30 Iconic Fashion Moments in Classic Rock

I love alliteration and I guess this year, I’m doing something called Fashion February. This blog is mostly about classic rock, but also about other things I like and the fashion is a big part of classic rock and something I enjoy writing about, wearing, and photographing. A lot of the people I look up to style wise are from the classic rock era, of course. A lot of people I follow in the vintage fashion community will say that some of their inspirations are rock stars.

Clothes are a way of expressing yourself and image is a part of music, whether or not we like that. Bands know this and that’s why they put a lot of effort into costumes, sets, lighting, and visuals for concerts and music videos, because it’s not just about the music, it’s an experience.

If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you can tell that I love the fashion of the 60s and 70s. What’s not to love about the fashion of the era? It’s colourful, timeless, fun. I have a decent sized collection of vintage clothing and accessories. A lot of what I wear is true vintage from that time period. I love going to charity shops and vintage shops and checking out what’s there. It’s like a treasure hunt. I love the spontaneity. The only thing that isn’t vintage about my wardrobe is my shoes, since I have big feet, but I make the best of it and find stuff that’s got a similar look.

People wonder if I go around dressed in vintage clothing all the time. Well, when I’m trying to make a good impression and have the energy, I do! I give you the whole 60s/70s fantasy from hair and makeup to outfit to shoes. When I put on one of my “crazy” outfits, I get a lot of stares and even some compliments. One of the most memorable ones was when I was walking around Melbourne with my husband and my friend and this one woman saw me from behind with my long red hair, Penny Lane coat, and gold bell bottoms saying I looked like one of her friends from the 70s. She said she had to do a double take.

In the town in Ireland I live in, people typically go around wearing tracksuits and casual stuff like that, and I show up in my flamboyant best, looking like Austin Powers or something, as if I stepped out of a time machine. Sure, people think it’s weird, but I like it.

In this blog post, I want to marry my love of classic rock and my love of vintage fashion and share with you 30 of my favourite iconic classic rock fashion moments. It was hard to pick just 30 and I made sure that there’s only one moment per band. The reason I picked 30 was it’s a nice even number and this year is a leap year and might as well add one more for good luck!

This list is in no particular order. It’s really hard to rank different styles over another because they’re all really cool in different ways.

1. George Harrison – Mad Day Out (1968)

If I had to pick a favourite Beatle photoshoot, I’d pick Mad Day Out, a photoshoot they did in 1968. My favourite Beatle is George, and it was hard to pick just one moment for him because you can’t go wrong with any of them. This shoot was done in the summer of 1968 in London to promote The White Album. 

Everything about George’s Mad Day Out outfit is iconic: the blue shirt with a tie print on it, the burgundy jacket, the striped bell bottoms.

Liam Gallagher’s clothing line, Pretty Green recreated some of these Mad Day Out looks. If only they had smaller sizes or a women’s line.

2. Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale Music Video (1967)

The year is 1967 and the trends are lots of colour, beautiful paisley/floral prints. What’s not to love? I have to say the late 60s were my favourite years in fashion because of the use of colour: blue, green, pink, purple, orange. I love the pink and blue jackets. This is one of my favourite examples of psychedelic, but wearable fashion. One of my favourite music videos of the era.

3. Freddie Mercury & Brian May wearing Zandra Rhodes pleated outfits (1974)

Queen needed flashy stage outfits and who better to design them than Zandra Rhodes? Freddie Mercury thought outside the box and didn’t care about gender roles. Clothes have no gender. He wanted something eye catching that he could easily move around in and make a statement. These clothes had a theme: usually black or white with big sleeves, pleats, and ruffles – usually made of satin or velvet. Between 1974 and 1976, Freddie and Brian wore a bunch of Zandra Rhodes designs you can see in the video below. They looked like angels.

Freddie’s famous pleated white satin top was based off of wedding clothes Zandra Rhodes designed. It was so iconic that Luke Spiller of The Struts had one made just like that too.

4. Ann and Nancy Wilson – Little Queen album cover (1977)

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It’s hard to pick one moment for the Wilson sisters. The entire 1975-1978 era is full of iconic looks. I love the hippie, boho, renaissance fair looks that they wore during this time. Everything during this time: sound and style was done on their own terms and their choice. They didn’t want to look like cheesecake. They wanted to make good music and look stylish too and they succeeded.

I love the renaissance fair look the band did for Little Queen and I tried to do my own version of Ann’s outfit for Halloween. This cover is such an aesthetic.

What really inspires me about Ann Wilson is that she shows that you don’t have to be super thin, straight up and down shaped to look great. Fashion designers aren’t great with designing for curvy shaped (not necessarily plus sized) women, but when they get it right, she looks stunning too. It’s all about confidence and finding what works.

5. The Who – Mod Era (1965)

A lot of American Who fans don’t know what mod even is. Mod is a British subculture that The Who’s style back in 1964 and 1965 fit in. Mod is a mix of British and Italian styles and it’s the most timeless fashion of the 60s era. You can dress like a mod, and no matter what year it is, you don’t look silly, unless you have that “Wellend” haircut. Instead of the Weller, go for a nice mop top or a long bob with fringe, and you’re good to go. In a nutshell: mod style is inspired by pop art (Peter Blake, rather than Andy Warhol), usually darker colours with pops of primary colours (blue, red, yellow), and dressing fancy.

If I had to pick a favourite outfit of The Who’s during the mod era, I’d pick Pete Townshend’s Union Jack blazer. Even if Britain is shite now politically speaking, this outfit will always be an iconic classic rock fashion moment.

Eventually, The Who moved away from the Mod look that was actually used as part of their marketing. Roger Daltrey was sick of straightening his hair and probably sick of that Dippity Do nickname.

6. Cher – Bob Mackie dress at Met Gala (1974)

Cher’s well known for her style throughout the years and it was hard for me to pick a favourite Cher outfit. I love all her looks from her hippie/mod looks of the 60s to her more over the top 70s and 80s looks. One of the designers Cher worked with a lot was Bob Mackie, who she met through Carol Burnett.

A trademark of a Bob Mackie design is sequins, feathers, that soufle fabric that gives the dress a nude, but tight fitting look. You can still see the influence Cher’s looks have today on celebrities and drag queens. Kim Kardashian definitely takes a lot of inspiration from Cher.

Cher wore this dress on the cover of Time Magazine and to the first Met Gala in 1974. She tells the story in the video below.

7. Rush in Kimonos (1976)

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It seems like every rock band has a photo where they’re wearing kimonos that they got while touring in Japan. Seems like it’s an obligatory picture to take. In the Rush fandom, one of the favourite looks is the Kimono look from the 2112 era. Before that, Rush didn’t really have much of a style and the record label wanted them to have an image that wasn’t nerdy. Prog rock is one of those intimidating genres because people think it’s pretentious with the long songs and the complex themes.

I like the androgyny of this Rush look, even if hard rock bands like UFO may have mocked them for it. But that’s what I love about the 70s. Let’s go back to the androgynous look! I highly recommend you watch Beyond The Lighted Stage because it tells the story of the band: self-made and really helped put Canada on the rock and roll map.

8. Chris Squire’s Poodle Boots (early 70s)

Yes were another prog rock band that actually were quite fashionable. You had Rick Wakeman with his shiny wizard capes and long, flowing blonde hair and you had Chris Squire with his iconic looks: that butterfly outfit, the backgammon suit, and all those shoes. I love his knee high boots and then there was this really iconic pair that the prog rock fandom on Tumblr loved: the poodle boots. It makes you go: “What are those!” like the meme. But I think they’re really distinctive and cool. Can’t say I’ve seen anything like that before.

9. Pink Floyd’s psychedelic style (1967)

Is this Austin Powers? No! Pink Floyd

Before Pink Floyd went all prog rock with Dark Side of the MoonWish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall, they had a more psychedelic sound and there was a band member who really shaped that sound, Syd Barrett. It’s sad that this is a forgotten era of the band. You wouldn’t think of Pink Floyd as a super stylish band, but look at these early photos and tell me they weren’t stylish. I love the bright neon colours and all the prints. Their outfits may clash, but it clashes so much that it’s iconic.

10. Jimmy Page’s dragon pants (mid 70s)

Another favourite, this time among the Led Zeppelin fandom. So many people I knew on Tumblr wanted dragon pants like Jimmy Page. He seemed to have two pairs: one in black and one in white. This is 100% the most iconic Jimmy Page look. Did you know that they were designed by Nudie Cohn?

11. Brian Jones at Monterey (1967)

The Rolling Stones are one stylish band. It was hard to pick just one moment and one member of the band. Mick and Keith turned out a lot of looks then and still do now. In my opinion, Brian Jones had the best style in the band. I love his psychedelic looks in the 60s. Lots of layers, but he pulled it off!

12. Jimi Hendrix’s military jacket (1967)

Jimi Hendrix had a lot of iconic looks, but this is definitely one of my favourites and shows another side of the 60s – not just psychedelia. It was a big trend in the 60s, even with the peace and love, to wear military inspired fashion. Thanks to places like I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, military fashion was popularised. Rock stars like Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Jimi Hendrix shopped there.

Paired with a purple shirt, striped trousers, and a scarf or some jewellery, this is a look!

13. Cream’s The Fool looks (1967)

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The Fool were a Dutch psychedelic design collective who worked with The Beatles, The Hollies, Procol Harum, and The Incredible String Band on outfits and album artwork designs. They painted murals on The Aquarius Theatre for Hair and The Apple Boutique in London.

This is my favourite photoshoot Cream did and I love the rainbow colours. Makes me think of the Lisa Frank school supplies and stickers of my childhood. They also painted Eric Clapton’s guitar. Who said bright colours are only 80s?

14. Donovan’s Asian inspired outfits (1967)

Western 60s pop culture took inspiration from India in music, with the sitar in psychedelic rock fad and in fashion. Donovan went to Rishikesh with The Beatles. I really like the cape and this bell sleeve outfit Donovan wore in the late 60s. In this video below, he talks about The Beatles in India:

15. Marc Bolan wearing Biba (1973)

You can’t have a best moments in classic rock fashion without mentioning glam rock fashion: it’s glittery, over the top, maximalist, eye catching, and colourful. The clothes and the look are a huge part of glam rock, otherwise it’s pretty much just poppy hard rock.

Marc Bolan was one of the most stylish rock stars and he had many different characters and phases, like David Bowie did. As a teenager, he was a mod and in the late 60s he had more of a hippie aesthetic and of course in the 70s this was his most famous look, the androgynous glam rock look. The jacket in this photo is from the famous shop, Biba. So many rock stars of the 70s wore Biba.

Biba is one of the most coveted labels of the 70s. Vintage Biba pieces are so expensive and hard to find, costing hundreds of pounds. If only the Biba line at House of Fraser did reproductions of these looks, because if they did, they can take my coins! Biba was founded in Kensington in 1964 by Polish immigrant Barbara Hulanicki and her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon. The store was huge and had an art deco interior. Each floor had different things for sale, not just clothes. You could buy books and food in there too. Sadly, Biba went bankrupt in 1975.

16. Elton John’s Troubadour look (1970)

Elton John is another rock star who has a whole history of iconic looks on stage and it’s hard to pick just one. Watching Rocketman, I saw so many bright colours and over the top looks, always complete with platform shoes and flashy glasses. I could relate to the credits when it said he still loves to shop and buy lots of flashy outfits.

I love star print anything and I would have to pick his Troubadour look from when he played his first shows in the US: a blue shirt with stars on it, white overalls, and platform shoes. Who said overalls aren’t cool?

17. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World (1970)

David Bowie had so many looks and styles over the years: his long blonde hair in the mid 60s, permed hair in the late 60s, his gender bending looks in the early 70s, the Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane red mullet glam rock look, the Thin White Duke, and more. My favourite era would have to be the early 70s, which is no surprise. I love it when men embrace their feminine side, better yet when they go to the point of wearing dresses and growing out their hair. Everyone pretty much has a crush on David Bowie and it’s easy to see why.

18. Suzi Quatro’s leather catsuit (1973)

Before The Runaways and Heart, there was Suzi Quatro. Before her glam rock solo career, she was in an all girl group called The Pleasure Seekers – one of the first all girl rock groups. She didn’t have very many female musician role models so she had to be her own inspiration. Her style inspiration was Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las, who often wore skinny fit trousers, a white shirt, and a waistcoat. She taught herself how to play guitar and bass.

One of Suzi Quatro’s signature outfits was a black leather catsuit. Some people know her as Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days. The show’s producer offered her the role without her auditioning after seeing a poster of her on his daughter’s wall.

At only 5 foot tall, she still looked iconic and it shows that you can be short and stunning.

19. Jim Morrison’s leather pants (late 60s)

Leather pants are common in classic rock, but fans often associate them with Jim Morrison. Definitely a signature look for him.

20. Paul Weller in the “Going Underground” Music Video (1980)

The Mod subculture had a revival in the late 70s and early 80s. If I had to pick my favourite thing about 80s fashion, it’s easily the Mod revival because it’s so timeless. Paul Weller is often the first person people think of when they think Mod revival. His outfits in the late 70s and early 80s were always on point. It’s no wonder he’s called The Modfather.

“Going Underground” is one of the band’s biggest hits and when it came out, it went straight to the top of the charts. I like how he pairs a paisley scarf with a black suit, adds a bit of psychedelia and fun to a mod look.

21. Dave Davies’ Peacock/Dandy look (1967)

Another style that was loved in the 60s besides mod, rocker, and hippie was the peacock/dandy look inspired by the Regency and Victorian eras. Another iconic store form the time period was Dandie Fashions on Kings Road. The flamboyant, elegant Dandy in a way took over clean, neat mod. After mod became all commercialised and not cool anymore, mods went psychedelic or dandy or they went skinhead. Sadly though, Dandy/Peacock was a fad and you only saw it for a couple years in the mid-late 60s.

Dave Davies may have been in his older brother, Ray’s shadow in the eyes of the media, but we can’t ignore his contributions to The Kinks like his guitar playing and songwriting. I also love his Oscar Wilde inspired peacock/dandy style.

22. Prince’s Purple jacket and ruffly shirt (1982-1984)

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Of all the instruments that Prince played throughout his career, the iconic Cloud Guitar has one of the most alluring and mysterious backstories. 🔸 The Cloud first entered the public’s consciousness as the object of The Kid’s affection in Purple Rain, and the way Prince’s character in the film pines after the distinctive satin curves of the guitar as it sits in a display window speaks to just how mesmerized he was by this instrument. 🔸 Prince first came across the model for the Cloud while browsing in a guitar shop with his childhood friend and first bassist, André Cymone, in the late 1970s when Prince was at the very beginning of his solo career. The two musicians were intrigued by the custom bass guitar with hand-carved curves and swirls, which resembled a classical instrument more than one you would see in the hands of a rock or funk musician. 🔸 In 1983, when it came time for Prince to choose an instrument to play in his first film, he brought the Cloud bass to a young Minneapolis luthier named Dave Rusan, who worked at Prince’s favorite local guitar shop, Knut Koupee Music. Recreating the bass as a prop to use in the film took months, and only four copies of the original white Cloud Guitar were made by Rusan — but his Cloud Guitars laid the groundwork for one of the most intriguing stage instruments of the 1980s. 🔸 Dave Rusan understood the significance of a well-crafted guitar to an artist like Prince. “It’s so much more than just part of a costume. It’s a means of expression, power, identity,” he told Premier Guitar. 🔸 Prince had the Cloud Guitar remade many times throughout his career in different colors and finishes, and the instrument re-emerged at several key points in his artistic evolution. Prince would call on the company @schecterguitarsofficial to repair his Clouds and manufacture new replicas for his use, including a run that was sold to fans on Prince’s HitnRun Tour. 🔸 In recent years, the Schecter replicas of the iconic Cloud Guitar have only been available to purchase in-person at Paisley Park. But starting today, players around the world can purchase these exclusive, authentic Cloud Guitars from the Official Prince Store.

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When you think Prince, you think purple, paisley, ruffly shirts, and androgyny. This is 100% one of the most iconic looks in all of rock history. I love how Prince had iconic guitars with unique shapes that went so well with his outfits. Prince was one of those celebrities who made people who weren’t attracted to guys question their sexuality. He could steal your girl or steal your guy and look fabulous doing it. On top of that an incredible guitarist, good dancer, and had a great voice.

23. Stevie Nicks’ witchy top hat and huge sleeves (1975-1977)

Stevie Nicks is well known for her witchy looks: top hats, long wavy blonde hair, all black outfits, flowing chiffon sleeves, long boho skirts, and huge platform shoes. She may have only been 5’1″ but she had a huge stage presence and all eyes are on Stevie. Right now I’m digging the witchy look and Stevie is one of my biggest inspirations. Stevie Nicks shows that witchy can be stylish and not costume-y.

24. The Ramones on their debut album cover (1976)

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Punk rock fashion is classic and rebellious, going against the expectations of always looking prim and proper. It can also be really wearable for everyday and The Ramones show that on their album cover: leather jackets and ripped jeans. It’s a look that anyone can do.

25. Kate Bush in Japan (1978)

Red is one of my favourite colours to wear and I love this red dress on Kate Bush. Makes me think of her “Wuthering Heights” video.

26. Gram Parsons wearing a Nudie suit (1969)

I know this sounds weird, but Nudie is the name of the designer, Nudie Cohn, a designer famous for his glittery rhinestone suits. It’s cowboy, but make it glam and a bit hippie. Gram Parsons‘ signature Nudie Suit had poppies, marijuana leaves, pills, naked busty women, and shiny rhinestones. Who said country can’t be chic?

Nudie Cohn was born Nuta Kotlyarenko into a Jewish family in Ukraine. His family sent him and his brother to America to escape the pogroms. While living in Minnesota, he met his wife, Helen and they moved to New York to start a business selling custom made lingerie for showgirls. Their clothing design business had humble beginnings with them designing clothes in their garage. His break came when he started designing clothes for Tex Williams and he opened a shop in Hollywood selling western wear. What caught celebrities’ eyes were his use of flashy rhinestones, bright colours, fringe, and chain stitch embroidery. He even gave his own cars extreme makeovers before Pimp My Ride was even a thing. From there, the rest is history. This is a real immigrant self made success story.

His designs were worn by Gram Parsons, Jimmy Page, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Mike Nesmith, ZZ Top, Bootsy Collins, Teddy Pendergrass, Porter Waggoner, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and George Jones.

Nudie Cohn passed away in 1984, but his inspiration still lives on and musicians like Wilco and Post Malone have worn Nudie-style suits. Drag Race All Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel certainly takes inspiration from that style as well. This video from Vice has an interview with Nudie Cohn’s granddaughter:

27. Jane Birkin – Vogue (1969)

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Now I know what you’re thinking, what’s a model doing on this? But Jane Birkin counts as a musician too because she sang with Serge Gainsbourg. Her style is so flawless and there’s way too many good moments to pick, but I love these pictures for Vogue from 1969. In the picture on the right, she’s wearing an outfit by the famous fashion designer Ossie Clark. Ossie Clark clothes are highly coveted and I’ll never be able to afford them, so I’ll admire them from afar.

Jane Birkin was someone I admired a lot as a teenager because I struggled with self esteem because I was flat chested. I saw that she was basically flat chested too, just like me and she was considered so pretty, so why can’t I feel good too?

28. Peter Gabriel’s Watcher of the Skies look (1973)

Way before Lady Gaga’s crazy outfits, there was Peter Gabriel. He played multiple characters from Genesis songs during a concert. His costumes consisted of full faces of makeup, masks, headpieces, and even his wife’s clothes. I love gothic, witchy looks and if I had to pick my favourite Peter Gabriel costume, it has to be the Watcher of the Skies look with the bat wings headpiece, colourful lurex cape, and black jumpsuit. In the video above, you can see him performing the song. The blacklights make this performance even more theatric.

29. Patti Smith – Horses album cover (1975)

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On Patti Smith’s debut album, you’ll see a picture of her not conforming to gender norms. This is one iconic feminist moment in rock and roll: a woman embracing androgyny. What’s more punk rock than marching to the beat of your own drum and doing what you want? She rocks the androgyny. You don’t need to wear makeup or dresses to be a woman. There’s no right or wrong way to be a woman. Here are some quotes from her about who she is:

“I’m not hung up on anybody’s idea of how I should be.”

 

“I’m outside of society. I’m an artist, and rock ’n’ roll is my art.”

Live life like Patti Smith, give no fucks and do what you love.

30. Sly Stone’s fringe outfit at Woodstock (1969)

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Sly Stone was known for having really over the top outfits. One of his most famous outfits is the fringe outfit he wore at Woodstock. Fringe was a big trend in the late 60s and when you wave your arms around or move, all eyes are on you. Below, you can see a video of Sly & The Family Stone performing “I Want to Take You Higher”. I love the big sunglasses and his big afro.

Did I miss any iconic classic rock fashion moments? Have your say and share your favourites in the comments below! 😃

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