Designer Yang Li said, “The beautiful thing about music, unlike most other arts, is that it’s very communal. It’s something that comes to you instead of you needing to search for it.”
Music’s influence on fashion is undeniable, and musicians have long been some of fashion’s favorite muses. Because of music’s ability to inspire the masses, it makes sense that its impact stretches to many domains, including fashion.
Looking at different eras of fashion trends, more often than not, its popularity can be traced to the dominant music genre.
For example, Soul Train not only featured artists such as The Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye but also metallic bell-bottoms, halters, and large earrings that made their way from the dancefloor to the streets.
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Vivienne Westwood’s clothing store with Malcolm McLaren, SEX, was characterized by clothing that went completely against what was accepted as “fashion,” just as those who identified as “punk” went against authority, conformity, and corporatism through their style and music. Bands like the Sex Pistols complemented its popularity. Kurt Cobain replaces rock stars’ usual more glamorous garb with his trademark baggy cardigans, flannels, loose jeans, and converse that proved an easy, comfortable style that many could emulate.
Less broadly, however, is music’s impact on our personal fashion. For example, in the midst of my Arctic Monkeys obsession, no outfit would be complete without combat boots (not clean, not too beat-up, but just right) and of course, eyeliner (top and bottom, small wing, blackest black). My discovery of Lana del Rey led me towards light wash blue jeans and blood-red lipstick. Today, my style is more individualized, but like others, some things I buy and wear are probably, subconsciously or consciously, connected to an artist I’m seeing a lot of or hearing a lot of.
Music is a mode of individuality and expression, so it’s no surprise that fashion and music mesh so well. The art that results from their union will continue to be representative of our collective minds and experiences of the time.