By Hannah Watanabe-Rocco
Hello everyone! My name is Hannah and I’m going to tell you a little bit about fashion, because I am a Fashion Expert. Seriously. Except not seriously. I’m actually just a 23-year-old who graduated with a film degree a year-and-a-half ago and now I’m working in apparel retail part time, so I’m going to count these as adequate credentials for me to force my thoughts about fashion upon you.
When I was younger, I didn’t really have a huge interest in what clothes I wore. Any interest I did have was of the fitting-in variety. I wanted to wear sweatshirts with Hawaiian flowers on them and Old Navy fleece pullovers like everyone else. My fashion mecca was Pacific Sunwear (Does anyone still shop there? Does that place even exist anymore?) I think I also had some hideous mauve lipstick that I got at Target that I would sometimes wear to feel like a grownup. So yeah, basically, I was not a ~fashionista~.
Then I got to high school. I went to a magnet high school for math and science, so everyone was pretty nerdy and I suddenly felt the freedom to reinvent myself. I didn’t know anyone, and everyone was pretty much as geeky as I was, so why not? Thus began my experiments in fashion. And not, like, cool experiments done by professional chemists. More like Frankenstein-esque experiments done by a mad scientist, the mad scientist being me. I started subscribing to YM magazine (sadly not around anymore, RIP) and one day when I was 15 I came across this awesome fashion spread about mod clothing. My life was never the same. This happened to coincide with the time when I started listening to cooler music, like The Beatles and pretty much anything British and from the ’60s, and the White Stripes, so I was primed to like mod fashion. I looked at these cool girls with BANGS riding around on VESPAS wearing cool WHITE BOOTS and LEATHER JACKETS and I instantly fell in love.
I feel like this is the point where I should explain exactly what mod is. Mod, short for modernist, was a subculture in London in the ’60s where everyone was basically a godless heathen. Well, maybe not a godless heathen, but young people started spending money on themselves instead of contributing money to their family, and therefore started spending an ungodly amount of money on clothes. It was also tied in with music and tons of other things going on in culture at the time. Women got more androgynous, hemlines shortened (Mary Quant, a hugely influential mod designer, invented the hot pant and the miniskirt. Thank you, Mary Quant!), and generally people dressed way awesome.
As a 15-year-old with no disposable income to speak of, I got some cheap blazers from Macy’s (actually, I had some left over from my Avril Lavigne phase when I was 14. Don’t judge, I know you had an Avril Lavigne phase, too) and started sewing my pants so that they were skinny instead of flared. Okay, so I’m going to sound like every other mildly artsy teenager who’s always like, I LIKED ____ BEFORE IT/THEY/HE/SHE GOT FAMOUS, but seriously, I wore skinny pants before everyone else! There was also, like, one other girl at school who I always felt very competitive with, fashion-wise, and she also started wearing skinny pants around this time. This was BEFORE you could buy skinny jeans at the Gap and we had to bootleggedly make them ourselves. I hand-sewed that shit, bitches. Don’t front.
So anyway, mod has continued to have a huge impact on my style ever since then, and I’m going to suggest some ways to create the look with some clothes that I really like and can’t afford!
This dress is Madewell. I figure you can find red tights/flats pretty much anywhere.
Sonia by Sonia Rykiel is so awesomely mod: the bright colors, the clean, boxy cuts. Color-blocking is a huge part of the whole mod aesthetic. The shoes are Chelsea boots from Marais USA.
The sweater and skirt are Rag & Bone, the white collared shirt is just a generic white collared shirt, and the shoes are TopShop. I feel like this one is slightly verging on being seventies, but there’s definitely still some mod-ness there: the color-blocking in the sweater, the menswear details in the mini-skirt.
The dress is from Red Velvet. So cute! The shoes are TopShop again. Man, I wish I could have a sweet turquoise Vespa. I always see them parked around the West Village, and I’m like, you mean I could feasibly use one of these things in New York City? Apparently so!
As an added bonus, here’s a song to serve as a little soundtrack to all of your wildest mod fantasies. Enjoy!
All drawings by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.