6 Style Lessons Inspired by Musicians

Image via HiLobrow

The lull in live music activity for me this winter has me dreaming of springtime. Where will I be? What festivals will I attend? WHAT ON EARTH WILL I WEAR?! I am not ashamed to admit that I am one of the thousands of people that enjoy creating unique looks for festivals/shows. Playing dress up makes every event feel like a celebration, and as a result I feel much less inhibited. It is also a chance to take a stand against flower crowns and culturally appropriated Native American headdresses everywhere. Fashion is an opportunity to send a message, transform into a mythical being, and spread cheer (or pure confusion/terror, whichever is your thing) to the masses. There are classic style icons in the music world (lookin at you David Bowie and Stevie Nicks), but these days, I often turn to recent artists when creating a memorable look. Here are a few people to keep in mind for inspiration. They also happen to make some kick-ass music.

Kathleen Hanna

kathleen hanna

Image via YouTube

     As the front-woman for 90’s punk band Bikini Kill and later for Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna addressed social issues both in her music, and with her radical fashion statements. She is infamous for performing with profane labels on her stomach. She explains:

“I felt that if I wrote ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ or ‘incest victim’ on my stomach, then I wouldn’t just be silent…a lot of guys might be thinking this anyway when they look at my picture, so this would be like holding up a mirror to what they were thinking.”(“Kathleen Hanna: Bikini Kill,” 100)
Sourced from Enjoy Your Style


Image via Styleite

Much of Riot Grrl fashion was about challenging the status quo surrounding female sexuality. By combining baggy t-shirts with garters and stockings, or babydoll dresses with combat boots, women like Hanna sent that the message that it was OK for a woman to feel sexy without fear of sexual aggression.

Lesson: Fashion can be a tool for empowerment and exposing bigotry. Juxtaposition can make a powerful statement!

Alison Mosshart

alison mosshart

Imae via Buzznet

     No stranger to the fashion world, many of Alison Mosshart’s “effortlessly cool” outfits come with a designer price tag. The Dead Weather singer frequents runway shows such as Burbury and has starred alongside The Kills bandmate Jamie Hince in a campaign for Equipment. The good thing is, Mosshart wears these “investment pieces” again and again, lending a lovely worn-in quality to her look.


     It’s a good to invest money into clothing you know you will wear repeatedly, like a nice leather jacket or wide-brimmed hat. Mosshart also mixes vintage pieces into her wardrobe, so hit up your local thrift stores to find some unique items. The idea here is to avoid typical “fast fashion” retailers like Forever 21 and H & M. The quality of this clothing is poor, and by the time the clothing starts to get that comfy, washed 7 times feeling it will be falling apart. Also, don’t worry too much about your hair. Unkempt tresses with dark roots are easy to manage when you are running late to a gig. Who has time to flat iron their hair anyway.

Lesson: Showing up with perfectly coifed hair and a brand new outfit is a rock and roll faux pas.

The White Stripes


Image via Third Man Records

     From the very beginning of their career, The White Stripes made a very clear aesthetic statement. Every element of the band’s visual presentation, from their instruments to their clothing and album artwork, were centered around three colors: Red, White and Black. Jack White told Rolling Stone in 2008 “When you see a bride in a white gown, you immediately see innocence in that. Red is anger and passion. It is also sexual. And black is the absence of all that.”

the white stripes

Image via Press Here Now

     I am not suggesting an obvious homage to the band by recreating their color scheme. Rather, observe how the band complemented their minimal choice of hues with mod and rockabilly references. A monochromatic getup with a tee and jeans leaves room for experimentation with accessories (or not). Select a few colors that accentuate the mood you’re in and roll with it.

Lesson: Use color wisely and strategically.

Andre 3000


Image via Karen Civil

What CAN’T the Outkast rapper pull off? Whether it’s a blonde wig and an enormous fur coat or expert level pattern clashing, Andre is a total fashion chameleon. He was one of the first male hip-hop stars to experiment with full-blown glam elements onstage (perhaps taking ques from Prince). On the red carpet, Andre 3000 is able to make preppy look extremely funky and interesting.


Image via Hip Hop Wired

Andre has two style modes, and has mastered them both. If you want to emulate his dapper threads, you have to be willing to have fun. Opt for complementing patterns with bold colors, bowties, and straw hats to break up the stuffiness of a blazer. If you are feeling daring and want take inspiration from his stage persona, keep it simple. Pick one outlandish item, like metallic pants or crazy shoes, and let it be the centerpiece. Take it from me, the cops WILL harass you if you are dressed way left of field.

Lesson: Know when to take risks, and how to inject fun to the classics.



Image via Elle

Already a darling in the fashion industry (she’s appeared in Vogue twice) experimental princess Grimes doesn’t really follow any rules. Equally as inspired by goth as she is anime, her evil-raver vibe is playful yet edgy. She also has a talent for using proportion to transform seemingly normal over-sized clothes into lovely pieces of drapery for her petite frame. In an interview with AdHoc, the artist professed, “[What’s] interesting about fashion is that the human body and humans in general are obviously a real point of artistic fixation. People find them beautiful, because we’re supposed to procreate and prolong our species, and [fashion] is an art form that focuses exclusively on that.”


Image via AdHoc

Grimes can pull off these looks because she is being authentic. You too, can combine your varied interests into one cohesive look. Like gardening? Enjoy the film Ghostrider? Adorn yourself with flowers and flames. Choose to play up certain elements, as Grimes will play off of plaid prints or hologram finishes. Also, pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. Emphasizing bigger silhouettes can create more movement.

Lesson: Be multi-dimensional and wear items that allow you to move.

Karen O.

karen o 1

Image via Glamour

Let’s be honest, the chances of us trying to recreate any of Karen O’s looks and actually getting away with it, much less making it look insanely awesome, are pretty slim. The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s front-woman is nearly inimitable in both the music and style department.  She has the perfect mix of glam-punk and disco trash. Ripped tights, colorful artistic makeup, that classic bowl cut, I mean really who else?!


Image via Glamour

Lesson: Don’t give a fuck, hope you will look as cool as Karen O.

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