80s Mod rock fashions

The 1980s was an eclectic style era where influences came from absolutely everywhere, and fashion moments were fast paced and defined by tribes. Taking historical imagery and working it to something new was a style feature of the decade. The mod rock style revival of the early ‘80s was no exception, and it was purposefully lacking in the flamboyance and romanticism of later reworked fashions.


The mod revival started in the late 1970s, combining fashion elements from ‘60s mod music with ‘70s punk influences. Taking its style from ‘60s bands like The Who and the Small Faces, ‘80s mod rock fashion was a quintessentially British rock look. Clean, simple tailoring was the dress of choice. Men wore monochrome suits and the Union Jack was the only important print. Being the 1980s, mod fashions were a bit more casual than the ’60s. So instead of exorbitant Italian tailoring, straight cut jeans were often mixed with fitted jackets and shirts.

Men's hair

Mod revival hair was sharp and clean, taking a direct influence from the razor-cut styles of the 1960s. This distinctive look was one of the most obvious fashion markers of the time. Haircuts would be straight and squared, often with a strong fringe, as famously sported by Paul Weller. The mod music of the time had been greatly influenced by the ‘70s, with bands like the Specials and Madness making music containing elements of Ska. So by the 1980s, shaved heads were also part of the mod rock look.


Anyone who wanted to accessorise their mod rock look in the 1980s with an actual instrument had to choose a Rickenbacker guitar. Although music and rock bands were a huge part of mod culture, the trend was always about style over a single type of music. Scooters were also fashionable, in a revival of ‘60s brands like Vespa and Lambretta. Followers of ‘80s bands such as Madness might wear dark glasses like singer Suggs.


As with 1960s mods, the ‘80s mod rock revival was a very male-dominated fashion, and one that’s easiest to remember in terms of scooters, suits and men’s hair cuts. Mod women in the 1960s wore a similar but subdued style to the men with clean lines and simple but expensive tailoring. In the 1980s this look changed a lot, and possibly due to the fusion with punk, ‘80s mod rock women wore more eclectic styling. The look was no longer about buying expensive clothes. Spiky hair, piercings and bright eye shadows were worn alongside simple separates, union jacks and crisp t-shirts. The leggings and mini skirts of the era might be mixed with denim or a sharp bob hair cut, in hints of a look that finally gave way to the exuberance of the New Romantics and ended the brief mod rock fashion revival.

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About the Author

Shefali Choudhury is a qualified make-up artist and nail technician, with more than 12 years experience of professional makeup in beauty, film and theater. She graduated in fine art from Central Saint Martins and has been writing professionally since 2007.