There are several styles of dress within the hardcore scene, and
styles have changed since the genre started as hardcore punk in the late
What is fashionable in one branch of the hardcore scene may
be frowned upon in another.
Personal comfort and the ability to mosh are highly influential in
this style. For this reason, jewelry, spikes, chains and spiky hair are
highly uncommon and discouraged in hardcore fashion. Plain working class
dress and short hair (with the exception of dreadlocks) are usually
associated with hardcore punk.
Mute colors and minimal adornment are usually common. Elements of
hardcore clothing include baggy jeans or work pants, athletic wear,
cargo or military shorts, khakis or cargo pants, band T-shirts, plain
T-shirts, muscle shirts, and band hoodies.
Common sneakers include classic Adidas Originals, Converse, New
Balance, Nike, Pony, Puma, Saucony and Vans. Boots are also somewhat
common, especially Dr. Martens.
Hardcore skinheads, sometimes known as "American punk skinheads," are
characterized by some of the same items as British skinhead fashion, but
hardcore skinhead dress is considerably less strict than traditional
skinhead or oi! skinhead style.
Hardcore punk music is generally faster, heavier, and more abrasive
than regular punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is
uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A. may have helped to popularize
the term with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81. Hardcore
historian Steven Blush said that the term "hardcore" is also a reference
to the sense of being "fed up" with the existing punk and new wave
music. Blush also states that the term refers to "an extreme: the
absolute most Punk."
While traditional hardcore has never experienced mainstream
commercial success, some of its early pioneers have garnered
appreciation over time. Black Flag's Damaged, Minutemen's Double Nickels
on the Dime and Hüsker Dü's New Day Rising were included in Rolling
Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003 and Dead
Kennedys have seen one of their albums reach gold status over a period
of 25 years. In 2011, Rolling Stone writer David Fricke placed
Greg Ginn of Black Flag 99th place in his 100 Greatest Guitarists list.
Many North American hardcore punk fans adopted a dressed-down style
of T-shirts, jeans, combat boots or sneakers and crewcut-style haircuts.
Women in the hardcore scene typically wore army pants, band T-shirts and
hooded sweatshirts. The clothing style was a reflection of
hardcore ideology, which included dissatisfaction with suburban America
and the hypocrisy of American culture. It was essentially deconstruction
of American fashion staples — ripped jeans, holey T-shirts, torn
stockings for women, and work boots. The style of the 1980s
hardcore scene contrasted with the more provocative fashion styles of
late 1970s punk rockers (elaborate hairdos, torn clothes, patches,
safety pins, studs, spikes, etc.).
Henry Rollins stated that for him, getting dressed up meant putting
on a black shirt and some dark pants; Rollins viewed an interest in
fashion as being a distraction.
Learn more about various punk fashion
styles from the main page of this section.