Steven Patrick Morrissey was once described as “one of the most singular figures in Western popular culture for the last twenty years”. These words accurately sum up the success and iconic status this front man deserves. Morrissey is just one of the few British pop stars who have developed a cult following of disenfranchised youths – in terms of music, voice and style.
Simplicity is perhaps the best word to describe the singer’s personal style. The Englishman was never one for over-blown, excessive garments; often opting for more basic clothing that corresponded with his stripped down musical style. The notorious quiff, flapping shirts and Oscar Wilde T-shirts were the musician’s trademark – a well constructed look that is still popular with many males today. You only need to look at the many magazine covers he adorned, such as NME and Rolling Stone, to identify his popularity within all creative arts.
As far as major influences and role models go, Morrissey had his own share of intriguing, colourful characters. There was certainly nothing grey about the list, which varied from female pop icons such as Dusty Springfield and Sandie Shaw, to glamorous actors like James Dean – whose hair style he adopted. Indeed, Dean made quite an impression on our front man:
“I was fascinated by the fact that he always looked so good, regardless of what kind of clothes he stumbled into; he could wear an old rag and he was still quite stunning, and equally he could clamber into a tuxedo and it would also be incredibly fetching. So for me he is the only person who looked perfect persistently.”
When The Smiths formed in 1982, you could have considered Morrissey’s fashion sense to be inversely proportionate to the band’s music, with lyrics described as “bleak, dramatic and witty”. The band’s five years together saw them accrue five bestselling albums and 14 hit singles – and both the singer and the band itself continue to be a huge influence on a large number of alternative acts today. Renowned as the first indie outsiders to gain mainstream success, The Smiths took poetry and guitar playing to new heights.
Morrissey himself has garnered wide critical appraise. Particularly from Rolling Stone, which notified his “rejection of convention” in both vocal style and lyrics as the reason “why he defined British rock for the past quarter-century”. Readers should take note that daring and individual ideas are often admired.
You need only to stroll into your nearest retail outlet to notice the mounds of Morrissey inspired gear; slender black denim jeans, wire-rimmed glasses, ‘The Smiths’ t-shirts… the list goes on and on. Only recently has the pop scene (music and fashion) seen a change from pappy, blonde, bland pieces to the counter, Morrissey-style numbers.
The Smith’s vocalist doesn’t condone any clothing consisting of real animal fur or skin, especially these days when he ensures that all his outfits are made from natural resources. Not too long ago he angrily dumped a bundle of shirts after learning the designer had used crocodile skin.
It’s pretty clear Morrissey is extremely careful about his public image. Yet he has an effortless approach to his choice in clothing, which works extremely effectively. In his younger days, the open collar shirts were his weapon of choice; accompanied with slim-fitted jeans, granddad-style sweaters and baseball shoes.
In more recent years, he has tweaked his casual outfit of choice to include tailored suits, pleated blazers and shirt and tie combinations – an overall smarter aesthetic that reflects his advancing years.
Along with the formation of the band The Smiths in the early eighties, Morrissey had developed a geek-chic inspired approach to his dressing; often spotted wearing button down shirts, wire rimmed glasses and granddad style knitwear. There were also rumours of the artist’s desire to wear women’s blouses on certain occasions, mimicking the look of a baggy shirt.
Of course, geek-chic is still popular today. Wire rimmed and non-prescription glasses have become common place within popular culture and men’s fashion – seen on everyone from Colin Firth in Tom Ford’s ‘A Single Man’ to GQ’s Best Dressed Man 2012, Tinie Tempah. Texture is also back with a bang, with the recent autumn/winter season making all men consider the tactile elements of their outfits. Morrissey shows how a simple open weave, ribbed or cable knit jumper can transform a look effortlessly through the addition of texture and character.
Finally, patterned shirts were key within this front man’s wardrobe – specifically wide stripes – and with the upcoming prints and patterns trend set to dominate menswear in spring/summer 2012, we can easily modernise this classic look. Try a patterned shirt underneath a neutralising piece of knitwear (textured of course) or a sharp blazer. And be sure to experiment with fit; keep it modern and fitted in order to layer with, or alternatively, you can choose to oversize it slightly if the shirt is to be worn on its own with the sleeves rolled up on a summer’s day.
Following the success of the first album, Morrissey began to adopt more of a post-punk look. The music itself remained beautiful and sincere; whilst the band adopted a more rebellious look than previous.
The ever so popular denim jacket and fitted jeans combination was introduced, along with a change in specs, and the plain white band t-shirt. Morrissey had gone from book worm to Rock’n'Roll in a short space of time. In terms of quality music, the band’s sound never budged.
So how can we apply this today? Well this is an all time classic menswear combination. Double denim needn’t be hard if you mix your washes, and a plain white tee is a staple piece that will anchor any look. Smart shoes work well in an outfit like this in order to create a clash between edgy and formal, whilst a cool pair of sunglasses with a bit of individuality has always been a necessity – no matter what your personal style.
The musician is just one of few front men who in a physical term – dare I say it – suits his middle age rather than his youth. How so? Cutting a distinguished figure in his suits and checked blazers proves my point.
Maintaining a good head of hair and a well built physique, it gives the singer the option of wearing similar outfits to his younger days. The man from Lancashire bares smarter looking garments, which complement his shape and enable him to maintain the look of a charming man.
Again, many of our older readers can take away some key points from Morrissey’s style here. The key to looking great as you get older is getting a grip on your health and lifestyle. Clothes always look and fit better when you have a good physique, it really is that simple. Also, take note of the fact that even if you need to dress a bit more ‘grown-up’, you can still maintain a youthful appearance by giving classic items a contemporary twist. Patterned blazers, a bold shirt choice or the use of texture will create individuality and shows that you are a guy who really knows how to dress.
Morrissey isn’t one to remain silent. He is renowned for publicly expressing himself at every opportunity, whether it’s his disapproval of the local government or backing his support for vegetarianism and animal rights. His choice of clothing is another area – and clear statement – showing the world that he is his own man. Half of today’s bands would consider this musician as huge influence… and not only for his music.
Can you imagine what we would see in shops today, if Morrissey was to surrender his unique and dynamic attitude to music and life in general?
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