How David Bowie paved the way for modern menswear
Few figures have influenced the worlds of music, fashion and beyond like David Bowie, who would’ve turned 73 on January 8.
The musician died in 2016 from liver cancer, but throughout his career, the visuals were just as important as the music he made. Style was integral to Bowie’s maverick personality – he was always reinventing himself.
Menswear has seen something of a red carpet renaissance in recent years – largely thanks to people like Timothée Chalamet and Billy Porter – and Bowie’s influence can be keenly felt in this new wave of stylish dressers. Here’s how…
He was a style chameleon
From Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Halloween Jack to the Thin White Duke, every few years brought a new Bowie character – along with a distinctive new look. The Londoner set a standard against boring dressing, because why would you stick to the same look when you can try something new whenever you feel like it?
He walked a line between masculine and feminine
Long before Jaden Smith started wearing skirts, Bowie was proving men needn’t stick to rigid gender fashion norms. He wasn’t afraid to wear high heels, loved a feminine silhouette and certainly wouldn’t turn his nose up at a skirt.
In fact, Bowie famously wore a dress on the cover of his third album, The Man Who Sold The World, and went on to consistently experiment with androgeny – which was fairly out there in the Seventies and Eighties.
Bowie frequently collaborated with Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto, who was responsible for many outfits from his Ziggy Stardust phase. Yamamoto told The Cut: “Today, lesbian and gay people today are gaining more rights and acceptance, but when I was working with David, that community did not have the same rights. So I found David’s aesthetic and interest in transcending gender boundaries shockingly beautiful.”
He wasn’t afraid to dress-up
Bowie was a master of playing dress-up – much like Billy Porter today. The glam rock of Ziggy Stardust, the iconic lightning bolt make-up of Aladdin Sane (thought to represent a split personality), the mod rock vibe of the Thin White Duke in a powder blue Yves Saint Laurent suit or the space clown costume from the Ashes To Ashes video, you can’t say Bowie didn’t commit to a theme.
Each look and character contained layers of meaning – every fashion and beauty choice appeared carefully considered.
Interestingly, in a 2003 interview with Complex Bowie noted that his “fascination with clothes generally was motivated by trying to create the characters for the stage”, while in day-to-day life he was “much happier just wearing the most low-profile things that I can come up with just so I can get down the street… [fashion] doesn’t rule my life at all, fortunately.”
He played around with traditional suiting
Timothée Chalamet has stolen hearts with his unusual suits, and we wouldn’t bame him for taking inspiration from Bowie, who wasn’t averse to tailoring. He really experimented with suiting – think loose jackets, interesting materials and bright colours.
He never said no to pattern or colour
The way Bowie experimented with pattern and colour would be revolutionary today.
He paved the way for modern male celebrities to mix up their colour palettes and showed you absolutely don’t have to stick to a boring black tux on the red carpet.
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- Big Garden Birdwatch: Warmer weather could boost tiny birds’ survival chances - January 24, 2020
- Quiz: Do remember the currencies these European countries had before the Euro? - January 24, 2020
- Ask an expert: How much exercise should you be doing over the age of 50? - January 23, 2020
- 5 symptoms of kidney cancer everyone should be aware of - January 22, 2020
- Worried about waterlogging? How to look after your garden when wet weather strikes - January 21, 2020
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!