“Mick or Keith?” is the inevitable question every Rolling Stones fan faces. It’s also one that I still can’t answer. It’s like a mother being asked to name her favorite child.
Nevertheless, in my mind, there’s one area where Keith Richards, who is 70-years-young today, trumps Mick Jagger — and that’s personal style. Some might be surprised by this conviction, as Jagger is without question the sartorial risk-taker. He wore a Shakespearean tunic as he let 2,500 white butterflies into the crowd for Brian Jones in ’69; leaped around in a crushed velvet and diamanté Ossie Clark jumpsuit in ’72; suited up in a football uniform (kneepads, et al) for the American tour in ’81; and, just this year, sported a head-to-toe houndstooth get-up, designed by his beau L’Wren Scott, for the ’50 and Counting’ tour. He’s among the pluckiest frontmen rock ‘n’ roll has ever seen, and his commitment to mad-as-a-hatter ensembles is trophy-worthy. But if you asked me to describe his style, I wouldn’t know where to begin. And for the record, I like it that way.
What I love about Keith is that I can walk into a clothing shop, scour the whole place, land on a piece and say, “that’s SO Keith.” Richard’s evolution began in the late ’60s and early ’70s, where he lived amid the free-spirited, Swinging London scene with androgynous bohemian looks comprised of bell bottom suits, fur coats, and newsboy caps or fedoras. In the ’80s and ’90s, his style became less over-the-top and boasted a lot of denim, undone shirts, and earthy jewelry. Every now and again there’d be something a bit more loud, like a pop of leopard or skin-tight leather pants. Through the years, he’s always worn scarves in spades.
But it’s been over the last decade that Richards has really defined himself as a style icon. In fact, his distinctive style inspired Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean character, Captain Jack Sparrow. In 2008, he was tapped by Louis Vuitton to star in one of their campaigns, looking just as laid-back as he would backstage. Just this year, he had his tour wardrobe custom-designed by Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane that included a waistcoat, café racer jacket, silk scarves, and T-shirts. Richards was also named No.5 on Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed List. When asked who was his personal style icon, he responded, “Why should I? I am one.”
Keith’s steadfast style is inherently chic, but he doesn’t actually give a fuck — and that’s why I worship him. So with that in mind, here are the five things the 70-year-old rocker taught me about editing my own style.
1. Own Your Signatures
When I envision Keef, he is wearing a bright headscarf, ribbon fedora, gossamer neckscarf, worn-in jacket, chest-baring button-down, skinny pants, and of course, his skull ring. It’s not a uniform, it’s a signature look that’s been years in the making. I’m still working on my own signature look, but in the process I keep Keef in mind — especially when I’m talking myself out of fleeting trends. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.