Quadrophenia: Cream & Brown Print Shift Dress

Some of the fashions in 1960s set Mod drama Quadrophenia (1979) might seem a touch ‘off’ to the uninitiated. The Mod look has been replicated so much over the years that a skinnier, more fancy interpretation is currently sported by vintage connoisseurs than perhaps ever really existed.

Take Phil Daniels’ long sleeved polo jersey during the house party sequence. On initial inspection it looks too baggy to be Mod, but tell that to Quadrophenia’s costume scourers Jack English and Roger Burton (credited wardrobe by Joyce Stoneman). They were actually there; most of us weren’t.

Also rather memorable during this party sequence is a bobbed hair ‘modette’ girl wearing a cute brown and cream mini-dress:

Knee length semi-fitted sleeveless shift dress, brown and white spotted flower print, high round neckline with contrast trim, pussy bow and zip closure up the back.

This is a typically referenced sixties item. It was gradually refined and appliquéd towards the end of the decade, but always retained the basic shift shape hanging straight from the shoulders with little or no attention drawn to the waist. Note the contrast neck trim – a crucial sixties detail.

Featuring a minimal colour palette, this dress is flatteringly stretchy thanks to the use of then remarkable polyester fabrics. During the day it would probably have been worn with fashionable brightly coloured tights and an A-line coat. Bare-legged was perfectly acceptable for the evening; plus Mods did whatever they damn well pleased anyway.

Thanks to their stretch fabric these dresses are still a relatively safe retro buy from eBay or vintage shops and such like (providing you check the measurements). Expect to pay around £8.00 – £15.00 for a clean example with the odd pull. Only go higher for a well-known label.

Refreshing how this film was made the late seventies yet resists a romantic interpretation of the first Mod era. Quadrophenia is a fascinating retrospective piece, not only for its fashions, but also its lifestyle choices. Notice the cigarette hanging from this girl’s fingers; once the epitome of youth cool, now the scourge of our times. Much has changed, from the sixties and from 1979.

© 2009 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.