'Bad Reputation': Raising a toast to Joan Jett, the punk rocker who redefined rock 'n' roll fashion
Joan Jett's unique sense of style inspired millions of women all over the world and it wasn't just because she was dressing like a boy - it was because she truly owned who she was
"A girl can do what she wants to do, and that’s what I’m gonna do."
Armed with a red lippie, a raggedy mullet and kohled eyes smoldering like only hers can, Joan Jett is without a doubt, one of the greatest fashion icons of our time. Her unique sense of style has inspired millions of women all over the world and it isn't just because she was dressing like a boy - it was because she truly owned who she was. Her tight leather pants helped, of course.
Raising a toast to Joan Jett's documentary 'Bad Reputation' that releases on September 28, let's take a look at Joan Jett, the style inspo - the woman who inspired generations of female punk rockers, who wore glitter like a boss and was the face of the famous 'Black Shag'.
Quite like her music, Joan's style was a rarity. She wore every leather jacket like an armor and the iconic hair was always a constant. One may argue that she looked just like every other rock band at the time, and she did, but there was a certain edge in the way she put together her outfits. A safety pin where you'd least expect it (her iconic safety pin on the fly), a pop of color and glitter, Joan never failed to add something that made it her own.
At the time she was starting out, the 1970s, a chic rocking a guitar "seriously" was unheard of. The way she looked and the way she carried herself on and off stage was a huge part of the persona she was building. If you look at the early photos of Joan, you'll clearly see that the later ones were a rendition of that 14-year-old girl who wanted to rock out.
Happy Birthday to Joan Jett aka Joan Marie Larkin, American rock singer, songwriter, composer, musician, record producer and occasional actor, born on this day in 1958#punk #punks #punkrock #punkrockbands #punksnotdead #joanjett #therunaways #history #punkhistory # pic.twitter.com/B5sH3VMz5w— History Of Punk (@history_of_punk) September 22, 2018
When you talk Joan Jett fashion, it's important to talk about the hair. Her classic mullet even got its own name through the years. Joan Jett's 'Black Shag', they call it. Originally a brunette, Joan had actually dyed her hair jet black in 1975. Earlier photos show off au naturale brown locks with the blunt bangs, very similar to the ones she rocked after the life-changing dye job.
Joan was then the guitarist of The Runaways and she thought it would be fun to have a hair color that would be the complete opposite of Cherie Currie, who was the fronting the band. Currie was a platinum blonde and perhaps the most sexualized in the provocative all-girl group.
Joan turned out to be a complete opposite of the corset-clad Currie, not just in terms of hair but also appeal. There's also the multiple scarves that she loved. From polka dots to florals, she wore them in every shape and form. Her scarves were a staple and although no one really talks about it as insanely as the rest of her look, she used it to add a bit of color to her otherwise dark outfits.
Her look was extremely exaggerated - while the eyeliner alone stood out, her borderline BDSM wardrobe choices, the spiky shoulders and the pale face with thick lashes were all very 'Cabaret'. The 1972 musical drama starring Liza Minelli was her inspiration at the time.
She was also a huge fan of David Bowie, T. Rex, and Suzi Quatro - all of whom are known for their larger than life fashion choices, especially Bowie. Joan's fascination for the tight leather pants came from Quatro who wore them a lot during shows. It was as though she took a little from every icon she knew and put together her own little show.
Cherie Currie, Joan Jett and Jackie Fox in NYC, 1976. 📷 Richard E. Aaron pic.twitter.com/pKqRSC5pqk— Rock N Roll Pictures (@RockNRollPics) June 8, 2017
This show, however, did not get noticed until Joan was on the front and center of The Runaways. When the late Kim Foley (who famously put the band together) parted ways in 1977, Currie also called it quits. The responsibility of being the face of the band fell on Joan's shoulders and that is when she really came into the limelight.
Until then, the world had been so obsessed with the blonde bombshell that they didn't notice the badass punk rocker on the side. Suddenly, it was as though everyone had had enough of the blonde overly sexed-up pin-up doll and wanted a fresh take and there Joan was, rocking to the beat.
Goth legend Alice Glass in her signature leather trench, 2017. I think it's by Vivienne Westwood. pic.twitter.com/yt8yYgoPyC— 🤖 (@reggaeyin) September 16, 2018
Her style has inspired generations of musicians from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Alice Glass, lead singer and lyricist for the Crystal Castles, among many others. There is barely a female rocker that doesn't have Joan's vibe. From Dum Dum Girls to Pussy Riot, there's a little of Joan in each of them.
Joan's leather garb, her jet Black Shag, and determination to do just about anything she wanted made her a feminist icon of her time. She didn't wait for someone else to pave the way and that determination is important to understand because her rebellion outside was a reflection of the fighting spirit within.
Even today, almost 30 years since it all started, there are hundreds of Pins online on how to get her style. That in itself is a huge reminder of what an icon she truly is. She's always rocked whatever she wanted and most importantly, she's stuck to it. She still wears thick wings like a boss at 60 and no one bats an eyelid because it's just something she does - because she's Joan f**king Jett.