In one way or another, we have all been touched by the fever of good old rock n’ roll. It might have been through your parent’s dusty records, old mixtape collections, or a cool clip from an iconic music festival on YouTube. Rock’s influence as a music genre has spanned generations and still continues to be heard on the radio, movies, and television shows.
Rock music hits a chord of emotion that possibly no other genre does. It exudes a longing for the transformative era when wild hairstyles, unusual make-up, and fashionable yet quirky outfits united people of different races and backgrounds. Don’t you want that classic look?
Here, we’ll look into how to dress like a proper rockstar.
History of Rock Music
Rock is a broad genre of music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States during the late 1940s and the early 1950s. This was then developed into a range of styles. Surprisingly for non-music enthusiasts, rock and roll have been described as the merger of country music and the African-American’s rhythm and blues. It also incorporates electric blues, folk, jazz, and classical music styles.
A Timeline of Rockstar Outfits
Needless to say, rock stars changed the face of fashion forever. Ever since the golden era, rock stars have become the world’s style influencers. Each new sound that rock influenced, from punk to metal to grunge, brought in new icons, looks, and loyal fans who had the money and the buying power to copy their idols’ looks.
The Beatles and the ‘60s
In the 1960s, The Beatles, who are the first ever international boyband, spearheaded the dabbling in countercultural fashion such as DIY gear, tie-dye shirts and self-made jewelry.
Despite featuring a rebellious style for a time, the Beatles also sometimes opted for classic suits and ties, the look which they are most known for 50 years later. Wearing professional-looking outfits while performing a new rugged genre of music that started a cultural revolution is the perfect rock star contrast.
Rock fashion of the ‘70s
After the decade of hipster fashion, rock music diverged into more styles, each one trying to top the other. From Bowie’s unconventional, gender-defying clothing style to more country-influenced rock stars like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Then came punk rock in the 70s, which looked exactly like how it sounded. Punk was all about embracing authenticity via battered jeans, Dr. Martens, and leather jackets that were all the rave at the time.
Glam Rock in the ‘80s
When the 1980s came in, pop bands went against the mainstream by putting a countercultural spin on favorite fashion choices like knitted cardigans and checkered tops. Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses turned heads when he wore a leather jacket with a tartan shirt around his waist and only trousers for pants. He proceeded to wear similar-looking outfits for years, establishing the look as one of the most iconic styles in rock history.
The hip-hop wave in the ‘90s threatened rock music’s hegemony, complete with oversized jeans, bucket hats, and over-the-top bling and accessories. The 2000s left us with much regretted fashion choices, such as crazy gelled-up hairstyles, skinny jeans, and tight-fitting t-shirts.
Creating Your Rockstar Outfit
So how does one dress like a rock star these days without looking like too much of a wannabe? Surely, anyone can party like one, but is it easy to dress like one? Dressing like a rock star could serve as an escape from the mundane outfits we have to put on everyday, and in this era of budget but stylish fashion, I think we can all agree that it’s a reachable goal.
Embarking on a new fashion journey might be an expensive feat, especially if you’re considering changing your entire wardrobe. First, identify from the categories below which pieces you already have. Your transformation would then be easier and even add some authenticity to your new looks.
Make a spending limit and know what stores have affordable prices that can help you stay within it. Your local thrift shops can also be a great alternative and can contain some really unexpected purchases.
If you need help with figuring out the right rock star outfit for you, we have come up with a simple guide on creating one out of anything you have in your closet. Remember, rock stars do not discriminate on gender, so feel free to borrow pieces of clothing from your mom, dad, brother or sister.
Rock stars usually go for darker schemes, mainly the classic all-black look. But don’t be scared to go for some flashy or bright colors that can complement your whole look, or mix in some clothing inspired by the psychedelic era of The Beatles. The whole premise of a rock star outfit is not caring about rules or standards and presenting yourself in whatever way you want everyone else to see you.
You might have some old jackets or accessories that are already in your wardrobe that may just need a few adjustments to look cool again. Your parents may have old clothes from their time that they would otherwise just throw away. All these can be recycled into a rock star outfit under a budget. After all, vintage clothing has made a comeback in recent years.
Your top is very often the highlight of your outfit. This is especially true for rock stars who are very creative with their top choices. Some rock stars in history have opted to go shirtless either for aesthetic or sheer comfort. Though most of them chose to wear outrageous tops that spoke to the audience almost as much as their music did. Here are a few top ideas that you may want to take note of.
Everybody needs at least one good leather jacket that can go with any top. Nothing says ‘80s glam rock more than a shiny black leather jacket paired with leather pants and a bunch of accessories. A good pair of Ray-Bans will be the perfect addition to this look. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator films.
If you are vegan or are simply an advocate against animal cruelty, there are several alternatives to leather on the market. They can look just as cool and are essentially guilt-free. Even a fantastic-looking faux leather moto jacket can do the trick for your outfit.
Denim is one of the most versatile materials you can find. Their classic look can fit in almost any environment. A denim jacket paired with a plain white shirt will remind everyone of the biggest rock stars of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Wear it with a pair of jeans, tights, or joggers, and you’re good to go.
Denim-wear also looks better with more wear and tear, so keeping a denim jacket around for a long time will only make you look even cooler. You can even attach some vintage pins and artsy patches that could give it more flair.
A good suit is also quite a rock n’ roll classic thanks to the Beatles, and you can choose anything that goes with your taste. You can opt for a classic business suit for that rock and corporate contrast or a bright, flashy suit that belongs on the red carpet. In terms of color choices, you can go with almost anything. All black, corduroy, or if you’re a big Jimi Hendrix fan, Gucci-like crushed velvet can be the way to go.
Another must-have is a plaid shirt, so if you don’t have one in your closet right now, drop by your local thrift store whenever you have the time. They’re edgy, comfortable, and can be styled in different ways. One trend is called a shacket, where you can tie a plaid shirt around your waist.
Cropped shirts have also made a comeback in the past years. Concert tees, band shirts, and oversized vintage t-shirts are always a go-to for any grunge look. You can also do a DIY cropped shirt by using a pair of scissors to improvise an old top.
If you have some old school shirts that you no longer wear regularly, you can create your own cropped shirt out of those. That way, you’re almost sure nobody else will be wearing the same shirt as you are.
Old Shirts You Forgot About
We all have that bottom stack in our closets that we haven’t touched in years. Maybe they don’t fit us anymore or current trends have rendered them obsolete, but you are sure to find a few shirts in there from your past.
If you have any old shirts from previous generations in your closet, you can also wear those and feel confident about having authentic classic rock vibes. You can even cut off the sleeves or rip holes into them if you are feeling adventurous. Remember, most shirts are only as cool as the way you wear them.
A good pair of pants or shorts that complement your top is key to completing your rock star outfit. Whether it is David Bowie’s denim jeans or Jon Bon Jovi’s tight leather pants, this piece of your outfit can make or break your look. Here are some of our bottom ideas that you can use to create your perfect rock concert fit.
There can never be too much leather for rock stars, and you just can’t rock n’ roll these days without some killer black leggings. Black leather leggings are the ultimate must-have for any rocker chick or dude, and can be styled in various ways. The shinier and bolder it is, the better. They can look great with a concert tee, canvas sneakers, or an oversized plaid jacket.
Leather pants may not be as trendy for everyday wear as they were in the 80s, but they still draw looks from people on the street. These days, you can find cheap leather pants in your local mall, department store, or thrift shop. There is no need to shell out hundreds of dollars for pants that you will most likely end up ripping or staining as you rock out all night.
Another wardrobe staple is black jeans, or any slim-fitting jeans in general, which can dictate your look depending on how beat-up they are. Think emo to hard metal rock stars. A good pair of jeans can last years and even longer in the rock n’ roll scene where nobody judges you for having ripped or shredded pants.
For the ladies, grunge style dresses or skirts are also a good alternative because they’re quite versatile. And you can look for dresses that are skater cuts, dark floral patterns, or slip dresses made from lace or velvet. Simple, high-waisted plaid skirts are great too and can be paired with a cropped or band tee, and they look fantastic with boots.
True rock stars do not see gender in clothing, so for the men out there, feel free to rock a skirt if you wish. Wearing tights or even jeans under your skirt is also a viable option.
Shredded denim pants are also something that almost every Millennial or Gen Xer already has, and can be layered with fishnet stockings for an even punkier look. If you prefer a more vintage aesthetic, you can thrift some old jeans and tear it up any way you like.
Rock outfits are very versatile because no piece of clothing is ever confined to a specific gender. This helps you save money because some outfits tend to be cheaper for males than for females in most stores and vice-versa. Cross-check between the sections when shopping for a good rock star outfit. If you have a smaller build, you might even find items that fit you from the children’s section.
The shoes you wear can also make or break the rock star aesthetic. A popular trend these days is buying a great pair of shoes and working on the rest of your outfit from there. Here are some footwear recommendations that can make you look like a rockstar if done right.
The number one must-have that can help you dip your feet into the rock-style look are a pair of Chelsea boots. They are the perfect accessory to streamline your style and would go perfectly with your favorite pair of jeans, t-shirt or button-down, and a blazer. Once you think this look is right for you, you can then move on to leather jackets, moto jeans and more daring tops.
Studded boots, combat boots, and laced-up boots are also great options, and who could look down on a classic like a pair of Doc Martens boots.
Converse sneakers, which were first popularized as basketball shoes, are now more heavily used in the mosh pit due to the influence of rock stars like Kurt Cobain. Any style from plain white or black to leopard print will do.
Popular celebrities are all about those luxury brand sneakers these days. The average person cannot, and honestly should not, spend thousands of dollars for running shoes or trainers that look just like the regular, mid-range priced ones. If you want to shell out on a one-time big-time sneaker, Air Jordans are still the gold standard for the industry and will only set you back a couple of hundred dollars.
The sneaker world has become so large that you will now be able to find cheap sneakers that are just as cool with your rock star outfit as any. Choose the right one for your style and run with it.
No outfit is complete without complementing accessories. Rock star outfits are known for their crazy accessories as much as leather jackets and top hats. Metal crosses and spike studs are what transform an ordinary outfit into a rock star getup. Here are a few items that you can add to your repertoire.
A signature hat can accentuate the overall look you’re trying to go for. Whether it’s a fedora, baker boy, or beanie hat, anything can help break you out of your comfort zone and give you that edgy look. Fedoras are great when paired with t-shirts, grungy dresses and leather jackets. On the other hand, wide-brimmed Panama and Madrid-style (cowboy style) hats are great with heavily layered outfits.
Baker boy caps are usually paired with leather pants and band tees. Beanies are a rocker-chick staple that look super casual with a t-shirt, jeans, and canvas sneakers.
If you don’t want to shell out for a new hat, you can always just cut up old shirts and pants and convert them into a cool bandana or any type of headgear you prefer. Otherwise, your local thrift shop will most likely have multiple cheap options for hats that will fit you.
Belts and Bags
Edgy outfits look even better when paired with studded, grommet, or chain detail accessories. A belt with studded details can edge up any shirt or jeans, and a grommet belt is perfect with crop tops, fishnet tights, and wide-leg jeans. You can also never go wrong with a studded bag to top off your outfit. For men, the right backpack will look much better than most people would expect.
Jewelry with sharp and unusual designs such as spikes can make your whole outfit look intentional and savvy. There are many inexpensive jewelry stores out there where you can find what you need. Chokers, spikes, metal crosses and earrings are also good for making a statement. Cuff-like leather bracelets and showy rings, like those worn famously by Hollywood star Johnny Depp, could also be a good alternative.
If you want rock star sunglasses, the aviator and Wayfarer styles are the standard go-to. Ray-Ban Wayfarers are considered a classic, and are good with every face shape. Quite thick and sturdy, they are always great investments. Large round or square sunglasses look best in all black, and retro-cat style sunglasses are for those who want to look fun and unexpected.
Like most themed outfits, your hairstyle will stand out just as much as any other part of your look. Your hair is often the first thing a person will notice about you, especially in a jam-packed crowd. Hence, having the perfect rock star hairstyle for you will go a long way towards completing your look.
Pick a haircut that fits your style. Subtle or extreme, or even in between is fine depending on the vibe you want to give off. Shaggy or unruly hairstyles are more common so you can look like a rebel. Or if you love Rebel Without A Cause, styling products like hair gel, paste, pomade, mousse cream, or hairspray is the way to get that James Dean daydream look. You can also purchase temporary hair dye and go crazy with it.
For any gender, long or short hair doesn’t matter because rock stars have flaunted and looked good at any length. In fact, some of history’s most iconic rock stars like Billy Corgan, Phil Collins, and Tom Morello have sported completely bald heads. Whether that was intentional or not doesn’t matter because they all pulled it off wonderfully. You can also use a wig if you want to make an even better first impression.
Good barber shops can craft the perfect hairstyle you want, but they can also get quite pricey. If you are working with a budget, a good gel or wig will do wonders.
Take a look at the rockstars you’ve modeled your outfits on and observe how they wear their makeup. There’s usually hardly any or it might be totally over the top. YouTube tutorials can be of great help, and don’t be afraid to try some new styles that you can eventually adjust to your own preference. The most common looks include heavy black eyeliner if you want to go for an emo or goth look. For a more glamorous take, colorful schemes, shapes, and patterns that exaggerate facial features like the great David Bowie.
Like everything else on our list, makeup style for rock stars is unisex. Don’t worry about color palettes made specifically for men or women and just pick the ones you think are right for you.
Rockstar Outfits You Can Take Inspiration From
Rock stars started trends that defined how a whole generation dressed and presented themselves. If you’re still confused on where to begin, maybe first identify with performers that you admire. Explore your options and note the common styles in a genre of rock music that interests you. Here are a few inspirations from across the decades that could get your creative rockstar-inspired gears turning.
Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock
One of the most recognizable outfits in music history, this denim on denim is a timeless look. Years ago you might have been advised to mix and match colors, but today you can easily do it as Elvis did it. Everybody wants to be The King, so why not dress up like him?
At the very least, this outfit will be a great conversation starter for true rock n’ roll fans.
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust Jumpsuits
Bowie challenged gender norms with the characters he created and he reinvented himself and his music every single time. Sequined jumpsuits and red hair was his most iconic look. But what we can gain inspiration from is how he inspired the designers and pop stars of today like Lady Gaga. Bowie taught the world to embrace their identity and base their wardrobe on that.
Lenny Kravitz in the 90s
Kravitz’s style evolved from cowboy to leather jackets and trousers, so today he’s a mish-mash of all those. He loves well-tailored pieces, such as suits that look fantastic with sunglasses and some killer boots. He also sported dreadlocks, bobbed hair, and Afros. But he’s also a king of accessories, boasting a fabulous collection of rings, necklaces, bracelets, and his trademark nose ring.
A Final Word From The Trending Man
Teenage angst, rebellion, and the concept of never fitting in will always be trademarks of rock that will stick around in every generation that comes around. Rock fashion even incorporates well into the more environmentally aware fashion trends of today. It encourages repurposing and the reusing of clothing pieces.
Rock culture may be glamorous and often over-the-top, but there is no need for it to be unnecessarily wasteful. Use what you have in your closet, break it down if you have to, and mix and match to create the rock star outfit of your heart’s desire.
Based on all those who came before, the key to achieving the rock star look is authenticity. After all, no rock star is afraid of showing himself to the world and owning any stage he is on. You can be in well-tailored suits, all black leather, or crazy flashy outfits that could blind anyone within a 10-meter radius. Being a rock star means truly embracing your chill or crazy side, and nothing in between.
Hopefully, these fashion tips and tricks have taught you how to blend tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories to fully express your inner rock star.