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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Street Chic Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Classic and Timeless Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Preppy, Girly, and Sophisticated Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for an Electro-Urban Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Bohemian Chic Style
- Wardrobe Essentials for a Casual, Androgynous-Chic Style
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.