Punk fashions are associated with a music and aesthetic movement that began in the 1980s. Punk style has survived and evolved into the 21st century, but many of its most distinctive style features are classic and lasting. If you're looking to create your own punk styles from scratch or from altered, existing pieces, familiarise yourself with the many variations and traditions of punk clothing.
Classic punk looks are characterised by a do-it-yourself, handmade and hand-altered look. There's no better way to imitate this look than by recreating it authentically. Look for old distressed items that stand up well to alteration, such as jeans, denim jackets, black leather and thick black vinyl, and flannel or tartan. Distress them with sandpaper, create artificial wearing with a cheese grater, or cut the edges of a garment into ribbons for some fringe. If you don't want to partially destroy something, alter it with patches, metal studs or rhinestones.
Fabric types and styles most commonly seen in the punk scene are denim, shiny black vinyl and leather, flannel, preshrunk cotton (T-shirt fabric), and nylon or spandex. These fabrics should be the backbone of most of your homemade punk clothes, though you can add flourishes of delicate fabrics like silk, satin or linen. Avoid fabrics such as corduroy weave, suede and knits.
Various types of arm wear are staple accessories of many punk outfits, and most are quite simple to make yourself. Create the ever-common long, handless glove by cutting a few holes in the toes of some patterned knee-high tights or fishnets, then treating the holes with nail polish remover. You can also do this with old tights or leggings by hemming the wide end and stitching the short end partially closed to hook over the thumb. Other popular forms of arm wear include various black leather buckles, which you can make from strips of black leather and metal hardware.
Observe some of the most common stylistic features in punk clothing and let them serve as inspiration for your designs. Note the blending of solid colours, especially black, with traditional patterns like tartan and stripes. Punk clothes are usually casual and harsh-looking. Jackets are one of the rare fitted items, and are generally designed to be worn open. Skirts are generally knee length or a little shorter to show off boots and tights, while shorts and leggings serve a similar purpose. Short sleeves are more common than long ones.
Design and make clothing that looks its best when you wear layers. Punk styles are usually worn with several layers of different colours, styles and patterns all showing at once. To make this look possible, punk clothes should be versatile; lots of solid colours make those few complex patterns work. If you want to make a outfit that's busy to the eye, use lighter, more form-fitting garments to wear on the outside layer to help neutralise busy textures.
- "The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look;" Kendall Farr; 2004
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