We’ve all seen the crazy, incredible, and noteworthy outfits that musicians have worn on the red carpet or at their shows. Some have even gone as far as to wear them out to grab groceries or hang out with friends. Why do they dress like that though?
I’ll be honest with you, I have no solid answer. I have a lot of speculation and a few artist remarks, but in the end, they all have their own reasons. I’ve compiled a few of them together for you. Now, whether you use this information to justify your own creative style as a musician or are just interested in the artistic antics, is up to you. I hope you find what you’re looking for either way.
Why Do Musicians Dress Weird?
Like I said, there isn’t an umbrella answer here. There isn’t even an unspoken rule that musicians have to stand out in the crowd. There are plenty that show up to shows in hoodies with ball caps. There are also plenty that go all out. We can all remember the Lady Gaga meat dress.
Here are some of my guesses for why musicians tend to dress in a way that many of us would never dream of.
Getting up on stage to sing high notes for a bunch of strangers, pouring your heart out into a song and then sending it to be broadcast across the world, or even just knowing that people are paying attention, artists are under constant scrutiny.
It takes a lot of self-confidence to put yourself out there like that, and it's not just from an emotional and skill based perspective. Everyone in the limelight is looked at as an influencer of some sort. They are offered sponsorships from companies, ogled on the red carpet, and even judged based on their choice of fast food.
I guess what I’m saying is that musicians have to have tough skin. If their confidence is high enough to tell the whole world about their recent breakup or rough time with mental health over a song, they should definitely be confident to wear the things we’ve all been dreaming about.
If you’ve gotten yourself into the music industry, you should already know that musicians have trouble standing out. Unfortunately it takes more than just skill to get you into people’s line of vision nowadays.
You have to have a sense of style that is truly your own, and one that turns the heads of the people around you. Katy Perry, who is known for her eccentric style, said that her style was a conversation piece. (Daily Mail)
Giving yourself an extra thing to be known for on top of your music has the potential to really give yourself a leg up in the game. It might be the difference between being on stage at a local bar or your dream venue.
Using your voice.
Dressing wild isn't always something that artists just do because they want to. Sometimes artists who have already cultivated a following will challenge the norms of fashion in order to make a statement.
These statements could be anything from supporting your favorite presidential candidate, fighting for LGBTQ rights, mental health, or anything in between. The way people in the spotlight dress is always in the eyes of the media.
One artist that used his notoriety to call attention to something important to him was Kid Cudi, in his 2021 SNL performance, where he performed in a floral dress comparable to that of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in his 1993 cover of The Face. (Show Studio) The look was inspired by the anniversary of the late artist’s death as well as a presentation of the power of non-conformity.
It is stylistic decisions like this one and so many others that allow artists to use their voice to make statements. The things they do can affect us as the audience, both in creating a more normalized space for us to dress as we do, and create conversations about the things that need to be discussed.
Do You Need To Dress Weird, Too?
Now that you’ve got all this information about how musicians dress, and why they can sometimes stand out in a crowd, you’re probably wondering if you should be doing the same. To be honest, that answer is still entirely up to you.
If you are someone who has always wanted to cultivate a chaotic and unique style then now is the time. Let all of your wildest fashion dreams come true and create an aesthetic that rivals Katy Perry’s cupcake bra and Miley Cyrus’ entire “Wrecking Ball” era. The sky is the limit.
If that isn’t your vibe, then don’t sweat it. There are plenty of incredible musicians who have a much more subdued look. If wearing your favorite hoodie on stage is the right move for you, then it’s the right move.
No matter which of these paths you choose to take, remember that you aren’t married to it. Musicians are switching it up all the time. Some even have whole artistic eras defined around the kind of face paint they choose to use or not use. As an artist, you’re allowed to dress any way you choose.
However you choose to dress, it will all come back down to one thing; being true to yourself. You probably didn’t choose to make music for the fashion choices it would allow you, it was about the music. Let your music continue to take the lead, and a style that you’re comfortable with will follow.
Whether you have the craziest, most unique look in the industry or are sporting the cap and sunglasses like an undercover superhero, all that matters is that you’re comfortable performing. It’s about your ability to perform and be comfortable in your own skin while you do it.