Remember grunge? All you had to do was tie a flannel shirt around your waist, lace up a pair of Doc Martens, look morose, and you were pretty much in. The sleepy Pacific Northwest became the world’s largest focus group in the early ‘90s.
These days we’re in more complex territory. Now there's not a region that’s “hot,” but an attitude, albeit a vague one: the garage rock brand that The Strokes unwittingly (or completely wittingly) breathed life into. (Now we're besieged with “The” bands: The Hives, The Ataris, The Music, The Coral, The Rapture...but hell, it's better than three years ago, when your mainstream music choices were Creed, 'NSync, and Macy Gray.)
Faced with another music-spawned fashion trend, SOMA gives you five easy steps to looking like a rock star circa 2003. And pay attention, because these days nonconformity is so conformist...
1. Ironic T-Shirt. Maybe it says, “Jesus is my Homeboy.” Perhaps it supports a local diner or auto parts store, or professes allegiance to a certain brand of cigarettes or pop icon like a young Tito Jackson or a fledgling Hall and Oates. Or maybe it simply sports the beloved catchphrase, “Yo, Adrian!” (Jake's Dry Goods, $34). You could go so far as to don a shirt with howling coyotes silhouetted against a Southwestern backdrop, but you probably shouldn't. Even irony has its limits.
2. Jack Daniel's. This no-bullshit, preferred beverage has been featured in every single “downward spiral” montage in VH1's Behind The Music, and, most importantly, it has been a rock star staple for years—which, given the derivative nature of the current rock star moment, makes perfect sense. If regular JD is a little harsh going down, go premium. (Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Single Barrel, 750 ML, $39.99)
3. Self-Mussed Hair. The mussier, the better. Get some strong styling paste and run your fingers crazily through your hair like you're making out with someone you really like. Then don't wash it for eight days. (Bumble and Bumble Sumowax, 1.5 oz., $19)
4. Terrycloth Wristbands. Nothing says “rock star” like a sweat-trapping accessory. After all, when you rock, you sweat. And they’re cheap, so theoretically they could be easily thrown out to groupies as a sort of transferable backstage pass. A guy I knew gave Puma wristbands to girls he dated to remember him by. Don't let this practice deter you. (Puma, Striped Cat Wristband, $8)
5. Sneakers. At most rock shows lately, shoes are important. Very important. You can get away with wearing a mesh party shirt, but if you're rockin’ the Airwalks, prepare to get spit on. Converse do the job, since they smack of back-in-the-day credibility and are solidly representative of the rock revival. (Converse Black High Top Canvas, $38)
Reprinted from SOMA (17.5), an über-stylish San Francisco–based journal of culture, fashion, and the arts. Subscriptions: $18/yr. (10 issues) from 827 Arnold Drive, Suite 160, Martinez, CA 94553; www.somamagazine.com