The Development of Punk
Punk fashion can be
applied to numerous areas including jewelry, hairstyles, cosmetics,
and clothing. The punk style has been influenced by a variety of
subcultures and has, in turn, influenced many as well. The fashion
is widely used as a manner of self-expression.
The clothing started off as handmade by individuals and has become
an integral part of many fashion designers such as Vivienne
Westwood. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the fashion began to be
produced in mass and sold in stores. Many original punks view the
commercialization of the style as cheap and, essentially, a
Punk rock is perhaps one of the most well known branches of punk
fashion. It was largely created to combat their view that popular
music was excessively materialistic. The “look” of the punk rocker
typically included short unkempt hair which was meant to counteract
the longer hair of the 1970s mainstream “hippie” disco artist in the
1970s. Bands such as Ramones donned plain clothes typically
consisting of a simple T-shirt with a leather jacket. Some artists
such as Patti Smith went even further by wearing second-hand drab
clothing to further go against the popular colorful disco clothing.
In the U.K., the fashion of punk clothing in the 70s was largely
influenced by designers such as Vivienne Westwood and the Bromley
Contingent. These clothes went on to be sold in stores such as SEX,
owned by Malcolm McLaren, which largely consisted of extremely
offensive T-shirts with images such as swastikas, the Nazi symbol,
as well as inverted crucifixes. Also, similar to the United States,
leather jackets, blazers, and dress shirts became popular. Shirts
with anarchist slogans with controversial pictures of figures such
as Karl Marx, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin also became
Punk fashion also included additional accessories reminiscent of
BDSM fashions such as ripped fishnet stockings, spiked bracelets and
necklaces as well as other jewelry featuring studs or spikes. Other
common accessories used were safety pins, large numbers of tattoos
and body piercings, and thick eyeliner and other heavy makeup worn
by both men and women.
Women who considered themselves “punk” often wanted to combine both
feminine and masculine looks. A popular look was wearing delicate
dresses with big combat boots. The clothing was often combined with
common objects in order to improve the aesthetic look of the
ensemble. A common look was to rip clothing and to then hold it
together with safety pins or duct tape. Other objects such as razor
blades and chains were commonly used. Clothing even began to be
composed of trash bags as well as the more conventional vinyl,
rubber, and leather. Again, this was taken largely from sado-masochistic
Common footwear was military combat boots as well as motorcycle
boots. Popular pants included leather pants, animal print trousers,
tapered jeans, as well as bondage pants. Punk fashion also took
advantage of the use of hats particularly bowler hats as were seen
in the movie Clockwork Orange. Hair was commonly cut short by both
men and women and made to look messy and was often dyed bright
colors. Although they were meant to be controversial, the 1970s was
not nearly as provocative as later years.
The 1980s showed the further evolution of punk fashion both in the
United Kingdom as well as in the United States. Modern punk clothing
and other aspects of punk fashion were largely influenced by the
British punks. The punk fashion scene of the United States was
largely demonstrated through the bands such as Fear, Black Flag, and
Minor Threat. The United States also showed the emersion of
anti-fashion designs that focused on the angry and intimidating.
Although this was somewhat different than early fashions, it was
still largely influenced by the 70s punk looks.
There were several common links between the punk fashion in both the
United Kingdom and in the United States. However, there are also
several looks that were unique to specific geographical areas.
Common footwear donned in the 1980s was Doc Marten boots, military
combat boots, and motorcycle boots. In addition, accessories such as
bandanas, heavy chains, and studded or spiked bands and jewelry
were, as in the 1970s, very popular. Tartan kilts and utilikits,
plaid skirts, as well as dirtied and torn jeans were common punk
garb. Skirts made of leather were also quite common among female
punks with heavy chains being used commonly as belts by both men as
well as women. Belts adorned with bullets, studs, and spikes were
Punk fashion, as in the 70s, consisted of novelty T-shirts as well
as plaid shirts made of flannel. Slogans of a political nature as
well as shirts with band names and phrases were often written on
these shirts with pens and markers. Although these T-shirts and
slogans were worn by punks during the 1970s, they did not become
widespread and developed until the 80s. During this time, T-shirts
began to be silkscreened with logos of bands, punk-related sayings,
as well as other slogans. Leather jackets and vests made of denim
also became increasingly popular with studs, paint, and other
accessories being placed on the outerwear. Blazers, once common,
became less so during this decade.
The hair was often worn either shaved, in a crew cut, as a Mohawk,
or long and spiked. Mohawks were often grown out to be quite tall
and spiked hair was often dyed with bright colors or thoroughly
bleached. This gave the punk fashion an even more extreme look.
Distinct spiked hair, known as charged hair, became popular during
this era as well. Another unique hairstyle, which was known as The
Misfits’ devilocks, consisted of cutting a large amount of a Mohawk
while leaving the hair long around the forehead. This is still
common today particularly among persons who exemplify horror-punk.
The 1980s’ punk scene also featured the increase in tattoos and body
piercings as well as the use of chokers with studs and spiked
armbands. Women also limited the amount of feminine styles during
the 1980s adopting a more masculine edge.
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