“Op art” means “optical art,” because the geometric, finely calculated lines of its designs seem to create optical illusions to the human eye. The term was actually coined by Time Magazine when writing about the new ’60s art craze.
’60s fashion obsession with black and white lines can be traced to a 1965 exhibit called “The Responsive Eye.” Artists like Bridget Riley were pioneers of the movement and featured at the exhibit.
Like a true artist, Bridget’s feathers were ruffled after seeing how her style was lifted and sold to be worn by the masses, even (albeit unsuccessful) attempting to sue for copyright infringement.
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: Dam Style / ASOS Fashions Finder)
#2: Mondrian Dresses
Yves Saint Laurent invented the Mondrian dress, but it was French Vogue Magazine
#3: Mini Skirts
Designer Mary Quant introduced her version of the above-the-knee skirt to the hip and young things of London’s trendy set. When these mod gals and guys adopted the styles, the fashion collective followed.
The mini skirt’s length continually crept higher, starting at the knee and slowly rising as the boundaries of “appropriate fashion” continued to be pushed during the ’60s. There was an even an extraordinarily short style called the “micro” mini!
By: Sammy Davis Vintage
#4: Space Age Fashions
When Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in 1961 followed by American Alan Shepard that same year, designers like Andre Courreges, Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne began to look beyond the earth’s horizons for fashion inspiration.
Andre Courreges even had a collection called “Moon Girl” in 1964, consisting of simple white mini dresses, helmet hats and shiny plastic white go-go boots. The collection was born from Courreges’ belief that the future of fashion would be a simple one of clean lines and ready-to-wear garments, as if the wearer needed a uniform for steering her space capsule through the air.
Plastic dresses, chain metal tops and clear vinyl rain coats are some of the more memorable mod trends from Space Age fashion, also called the “Cosmic Era” by Courreges for its ethos of unlimited, untapped futuristic potential for mankind.
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: Deconstruction on Madison Avenue / Vintage Venus)
#5: Peter Pan Collars
Dressing like a child became a trend of mod fashion, because the true mod was a young and restless girl or guy anxious for change. The youth had time to adopt the fast-moving trends and therefore became representative of this fashion culture as a whole.
The Peter Pan collar was applied to children’s clothing as early as the 1830s, but was most prominent in the ’20s for little girls’ dresses. The collar was also worn on wedding dresses from the ’20s into the ’40s (who woulda thought?) probably to signify the bride’s virginal, childish innocence (or at least fake it!).
The Peter Pan collar’s design evokes a sense of nymph, as if its wearer is a little girl dressing like a woman. Since the mod fashions were so embraced by the youth of the era, the Peter Pan collar became the collar de rigueur for the era’s marvelously mini dresses.
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: Brigitte Dam / Kadty / Lookbook.nu)
#6: Abstract Prints
After a decade of minimalist and practical prints in the ’50s, the ’60s exploded with color and expression as art met fashion and the body became a canvas for artistic experimentation.
The mod fashion culture was one to “wear and be seen wearing.” The mod youth and courageous housewives wore eye-catching prints of contrasting colors and swirling, multi-layered and optical illusion designs (including Op Art) that were so inexplicable in description that they were simply lumped into the catch-all of “abstract.”
Just about every designer — from the visionary to the traditional — incorporated some sense of abstract into their ’60s designs. Because who wants solid when you can have sensational?
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: Simons Retro / Fashion-Pictures)
#7: Colorful Swing Coats
Swing coats aren’t an invention of the ’60s (you can find ’50s styles too), but wearing a brightly colored coat was a trend of mod fashion indicative of the era’s penchant for the bold and the bright.
Color blocking was another trend born out of mod fashion. Wearing a solid colored swing coat (like a candy colored pink, a Kermit the frog green or a powder blue) with a contrasting colored dress and tights beneath was how a mod would spread her colorful feathers come wintertime.
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: With Love Gabrielle / Inspired Days)
#8: Colorful Tights & Knee Highs
Believe it or not, colored tights were not worn before the ’60s!
The trend was another incarnation of the mod way of dressing like a child since the style was so light and gay, and definitely not recommended for the working woman.
Plus with hemlines so short, colored tights were necessary for some reasonable modesty. Mother of the mini skirt Mary Quant even had a line of tights to pair with her leg-baring styles.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre trends on this list, the helmet hat was an element of Space Age fashion that truly represented designers’ belief that we would all live in outerspace (thus requiring helmets) someday.
While mods weren’t flying off into space wearing them, they were wearing innovative headgear to support fashion’s changing times. The pillbox hat of Jackie O was rejected for these impractical styles that embraced cultural excitement for the era’s Space Age exploration more than attractiveness of an accessory on one’s head.
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: Auction on Ebay)
#10: Silver-White Boots
The white or silver go-go boot was a blend of two trends: A reflection of Space Age fashions (white/silver representing the moon, stars and outerspace) and the skin revealing styles of the era which required a shoe to cover more leg below for some semblance of modesty.
The thick heel of the boot made walking in one’s mod outfit much easier than the tightly fitted looks with proper heels worn in the ’50s. As women’s fashions became more comfortable, so did their roles in society grow.
By: Sammy Davis Vintage (Photo Credit: Bionic Works / Animal House)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Mod fashion is one of the most distinguishable of vintage styles thanks to its colorful prints, jaw-dropping hemlines and innovative designs that until the 1960s, had never been considered fashionable before.
The '60s mod girl was a courageous one because she wasn't afraid to explore the "bold" side of dressing. In the 1960s, the quintessential mod look was a colorful abstract print A-line dress with an attached metal buckle belt worn with a pair of colored tights and white or silver boots.
Sure, the above ensemble works for your Halloween costume, but if you want to dress with mod style for 2012, you can't expect to be taken seriously wearing head-to-toe '60s fashion (trust me, I've tried!)
That's why selectively choosing one trend of mod fashion is the way to go for a modern mod look. Keep reading after the jump for everything you ever wanted to know about how to wear mod fashion without looking like Twiggy or a go-go dancer!
To keep your mod look fresh, I suggested both vintage and modern equivalencies for many of the 10 mod fashion trends listed below. I especially love ModCloth for vintage style looks as inspired by '60s fashion!
What's your opinion: Is mod fashion back in style, or do you risk looking like a character channeling those trends of the '60s?