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When I was younger I dreamed about being a rock star. To me it seemed as if they lived entirely by their own set of rules; they could get away with anything – fashionably speaking and otherwise. I loved and was inspired by women like Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Shirley Manson and Kim Gordon, who were each beautiful in their own way – they didn’t need to rely on the stereotypes of over-sexed, under-dressed airheads in order to be considered attractive or desirable. I also loved how each of these women cultivated their own personal style.

Rock stars have such strong stage presence and personality that it only makes sense that they would manifest that into strong personal style choices and while they may not always end up on the “best dressed” list, rock stars are certainly more interesting to watch on the red carpet than the all-too-safe, stylized starlets.

While I have a long list of female (and male) musicians throughout history whose style I admire, I decided to focus on 4 ladies who are currently causing a sartorial stir and cultivating (or in the case of Gwen Stefani continuing to cultivate) a style all their own. While there are loads of musicians, both hugely famous and on the fringes of fame, who have fantastic individual style, I decided to profile these 4 as I think they have unique and identifiable looks that define them not only as musicians but as individuals with killer personal style.

Gwen Stefani:
Gwen was one of my original rock star style idols and while she’s a veteran of the music biz, rumors of a new No Doubt album coupled with her continued success with her clothing line L.A.M.B. solidify her as just as much a trend setter today as she was back in the 90s when she was rocking oversized Adidas pants and crop tops. She’s a great mix of glamour and tomboy chic with her platinum blonde hair, blood-red lips and baggy trousers. Her style evolution has been a colorful journey, from bubblegum pink locks and braces to over-the-top Harajuku chic, but no matter what incarnation she takes on she is still that tomboy from Southern California who can keep up with the boys without smudging her lipstick.

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Patterns clockwise from top right: Oversized Jersey Top, Cropped Jacket, Bustier Top, Oversized Tank, Utility Pants, Jumpsuit. Striped pants by Vivienne Westwood, jeans by R13, tee by Raquel Allegra.

Florence Welch:
Florence has some serious pipes and no matter how many times I listen to “Cosmic Love” I still get chills. Comprable to her powerful voice is her powerful presence with her bright red hair and penchant for dramatic ensembles. Capes, caftans, and kimono sleeves (she’s a little bit of Stevie Nicks, a little bit of Karen Elson) are her style weapons of choice and designers like Riccardo Tisci and Frida Giannini are lining up to deck out the British singer in their one-of-a-kind creations.

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Patterns clockwise from top left: Caftan Dress, Caftan with Ties, Lace Kimono, Layered Maxi Dress, Lace Dress. Tunic by Halston Heritage, button up shirt from Threadscene, crochet dress from Free People.

Janelle Monae;
Miss Monae is my favorite performer to emerge in quite awhile and it’s not just because we were both born in Kansas City and spent time in Atlanta (serious coincidence). Janelle not only has a style but a sound all her own – a sort of modernized version of the old soul and Motown sound that I love so much. She also has this wild, futuristic slant to her which makes for a nice juxtaposition between the past and her idea of the future. Her style is just like her sound – all at once retro and forward thinking from her pompadour hairstyle to her tuxedos and Esquviel brogues. She’s out of this world in the best way possible.

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Patterns from left: Cropped Jacket, Suit Vest, Tuxedo Bib, High Waisted Trousers. Jacket from J. Crew, tuxedo pants by Stella McCartney, shoes by Beatrix Ong.

Nicki Minaj:
Nicki Minaj sort of came out of nowhere but when she showed up to the 2010 American Music Awards wearing that crazy amazing Manish Arora ribcage dress, I knew this girl was someone to watch. She has a streetwear aesthetic, favoring bright colors and bold prints, mixed with avant garde tastes and she is totally fearless in her clothing choices. Oh, and that hair…

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Patterns from top left: Blouson Jacket, Carol Leggings, Sean Skirt, Larissa Moto Jacket. Dress by Gareth Pugh, legging by Alexander McQueen, jacket by McQ, dress by Jean-Pierre Braganza.

I know lots of people are going to have their own opinion about this, so now you tell us: which female musicians do you think have the best personal style and why?

Images courtesy of The Fashion Spot, ShopStyle and Google Images.

22 Comments

  • Skull_20and_20crossbones_20blk_large

    Aug 2, 2011, 10.47 PMby aurorapoison

    Beth Ditto from Gossip is my fave :D

  • Sushi_party_large

    Aug 2, 2011, 09.37 PMby notdeadredhead

    I have to say that I’ve always admired Gwen for being one of the few to go out there and just wear what she wants. I also love Janelle Monae’s style, as I’ve always wanted to dress like that just for kicks! Lady Gaga may have done quite a bit for fashion, but I appreciate hearing about others for a change. There are tons of other people out there revolutionizing fashion as much (or dare I say more?) than Lady Gaga. These women are awesome, and any man out there: even more so!

  • Dscf6507_large

    Aug 2, 2011, 11.19 AMby urbandon

    Great choices and not the regular run of the mill stars here. Alison Goldfrapp-yep!!! Lady Ga Who?

  • Prince_of_persia_wii_large

    Aug 1, 2011, 06.53 AMby Herry Smart

    dresses are very awesome very nice collection!!!

  • 1014094_10152652215983709_1627797358_n_large

    Jul 30, 2011, 08.52 PMby mitmit

    Where is Grace Jones?? And maybe David B/ Ziggy Stardust? ;-)

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    Jul 30, 2011, 08.52 PMby carottesauvage

    Florence Welch’s style is a derivate of Alison Goldfrapp’s .Love Janelle Monae’s. But Patti and Kim….any time….. babee

  • Missing

    Jul 30, 2011, 07.29 PMby Janice Days

    Love them all!

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    Jul 30, 2011, 06.01 PMby lennert

    Roisin Murphy’s still my number one!

    1 Reply
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    Jul 30, 2011, 12.59 PMby pambox

    i’d have to say bat for lashes, real name natasha khan. she has a style that’s simultaneously ethereal and child-like, and it helps that she’s utterly beautiful (she’s my pick for most beautiful person on the planet). i also love patrick wolf’s style, which always reflects his latest album – the image and music are completely tied together, down to hair colour. and you’ve gotta love a 6’4"man with model looks who’s happy to rock a sequinned polo shirt and glitter on his face.

  • 5_large

    Jul 30, 2011, 03.43 AMby susanne2011

    Hmm, I don’t know about Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj, is there seriously anyone who wants to look/dress like them? My favorite is Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O, she rocks!

    1 Reply
    • 1_large

      Jul 30, 2011, 10.15 PMby ashchaser

      Also does Lady Gaga really have to be mentioned in any/all fashion related conversation? Nope, cause Karen O is amazing!!!

  • 1_large

    Jul 29, 2011, 08.58 PMby ashchaser

    Bjork & Karen O

    1 Reply
  • Babies_and_gummies_068_large

    Jul 29, 2011, 08.07 PMby Emeraldstar

    i don’t know about nicki. she just tries far too hard and 90% of the time, she fails. i’m not really into her style. which is funny because i can justify that look for lady gaga and not her.

  • Hallaa_large

    Jul 29, 2011, 07.16 PMby aleah

    I love posts like this. Inspiration when needed.

  • 1609618_10202848284157938_1597185531_n_large

    Jul 29, 2011, 07.04 PMby nouvellegamine

    great style picks! i love florence welch’s style right now.

    i also love bjork’s style, especially during “vespertine.” i actually have an issay miyake pattern i bought simply bc it looked like something she’d wear.

    stylistically my favs are anything ye-ye. such as jane birkin & especially francoise hardy.

  • Img_0097_large

    Jul 29, 2011, 06.34 PMby jem1022

    Yeah, where’s lady gaga???

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    Jul 29, 2011, 06.28 PMby icedwaterthoughts

    This is a great article! I’m especially thrilled you put Janelle Monae. I’ve always adored her style (and her hair). Even though we can’t necessarily pull of red carpet or performance looks on the street, I like the idea of giving a nod to the looks.

  • Missing

    Jul 29, 2011, 04.42 PMby Viola Nilsson

    Lady Gaga. Bold, characteristic, techno, avant qarde.. Everything cool and over the top!

  • My_goldi__large

    Jul 29, 2011, 04.04 PMby soulfulll

    YES!

  • 990745-073_large

    Jul 29, 2011, 03.53 PMby nehmah

    For women, Debbie Harry and Annie Lennox. For men, Prince. I like the styles which they choose. “Why” is a personal option. Nehmah

    • This is a question
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