Musicians tend to be fashionable. The most iconic lead singers, guitarists, and more are also trendsetters, reimagining what we wear in addition to what we hear.
It runs much deeper than a big hat (thanks, Pharrell) or a frayed denim vest (looking at you, Sid Vicious). The most stylish musicians are the ones who not only look good or even provocative on stage — they do all of the above effortlessly — but who also do so with an underlying cool factor that’s practically palpable. The best of the best have us following their lead, mimicking their distinctive styles in front of our own mirrors at home.
Here are the top ten most fashionable male musicians of the modern era:
The one-of-a-kind musician passed away earlier this month, but Little Richard lives on through his contributions to both rock ‘n’ roll and fashion. Dubbed “the Innovator,” the singer and multi-instrumentalist brought as much energy to his attire as his music and stage presence. Little Richard’s outspoken outfits managed to strike a fine balance between the pizzazz of Liberace and the boldness of Prince. RIP.
In the era of the flower child, Jimi Hendrix was king. Not only was he arguably the best electric guitarist of all time, he was also one of the best dressed. Hendrix’s hippie vibes blossomed beautifully out of exotic colors, incredible patterns, and fantastic accessories like hats and headbands. What’s more, it came off as completely and utterly natural.
The frontman for legendary NYC band the Strokes has long donned a getup that exudes toughness and confidence. Casablancas is not trying to blow minds or make outlandish fashion statements. Instead, the singer simply goes the route of cool, nonchalantly sporting things like tropical dress shirts, leather jackets, and a good pair of jeans or Chuck Taylor’s. He’s also one of a select few who can pull off the single singing glove.
Love him or not, Kanye West is something of a revolutionary. In fact, his style is even more avant-garde than his personality or approach to hip-hop. You see it in his own line of clothing, along with just about everything he wears when he’s performing or out and about. Sometimes subtle, sometimes far-reaching, West’s style is always thought-provoking and has inspired leaders in a range of industries from fellow musicians to fashion moguls.
Suave, timeless, just the right amount of dapper — that’s how you’d describe the fashion of the late Serge Gainsbourg. The man did it all, from acting and directing to writing music, poetry, and scores, and even playing the piano. It was a busy lifestyle that leaves little time for style, but you’d never know it. Gainsbourg always seemed to be in a perfectly tailored suit, sharp jacket, or vintage wool top. He very much looked the part of a bright sophisticate.
Heady saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington turns out jazz that’s as colorful and detailed as a giant tapestry. Much the same could be said for the musician’s style, which revolves around arresting color schemes and incredible robes. It’s comfortable, commanding, and always on point. It’s what you’d expect from one of the brightest musical minds in today’s music landscape.
The Elvis effect is real and resounding. He helped create rock ‘n’ roll, sexualized the musical stage, leapt practically seamlessly to the silver screen, and more (did you know he was really, really into racquetball?). He also immortalized certain fashion facets, like the skinny tie, striped shirt, popped-collar, and turtleneck. Sure, Presley was later known for his jumpsuits but it was his more reserved choices, especially early on, that defined his style.
The late Prince had every right to go the tacky or completely embellished fashion route. He was, after all, The Purple One and a supreme sex symbol. Yet, the pride of the Twin Cities pulled off what so many couldn’t — translating seduction and intoxication into a real, bonafide style. Somehow, his countless outfits were both revealing and fully realized. And the number of textures, combinations, motifs, color combos, and cuts was practically unrivaled.
Bowie was way ahead of his time, mixing fashion mediums and blurring gender lines in incredibly innovative ways. We like to think of the gifted musician as the zany cat in the makeup, but Bowie’s look was so much more complex than that. Bowie’s intricate outfits served like dazzling defiance, proudly ruffling the feathers of stale old-fashion traditions. His best trait may have been the ability to stay ahead of each and every decade of fashion he inhabited, without so much as a hiccup.
Something of the shy kid next door with a few sneaky dance moves up his pant legs, Beck dressed accordingly. The style of the indie-pop icon is svelt and dialed-in, stressing clean fits, pastel colors, and memorable patterns. In an era when influential figures are thrown bad fashion ideas and over-the-top costumes on the daily, it’s refreshing to know that Beck seems to politely decline every offer and simply do his own mindful thing.
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