Punk Rock Then and Now: A Styling Guide for Men


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Last Updated on July 17, 2021

Punk is a style of music which is deep rooted into American and British history, so much so that it can still be seen to this day.

First born into existence by the music industry of the 70’s, punk became the way that artists could rebel against the norm and what they felt were the injustices of society.

This included everything from social stratification and the oppression of the working class by politicians, to the fact that record labels and radio stations would take no notice of such alternative bands at the time, and would refuse to promote their music.

In this article I will be telling the story of how punk first hit the scene, and revealing to you how you can pay homage to the iconic style in your everyday wardrobe – it’s not just a phase, mom.

How Punk has Evolved through the Years

Much like the ideology of punk rock itself, the style in which these men and women chose to present themselves was specifically designed to make a statement; to fit outside of the box, and at times be quite shocking and even offensive.

The original punk rockers that revolutionised fashion in the 70’s included bands such as Blondie, The Clash, Ramones and The Stooges.

Fans of the genre could be recognised by leather studded jackets, ripped stockings, multiple layered belts, and yes – the Mohawk.

That said, many individuals who strongly related to the messages that these bands communicated also happened to be from poorer backgrounds, and so they resorted to reinventing the looks with everyday items such as spray painted t-shirts and even binbags.

The 90’s saw a resurgence of popularity within punk and punk fashion, but not like it’s ever been seen before. The culture was no longer recognisable by one defined image, but rather a plethora of different subgenres such as Pop-punk, Emo, and hardcore punk. (I’ve said punk too many times now it sounds weird.)

Read: 11 Top Punk Clothing Brands that Defined the Subculture

Anyway, musicians such as Rancid, Green Day, Blink-182 and Offspring rose to the scene and are now considered 90’s icons who shaped the way for a modern take on the original grunge look.

The trend finally began to make its way into the mainstream media and magazines such as “Thrasher”, “Uncut” and “Sniffin’ Glue”.

It was at this point in the late 90’s that celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Johnny Depp, and Winona Ryder began adopting their own interpretations of the style, and it skyrocketed in popularity, especially among teens.

Johnny Depp of 21 Jump Street


Rock the 90’s Punk Look at Home

Ok – now that you’re fully caught up it’s time to try it out for yourself. I would recommend starting out with a few essential pieces before you fully commit and decide to shave your head and stick a safety pin through your earlobe. These are:

Leather Jacket (or faux leather)

The leather jacket or black biker jacket is a must-have to achieve the punk look, and the great thing is you don’t have to spend a fortune to get one! Visit a few charity shops or vintage fashion stores and you are very likely to come across a leather jacket.

You can then choose to leave it plain or customise it yourself with pin badges, chains, studs, and even acrylic fabric paint!

Skinny Jeans

Get yourself down to Levi’s and get yourself a good pair of 519 Extreme Skinny Jeans. Why Levi’s specifically, I hear you ask?

Well, pretty much all Levi’s stores have an instore tailor, which means you can get your jeans customized with badges, lettering, unique stitching and distressed knees/hemline. Levi’s jeans also last forever so they are great long-term investment.

Studded Belt

Much like the leather jacket it would be a good idea to check out some thrift stores before investing in a brand new belt. If you don’t have any luck finding a bargain, you could try online stores such as KILLSTAR, Wondaland and Rebel Circus who all specialize in alternative clothing for men and women.

For a 70’s punk rock vibes, try layering belts with multiple different textures and designs. For example, you could wear a chain belt, a studded belt and a thin leather belt for added depth.

Tartan Shirt

Tartan entwined into the punk scene thanks to controversial designer and activist Vivienne Westwood. Westwood fit effortlessly into grunge culture because of her seriously edgy and provocative designs that included combat clothing, bondage-inspired couture and in later years, her tartan and Harris Tweed.

Layer a long tartan shirt of your colour preference under your leather jacket and you will instantly create a rock and roll look. You could also style it by tying around your waist, or by fastening a tartan scarf to your belt.

Combat Boots

Get into the 90’s spirit from head to toe by completing the look with leather or PU combat boots with a thick sole. A great example of this accessory is good ol’ Doc Martens 1460 boots. They may be a pain to break in – but they last forever and elevate just about any outfit into a cool, edgy ensemble.

Don’t be afraid to stand out, express yourself, and explore a new style that youve never tried before. Fashion is a way in which we can freely express ourselves and make a political statement without even speaking a word. In the words of Green Day Guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong:

Punk has always been about doing things your own way. What it represents for me is ultimate freedom and a sense of individuality.”

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You can also check out our other 90’s styling advice articles for more information on how you can get the look, and follow us on Instragram, for that daily fashion fix!