Trendzilla: The Harrington Jacket

I love the Mods

Fully immersing yourself in a subculture is tough work.

Let's take the rockabilly kids: It's not just the wardrobe that needs to transform. It's also the hair, the music, the footwear, the accessories, the personal heroes, the significant other, the very permanent tattoos, the interior of your living space, probably even the car.

That's dedication. I once even saw a rockabilly couple with a rockabilly baby—complete with a noble, baby-sized pompadour and cuffed dark denim. Impressive! (And adorable!)

While many scoff at the seemingly brainless follow-the-leader aspect of the, uh, historical (or something) subculture, I just find it admirable that people admire a certain lifestyle of yesteryear so much that they take it up even today, here in 2008.

Now, Mods. I love the Mods. I fucking love the music (ska! Soul! R&B! The Jam, the Who, Dusty Springfield, the Kinks, the Yardbirds!); the ridiculously slick, tailor-made wardrobes; the dancing; the Vespas and the Lambrettas.

The Mods were pretty much 20th-century dandies, too cool to fuck up their wardrobes, opting to dance and pop amphetamines rather than get into any kind of (real) trouble.

The subculture originated in London in the late '50s, and there are several theories on their origins, but one popular speculation pinpoints its emergence to cliques of dissenting and disenchanted teenagers—like every good movement—with familial connections to the London garment trade. These kids were obsessed with such modern styles as the slim-cut, three-button Italian suit; heavily customizing their scooters with tons of mirrors; reading existentialist literature; and watching Nouvelle Vague films.

The Harrington jacket is a key accessory to any Mod's wardrobe. They're lightweight—usually made of cotton or wool—and have a tartan lining. While they were first produced in the 1930s by British clothing company Baracuta, they were popularized in the '60s by the Mods and the skinheads, and then again during the '70s Mod revival.

The style's a classic—Mod connections or not. Just about every men's sportswear label makes their own version, and just about every man's wardrobe contains one. Sinatra, Christopher Reeve, Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley wore 'em. The Harrington jacket has a relatively short cut, with a normally elasticized waistband meeting just at the hip, along with a tab collar that can be folded down. It's easy to wear, and you can throw it over just about anything, including all those Fred Perry and Ben Sherman polo tees every aspiring, latter-day Mod has stacked up.

 
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