scene, was very popular.

      I liked Sinatra, George Shearing had been succsessful with, Walking Shoes and Lullaby of the Leaves. I was eighteen, I liked the music, I wanted to be smart and stylish. I loved the clean cut look with short hair, rather than the longer Brylcreem look. I was on The Modernist firm.

      I realise  many of you have heard this before. Sorry about that but I am sick of the authorative versions about the late fifties and sixties which promote this Youth Movement myth.

      So I was soon wearing the Italian style suits, a starched collar (later paper collars) which in my opinion was the smartest collars I have ever worn. The pointed shoes, which at one time became ridiculously long winkle pickers. Every weekend I was in Soho at the only three Modernist jazz jazz clubs that mattered. Scotts in Gerrard street, The Marquee and The Flamingo.

      If there was some brotherhood of Modernist I never knew or felt part of it. I was with a circle of working class mates, some were not Modernists and Soho was for the weekends by and large. The rest of the week I was local with my mates. We had to work to support ourselves .

      We had our suits made to measure by local tailors. We didn't have loads of clothes. We saved and bought what we liked. We discussed clothes but made  up our own minds about what was smart/stylish. You always strived to have your own style. We did not have labels to manipulate us. That isn't to say we would not have worn them if pressurised to the extent that pressure is applied today.

      This talk about the minutia of fashion was not an issue. We were doing our own thing. It was style not uniform.

      Remember we were young. Modernists were older by and large than the kids who became Mods. I take my hat off to them. We were young men they really were kids who made a statement and had a go.

      If there was a spirit of Modernism/Mod it seems to me that Mod Goddess and Betina most reflect it dresswise. I note that Betina has a strong liking for black, white and red in colours and a love of tweeds. This gives her many interchangeable options and make sense economically.

      Bec has very definite ideas on how she wants to look she has her own style. Again it is not about labels it is about a self awareness and having a good eye.

      Well that's me done. If it's not too late I wish all healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

    • Great post, especially like the fact you said you're not a mod or bought a mod record.  Seems so many buy into the myth and they all listen to the same tunes and all dress the same, people who are stuck in the 60's and refuse to move on, pretty much the antithesis of modernism.

    • Well to be fair Dave, I was really responding to the third line of Dave Dawkin's opening to the this thread where he says the influence of the Original Modernists is glossed over. A few years ago, people were arguing on this thread that we didn't exist at all.

      All I know about Mods, I have learnt on MG. I have read a few books on Mod. The references I found there to Modernists was either baldy researched or invented. Because the whole Modernists/Mod era probably was at the most ten years and more probably eight,  and  the standard of research was poor, I have much preferred to believe the Original Mods who have posted here over the years.

      I have no opinion about music, other than knowing what I like. We obviously all hear something different . I sometimes think that people forget that it is to be enjoyed. Because I don't buy other stuff doesn't mean I don't enjoy other music, especially dance music.

    • Very interesting input John and a welcome rare perspective from your particular period. It seems to me that your interpretation of 'Modernism' and your anecdotes perhaps represent a transitional phase that was carefully wedged between the Teds and Trads that came before, and the Mods that came after.

      I suppose most of us have read about Modernists being into Modern Jazz and I always thought it was a fairly large step from that kind of music to the Chuck Berry, Jimmy Smith, Motown, and rare r and b that is associated with Mods. We are all allowed to like whatever music we wish but society is often stratified fairly strictly between age groups of only a year or two difference. My sister is six years older than me and that's a lifetime in terms of the fast moving trends of the fledgling teenage music market of the early sixties. There wasn't much crossover in what she was listening to and what I was listening to when we were young in the seventies.
    • I think that you are on the money with both your analysis of the divergence in taste and perhaps more so with the speed with which things change. 

      My understanding is that Soho Mods were watching British artists in the clubs. I think Georgie Fame's gig at the Marquee was seen as an important crossover point in this transitional period. I always had the impression that Scotts was for the "proper" Modernist venue musically. The Marquee and Flamingo were more "in" and the places to be seen. Full of tasty fashion and birds and sharply dressed guys.I am sure it came as a relief to many when Mod music came in. Sunday night at the Marquee featured the Johnny Dankworth orchestra. Quite a different crowd from Saturday night with more older and less fashion conscious punters. Good nights.

      I cannot comment on much after about 63/64 in Soho or any other scene really. I have always concentrated on the music I enjoy but would dance (jive) socially to anything that had a beat. I remember I was in a club in Stockton on Tees in 77 and there was a guy there who could really dance. I think he was probably into Northern Soul. The thing is once you have a Mortgage and kids the game is up for most people.

    • Love reading about those who were actually there, like you and SohoMod so thanks for your contributions. You may not have felt much in common with the young upstarts from your kid brothers' generation (ie a few years younger!) but we have you and your ilk to thank for getting the stylistic ball rolling from which me and many others still take our cues.

      I've said many times I got caught up in the revival which many people have a sneering disregard for now and try to distance themselves from it, even coming up with words other than 'Mod' to attach to themselves, but what did I know as a clueless teenager? ... till Richard Barnes' 'Mods!' book came out and I realized the original lads were soooo much cooler than we were and their threads so much more classy and individual so that was the path me and a couple of diehards chose to follow.

      As for the fade out, that has always intrigued me too. I suppose the original wave grew up, got married, got a mortgage and stayed home by the mid sixties, and THEIR kid brothers either grew their hair out and became hippies or maybe got into football tribes and the harder edge. Now there are a few people my age who have a bit of disposable income once the immediate household needs are met and that allows us to indulge or revive our teenage obsessions with sharp cuts and cool threads!
    • Thanks Rod you express yourself very well without prejudice.  You cannot do that unless you respect yourself. Once you can do that  there is nothing else,  you are home.

      I don't believe we were special it's all about timing. Being in the right place at the right time under the right circumstances. Not special, lucky. If I/We had not been there, it would have happened with those that were.

      We have come full circle. It started with young people,male and female, being inspired by older people like Sinatra,Ella, Monk,, Parker etc.etc., followed by even younger teenagers who had their idols who were younger than ours and even their contemporaries in some cases.

      Now we have people of all ages whose example are young people of yesteryear.So we pushed forward and the push continues. It can never be the same. There is no reason it cannot be as good and as enjoyable. 

    • An interesting variety of opinions and perspectives. Regarding John's recollections, I worked with a signwriter back in the 70's who would have been about the same age; he told me much the same story, except that he and his friends were regular Ronnie Scotts' patrons, and fans of George Melly in particular. His name was John Hindmarsh..... ring any bells, John?

    • Not really Graham. I did the clubs with a particular mate. Not many of my local mates were Modernists in the musical sense and went to the pulling parlours. I used to go myself on occasions. There were always good dancers there. If you could jive well the girls would always dance with you. Many girls would prefer to dance with each other than a bloke who couldn't dance.

      Scotts was a listening place and "proper" Modernists were probably in the minority. I don't think I saw anyone dance in Scotts on the nights I was there and not many in the Flamingo and Marquee really, most of the people went there to be seen as hip.

      Soho was not like visiting another manor where you got to know the locals. There wern't any, It was a melting pot and magnet from all over.

      Anyway when you were as cool as me and my mate imagined we were, unless you were approached  we remained aloof and rightly ignored. :-(

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