By late 1976, bands such as the Ramones in New York City and the Sex Pistols and The Clash in London were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. The following year saw punk rock spreading around the world, and it became a major cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom. For the most part, punk took root in local scenes that tended to reject association with the mainstream. An associated punk subculture emerged, expressing youthful rebellion and characterized by distinctive styles of clothing and adornment and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies.
By the beginning of the 1980s, faster, more aggressive styles such as hardcore and Oi! had become the predominant mode of punk rock. Musicians identifying with or inspired by punk also pursued a broad range of other variations, giving rise to post-punk and the alternative rock movement. By the start of the 21st century, pop punk had been adopted by the mainstream, as bands such as Green Day and The Offspring brought the genre widespread popularity.
Punk fashion is the styles of clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, jewelry, and body modifications of the punk subculture. Punk fashion varies widely from Vivienne Westwood styles to styles modeled on bands like The Exploited. The distinct social dress of other subcultures and art movements, including glam rock, skinheads, rude boys, greasers, and mods have influenced punk fashion. Punk fashion has likewise influenced the styles of these groups, as well as those of popular culture.
The classic punk rock look among male American musicians harkens back to the T-shirt, motorcycle jacket, and jeans ensemble favored by American greasers of the 1950s associated with the rockabilly scene and by British rockers of the 1960s. The cover of the Ramones' 1976 debut album, featuring a shot of the band by Punk photographer Roberta Bayley, set forth the basic elements of a style that was soon widely emulated by rock musicians both punk and nonpunk. Richard Hell's more androgynous, ragamuffin look—and reputed invention of the safety-pin aesthetic—was a major influence on Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren and, in turn, British punk style. John Morton of Cleveland's Electric Eels may have been the first rock musician to wear a safety-pin-covered jacket. McLaren's partner, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, credits Johnny Rotten as the first British punk to rip his shirt, and Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious as the first to use safety pins. Early female punk musicians displayed styles ranging from Siouxsie Sioux's bondage gear to Patti Smith's "straight-from-the-gutter androgyny". The former proved much more influential on female fan styles. Over time, tattoos, piercings, and metal-studded and -spiked accessories became increasingly common elements of punk fashion among both musicians and fans, a "style of adornment calculated to disturb and outrage". The typical male punk haircut was originally short and choppy; the Mohawk later emerged as a characteristic style. Those in hardcore scenes often adopt a skinhead look.
The characteristic stage performance style of male punk musicians does not deviate significantly from the macho postures classically associated with rock music. Female punk musicians broke more clearly from earlier styles. Scholar John Strohm suggests that they did so by creating personas of a type conventionally seen as masculine: "They adopted a tough, unladylike pose that borrowed more from the macho swagger of sixties garage bands than from the calculated bad-girl image of bands like The Runaways." Scholar Dave Laing describes how bassist Gaye Advert adopted fashion elements associated with male musicians only to generate a stage persona readily consumed as "sexy". Laing focuses on more innovative and challenging performance styles, seen in the various erotically destabilizing approaches of Siouxsie Sioux, The Slits' Ari Up, and X-Ray Spex' Poly Styrene.