and the Mod Style
Dressing For a "Brave New London" - Examining the Iconic Look of Twiggy and
the Mod Style by Daniel Hsu
Even before I crossed the Atlantic Ocean, I knew there was something special
about London and the United Kingdom. After all, how could a place that is
smaller than the state of Oregon produce so many legendary musicians, such as
The Beatles, Elton John, Radiohead and Underworld. How could it produce cult
movies such as Clockwork Orange, Trainspotters and Shawn Of The Dead. It's my
belief that only great cultural centers could produce such great art.
Fashion is another cultural phenomenon that has echoed across the world. In
popular culture, the Mod subculture and style was born on the streets of London
in the 50s, but it still lives on throughout today on the streets of San
Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Moscow, etc.
The origination of the Mod style can actually be traced back to Mary Quant, a
British fashion designer. Through her boutique on Kings Road in London, she let
loose a style that the masses would eventually make their own.
It's never easy to explain a fashion style. After all, fashion is meant to be
a visual art. The best way to explain a fashion style is by looking at those
iconic figures who the general audience associates with that style. In the case
of Mod, The English model Twiggy may be the most iconic figure of this
In her most simple outfits, Twiggy could be seen wearing a simple solid color
a-line shift dress. The shift dress is a corner stone of the Mod style. The
shift dress is defined as a dress without waist shaping or seam. When laid out
flat, the shift dress is very geometrically shaped in nature. In fact, the Mod
style can be described as a very geometrical fashion style, especially compared
to the Bohemian style with its flutter sleeves and floaty tops. It is a rare to
see a photograph of Twiggy in the 50s and 60s where she is not wearing something
Another defining characteristic of the shift dresses worn by Twiggy is the
length. Though there are those who would dispute this claim, Mary Quant has also
been credited with creating the mini skirt and dress or at least making it
popular among the young women of the United Kingdom. Quant believed the mini
skirt to liberating and also practical, allowing women "to run after the bus".
Quant's mini dresses and skirts were raised 6 or 7 inches above the knee,
attracting women who were interested in something daring and outside of what
adults found socially acceptable.
Additionally, when browsing through photo galleries of Twiggy, one would find
her in horizontal striped tunics and dresses. Mod stripes should not be mistaken
for nautical stripes. Nautical stripes are meant to be more sophisticated and
classic American style. Meanwhile, Mod stripes are far from classic. Mod stripes
are thicker, bolder, and more glitzy, further defining the Mod style apart from
traditional more conservative English dress.
Finally, since the Mod style originated in London, a jacket or coat is
necessary to walk the often gloomy and wet streets. In public photos of Twiggy,
she rarely donned a jacket. Rather, she is mostly photographed wearing a
statement coat with a check print. Just like the Mod mini dress, the coat should
take on the a-line shape and slightly longer than the mini dress. In fact, the
Mod coat, when buttoned up, should almost be mistaken as a dress itself.
Though Twiggy is seen as the iconic figure for the Mod style, women across
London and the world have influenced the look with such pieces as the flat boot,
boxy jacket, and double-breasted coat, etc. Nonetheless, if one is inspired to
relive this era in London history, Twiggy can show one how to do so with
sexiness and style, characteristics that women still strive for today.
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