In ‘real life’ I am a ‘non-technical’ IT manager with about 20 year’s experience in IT Operations management, Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery for large blue chips. I also have a post-grad in Coaching and Mentoring practice (with a heavy bias in developmental psychology); I run an extra-curricular Mentoring programme with my current employer, and also coach in my spare time. Personally, I would describe myself as a mid-life, modern-day, clothesaholic Mod. This blog is all about the latter!
Whilst I align myself with the Mod movement I’m not a slave to ‘the rules’ when it comes to my own personal style. For me, the Modernist movement is an ethos not a set of wardrobe rules. It’s about putting your best foot forward, making an effort or, to quote Pete Meadon in, the now legendary NME interview with Steve Turner, it’s ‘clean living under difficult circumstances’. So, I have brogues, loafers and Dr Martens; the odd Penguin, Fred Perry, Merc and Lambretta garment and one or two vintage pieces. HOWEVER, I spend most of my days in shift dresses and heels and LOVE switching up my style with current trends that suit. I’m a forty something women with a little disposable income who’s becoming more aware of the phrase “age appropriate” (which I hate by the way) and I LOVE scouring magazines and websites for style inspiration, which I try to pull together from my own wardrobe, charity shops, online and the high street. I’ve also gained some dressmaking skills along the way, which has completely opened up my shopping options …ever seen something and thought if only it was a bit more nipped in at the waist, didn’t have sleeves, was shorter/longer/fit better? Well, gain some basic dressmaking skills and charity/vintage shops become an absolute treasure trove of opportunities to create unique, made to measure pieces.
This blog will be a reflection of my style (and style inspirations) and the Mod & scooter scene as I travel the country on Beryl (the Yellow Peril), my trusty 1959 Lambretta LI 150.
COMING OUT OF THE (MOD) CLOSET
Born in 1970 I became aware of the punks, skinheads and rude boys & girls in the late 70s. From my difficult beginnings, I spied this cool breed of people from my bedroom window, or walking to/from school and I saw, what I interpreted as freedom; something I wouldn’t begin to feel until I was well into my twenties and, probably didn’t have until my late thirties. But, back in the lost years of the seventies I longed for a monochrome pencil skirt, button down shirt and bomber jacket. I would have drawn the line at a suedehead, even a feathered one but, how I envied their freedom to choose! The one thing I did have access to, albeit it through the radio was music. When I heard The Prince and One Step Beyond, a lifetime love affair with Madness was well and truly born as was my introduction to Two Tone, SKA and reggae. I read about the new breed of 80s Mods in borrowed magazines and gained a new obsession, which I could only sing along to.
Life began to change for the better by the time I hit my teens and in the mid-eighties I found myself dancing the night away to pounding baselines in sweaty ‘blues’ parties usually held in someone’s house. By the late eighties I discovered garage and acid house parties in North London and, having left home at 17 I worked three jobs, 9am to midnight, Monday to Friday so I could pay the bills, feed myself and fund weekend round-trips to London, where I would meet up with friends who were setting up and running the parties. They were mostly held in disused warehouses and garage spaces but, the two most memorable were in the basement of a gold factory, with sweaty brown condensation dripping down from the ceilings and, another in an empty, disused municipal swimming pool. By the time the scene had reached the masses and the music had turned into something that could only be tolerated by the chemically enhanced, spaced-out ravers who were prepared to jump around in a muddy field all night (I prefer a little more comfort and decorum) I had moved on. I discovered Jungle! On the last Saturday of the month a girlfriend and I used to jump on a coach to London and catch the 73 bus to Paradise in Angel, Islington. I enjoyed some of my best nights in that intimate little club, with two floors of garage and jungle beats, before spilling out into the dawn to the amusement of the Angel market traders setting up for the day. But, eventually real life takes over and, by the mid-nineties life begins to shift toward a more sensible path. I went back to school, alongside my full-time job and, I gained some professional qualifications. Later, in my thirties, I gained my post-grad in Oxford – not bad for the girl who had left school at 16 and left home a year later.
MID LIFE MOD
The wonderful thing about life and experiences is that the older I get the more comfortable I am in my own skin (and my own clothes). I’m a great believer in personal responsibility, reflection and learning – I own my actions and my decisions, I reflect on my experiences and choices; I learn from them and move on. A simple but extremely effective formula for a happy life. By my late thirties I had really begun to embrace my style and, if I’m honest, gave myself permission to indulge a passion for something quite frivolous. Around this time I met my husband and best mate, George who, after a couple of years working out together in the gym finally asked me out on our first date. Before we dated George told me about his ‘wardrobe rotation’ – over time items of clothing would be relegated from ‘best’ to ‘every-day’ wear and then ‘work-wear’ before being binned – I knew we would be friends! We had a great first date talking about the many things we had in common, including the fact that neither of us were going to get married again (doesn’t everyone have the marriage conversation on their first date?!). A year later we were married, on a frosty, sub-zero afternoon in New York.
George and I share a love affair with Mod, dating back to the seventies and, a similar back catalogue of music. George had always promised himself a classic Lambretta, once he had the disposable income available to buy and run one and, because I didn’t fancy riding pillion he generously bought me one too. Lammy, Beryl and Ruby joined our family and we proudly joined the ranks of the returning mid-life Mods & Scooterists, all embracing our Mod-life crisis.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I have toyed with the idea of designing/making clothes, opening an online shop, running events, becoming a personal shopper – you know that mid-life feeling where you feel like you should be doing something different? However, if I’m being completely honest, the bottom line is that I love my job and, I really just want to play with clothes …and, The Mod Closet was born. The purpose of this blog is to indulge the little girl who never had a dressing up box.
I’m hoping this blog will appeal to men and women like me, of a certain age, who are passionate about their own style and obsessed with what’s hanging in their closets. Or, mid-life Mods & scooter riders like George and I who are interested in the scene. Join me as I tentatively scoot around the country, meet amazing people, bust some middle-aged moves on the dance floor and rummage around charity shops, vintage fairs, online and on the High Street.
Thank you for reading,