Many of today’s rock and roll enthusiasts, from the big-name bands right through to the gig-going record collectors, borrow their look from the various rock and roll fashion trends of yesteryear.
While some rock and rollers amalgamate various trends to create an overall aesthetic that represents them, their ideas, and their tastes, others sport a look that is very niche, throwing back to a particular decade or genre.
Rock and roll in most of its iconic incarnations, has always been about throwing the rulebook out of the window and doing what you feel is right, unaffected by oppressive systems or social pressures – but of course, like most trends, some are more meaningful than others.
That said, here is our rundown of the rock and roll fashion trends that have maintained their meaning throughout the decades, giving that all-important substance to musical style.
Spawned in working-class 50s London, the Teddy Boy movement was largely responsible for rock and roll in its purest sense pulsating through the consciousness of frustrated British youth, sparking a subculture that set the UK alight, making way for the Rockers of the early 1960s.
As you can see, the cool Edwardian style of the Teddy Boy has been modernized by the likes of Alex Turner as a nod to a timeless aesthetic that changed the face of British culture with one fleeting movement.
Born out of the beatnik movement, the word hippie comes from the term hipster. Hippie culture started its roots in New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district as a new age evolution of beat culture. The hippies believed in color, freedom, experimentation, free love, and casting away inhibition – and this is clear from the bohemian style clothes and the music of the era.
Bands such as Jefferson Airplane were pivotal in taking the hippie movement to new heights in all of its technicolor glory and today, tie-dye garments, as well as long, flowing hair and big bangles, still reign supreme in the rock and roll world.
Born in 90s Seattle, grunge’s brand of anti-fashion is perhaps one of the most widely adopted rock and roll fashion trends in today’s world. Grunge style was born from punk ideology and earthy hippie aesthetics, creating a rugged, lo-fi look that was made famous by the likes of The Melvins, Pearl Jam, and of course, Nirvana.
Grunge was particularly poignant as it saved a generation of lost youngsters from damnation and produced some of the most provocative, meaningful music of all time. It’s about as real as it gets.
Do you want to know how to dress grunge in the sweltering summer heat? Check out our definitive seasonal fashion guide.
Born from the frustration of social unrest on both sides of the pond, punk rock first found its feet in New York City and London, sticking two fingers up to the man in all of its DIY glory. The ripped drainpipe jeans, flamboyant hairdos, clumpy boots and leather jackets synonymous with punk rock are still donned as a rock and roll badge of glory today and on the whole, still represent courage, originality and raucous defiance.
In a time where the world has seen a great deal of injustice and unrest, the punk rock aesthetic has found a whole new level of meaning once again, and we have the likes of The Ramones, The Stooges, and The Sex Pistols to thank for that.
Gothic fashion conjures up images of dark beauty and unknown pleasures. The gothic fashion trend began as a more edgy, more experimental strand of punk rock, picking up momentum while the original punk movement began to fade. Goth rock took the baton from punk rock, giving new generations an outlet for their thoughts, feelings, and pent-up frustrations, questioning the mainstream and inspiring a wave of poets and musicians that changed the world as we know it.
Despite being incredibly meaningful, in today’s world, misunderstanding and superficial fakery have diluted its power. To avoid such calamities, check out these five things wrong with gothic subculture right now.
While many people feel this is one of the least stylish fashion trends, Britpop is one of the most notable as it borrows strong elements of 60s style – from Beatles to mod – in addition to the rugged leather-clad look of punk rock, all with a modern twist consisting of casual trainers and Addidas shell tops.
The iconic 90s Britpop look is a little confused and a little messy but it combines some of the best elements of rock and roll fashion. Plus, when you think about it, this particular movement was the last notable subcultures cooked up in the UK, with names including Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Ash, The Longpigs, Shed Seven, and more producing some of the most meaningful, anthemic tracks of all time.
Hey hey, my my, rock and roll will never die. – Neil Young
Rock and roll will always live on in one form or another – it’s way to important not to. And if you’re a true rock and roller, you’ll know that these days, you don’t have to stick to one particular genre to be authentic. No, in the modern world, all you have to do is be real and pick the elements of rock and roll fashion that you know means something to you as an individual and represent what you’re all about.
That, my friend, is a snapshot of rock and rock fashion in a nutshell.