Although the word ‘funky’ was first used in 1784 to describe an old block of musty, moldy cheese, the term has since developed into an expression of originality. ‘Funky’ today is used to describe something that is stylish and modern in an unconventional way, characterized by uniqueness and originality. Funky is the black and red goth shirts with fishnet sleeves you find at Hot Topic, the knit fringe wraparound at Urban Outfitters that you can’t afford, the Bohemian dress your mother wore when she was seventeen. Funky can mean vintage, punk rock, hip hop or urban, and you don’t find funky at Banana Republic or J. Crew. But you can find it at any number of places online, so here’s a guide to the hippest and the hottest in funky attire.
The theory behind the recent trend in bohemian clothing is that every extreme style will eventually lead to an extreme opposite. The skin tight jeans and revealing, low-cut shirts as seen on Britney Spears and Christine Aguilera as we entered the new millennium have begun to decline in popularity as a new wave of 1970′s-inspired classics have reemerged.
Peace, love and paisley are the things you’ll find at Free People, along with “Free Tibet” t-shirts, wool coats and cotton tunics. Because many of their clothes are made from materials other than the cotton and polyester blends we’re familiar with, Free People includes an entire glossary on their site to help you understand what you’re going to be wearing. Alpaca, for example, is a thin cloth that contains wool made from descendents of the guanaco animal of Peru. The best part is their Outfits section, where they give examples of ensembles put together using only Free People products.
The skilled artists at Thread Head Creations specialize in handcrafted tops, bottoms, dresses and skirts that are made using high quality fabrics that have all been pre-shrunk. Run by husband and wife team Dustin and Rai-Lynne who live in the Smoky Mountains, Thread Head is a hippie heaven. In addition to their corduroy and muslin creations they also have an entire section of clothing made out of hemp. The Daydream dress shown here is a gorgeous example of how hemp can be combined with silk to craft a look that’s environmentally-friendly. Thread Head also has a bridal section which contains beautiful, earthy gowns with landscape embroidery for a greener take on the traditional “white wedding” theme.
The Gothic, or goth, scene is an underground subculture whose fashion characterized by darkness. Black colors, dark eyeliner and morbid styles modeled after Victorian-era dress are just some of the elements found in gothic fashion. Deep reds, purples, and silver or pewter jewelry and piercings are also often part of the goth culture.
Hot Topic is the quintessential one-stop shop for all your gothic clothing needs. They offer dozens of short, pleated skirts (like the Black Pyramid Stud Belt one seen here by Tripp) fishnet tops, dark Elizabethan style lingerie and knee-high leather Dr. Marten boots. The men’s section features wide-legged pants with chain straps and studs, band hoodies and long sleeve henleys.
Lip Service bills themselves as the “pioneers of gothic clothing…for fashion freaks!” and it’s easy to see why. Lip Service is one of the suppliers to Hot Topic, but 99.9% of the time the products they make for them are exclusive to retail stores. The Lip Service website, however, sells only original, ever-changing tops, bottoms, skirts, dresses, coats and intimates that can be tied up, laced up and twisted to your heart’s content. One helpful feature of the site is their “Style Groups” section. A link at the top of the shopping page reveals a pull down menu with options like “Faded Reality” and “A History of Nothing”. Clicking these groups will bring you to a small selection of clothing that fits that particular morbid description.
Velvet Garden is a goth clothing site with a twist. It’s unique setup allows visitors to buy or sell gothic clothing, shoes and accessories, but it’s not an auction site like eBay. Velvet Garden basically hosts an online garage sale where everyday Goths cleaning out their closets can offer their ill-fitting or impulsively bought dresses, mesh shirts, bodices and trench coats. A set price is listed with each item, but most sellers are open to negotiation.
It’s kind of hard to define what exactly emo clothes are because the fashion of this alternative style is constantly changing. When I was an emo kid in 1998, it meant baggie jeans paired with hooded band sweatshirts, beat up army messenger bags and plaid schoolgirl skirts with skate shoes. Currently, the staples of the emo scene are shaggy haircuts, skinny jeans, snug sweaters, band t-shirts, Western button downs, Converse sneakers and crying.
In a world of online shopping sites that focus mostly on women, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Phix Clothing catered specifically to guys. Although the hoodies, band shirts and cardigan sweaters could be worn by girls as well, the skinny fit trousers and jeans are designed for emo boys. Their jackets, sweaters and hoodies (like the bleeding heart skeleton one shown here) are designed to work well with the popular narrow legged jeans.
Everything But the Music is a music-inspired fashion site that doesn’t sell music. But everything from their t-shirts to their jackets to their jumpers is either emblazoned with a band name or borrowed from an emo singer’s style. The products are conveniently broken down by subculture, and it’s the Emo and Indie categories you’ll want to check out first.
Although *real* emo kids used to get their shirts from thrift stores, the modern day scenester can purchase his or her attire from one of many online sites. T-shirts are an absolute staple of the emo community, whether their message is humorous, romantic or nonsensical. Fullbleed is a site run by Rob Dobi who prints his tees on American Apparel shirts. His bestsellers feature silhouettes of clouds and birds exploding into the sky and offer subtle societal messages as well, like his “Counting Sheep” shirt (pictured here) which depicts an insomniac counting corporate businessmen to help him fall asleep.
Rockabilly was a music style of the 1950′s that blended “rock” and “hillbilly” together to create a sound that was part boogie woogie, part swing and part blues. Rockabilly fashion today draws on the same styles of yesteryear, when pin-up girl Bettie Page was a glam icon and girls wore gingham dresses with crinoline underneath, and guys wore embroidered button-down bowling shirts.
Sunset Star is your source for custom rockabilly clothing and accessories. Paying homage to a simpler, sexier time, Sunset Star offers shirts, dresses, pants, jackets and bikinis for guys and gals alike. The designers they feature include Heartbreaker, Route 66, King Cat Hollywood, Sailor Jerry and Lucky 13.
Pin Up Girl Clothing stocks an enormous selection of retro rockabilly wear from over a dozen designers. The iconic pin up girls of the 1950′s were real women with real curves, a far cry from the stick thin models we see today, and Pin Up Girl Clothing reinforces a woman’s natural beauty by creating clothes that look best on girls with a figure. You’ll find the cherry print shirts and dresses that characterize the rockabilly style, along with animal print camisoles and classy pencil skirts. The site breaks their products down into categories such as Vintage, Trashy Sexy, Rockin’ Retro and they carry shoes, swimwear, lingerie, jewelry and menswear as well.
Urban is the style you find in any bustling city across the globe. Major metropolises on the coasts, like New York and Los Angeles, are the epitome of urban because they’re the first places to receive new shipments of designer duds each season. As opposed to the land locked states in the Midwest for whom it can take years for those fashions to trickle down to, urban areas are on the cutting edge of what’s hot and what‘s not, and they’ve got the clothes to prove it.
As I mentioned before, Urban Outfitters is the first place many people think of when they’re going for a funky city style. The company has retail stores located in major cities throughout the U.S., but now small town girls and boys can get a feel for the urban look by visiting their website. Urban Outfitters is renowned for their classic, edgy knits and one-piece jumpers all designed with city living in mind. Their Urban Renewal collection is a DIY-inspired line of tanks, tunics, dresses and rompers that are thrifty without looking grungy, and you’ll find great stuff for your apartment here as well.
One subset of the urban style is the hip hop or street wear look. Designers like Ecko, Baby Phat, G Unit and Roca Wear. Dr. Jay’s, a site that sells clothing for men, women, boys and girls, carries over 40 name brand designers. Cropped jeans with stiletto heels and down-filled hooded vests have replaced the hi-top sneakers and Run DMC tracksuits of the 1980′s, making hip hop fashion more sophisticated as well as more popular.
Black-and-white striped tights and arm warmers, old fashioned lace bloomers, double laced corsets and tattered tunics are the hallmarks of vagabond style. Think enchanted fairies from late 19th century photographs meets homeless orphan from the Great Depression and you’ll be halfway to creating your own vagabond style.
The Gypsy Moon website specializes in vests, blouses, dresses and accessories designed to look torn and well worn. Their Faerie Wear collection has layer upon layer of gossamer silk peasant blouses and velvet cloaks, corset belts and striped petticoat skirts. And for those of you looking to take the way of the fae a little further, they even sell wings.
Another section of Gypsy Moon is The Red Shoes collection, named after a fairytale about a ballerina. The line features silk camisoles, gypsy dresses and lace blouses created in a romantic vintage style.
For ultra-funky designs, check out the World’s End collection. Inspired by the pirates and wenches of medieval times, World’s End offers mariner shirts with gauntlet sleeves, petticoat skirts, shipwrecked bloomers and even authentic Vivienne Westwood pirate boots. If that’s a little too over the top for your personal taste, don’t worry, there’s still the standard Fall 2009 collection. It features sets from four different designers and the separates still keep their vagabond cabaret feel without looking like a costume.
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