Sex and Suits—the title of fashion scholar Anne Hollander’s important book about fashion and gender—is a neat summary of what’s happening in menswear on the eve of the spring 2023 collections. It also works as a description of Sir Rod Stewart’s back catalog of style. Although Rihanna once declared herself a fan of the singer’s look, it’s been less dissected than that of his peers David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Elton John. Now seems like a good time to correct that, and not just because Stewart traveled to Milan last season with his son Alistair, and was spied backstage at Palm Angels. If you stack vintage Stewart style up against the menswear trends from the fall 2022 collections, it matches up to about half of them.
The singer of “Handbags and Gladrags” has always been fashion conscious. Though “Rod the Mod” was superseded by his other alter egos, his sense of color, penchant for scarves, and of course that rooster ’do have remained constants. Stewart started performing in bands in 1962. He joined the Jeff Beck Group, which also included Ronnie Woods, later of The Rolling Stones in 1967. He and Woods, often outfitted by the London shop Granny Takes a Trip, became part of The Faces two years later. He went solo in 1975.
Stewart wasn’t afraid of gender-bending looks, including chiffon blouses and marabou trim tops. Midriff and torso bearing were part of his repertoire during the ’70s. Of Scottish ancestry, he made tartan a regular part of his repertoire, and scarves were a signature. Moving into the ’80s, Stewart’s use of makeup increased, while his pants shrunk to second-skin proportions until a reporter could write of someone’s “Rod Stewart-style of spray-on leopard skins and Lycra top, cowboy boots and leather pants.” Later in the decade, he turned to wide shouldered suits, sometimes in pink, a favorite hue. This singer’s style is anything but subtle, but it is unmistakably his, and that resonates in this age of individuality.
Rod the Mod
“Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
“Foot Loose & Fancy Free”
“You Wear It Well”
“Handbags and Gladrags”