How Rock n Roll Influenced Fashion

The Early Years

The term Rock n Roll really had its start in the 50s when music took on a more urban, eclectic feel and the genre was born out of this fusion of ideas and sounds. Along with the evolution of the music came the inevitable desire to identify oneself with this exciting new sound, and this is where fashion plays a part. The rock sounds of those early days are of course different from today so let’s take a trip down memory lane and see what styles emerged throughout the past few decades.

The early days of rock music gave birth to the rockabilly sound and with it a distinctive dress code. Combining the rock sound and a little bit of country created this up-tempo music that fueled the dance craze among the youth. Denim begins its love affair with fashion and the classic drainpipe jeans for the men became a staple of the stylish youth, coupled with short sleeve, close fitting shirts with its nod to the western style. For the girls, close fitting tops showed off their curves and shorter skirts with more movement meant the energetic dance moves could be well executed! This look waned in the 60s but has become a staple of many vintage wardrobes and is still well loved among many fashion icons, such as Gwen Stefani and Katie Perry, who can often be seen referencing these early rock styles in their current looks.

Moving On

The 60s are remembered as perhaps the most game changing decade, especially for young people who were finding a voice and a social conscience like never before. The music scene certainly reflected this with a mixture of rock music ranging from the more folk-rock sounds of Bob Dylan to the harder rock of Jimmy Hendrix. The hippy culture and the music of that movement gave rise to the festivals and a whole level of fashion based on more feminine, floral concepts that reflected the mood of the youth and a desire to move away from the harshness of war and worldly strife. Simultaneously, on the British side of the Atlantic the Beatles and other 60s rock artists were leading a more stylized fashion movement where the skinny suit was the king and mini dresses and sleek haircuts became key to looking hip.

Things Get Glam

The 70s saw the evolution of rock music and fashion in a dramatic way. Artists such as David Bowie and Roxy Music were pushing the boundaries of both sound and sexuality and this was reflected in the often-outrageous fashions incorporating tight, metallic clothing and plenty of makeup. This theatrical, stage look became part of street wear for many in that era and certainly items like the platform shoe and bell bottom trousers were hugely popular and have, at various times since, resurfaced.

David Bowie
David Bowie

The 80s music seemed to be once again split on the rock front with hard core rock styles reflected in long standing fashion favorites, like the leather jacket and tight t-shirt and jeans, versus the new romantic wave of rock. This style took out some of the glam and glitter of before and replaced it with flouncy shirts in nod to a bygone swash buckling era!

Present Day

The 90s and on to the present day have really failed to top those heady days of high fashion unless you consider grunge to be more stylish. Currently the world of rock n roll is a melting pot of many styles of music and the fashion it has inspired along the way still surfaces among loyal followers and those craving that vintage vibe.