Style Files: Mr Paul Weller Talks Us Through His Best Looks

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Style Files: Mr Paul Weller Talks Us Through His Best Looks

Words by Mr Ian Stone

16 July 2020

One of the most famous musicians on the planet and a god-tier mod style icon, Mr Paul Weller has been part of the UK’s cultural landscape since he was a teenager when his band, The Jam, exploded onto the scene in the 1970s. Drawing influences from The Who, The Kinks and American Motown, they went on to become one of the most influential British bands in history. (I know: I was one of countless fans who loved them and I recently wrote a memoir of that period.) Mr Weller has just released his 15th solo album, On Sunset (watch the video for the title track here). But we are not here to talk music. MR PORTER is seeking the Modfather’s counsel on style.

Here, we have selected six iconic images that chart Mr Weller’s inimitable fashion choices through the ages – from the early days of The Jam through The Style Council years to the present day – so he can talk us through them, imparting style tips and regaling anecdotes along the way. It’s quite clear that, over the course of his 50-year career, his clothes have been as important as the music.

“It’s all about the love of detail,” he says. “Detail is everything. It was the same for The Beatles. It all went hand in hand. You love the music, but you also like the haircuts and the clothes and what they talked about, their references. It was kind of like an education for me.”

01. The Jam

“We’d have to get the suits cleaned whenever we could. By the end of the tour, we looked like chimps”

“You have to have a look,” says Mr Weller. “We’d always had this thing when we started as kids, The Jam always had matching outfits. Who knows why, but we did. We went through various things and then I had the mod thing going on and I had to try and convert everyone [fellow band members Messrs Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler] – this is what we need to do, where we need to go. It was mad how it all took off with those shoes from Shellys. They must have made so much money from those. They probably retired off the back of them. We got a few free pairs, but that was it. Ten per cent would’ve been nice. For that tour, where this photo is from, we had black suits made in Burton in Woking where you could pay weekly on the knock. We did 40-odd dates and we’d come off stage soaked ’cos we were playing little underground clubs. We’d have to try and get the suits cleaned whenever we could. By the end of the tour, they’d all shrunk. We looked like chimps, but the clothes were just as much a part of it as anything else.”

02. The Style Council

“Every look I had at the time, I believed in. I had a concept in my head”

“I know how upset people felt about The Jam splitting up in 1982. I felt exactly the same way about The Beatles. I was like, ‘What are you doing splitting up? What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ But I needed to move away from The Jam and part of that moving away was the outfits. I don’t have any regrets. Every look I had at the time, I believed in. I had a concept in my head. We can all look back at our past and we’ve all made fashion faux pas, but who cares? With The Style Council, there were more colours. Me and Mick [Talbot], especially in the early days of The Style Council, we spent a lot of time in Europe, in Paris and Italy. Seeing all these colours and these jumpers. At that time in England, you couldn’t really get that stuff. It came a little later, all the designer gear, Fiorucci and Fila and Lacoste, the stuff that casuals wore at football matches.”

03. The 1960s revival

“I never dress to impress or any of that nonsense. I just do what feels right”

“I really liked those corduroy trousers. That stuff is vintage. I was hanging out with people who were into vintage clothing. I was going through a late-1960s period here. I think it was just that I grew up in the 1960s and those formative years from about 1966 up till 1972, I think that period had the finest clothes ever worn. Normally, I just please myself with clothes. There have been a few things that I’ve brought home and my missus has said, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ But I never dress for anyone but myself. I really don’t. I never dress to impress or any of that nonsense. I just do what feels right. And there’s no thought in my head of ‘I’m a style icon, I’d better be careful here’. Not for one minute. I couldn’t give a fuck about any of that. If people like it, great. And if they don’t, that’s fine as well.”

04. The space-age mod

“I’m not nostalgic at all, but some things have deep cultural links to me. They go beyond fashion”

“That is a good jacket. I did a solo acoustic tour around 2000 and it’s a sort of millennial mod look. Quite often, in my mind, it’s quite a distorted view of what I’m doing, but I thought it was sort of a space-age thing, the next phase of mod moving into the new decade. I don’t know what happened to that jacket. I’ve always got shot of all my stuff. I wish I’d kept it, just as artefacts. I have this thing where once or twice a year, I have a spring clean and I give away stuff. I always think, just keep what you need. I’m not nostalgic at all, but the things we’re talking about have very deep cultural links to me. They go beyond fashion.”

05. The class act

“When she first met him, my mum thought my dad had money ’cos he had five suits”

“I like that look. That blazer. It’s nice when a posh look gets appropriated by other people. The whole Teddy boy thing came from the upper classes and the working-class lads sort of reassembled it. The same thing happened with the Ivy League look. It’s just different when you see it worn on a bunch of young, working-class kids. My dad had a bit of Teddy boy about him. His quiff remained for ever. My mum always said that when she first met him, she thought he had money because he had five suits. He was quite stylish, but then he very quickly lost that and it was a black leather bomber jacket. That was it.”

06. The changing man

“I don’t think much about being age appropriate”

“This is from my new album artwork. It’s a great photograph and I really like that suit. I bought it off the peg. I can’t remember where it’s from. I liked it because I’d been thinking about Oxford bags for some time. Also, I like it because the jacket’s really tight fitting. It’s got a 1930s feel to it, also an early 1970s vibe. I can imagine Bowie wearing it – that’s good enough for me. I don’t think much about being age appropriate. Sometimes men have to be careful, but I think it depends on your body shape. There aren’t that many rules, but if you’re 16st, don’t wear tight trousers. I look at my old mod mates and we’re all still obsessed about clothes. One’s a real Soho jazz mod, another one is a bit more Ivy League. I love all that, when people put their own personality to it. I think that’s why the mod thing has never died. Every generation comes along and does their own thing. That’s modernism.”

On Sunset_ is out now_

To Be Someone: A Memoir About One Teenager’s Obsession With The Jam (Unbound) by Mr Ian Stone is out now

All mod cons

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