How to make a 1960s mod dress? This was the challenge sent to me by a reader who, after buying a simple A-line ’60s-ish dress, asked me for ideas on how to make it look more mod. Mod fashion was a colorful new style of clothing worn in the mid-1960s and early ’70s that used circles, lines, and squares in black or white trim to dramatize simple clothing. It was very effective. Most ’60s dresses were brightly colored solids with minimal design and very short hems. To add “modern art” or “pop art” design to these dresses transformed from into walking works of art. They were worn by the bold young women of the Space Age who dared to stand out, be noticed, and be remembered.
There were also ’60s mod print dresses that used repeating geometric lines and shapes to make visual drama. These could be left undecorated or with some contrasting trim to further enhance the mod style. When I was shopping at my thrift stores, I found many more prints and colorblock mod dresses that were perfectly ’60s. I remember these being in style a few years ago, so it makes sense they are plentiful at thrift stores now. If you rather shop online, look at these 1960s style dresses.
Here are some examples of vintage 1960s and ’70s mod dresses:
DIY Mod Dress
Taking these pictures as inspiration, I went out for a quick shop at my local thrift stores. I was in search of a plain or mod print shift or A-line dress, preferably without a defined waist. I could have easily found a shift dress at Target, Walmart, Macy’s, or another clothing shop. Shift dresses are everywhere and fairly cheap to buy.
My thrift shops provided me with two dresses to “mod” up. The first is a plain yellow shift dress – the perfect palette to do anything with. The second was a striped mod-ish shift mini dress. It screamed “I am mod” the moment I saw it. It doesn’t need any decoration, but I wanted to try and add to it and see if I could make it any more ’60s.
Using white and black twill tape, I was able to add some mod lines to these dresses:
Next, I played with buttons. Big white buttons on the yellow and small or large black buttons on the pattern dress:
I also tried making faux pockets:
Another idea was to attach a Peter Pan collar to the neckline. Instead of making one from scratch, I found a collar on a vintage ’80s dress but I didn’t have the heart to destroy one vintage dress for the sake of another. You can get the idea of what it would look like:
So there you have it. A handful of ways to decorate a plain or patterned 60s dress into the mod style. Now all you need are some accessories:
- Tall go go boots, half boots, or mary jane block heel shoes in black or white. Shop 60s shoes.
- A headband or cloche hat
- Tights to match the dress or trim
- Oversized round or square sunglasses
- Wrist length gloves
- Big button earrings, plastic bangle
- Plastic or vinyl purse
Do you enjoy these outfit idea articles? I hope so, because I have more in the works. 1930s? More 1960s? How about winter 40s/50s? All of these will be coming out soon.
Debbie Sessions has been teaching fashion history and helping people dress for vintage themed events since 2009. She has turned a hobby into VintageDancer.com with hundreds of well researched articles and hand picked links to vintage inspired clothing online. She aims to make dressing accurately (or not) an affordable option for all. Oh, and she dances too.