From its inception, hip-hop has had a major influence on fashion trends, inspiring a multi-billion dollar fashion industry. From sneakers to sportswear, hip-hop culture is on the cutting edge of the fashion industry’s most unique trends. Like all other fashion genres, hip-hop styles are ever changing, and keeping up with the latest looks is the name of the game. Incorporate these five essentials into your wardrobe to pull off a true hip-hop-inspired look.
The Secret Is In The Sneakers
Sporting the freshest footwear is the most significant element of a genuine hip-hop look. Today’s hottest looks can be traced back to kids from low-income families who didn’t have much more than a dream, and yet the creators of hip-hop still managed to rock the hippest sneakers on the market. Throughout hip-hip history, men have been expressing themselves through their footwear by wearing anything from elegant leather fashion shoes to big and bold high-top sneakers. Today, hip-hop artists are collaborating with quality companies such as Nike and Adidas shoes, to bring you a vast array of quality kicks to choose from. Whether you sport a slick pair of high-top boots, thick sneakers without laces or brightly colored lace-ups, your footwear is a defining part of your overall look.
From grills to gold chains, a hip-hop look is not complete without the right accessories. When it comes to finding the bling that is right for you, the possibilities are endless. Feel free to sport a chunky diamond encrusted watch, designer scarf or NFL ball cap. Have a few of these accessories on hand to complete your look. However, these days, spending a lot of money doesn’t have to be an essential part of hip-hop-style accessorizing. Hip-hop artist Macklemore raps about pulling off 99-cent fashion in his song “Thrift Shop” and makes it perfectly acceptable to “wear your granddad’s coat” as way of looking completely awesome. But when it comes to jewelry, go for the platinum. While early hip-hop bling was somewhat obsessed with gold, that all changed in the 1990s when both artists and their fans switched over to platinum necklaces, earrings, rings and grills.
Going retro is highly popular in today’s fashion world, and the hip-hop industry is no exception. If you’d like a look that is reminiscent of old school hip-hop, you can rock some ’80s style eyeglasses or a bucket hat (LL Cool J may be single-handedly responsible for the popularity of Kangol’s bucket hat. For a throwback to the 1990s, choose a silk shirt, alligator skin shoes, skinny jeans or a fedora. Other ’90’s favorites include sportswear — as in, jerseys and Jordans — piercings and overalls (Think TLC’s look in the early ’90s). When it comes to hip-hop fashion, many of the looks that became influential in the early 1980s remain popular today. For example, long metal chains for men and large hoop earrings for women took off in the early days of hip-hop and remain essential elements today. This emphasis on vintage-style clothing gives you a vast amount of options for how to pull off your own hip-hop-inspired look.
Rock the Bold Colors
Artists such as Kanye West have been known to pull off bright red pants, colorful sports jackets, or neon ball caps. You too can rock the bold colors if you are able to wear them with the same level of confidence. When you are sporting these bright articles of clothing, be sure to keep the rest of your look simple and don’t go overboard with the bling. A neon green suit or t-shirt will likely speak for itself, so go easy on the other accessories if you choose to express yourself with color. Throw on a brightly colored tracksuit or pair of neon, oversized sunglasses.
Keep It Simple
You don’t want to end up with a jumbled mess that looks like you simply threw on every accessory and item of clothing from the 1970s to today. Simplicity and elegance are preferable to going overboard, and some of the best-dressed artists are known for sticking to the basics. You’ll also want to work with your body shape and wear clothes that are both true to hip-hop fashion and also flattering for your figure. Find the elements of hip-hop fashion that most accurately fit in with your own style for a clean, genuine and simple look.
Hip-hop is much more than a genre of music; it is a lifestyle rich in culture with fashion at the center of expression for artists and fans alike. You can be well on your way to pulling off your own unique hip-hop-inspired look by following these tips and incorporating your own style and personality.
About the Author: Ryan Johnson is a contributing writer and longtime hip-hop fashion guru.