Rod Stewart, Style Icon? Most Definitely

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 Though “Rod the Mod” was superseded by his other alter egos, his sense of color, penchant for scarves, and of course that rooster ’do have remained constants.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

Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry with Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger, circa 1965.Photo: Dezo Hoffman / Shutterstock

“Hot Legs”

1978Photo: CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

With Elton John, 1973.Photo: Michael Putland / Getty Images

1978Photo: Ron Galella / Getty Images


Backstage with The Faces, 1978.Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Performing with The Faces, 1971.Photo: Michael Putland / Getty Images

1980Photo: Pete Still / Redferns

1980Photo: Dick Barnatt / Referns

“Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

Performing with The Faces, 1974.Photo: Ellen Poppinga – K & K / Redferns

Performing with The Faces, 1973.Photo: Jeffrey Mayer / Getty Images

With Olivia Newton John, 1979.Photo: Ron Galella / Getty Images

1976Photo: Central Press / Getty Images

Performing with The Faces, 1972.Photo: Steve Morley / Referns

“Foot Loose & Fancy Free”

1974Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Performing with The Faces, 1970s.Photo: Chris Walter / Wire Image

1989Photo: Jim Steinfeldt / Getty Images

1976Photo: Ian Dickson / Redferns

1984Photo: Ebet Roberts / Getty Images

“You Wear It Well”

1976Photo: GAB Archive / Redferns

Rod Stewart and Britt Ekland, 1975.Photo: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo

With Britt Eklund, 1984.Photo: L J Van Houten/Shutterstock

Circa 1973Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1974Photo: Michael Putland / Getty Images

With Rachel Hunter, 1990.Photo: Ron Galella / Getty Images

With Kelly Emberg and daughter Ruby, 1988.Photo: Dennis Stone / Shutterstock

With Rachel Hunter, circa 1991.Photo: Dave Benett / Getty Images


With Mia, 1973.Photo: Evening Standard / Getty Images

1975Photo: Anwar Hussein / Getty Images

1974Photo: Mark and Colleen Hayward / Getty Images

1982Photo: Richard Young / Shutterstock

Showing Scottish pride, 1978.Photo: Photo Talk / Shutterstock

“Handbags and Gladrags”

1976Photo: RB / Redferns

1973Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Performing with The Faces, 1975.Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1973Photo: Arthur Sidey / Mirrorpix / Getty Images

Performing with The Faces, 1973.Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

1973Photo: Ron Pownall / Getty Images

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