15 Must-Have Items for an Edgy, Rocker-Chic Wardrobe (Plus 45+ Outfit Ideas!) - College Fashion

15 Must-Have Items for an Edgy, Rocker-Chic Wardrobe (Plus 45+ Outfit Ideas!)

Want to add some edgy style to your wardrobe? Discover the 15 items every edgy, rocker-chic girl should have in her closet, plus 45+ outfit combinations.
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Edgy style celebrities: Madison Beer, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne, Ashley Tisdale

Another week means another wardrobe essentials list and today's post features a style that I hold very near and dear to my heart.

Rocker-chic wardrobes are sexy, free, badass, and just a little unexpected. Gone are the days of baggy, frumpy grunge costumes or ghoulish caked-on Gothic makeup. Nowadays, fashionistas who like to wear a rock-and-roll aesthetic mix fresh faces with one dramatic feature, then mash up cropped band tees and oversized denim jackets with skin-tight pants and high ankle boots.

One of my favorite modern rocker fashion idols is Gigi Hadid. I love how she wears wears rips, studs, spikes, and leather, but balances it out with athletic wear for a modern feel. Madison Beer is another example - the way she mixes street chic staples with one or two edgy pieces is totally inspiring. You can also look to Cara Delevingne to nail the edgy-yet-modern vibe every time.

You know the drill -- let's get right to the list!

(If edgy rocker-chic isn't your style, check out our posts on street-style staples, classic and traditional basics, sophisticated feminine preppy pieces, boho-chic items, and electro-urban essentials.)

1. Black Skinny Jeans

Black skinny jeans for edgy style: Acid washed ripped knee skinny jeans, multi-ripped skinny jeans, simple black skinny jeans, black knee rip skinny jeans

Products L-R: Levi's 721 High-Rise Jeans - Amazon, Mid-Rise Ripped Jeggings - Express, Black High-Rise Skinnies - Urban Outfitters, Ripped-Knee Jeans - Express

Whether you prefer coated, mineral-washed, shredded, or plain, you just can't rock-and-roll without a trusty pair of skinny black jeans. If the hem of your jeans doesn't hit right at your ankle, cuff them two and a half times to elongate your legs and show off your killer footwear.

  • For a fast and easy outfit that's perfect for class, wear a pair of black skinny jeans with a (#12) concert tee, (#14) canvas sneakers, and a military-inspired anorak or utility jacket.
  • For a night on the town, black skinnies will look great with a pair of sky-high ankle boots, a (#7) crop top, and a high ponytail. Finish with a cool (#6) cat eye or some smoky eye makeup.
  • Wear black skinny jeans with a white ripped tee, a (#4) leather jacket or a boyfriend blazer, and a fantastic pair of boots.

2. Studded Boots

Studded boots: High heeled buckle studded boots, Frye motorcycle boots with studs, low heel buckle boots, slip-on studded heel boots in black

Products L-R: High-Heel Buckle Boots - Steve Madden, Frye Studded Boots - Amazon, Asher Leather Boots - ASOS, Studded Heel Boots - Dolce Vita

Every girl needs both knee-high and ankle boots in their closet, but a studded pair of boots will do wonders for giving your wardrobe an edgy vibe. As for what type to buy, it's totally up to you! Whether you prefer flat boots, wedges, stilettos, knee-high, ankle-length, or somewhere in-between, they all look great in my book.

  • Wear studded boots with black leggings, a loose-fitting tee, and an oversized, distressed cardigan or (#15) denim jacket.
  • Roughen up a dainty dress with a pair of studded boots and a (#13) rock-chic hat.
  • Wear rocker boots with a pair of skinny jeans, a striped shirt, and a (#4) cropped leather jacket. Finish with an edgy ring or other cool (#9) jewelry.

3. Shredded Denim Shorts

Ripped denim shorts in light wash, black, white, and a long cut with rips

Products, L-R: Levi's 501 Cutoffs - Nordstrom, Topshop Black Mom Shorts - Nordstrom, Free People White Cutoffs - Revolve, Levi's Indie Shorts - Revolve

Shredded, vintage-esque denim shorts are summer favorites, and - as all trendy girls know - they can last throughout the fall when worn over an opaque pair of black leggings or tights. The other great thing about shredded high-waist denim shorts? You can pick up a pair from a thrift shop and DIY the shreds!

  • For a cute and laid-back look, pair shredded denim shorts with a (#10) flannel shirt and (#14) canvas sneakers.
  • Wear denim shorts over opaque black tights and pair with (#2) studded boots, a tee, and a utility jacket.
  • These babies - especially the high-waisted varieties - look fantastic with (#12) concert tees tucked into them! Finish with tousled hair, (#8) combat boots, and a (#6) deep lip color.

4. A Leather Moto Jacket

Edgy style basics: Leather moto jackets

Products L-R: Levi's Faux Leather Jacket - Nordstrom, Together For-Leather Jacket - Nasty Gal, BlankNYC Moto Jacket - Nordstrom, Bad Blood Vegan Jacket - Nasty Gal

You don't have to spend a ton of money to score a fantastic-looking leather moto jacket. In fact, mine is a faux leather version from Forever 21 that's buttery soft and cut perfectly! Keep your eyes peeled for the perfect jacket and you'll be glad you did.

  • Toughen up a lace, tulle, or floral dress with a cropped leather jacket. This also helps stretch your wardrobe through different seasons!
  • Leather jackets are fantastic layering pieces. Mix up a jacket and a simple pair of skinny jeans with a (#7) crop top, a (#10) flannel shirt, or a graphic tee. Add a scarf or cool jewelry for bonus points!
  • Have a loud pair of patterned pants that you aren't sure how to style? Throw them on with a white v-neck and your trusty cropped leather jacket.

5. A Little Grunge Dress

Edgy style basics: Grunge dresses in black floral, pink satin slip dress, red velvet, and basic black

Products L-R: BB Dakota Lettie Dress - Shopbop, Satin Slip Dress - Topshop, Privacy Please Astro Dress - Revolve, Tai Mini Dress - Urban Outfitters

Channel the '90s and find yourself a versatile grunge-style dress. Look for skater cuts, dark floral patterns, or slip dresses made from lace or velvet.

  • I absolutely love the look of a dress with (#8) Dr. Marten combat boots. Add a (#13) signature hat for an extra dose of style.
  • Grunge dresses look fantastic with cropped denim vests and (#14) canvas sneakers.
  • Channel some '90s supermodels and wear a grungy minidress with a pair of strappy heels and a (#4) moto jacket.

6. Rocker Chic Makeup

Edgy girl makeup: Urban Decay Naked palette, stila liquid liner, Benefit Bad Gal Lash, Kylie Cosmetics lip kit in Maliboo

Products: Naked Palette - Sephora, Stila Liquid Liner - Sephora, Benefit Bad Gal Lash - Ulta, Kylie Lip Kit in Maliboo - Kylie Cosmetics

The key to looking rock star chic is to not look like you're trying too hard. That's why when it comes to makeup, looking a little undone is all the rage. Go for black mascara (Bad Gal Lash is naturally a great choice) and eyeliner, but keep the rest of your palette pretty neutral. Save the deep lipstick shades for surprise dramatic moments!

  • Urban Decay's Naked Palette is a best-selling cult makeup item for a reason - it works perfectly for both day and night looks! Throw on nude-colored shadow for class, then layer on brown or gray tones to create a smokey eye for a night out on the town.
  • '90s grey-ish nude lipstick (a la Kylie Lip Kit in Maliboo) will look fabulous with a (#3) leather jacket and a (#5) little grunge dress.
  • Cat-eye liner is a really cool shout-out to retro rockabilly pin-ups.

7. A Crop Top

Edgy style basics: Crop tops -- black tube top, white off-the-shoulder crop top, black lace-up crop top, gray high neck crop top

Products L-R: Tube Top - Urban Outfitters, Off-Shoulder Crop Top - Boohoo, Lace-Up Crop Top - Express, High-Neck Crop Top - Urban Outfitters

Part of having a rocker-chic ensemble is showing some skin and being confident about it. Therefore, a crop top is a must-have, even if you're like me and don't feel comfortable showing a ton of your midsection.

Here are a few of my ideas to rock a crop top with confidence:

  • Pair a crop top with high-waisted jeans or shorts for extra coverage. Finish with huge (#11) sunglasses, and a cool kimono-style cardigan.
  • A crop top will look amazing with (#3) ripped denim shorts and a utility jacket.
  • Wear a crop top with (#1) black skinny jeans and a chambray top layered over it, leaving it buttoned down halfway to let the crop top peek through.

8. Dr. Martens

Edgy style 101: Dr. Martens boots in floral, black, cherry red, and holographic

Products: Floral Boots - Nordstrom, Black Boots - Nordstrom, Red Boots - Nordstrom, Holographic Boots - Nordstrom 

If there's one item that you splurge on, make it a classic pair of Dr. Marten combat boots. I bought a pair of Docs almost two year ago, and I love them so much that I still wear them three or four times a month. Can't bring yourself to drop that kind of cash? Don't worry - there are tons of lookalikes out there too!

  • The heavy-soled, clunky nature of these boots makes them look fantastic juxtaposed against feminine pieces. Try them with a girly dress, a lace blouse, or a skater skirt.
  • One of my all-time favorite cozy winter outfits? Wear an oversized sweater (I prefer slightly dorky patterned versions from - shhh - the men's section) with a pair of ripped skinny jeans or leggings and your combat boots.
  • Pretend you're Kurt Cobain for a day and throw on some Docs with (#1) black skinnies, a (#12) concert tee, and a (#10) flannel shirt layered on or tied around your waist.

9. Edgy Jewelry

Edgy jewelry: Lace choker, silver ring, lightning bolt earrings, ear jackets with triangles, triangle lariat necklace

Products: Choker - Baublebar, Ring - Madewell, Lightning Earrings - Urban Outfitters, Ear Jackets - Bloomingdales, Lariat Necklace - Baublebar

Some well-stacked edgy jewelry can make all the difference in making your outfit look intentional and awesome rather than haphazard. Look for inexpensive jewelry from Forever 21 or Zara and don't be afraid to layer several pieces at once.

  • My signature jewelry look is wearing lots of cool rings, so I have tons of quirky rings that I wear all at once. Pick a piece that you love, and go crazy with it!
  • Chokers and long, lariat necklaces have a rock-and-roll vibe to them. Look for ones with spike embellishments or vintage-looking metals.
  • Ear jackets are a favorite among celebs and look great on everyone.

10. A Plaid Shirt

Edgy style must haves: Plaid shirts in purple, black and white buffalo check, navy plaid, and red flannel

Products L-R: Rails Check Shirt - Saks Off 5th, Levi's Plaid Button-Up - Macy's, Rails Plaid Button-Down - Saks Off 5th, Scotch Plaid Shirt - L.L. Bean

If you don't own a plaid shirt (ideally in flannel fabric) yet, stop what you're doing and pick one up immediately! These babies are cozy, warm, and can be styled so many different ways. If you're tight on cash, you'll easily be able to find a good one at your local thrift store.

  • Tie a flannel shirt around your waist with a (#5) little grunge dress for an on-trend look.
  • A flannel shirt will look awesome when buttoned up and tied at the waist or tucked into a tight skirt or ripped shorts and worn with (#14) canvas sneakers.
  • Wear a flannel with a (#4) leather jacket, scarf, skinny jeans, (#2) studded boots, and plenty of (#9) edgy jewelry.

11. Rock Star Sunglasses

Edgy sunglasses for girls with rock star style

Products (Clockwise from top left): BP Oversize Mirror Sunglasses - Nordstrom, Le Specs Minimal Magic Sunglasses - Urban Outfitters, Top-Frame Sunglasses - H&M, Liv Oversized Round Sunglasses - Urban Outfitters, AJ Morgan Grad School Sunglasses - Amazon, Meacham Sunglasses - Aldo

Whether you stayed out late at a concert (or woke up super early to cram for an exam), every good rock-and-roll girl needs to have a huge pair of sunglasses readily available.

  • Ray Ban Wayfarers are classic and timeless, no matter what style you identify with. They look great with every face shape and are so thick and sturdy. Definitely worth the investment!
  • Clubmaster sunglasses are another cool alternative. The cheap pairs from Amazon look just as good as designer styles!
  • You can't go wrong with cool round sunglasses or large, square sunglasses -- just rock them in all black for the edgiest look.
  • Here at CF, we've been really into smaller, retro cat-eye sunglasses lately as well. They're so fun and unexpected.

12. Concert Tees

Edgy band tees - Rolling Stones, KISS tee, Nirvana tee, The Clash tee

Products: Rolling Stones Tee - Urban Outfitters, KISS Tee - Nordstrom, Nirvana Tee - Urban Outfitters, The Clash Tee - Urban Outfitters

Vintage-y (or, better, authentic original) concert t-shirts are a staple for girls with rock-and-roll style. The great thing is that they're available everywhere - seriously, everywhere! From Urban Outfitters to Forever 21 to Hot Topic to Target, you'll never run out of inexpensive places to pick up band tees. Bonus points for rocking shirts you bought from concert merch booths!

  • Tuck a concert tee into some (#3) shredded denim shorts and finish with high-heeled (#2) studded boots.
  • Wear an oversized concert t-shirt with black leggings or (#1) skinnies and a boyfriend cardigan or blazer.
  • Wear a concert tee with a faux leather skirt and a (#13) signature hat.

13. A Signature Hat

Edgy hats: Red fedora, Adidas beanie, Black fedora, baker boy cap

Products (Clockwise from top left): Red Fedora - Nordstrom, Adidas Beanie - Amazon, Black Fedora - Backcountry, Baker Boy Cap - ASOS

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that my brain has much more tolerance for wearing hats than my body actually does. That doesn't mean I'll quit trying though. I love the look of a fedora, baker boy, or beanie hat with, well, pretty much anything. Break out of your comfort zone and wear one today!

  • Fedoras look great with t-shirts, (#5) grungy dresses, and (#4) leather jackets.
  • I love wide-brimmed Panama and Madrid-style hats with heavily layered outfits. Try one with a chambray shirt/(#4) leather jacket/scarf combo.
  • Baker boy caps are super trendy right now and look amazing with leather pants and (#12) band tees.
  • Beanies are a classic rocker-chic staple. For class, wear a beanie with a t-shirt, skinny jeans, a messenger bag, and (#14) canvas sneakers.

14. Canvas Sneakers

Edgy sneakers: Converse high tops, Vans checkerboard sneakers, Converse all stars in gray, leopard vans slip ons

Products L-R: Leopard Vans - Nordstrom, Converse High-Tops - Nordstrom, Converse Low-Tops - JCPenney, Checkerboard Vans - Nordstrom

Converse and Vans are among the comfiest shoes on the market and canvas shoes have such a cool, model-off-duty vibe to them. I love how you can style them to fit almost any aesthetic, but they're especially crucial to rocker-chic wardrobes.

  • Pair these suckers with skirts and dresses! You'll look like the most stylish yet laid-back girl in the room.
  • Ankle-length canvas sneakers are extremely flattering for your legs and calves. They'll look great with (#3) denim shorts, a (#10) flannel shirt, and a (#4) cropped leather jacket.

15.  A Denim Jacket

Edgy style must haves: Denim jackets

Products L-R: Dark Wash Jacket - Macy's, Boyfriend Jacket - ASOS, Light Wash Jacket - Old Navy

I remember being in middle school, begging my mom for a cool denim jacket with Sherpa-esque lining on the collars and cuffs. Sure, the one I got was from Abercrombie, but I still felt incredibly cool. Today, it's all about distressed styles and oversized boyfriend fits -- sometimes at the same time. A denim jacket is a versatile staple you'll have for years to come.

  • Extend the seasonal life of a dress or skirt by wearing it with black opaque tights, (#2) studded boots, and a denim jacket.
  • A boyfriend fit denim jacket will look awesome paired with leather-like black leggings or (#1) coated black skinnies, a (#12) concert tee or tunic, a scarf, and a (#13) signature hat. Finish with (#6) cool makeup.
  • In middle school, I used to pin pieces of flair to my jean jackets. Do the grown-up version of this and attach cool vintage pins or patches instead!

Even More Style Guides:

Edgy not your thing? Check out our other style guides to find the must-have pieces for YOUR aesthetic.

What Do You Think?

Do you identify with rocker chic style? What items on this list do you have? What's on your wish list? Is there anything we left out? How do you like to wear the pieces on this list? What other styles would you like to see CF cover?

Let's keep this discussion going, girls...leave a comment and let's chat!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2013; it was completely updated and revamped in 2018 with new photos, items, and information.

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