The History of Punk Style & How to Wear it in a Modern Way

The History of Punk Style & How to Wear it in a Modern Way


Early punk fashion was entirely about making a statement, expressing individuality, and rejecting mainstream conformity. It was all about saying no to complying with the music and fashion that appealed to the masses.

Malcolm McLaren is credited to spreading the punk style that originated in New York to England. He spent some time in New York, where he was inspired by the fashion and music scene that would soon become known as punk. He already had a very influential shop on King's Road in Chelsea in London selling vinyl records, memorabilia, and magazines. Upon his return the shop morphed to include edgy clothing made by Vivienne Westwood. The infamous band The Sex Pistols were formed from several young punks who hung around the shop, and McLaren managed the group with Vivienne Westwood outfitting them with her clothing designs. The shop had many names over the years but remained influential for some time with Westwood becoming a household name in the fashion world.

Music was the catalyst to the formation of punk style.

Bands like New York’s -The Ramones and London’s -The Sex Pistols led the punk uprising from a small faction to become a true phenomenon. The youth of the late 1970's felt lost and dissatisfied with their world so they were drawn to the rebellious nature of punk music and subsequently the fashion scene that became a way to openly rebel against a class system that they felt disassociated with.

In London, punks in addition to leather and band t-shirts added bold patterns like plaid embracing the idea that making a social disturbance with one's style, art or music was the best thing possible to conflict with the social norms of the time. In New York, the punk scene was more of an artistic movement, and punks focused more on wearing leather, a lot of black, and torn up denim items. Punks in New York could shop at Trash and Vaudeville, a prefectly stylized shop carrying denim, leather and vintage goods catering to the rock culture in NY. DIY elements such as safety pins, intentional distress and destruction, and stenciling on their clothing became popular within the scene. Punks embraced androgyny, blurring the lines between traditional gender norms in their clothing, hairstyles and make-up choices.

Leather jackets, vests, and pants often adorned with metal studs were a symbol of punk rebellion. These items were often personalized with band patches, anti-government slogans, and other DIY embellishments. Stencils were often used as a way to personalize clothing giving it a raw, graffiti like accent. The more flawed the better, so punks would intentionally rip their jeans or tear their band T-shirts.

Bands like The Clash wore customized clothing with stenciled numbers and letters, paint splatters and a lot of leather and military pieces adding to their artistic edge.The Clash didn't have McLaren and Westwood or a shop full of readily designed clothes like The Sex Pistols did. They were influenced by street art and used spray paint and stencils to create their initial style. They inspired young punks to create unique looks from thrift store finds by adding pins, patches and paint. At Ragstock, punks have been shopping for recycled military and denim looks for decades to create their own individual looks.

Mesh and lace were used in punk fashion to challenge conventional notions of beauty and femininity. Mesh tops, often layered with distressed band T-shirts or paired with bold lingerie, were a common trend in vintage punk fashion. Metallic touches like studs or safety pins gave even more edge and complexity to an outfit. Often oversized boots were added to achieve a more androgynous look. This look has resurfaced and the current trend of wearing a sheer layer with lingerie is being seen all over the runways. And who doesn't love chunky platform combat boots?

Want to embrace the punk style in a modern way? Seek out a style that has a little edge. Find that perfect motorcycle jacket, pair it with your favorite band tee and some distressed denim for a more casual look. Going out? Think about layering a mesh top with something lacy and add a faux leather mini skirt. Don't forget the oversized boots and some studded accessories. Ragstock has been embracing punk style since it began! Stop by our brick and mortar stores to find the perfect punk inspired pieces or shop online and have them delivered to you. We have a great selection of vegan leather bustiers, skirts and dresses too!

Check out this month's Vintage Drop featuring our hand picked looks inspired by Punk Style!

Tag us in your favorite Punk inspired looks on our instagram -

8th Aug 2023 Tes de Luna

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