Guys' Rock Fashion in the '80s

Written by lauren corona
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Guys' Rock Fashion in the '80s
Sonic Youth were an influential alternative rock band of the '80s. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The 1980s spawned a wide range of subgenres in rock music. These subgenres led to different fashions and styles for male rock fans, which were often influenced by the clothing choices of the bands of the era.

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Punk Rock

People refer to 1977 as "the year that punk broke," but punk rock music and aesthetics carried on throughout all of the '80s. Influenced by bands such as Crass, the Ramones and Black Flag, popular fashion choices for guys included Dr. Martens boots, studded clothing with rips held together by safety pins, and plaid patterned items. Coloured mohawks were a popular choice of hairstyle, but punks also wore their hair short and spiked or close shaved.

Hair Metal

Hair metal, also referred to as hard rock or glam metal, was a hugely popular musical style in the 1980s, with bands such as Mötley Crüe and Poison at the forefront. The fashion for men consisted of tight trousers -- often leather or spandex, but sometimes jeans -- cowboy boots or work boots and leather or denim vests or jackets adorned with studs and band patches. Men often wore their hair long and teased up with hairspray and some chose to wear make-up.

Gothic Rock

Gothic rock was popular from the early '80s, inspired by bands such as The Cure and Bauhaus. Goth guys wore mostly black clothing, although sometimes with lighter coloured dress shirts. Most had long hair and thick eyeliner. Many male followers of this subculture chose to dress in a style harking back to the late 19th century, which is often referred to as Victoriana. Leather, velvet and lace were popular choices of fabric.

Alternative Rock

Alternative rock, or alt-rock, started in the mid '80s in America, with bands such as Pixies and Sonic Youth. It's sometimes called grunge, but this term wasn't coined until the '90s. An anti-fashion style is associated with this genre, which turned away from more extravagant rock fashions of the time. Male followers wore plain or ripped jeans, sneakers and a band T-shirt with a plaid flannel shirt on top. Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the alt-rock band Nirvana, became the ultimate icon of this genre but, although their first release was in the late '80s, Nirvana would be almost unknown until 1991.

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