Not so much Clothes on Film as Underwear on Film, but far from just an excuse to show off a girl in her smalls, classic Mod era film Quadrophenia (1979) illustrates an interesting point concerning female hosiery in the 1960s.
The sixties was the decade for tights. They were an ideal accompaniment to the mini skirt and came in a wide variety of colours, normally as bright and garish as possible.
Thanks to innovations in textile production, tights (or pantyhose in the U.S.) were straightforward to produce and even easier to wear. Plus with mini skirt hems rising all the time, even the most confident of girls might have baulked showing the tops of their nylon stockings as they moseyed round Kensington to see what Biba had in stock that day.
Yet during Quadrophenia’s house party scene a teenage girl frolicking (with Nick Cotton of all people!) in an upstairs bedroom is clearly shown wearing sheer stockings and a mid-length mini skirt*. Sloppy inaccuracy? Not at all. Just typical of a Mod’s rejection of societal dictates, even when it’s from their own youth culture.
Quadrophenia’s costumes are credited to Joyce Stoneman with real life ex-Mods Jack English and Roger Burton sourcing the clothing. Burton now runs post-war street fashion emporium The Contemporary Wardrobe where he has since costumed Absolute Beginners (1985) and Stoned (2005) amongst many others.
With regards to his decision to dress the girls in stockings for Quadrophenia instead of tights, Jack English remarked, ‘They should be in stockings because women wearing suspenders walked, sat and danced quite differently’.
Being a Mod girl never had anything to do with being comfortable, or following trends. It was a way of life led by a desire to be different from the herd. Quadrophenia, by incorporating suddenly outmoded stockings along with 1950s pointed sweater girl bras, accurately depicts this.
© 2009 – 2013, Chris Laverty.