Back in Black: A Look At Punk and Metal Concert Dressing

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - 1700 Block of 2nd Avenue NW


While many Calgarians were at Folk Fest this past weekend I was at the Pennywise and Danzig concert at MacEwan Hall. I could talk about Folk Fest but to save everyone time, I won’t. It’s basically Coachella-Lite from a style perspective. Rather, I’d like to focus on what the punk and metal community wear; it’s back to black.

While I may be critical of festival dressing for the lack of authenticity, I see a different aesthetic and motive for this music loving community. It’s what some in the fashion world would describe as “uniform dressing”. Bring on the black, denim and grommets.

Uniform dressing is when you wear the same style of things day after day. You may have 20 grey T shirts and 4 pairs of the same brand and cut of jeans and wear them over and over. That's cool. Take for example a man in a corporate environment who wears a navy suit over a white shirt every day. See here. Or perhaps you can think of a woman who wears the same silhouette for most affairs. See there. It may not be exciting to some, but it’s consistent, easy and usually flattering.

Back to the punk and metal crowd, there appears to be an air of lifestyle commitment in many of the concert attendees. I suspect that if I would run into one on another Friday, they’d be dressed the same. It’s not a costume; it’s what they wear. You may be curious about how I can tell. How I know this to be true. I have a couple of theories to share.

The Clothes Have Dates

One way to know if it is legit is the date on the shirt. Many concert go-ers wear their favourite band’s T shirt from a concert past. Many are oldie’s but goodies. The chance of one inheriting from another source other than a concert is possible, it’s just not likely. It would be deemed lamed or a “poser.” Merchandise sales concerts are big business. One company in an Economist article reports that merchandise sales have doubled from 2007 to 2010.

The Clothes Have Been Worn

Take a look at the jeans they are wearing. Get in real close. They look worn in, right? They may have wallet impressions on a back pocket or a rip from a set of keys. They may have fray marks and tears that are not manufactured. The denim likely looks a bit dirty. It’s all good signs that the owner actually wears those jeans outside of concerts. They are likely their favourite pair and have many days and nights in those pants.

The Clothes Have a Story

A few folks will likely be wearing a vest or bag with patches sewn or stuck on it. This, too, is evidence of a life lived in those clothes. They are a literal badge of honour or pride for the band or festival where it was acquired. I saw one gentleman in a wheelchair (motorcycle accident) who could tell the story of every patch he had on. Regardless of his head trauma, he could recall what show it was, what city and what his favourite song was. They are his talismans of show’s past.

There you have it. It’s my foolproof display of evidence of a specific look of a specific crowd. And I like it.

The black uniform look is more than back. For the punk and metal scene in Calgary, it’s never left.