10 Iconic Rock Looks

When you think rock, which clothing pops up first?

Ultimate Guitar

As much as music comes first in the rock realm, the fashion aspect always stood out as one of the genre's crucial aspects, occasionally even overshadowing the sonic aspect. So right now we'll delve into the clothing sphere of rock and metal with a brief rundown of some of the genre's legendary styles. Some of them are more genre-based, other can be somewhat pinpointed to specific musicians. And while we're at it - which style does take most of your wardrobe?

Suit Up

Kicking it off with an early style, suits were a rather common clothing of choice of many early rock icons - the Beatles, Elvis, Johnny Cash and more. These days it might not be as popular, but the style has certainly left a permanent mar in rock history.

Psychedelic Colors

Entering the age of hippies, tie-dye style and colorful clothing took the world by storm, expressed through major sonic experimentations. Jimi Hendrix's style stands out as one of the era's more popular examples.

Enter the Black - Tony Iommi

Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi didn't only essentially invent heavy metal, but also developed a unique, highly distinctive style. The feature standing out the most were mostly crosses, as Tony almost always wore a big cross on his chest, increasing its prominence in the rock world and even causing controversy at the time.

Metallica' Black Style

Speaking of black, Metallica's less-is-more approach during the "Black Album" era had its revival on numerous occasions, as many young bands to this day tend to use it. Speaking of which, is the sleek plain style better than heavily accessorizing?


The guy who took the top hat to a new level - Slash of Guns N' Roses turned a hat he claims randomly stealing into one of rock 'n' roll's ultimate fashion statements. The fact that a posh symbol was converted into a rock symbol only goes to show how powerful Slash's music was.

Denim and Leather

One of the obvious choices - a pair of jeans and a mean leather jacket. The style had many incantations over the years an covered a vast array of genres ranging from hard rock through punk and thrash. Would you agree that denim and leather is an ultimate rock style?

Rap Drops - Fred Durst

As an epitome of rap metal clothing style, Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst rose above the rest with his signature red cap, ultimately turning his fashion style into one of the band's symbols.

Punk Style - Sid Vicious

Ripped and worn out jeans, t-shirts and leather jackets became some of the punk's top symbols from the very start. Rounding it up in a concise manner, late Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious defined a generation with his style, behavior and music. And if it might seem that clothing wasn't relevant to Sid, think again. A suicide note found in his pocket after his death ended with "Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye."

Flannel Shirts

Commonly associated with grunge movement, flannel shirts found their way into the rock world several decades before, during the days of roots rock and southern rock. One could argue that along denim and leather, flannel shirts stand out as yet another highly distinctive rock style.

Corpse Paint

We'll end it on an extreme note - corpse paint. A style used to epitomize the scary aspect of metal, corpse paint is commonly associated with the black metal genre, but can in fact be traced way back to 1960s and legendary Arthur Brown. Furthermore, artists such as Alice Cooper, Venom, King Diamond and the Misfits further expanded its impact, only to have black metallers take it to extreme and turn it into one of their ultimate symbols.

So back to the big question - which rock style do you prefer fashion-wise and which are the clothing pieces that take up most of your wardrobe? Let us know in the comments.

86 comments sorted by best / new / date

    i like the style slash. i'm pretty sure slash is the only one who pulls that off.
    I know Slash gets a lot of hate(not a big gnr fan) but that top hat was like seeing golden idol atop a pyramid of diamonds that sang in riffs. Basically I thought it was pretty rad.
    Darth Crow
    You forgot the 80's hair!!
    The 80's were a horrible time for fashion, in culture and in music. Big hair, animal print, and tight leather jeans wasn't a fashion statement, they were people looking like idiots and guys looking like girls. The 80's were a time where girls look like guys and guys look like girls .
    Totally worth it for all the cheesy horror movies that came out at the time though.
    If in 80's guys were looking like girls I have no idea how they look now; teen girls?
    That's one REEEEEAALLLY dumb statement. I admit that SOMETIMES it got ridiculous and cheesy. Sometimes men really did look like girls. But a lot of the glam guys managed to look manly in their clothes and makeup. For instance, take a look at, say, Nikki Sixx or maybe Gene Simmons at their prime, in the 80s: They both wear glam outfits and makeup, yet they look manly. MUCH MORE manly, than some of us ever will. Still disagree? Go on, deny it!!!! Prove me wrong!!!! You may fail to see it, but actually A [b][u]LOT OF THAT 80S STUFF IS [b][u]WONDERFUL !!Big hair is cool. If coupled with the right clothing, it makes you look wild and untamed. And animal print... Well, it is kinda goofy, but it's cool too. At least, if it's not overused. And then, there were the girls... So sexy, raunchy, sleazy, naughty... And the music wasn't as shallow, as you possibly think. It was just a lot more oriented towards partying, sex, and having a good time. You could still find some songs with a deep meaning, from 80s metal bands, if you really looked for them. And they weren't only love power ballads(even though a lot of them were EXACTLY love power ballads). The 80s were a time of REALLY GOOD, hard-rocking good-times metal and flamboyant eye-candy. That's the greatest thing about it all. Too bad that glam metal gets this much of flak. And for the record, THERE IS NO SUCH A THING AS LEATHER JEANS!!! WHAT YOU MEANT ARE TIGHT SPANDEX PANTS!!!!
    Quit trolling, man.
    I'd listen to eighties metal more than I would shit now. Eighties music was ****ing meeemorable.
    I thought 80's thrash metal was great, but SOME, 80's hair metal wasn't all that great. Like Motley Crue, some of poison, White Snake was good.
    Oh yes, the "Metallica's less-is-more approach during the "Black Album" era", that inspirational, classic, iconic look. Could someone please tell UG that Metallica do not need to be in every news article they make.
    Well, they actually are sort of important on the rock-metal history part. Only a ****load of and fans bands admire them and have grown old listening to their songs and enjoying their style. Just saying
    Metallica were important in rock-metal history? Next you'll be telling me The Beatles were too! I'm just saying I've never heard of their "less-is-more" Black Album look being inspirational and would never have guessed it to be on this list. Love Metallica. Love 'em.
    tuh hah miss
    I'm not sure I understand how you don't see their all black look as an inspiration to other rock and metal musicians. It's pretty much a staple at this point that black clothes is tied to heavy music.
    I haven't seen them in the news lately for like 2 or three weeks. Plus this is a column.
    I really dont like black metal, but for some reason i love corpse paint.
    I really like black metal, but for some reason i am not really "into" corpse paint.
    For some reason I can't really recall Venom wearing corpse paint. Not regularly, anyway.
    So you just made 5 ones about leather jackets and black clothes, they could easily go under the same entry lol
    i would add the glam style, maybe it was stupid as some people are saying, but it still os used by some of today's bands
    Danjo's Guitar
    Yeah, I'd actually say going shirtless is one of the most iconic things that almost every band does or has done. Should have made the list.
    There are many of them... Tony Iommi, denim & leather, corpsepaint - they trully deserve to be mentioned, but also Queen, Rammstein's outfits. Metallica'a "black" outifte doesn't really deserve a place on this list, they were never a "black" band, besides some small periods. And nowadays Ghost seem to deserve a place on this list.
    Missed thrasher style, like Tom Araya or Chuck Billy (very different from Metallica 90's).
    I've always thought that Jimmy Page's 1969 look was great - a long white lab coat and his arms wrapped like a boxer. All in all, Led Zeppelin had some iconic styles in their day. Robert Plant pulled of some outrageous clothing!
    What about Little Richard, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Chuck Berry. . . it was kind of suits, but with more flare.
    Where's Slipknot?
    Masks isn't really iconic. Probably less than 5 bands (that most people can think of, that is) do masks.
    None of these actually, I relate more to musicians who don't try to pull off anything. The ones who wear regular day-to-day clothes all the time, etc.
    Sleaze Disease
    Complete opposite. I'm sick to death of seeing bands who wear their normal clothes on stage. IMO, it looks lazy, and if you're not going to at least try to put a little effort into how you look onstage, then I'm not going to put any effort into trying to get into your boring band.
    I'd say it depends on the band you listen to. If it's post-rock a band, I'd give no ****s about their image. However, if it's let's say power metal, I think the cheesy costumes do add a lot.
    Isn't the music what matters? Now, granted, a bit of flair is nice. But why do bands need to essentially dress up a la Glam?
    It is about the music until you attend a concert. A concert should convey theatrics and other stuff to make people want to go. Put it this way, music gets them there, appearance makes them stay.
    I agree on a style, not quite as far as BVB (are they actually guys? for real now) But guys that just go up in their flip-flops, jeans and whatever shirt they cared to pull on don't seem very dedicated. I don't think a gimmick is necessary but I am a flannel rocker
    Sleaze Disease
    Complete opposite. I'm sick to death of seeing bands who wear their normal clothes on stage. IMO, it looks lazy, and if you're not going to at least try to put a little effort into how you look onstage, then I'm not going to put any effort into trying to get into your boring band.
    pretty sure metallica were just wearing their own clothes that they wore the day before/slept in when they started out.
    So... Grunge? They were wearing their normal clothes. They wore flannels because Seattle was apparently so damn cold.
    When I think Rock, I picture a nice chunk of granite, maybe some quartz. Slate has its uses, but really you cant go wrong with either.
    Mötley Crüe def. must be in this list
    My thoughts exactly!!!! KISS, Van Halen and Motley Crue belong in this list. They've got the most iconic, the most flamboyant rock looks ever!! It's MANDATORY for them to be on this list!! THEY JUST HAVE TO BE ON IT!!!! If they ain't on this list, then it ain't no fair list of iconic rock looks!!
    But about Bon Jovi ? ...
    You mean looking like a chick?
    Rex Inclitus
    Blackmore was doing the all black clad look before Iommi. Blackmore being heavily influenced by classical music adopted the stage look from Paganini, the first " rock star persona " and shredder using his severe and gaunt looks completely clad in black for maximum shock value.