[jam]Music and fashion have a lot of in common- seriously. Popular styles are constantly changing and evolving. Designers and musicians are always striving to produce something unique, trying not to instinctively copy trends they’re familiar with, and at the same time, trying to create a sound or an image that will sell. And often, a sound and image go hand-in-hand.
“When you’re younger, the music you listen to tends to affect your dress,” David Bernath, owner of Flat, Black & Circular, said.
Take a glance around campus and you’ll find people doing just what Bernath claims. Students are able to express themselves openly by wearing whatever they decide to throw on each morning (and sometimes, afternoon if you just happen to snooze through your eight o’clock). Some students try to do it with makeup, others with extravagant clothing. It’s not even uncommon to see neon pink hair on a guy walking down the street, although the same can be said circa 1982. “A lot more extreme styles are accepted these days,” Jon Howard, who has worked for Flat, Black & Ciruclar for 12 years, said. “I used to have spiked hair, and I used to have stuff thrown at me out of car windows while I was walking down the street. Now, your average secretary has spiked hair.”
Out of all the music/fashion overlaps, several have been extremely prevalent and inspirational to the younger generations. Hip-hop has created a unified urban style of dress while punk created a rock n’ roll style that has influenced suburban youth as well as its sister genres. Emo style has ruled the Internet with youtube videos, illegal downloads and pictures of MySpacers staring off into the distance.
[emo3]Emo music listeners are arguably the most mocked – and the fastest-rising – of the bunch, dressing like their idols onstage. Common emo fashion includes guys donning tight womens’ jeans (although it seems very uncomfortable), women in lots of layers and leggings, self-cut hair and a tear on their cheek (a la Johnny Depp in Crybaby).
It’s almost as if everyone is trying to be emo, but no one wants to call themselves emo. “People call me the emo kid of the group. It’s really [that] I don’t have a style. It’s really just whatever I want to wear,” telecommunication sophomore Ronnie Smith said.
So what exactly is an emo kid? It’s hard to say these days. “Emo” has become a generic term for the original word “Emotional,” which was once reserved for emotionally-charged bands like Dashboard Confessional, and is now used to describe anything remotely indie.
Not only are fashion and music emo, but one can have an emo day or emo look just because they’re not smiling. “Everthing is emo now,” Smith said. “Even my buddies, I’ll be listening to 311 or Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who have been around, and they’ll be like ‘Dude, this is so emo.’ They’re like generally defining alternative and rock bands.”
Now that emo has become generalized and very public, a lot of emos are hanging up their girl pants, tossing their super black mascara into the trash and wiping their tears away. Finding an admitted cryer is almost impossible unless you surf for 12-year-olds on MySpace. “I’m not a crier,” Smith said. “The last time I cried was sophomore year of high school, I remember.”
If there’s someone sitting on the street corner crying, don’t automatically consider them emo. There’s a few key things you need to remember about how to categorize someone and hair-cutting, livejournaling emo boy. “My buddy bought loose pants and then sowed it up the leg. Or like excentric wrist bands and necklaces, long hair,” Smith said. “Dyed black or sometimes blonde. Random glasses, random things just to separate themselves from someone else.”
What are emo kids doing in trying to separate themselves from others, if not a little gender bending, crying and hair-dying? “They are trying to be part of something,” Howard said.

Punks These Days
While the Beatles may have influenced thousands of teenage boys to defy their parents and grow their hair past their ears (gasp!), punk music taught them to defy every rule of society since its early 1970s conception and has remained steadfast in its intention, influencing bands up to the current time. “Our music is a fusion of a couple different kinds of music,” Kevin Curtin, lead singer and guitarist of local punk band, The Boxcutters, said. “Its primary punk, but a lot of the song writing is like American folk music. Or American roots music, you could also say. Part of the reason we’d be considered a punk rock band is because of how we dress. Punk is such a distinctive kind of fashion.”
[punk]Punk music has become a lot more pop sensationalized in recent years, but bands like the Boxcutters stay true to the original image and message. Requirements for being a real punk? A rainbow-colored Mohawk, tight pants, bondage straps, Converse shoes and a tight Sex Pistols t-shirt will do the trick. “I would say the main thing is that it’s about…loud, fast and really creative music,” Curtin, who recently graduated from MSU’s journalism school, said. “As for the whole culture thing, in the definition you have to incorporate that it’s a sub culture. Punk’s very underground. It knows itself well. Punk people definitely know their identity.”
The Punk style has been an inspiration for designers and other rock musicans despite the negative connotation of the everpresent ‘f–k off’ attitude the community prides itself on. But when it comes down to it, punk is really about the music, not what you are wearing or what color your hair is. “A lot of the people who listen to punk rock are also really big fans of underground hip-hop and might dress the same,” Curtin said. “Sage Francis and those guys have strong ties to punk. I don’t think it would be out of place to see a punk at a hip-hop show or the other way around.”
Hip Hop Cleans Up
[hiphop2]Journalism sophomore Cierra Middlebrooks just completed an internship with the New York-based independent hip-hop label Sophist Productions. She marketed bands to the local radio stations and did some promoting around campus. She said she considers herself a huge fan of hip-hop. “There’s a guy named Jim Jones,” Middlebrooks said. “He dresses more like a rock star. He wears really tight jeans that you don’t see on most hip-hop artists. Hip-hop is definitely changing. You don’t see the baggy jeans very much anymore. Sometimes, they still wear them a little below their waist, but the jeans aren’t as baggy. ”
Hip-hop has come a long way from its early funk roots. Hip-hop and rap artists now sample everything from classic rock to ’80s pop to musicals. Along with this fusion of so many types of music, hip-hop fashion has changed and evolved, almost as often as Sean Combs has changed his name. The clothing is known for sampling styles from all over the map, just like in the music. “It’s changing and I think Kanye [West] had a lot to do with that,” Middlebrooks said. “But I think it’s a good thing that it’s changing. A lot of guys I went to high school with are starting to change how they dress because of what they see people wearing on TV.”
[kevin]Lately, the hip-hop artists have been doning a much cleaner look on the red carpet. They’ve gone from big sagging jeans, white tees and gold chains to fitted Armani suits with white sneakers, Ray Ban sunglasses and gold chains (some things will never change.) The most influential artists in the business take inspiration from their several places and produce multi-demensional records that have tracks that are both just for dancing and others that hit fans straight in the heart. “The band that you hold in high regard can have a big impact on your life,” Curtin said. “Music can be pretty profound. You tend to dress like the people who are touching you with their art.”
Hip-hop is not alone in drawing influence from different genres. Those who wear the gold chains no longer just listen to the artists who dress like them and the kid walking down the street crying may be a bigger fan of Eminem than you’d guess. Fans enjoy the freedom of moving freely between styles of music even if they stick to one particular style of dress, or none at all. “It’s kind of a melting pot these days,” Howard said.
A Melting Pot It Is
People listen to everything from pop to punk, hardcore rock to hip-hop, oldies and Motown. The average person doesn’t wear spurs or have a mohawk, but rather is a bit of a mix amongst the genres. Most kids’ style, like their music, is far from being influenced by one singular type of music. Students like Shantel Hamilton, a medical technology junior, are a byproduct of this melting pot. “I don’t have a specific type of music that I like the most,” Hamilton said. “It really depends on my mood, what I listen to. It’s the same with what I wear. If I’m really excited I’ll wear bright colors or if I’m feeling mellow, I’ll just put on some jeans and a t-shirt.”
So how do you tell what kind of music someone listens to if you can’t tell by how they dress? Easy. Checking out the latest playlist on their iPod is a good place to start. Those who don’t dress the part are not stopped from listening to what they like. A lack of certain style doesn’t mean a lack of taste when it comes to music. “I’m fashionably-challenged,” Hamilton said. “I’ll just buy something because I like the color and then I’ll get it home and try it on and think, ‘This is the worse shirt I’ve ever bought.’ I just buy something if I think it looks cool or I like the color. I worked at Cold Stone and someone put on a System of the Down CD and I was singing all the words and people were like, ‘You like System of a Down?’ No one would have expected that I like them,” Hamilton said. “I usually would listen to Disney music at work.”
Music magazines are where many artists not only express themselves in interviews, but express their style through photospreads and cover shoots. Photographers for magazines like Rolling Stone have taken famous photographs for covers that have immortalized artists. “That’s one area that you don’t see a lot mixing. You don’t really see people buying <Gold Mine and XXL,” Bernath said.
While you not might see a grey-haired man purchasing this months issue of a hip-hop magazine, you do find that people will buy several different types of rock magazines, everything from Rolling Stone, to Spin, to Paste. Magazines are the best place for fans and aspiring artists to get to know the style of and find inspiration from music stars they emulate. “If you want to look at it in a cultural way, people – regardless of whether it’s because of music or not – will idolize the people they admire,” Curtin said. “If you’re into Paris Hilton, you wear sunglasses and have blonde hair. But if you idolize punk bands, you wear tight jeans and vests and spiked hair and studded belts.”
Fashion has been inspired by music in every way possible. Vintage-looking t-shirts of long deceased bands like the Beatles still pop up in clothing stores. Wedding dresses now come in styles to fit a little more alternative bride. Infamous rockers like Lenny Kravitz have signed up to do ads for large clothing corporations like the Gap. And rarely will you find a clothing commercial that does not have some famous artist’s music in the background. “A lot of people just want to look like rock stars. So they dress just like their favorite rock star,” Hamilton said.
[phones]Whether their favorite rock star is Fergie Ferg or the lead singer from the Panic! At the Disco, students continue to emulate the style of artists they admire. They might grow out their hair, throw on some tight jeans, cry themselves to sleep or dye their hair all the colors of the rainbow, but music fans express themselves in a way that can be entirely unique and original or comfortable and normal. “I guess what it really boils down to, when you look good, you feel good,” Curtin said. “When you’re doing it for yourself, that’s great. When you’re doing it for other people, then it sucks.”

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