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LISTS: Best Uniforms In Music

LISTS:  Best Uniforms In Music (photo)

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I love uniforms–doesn’t matter if we’re talkin’ school, work, or sports! Go ahead, ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that not only have I saved every uniform from every fast food place where I’ve worked, but at the beginning of every sports season I can tell you what stripe, outline, or font has been changed on a team’s uniform (and, yes, I think Uni Watch is one brilliant idea for a blog).

I believe that wearing a uniform–which some may argue takes away from individual creative expression–promotes unity. Win as a team, lose as a team. All for one, one for all, right?

And it’s not just postal workers, sports teams, and Catholic schoolgirls having all the fun. Uniforms have been used in music for many, many years–everyone from The Supremes to The Beatles to The Jackson 5 (even the Brady Bunch) have dawned them. Coldplay is a recent example of a musical act showing solidarity through wearing similarly stitched threads. Though I don’t necessarily care for their Wiggles-meets-marching-band uniforms, I do appreciate their effort.

Nine Inch Nails, as you probably know, also have a strict dress code. That’s why I thought it was hilarious last year, when they recruited former Beck bassist, Jason Mendel Johnsen, into their ranks. The usually flamboyantly dressed JMJ had to succumb to NIN’s serious black-and-grey road uniform. Career-wise he may be better off with Trent Reznor’s squad, but fashion-wise, it seems like he’d fit in more with cover-song kings, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, who make a regular practice out of wearing brightly colored Hawaiian shirts on stage.

Today, we will take a good look at the all-time best uniforms in music. Just to be clear, a band can only qualify for the list, if all members participate. Andre 3000 and Karen O have sported some spectacular threads over the last few years, but the rest of their group–and maybe for good reason–haven’t mimicked their style (I don’t know if the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Nick Zinner, would look good in an electric blue leotard?).

For fans of symmetry, balance, color codes, and playing dress-up, I give you music’s greatest on-stage uniforms ever:

Honorable Mention, Slipknot
Love ’em or hate ’em, you got to give Sklipknot some credit. It’s not easy performing in jumpsuits and masks–especially in sweatbox clubs or at outdoor summer concerts, when the temperature can easily reach triple digits.

10. Stryper
The least accomplished band on this list, but who can forget their black-and-gold, bumble bee stage attire? Being from Pittsburgh, I do admire their choice in colors, but what I really respect from this early 80’s metal band, is their courage to wear outfits that made them look like professional wrestlers wrapped in caution tape.

9. Alkaline Trio
Wearing black suits is nothing new to music, but Alkaline Trio deserve a special place on this countdown, because they were wearing suits and ties when the rest of their Warped Tour peers were wearing skateboard t-shrits and oversized shorts. In the mid-2000’s, countless bands–including Green Day and My Chemical Romance–adopted Alkaline Trio’s black-and-red dress code.

8. N.W.A.
How much money do you think the Starter Clothing Company made from the popularity of N.W.A.? Eazy, Cube, and Dre (and I can’t forget about Yella and Ren) represented their hometown west coast by wearing Raiders caps and Starter Jackets. Around the same time, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings changed their color scheme from purple-and-yellow to black-and-silver, which (conveniently) made it a perfect accoutrement to N.W.A.’s uniform.

7. Devo
Devo’s onstage attire has become so iconic it’s even available as a yearly Halloween costume at Party stores across the country. Their headwear, the energy dome, is also one of the coolest souvenirs to own in music. (Don’t think of Devo as just an 80’s novelty act either, they performed at SXSW 2009 and are scheduled to release a brand new album later this year.)

6. The Beastie Boys
Whether it be in tracksuits, jumpsuits, silk-suits or lab coats, it’s no secret that the Beastie Boys like to play dress up. Years ago, old school rapper, Kool Moe Dee, gave the Beastie Boys a grade of A for sticking to themes–I concur.

5. The Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Chili Peppers have one of the most famous–and simplest–uniforms in rock and roll history: the sock. Besides wearing hosiery on their ding-dongs, The Red Hot Chili Peppers have also worn light bulbs on their heads, and have made classic, their simple shirts-off style.

4. The Ramones
Before The Ramones, a group of guys wearing tight jeans and leather jackets might be mistaken for a motorcycle gang. After The Ramones–well–a group of guys wearing tight jeans and leather jackets were either mistaken for The Ramones or a group of New York City punks on their way to see them.

3. Run-DMC
Stetson hats, black jackets, and adidas sneakers. Wear this combination today, and I guarantee someone will start singing a Run-DMC song.

2. The White Stripes
No matter how popular they got, or how critically acclaimed their albums became in the early 00’s, The White Stripes never broke from their red-and-white dress code–not on stage, not on their album cover, not in photo shoots. Like many sports team, Jack and Meg have recently included the color black into their stage get-ups (don’t know if this is to strike fear into their opponents, or if black is better at concealing sweaty armpits?).

The ultimate in rock and roll stage uniforms. KISS’ silver-and-black stage attire–with accompanying black-and-white face paint–is the most iconic look in music history (speaking in terms of bands). Some die-hard sports fans may even concede that the silver-and-black of KISS is more recognizable than the silver-and-black uniforms of the legendary Oakland Raiders football team.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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