It’s been a while since indie pop-rock has given us a genuinely outstanding style icon, which is why so many of us are so head over studded boots for Haim right now. Jenny Lewis and Taylor Momsen haven’t been out and about as much, Kelly Osbourne’s all glammed up now and I’m not quite sure where Karen O even went, to be honest. But the Haim sisters are a long-needed palate-cleanser that’s bringing back low-maintenance, cool-girl rock chic over try-hard ensembles that depress more than they impress, both on stage and off. Here’s a crash course in how to mix leather and tinted shades without looking too dated, or–at least–a cheat sheet on how the Haim girls make they low-key glam work.
First things first: rock is not about how you look, but about how you feel. The reason Este, Danielle and Alana Haim always look so impeccably cool is because they always look like they feel comfortable in their own skin. Sure, the girls have dolled up a little more now and then, but for the most part, their personal style is pretty identifiably them and uniquely low-maintenance. Long, flowy, tousled hair, sedate makeup with barely a hint of eyeshadow, and very little else besides earrings, a pair of sunglasses or the occasional scarf-as-choker to work as an accessory. Anyone should feel entitled to reinvent themselves as many times as possible, of course, but as any stylist will tell you, true style comes from embracing who you are and putting it on display, not in trying to figure out who you want to turn into.
When in doubt, it’s all about the pairings that create personality. Fur and leather, platforms and sequins, scarves and hotpants have all been statement rock pairings for years now, and they all connote different permutations of rebellion, luxury, artistry and escapism–that’s what stage looks are usually all about. Contemporarily, pairing statement boots with diva-level sunglasses isn’t a revolutionary new trend, but it is a fairly light-hearted encapsulation of a rock aesthetic that is here to both have fun and show the kids how glamour is done. And if the Haim girls are here to have fun, then you know we’re bound to as well.
One of the reasons the Haim girls always look so effortless is that they stick to the evergreens–leather, white tees, jeans and even stripes and tweeds–classics with vintage appeal that work for almost any non-formal occasion. Even when they play around more with colour (which we’ll see in a hot second), the ladies take care to keep their silhouettes at least familiar if not classic, which allows the focus to be on their art and attitude, not on some red carpet hoopla.
The Haim girls aren’t afraid of colour, but when they do play with it, they stick to what they know–muted, rusty or earth tones and the occasional pop of primary colour–and most importantly, they keep their shapes identifiable. Very few of us can pull off both unconventional colours and avant-garde shapes, and the whole point of rock-chic is looking good without stressing about it, so if it’s ever you who needs to pull together a rock-worthy ensemble, just remember: go for classic shapes with strong colours, or exaggerated shoulders and hips with a classic black/camel leather finish. Any garment that tries to blend the two too much is walking away from laid-back-and-luxurious and instead walking toward overworked-and-mannered. We also love that the Haim girls also embrace new and under-the-radar designers, such as Canadian brand Beaufille and British label Marques’ Almeida, as they’re wearing above.
Finally–and this might be the hardest tip to make peace with–you have to keep it clean. The essence of rock is in free-spiritedness and not being held down, so too many layers, pleats, cinches or accessories will only distract. Attitude is the name of the game, so always defer to whichever part of your outfit you feel gives you that in spades and stick to it. If you’re a headbanger and in love with your locks, keep the emphasis on a smooth, braid-able mane; if you’re infatuated with your pleather jacket and don’t ever want to take it off, complement it with tailored jeans and a high neckline to draw emphasis to the sleek, slinky nature of your outerwear. If, like the Haim girls, your weakness is sunglasses, keep everything else simple and serviceable: the plainer your outfit, the more your statement frame will up the ante by contrast.