The 25 Most Stylish Musicians of 2022
“If you really want to entertain an audience,” David Bowie told an interviewer in 1976, “you have to look the part.” And from the Beatles’ moptops to the Ramones’ leather jackets to Run-DMC’s Adidas, the look of music has been every bit as impactful as the sound. This has never been more true than today, when trendsetters like Beyoncé or A$AP Rocky or Doja Cat can create huge viral moments that instantly reshape the zeitgeist. As a result, fashion has become one of music’s fastest-growing revenue centers — whether that means artists inking major deals with established brands (as BTS did when they became ambassadors for Louis Vuitton) or bumrushing the boardroom with their own innovative lines (like Rihanna’s Fenty and Kanye West’s Yeezy).
That’s why Rolling Stone will be increasing its fashion coverage in the years to come, starting with this ranking of the 25 most fashionable musicians right now, voted on by a select group of journalists, designers, and industry insiders. In making the list, we focused on artists who are both conceptually cool and culturally important — from Lil Nas X inventing his own queer-country universe to Lizzo redefining plus-size for women all over the world. They aren’t just turning heads, they’re making history, and Rolling Stone will be there to capture it.
Our carefully selected voters, spanning media, commerce, and entertainment, were asked to submit ranked ballots listing their picks for the 20 most stylish musicians currently active. Votes were tabulated, with the highest-ranked musician on each list receiving 250 points, the second highest 240 points, and so on down to 60 points for number 20. More than 113 musicians received at least one vote, and in the end 25 were ranked in this inaugural package.
Aquaria Drag Performer, DJ, and Model; Zerina Akers Award-winning Costume Designer and Stylist; Ella Emhoff Artist, Fashion Designer, and Model; Jared Eng Stylist and Founder of Just Jared; Harry Fisher Buying and Sales Director; Evan Ross Katz Writer, Fashion Columnist, and Podcast Host; Peter Ash Lee Photographer, Director, and Editor-in-Chief of Burdock; Bruce Pask Fashion Director of Men’s at Bergdorf Goodman; Bretman Rock Fashion, Beauty, and Comedy Personality; Olivier Rousteing Fashion Designer and Creative Director of Balmain; Turner Stylist; Recho Omondi Fashion Designer and Podcaster; Bobby Wesley Image Consultant
Grimes grew up in the Nineties, and her colorful style draws from multiple eras of the decade, from rave to grunge and goth. But there’s nothing rehashed about the singer’s looks, which are firmly planted in the future. Case in point: the Iris van Herpen dress she debuted at the 2021 Met Gala, complete with metallic face mask and sword made from a melted-down assault rifle. Inspired by the sci-fi epic Dune, Grimes is using fashion not just to tell stories but also to make a statement. As her stylist, Turner, told The New York Times, Grimes isn’t merely playing dress-up, “She’s a representation of a woman that is powerful.” T.C.
Few K-pop stars are as beloved by designers throughout the world as Kai, the pretty, pouty-faced singer, rapper, and dancer from the groups Exo and SuperM. Kai’s style runs the gamut from preppy to punk, and he deftly mixes fashion influences (and accessories!) as easily as he mixes musical genres, with a sartorial swagger that’s at once cool and coy. The ab-baring crop top he wears in Exo’s “Obsession” music video cemented his sex-symbol status, while promo pics for his latest EP, Peaches, saw him sporting everything from laid-back denim to hanbok-inspired garb. “I go around picking clothes myself,” he said in a recent interview. “Concept is the most important thing. We have to think about whether we want to play it safe or take up a challenge.” Brands are beginning to take notice too, with Gucci appointing Kai as its first-ever global ambassador from Korea. T.C.
Tyler, the Creator
Lots of musicians aspire to make style look easy, but few embody the idea as well as Tyler, the Creator. He came onto the scene with a dose of brash sartorial chaos, almost single-handedly bringing streetwear to the mainstream. Now, it seems the 30-year-old hip-hop rebel has graduated to full-fledged fashion iconoclast, making cardigans in Italy out of the softest mohair you’ve ever touched, designing luggage to compete with Rimowa, and creating perfumes inspired by Lake Tahoe. He’s even positioning himself on the front lines of the nail-polish-for-men movement, dropping a Lake Geneva–inspired unisex line. Last year, Tyler’s invite-only Golf Le Fleur pop-up included some of his most ambitious offerings yet. J.I.
With a blur of BDSM harnesses, heavy black eyeliner, tailored suits, and a shit-ton of skin, these Italian rockers blew up in 2021 by bringing back vintage Bowie-Queen swagger — and made the U.S. pop charts doing it. Måneskin formed in the mid-2010s, working a pretty standard emo-punk look. That changed when they hooked up with Italian stylist Nicolò Cerioi, who helped amp up their glam quotient, culminating in Måneskin winning the 2021 Eurovision song contest decked out in custom Etro leather suits. “Fundamentally we try to have fun experimenting with looks, without setting limits but just wearing what we like,” bass player Victoria De Angelis told Women’s Wear Daily in May 2021. K.R.
Last year, when he decided to break into the WWE, Bad Bunny turned Wrestlemania into a runway with his own spin on the sport’s camp masculinity. “They have long hair, they can paint their face, [but] they’re strong and powerful beings,” he said of his ring peers. That kind of daring is nothing new for the Latin pop star — from his acrylic nails to his full-drag “Yo Perreo Sola” video. His few 2021 live appearances were just as inventive, mixing goth-y looks onstage and bold suits at awards shows. B.S.
Willow Smith defined herself as a fashion renegade right from the start, when the then–nine-year-old sported a spiked blue vest and several rainbow-colored ‘dos in her “Whip My Hair” video. “Me and Jaden, when we were younger . . . we would wear the craziest things,” she told Pharrell Williams in Interview in 2016. Since then, her style has been as free-spirited as her music. Her turn toward pop-punk on last year’s Lately I Feel Everything also informed her stage outfits, like the hot-pink dress she paired with black combat boots during her Life Is Beautiful festival appearance. In 2021, she also modified her look in real time, shaving her head on camera while performing (what else?) “Whip My Hair.” “Honestly, performing with a shaved head is the freest feeling,” the singer told collaborator Travis Barker during a Rolling Stone Musicians on Musicians interview last year. B.S.
Like her innovative sound, equally influenced by early-2000s pop and nu metal, Rina Sawayama’s style has been marked by an avant-garde approach, delivering feminine silhouettes with extra bite. Since bursting onto the scene a few years back, the British Japanese rule breaker has embraced elements of extravagant fantasy in her looks, like the tulle-frenzied violet Balmain gown she wore to the Brit Awards last spring. “I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram and 1990s to 2000s fashion archives,” she told Gay Times. “I love switching it up because the fashion concept really provides the job of a character onstage — it allows me to reinterpret the song or performance in many different ways without having to change anything about the song.” K.R.
In keeping with her outer-space-themed album Planet Her, Doja Cat has honed an otherworldly fashion sense both onstage and on red carpets, pulling looks as sexy and weird as her songs. Designer Michael Ngo and costume director Brett Alan Nelson have crafted much of her custom stage attire for her festival sets, and Ngo has thanked Doja’s team on Instagram for inviting him into her “dystopian fairytale world.” To top off her alien-Cinderella moment, Doja even accepted a VMA last year in a padded, full-body quilt dress by Thom Browne. “I never thought I’d be dressed as a worm accepting an award,” she joked. B.S.
A quick walk through Rosalía’s music videos reveals a personal aesthetic that’s eclectic, provocative, and made up of folk and contemporary influences smashed together. She poses in a fuzzy Didu-designed coat and Mordekai custom nails in “Aute Cuture,” and punctuates her tiny “WAP” cameo with red latex. For her 18 million Instagram followers, she’s quick to showcase pieces by Balmain, Gaultier, and Givenchy alongside oversize anime T-shirts and casual sportswear. “I’m not really about finding a middle ground. I like extremes,” she told Vogue last year while name-checking the streetwear brand Skoot, the fusionists at Palomo Spain, and the avant-garde goth king Rick Owens, who dressed her for the 2021 Met Gala. “It’s about how things make you feel when you see them. What colors grab your attention, how a texture makes you feel when you touch it.” J.L.
Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly’s approach to fashion mirrors his constantly shifting musical style. “I don’t like things to be still,” he told Vogue upon rolling out his gender-neutral nail-polish line, Un/Dn Laqr, last year. “I never was a fan of calm water.” His goth-glam looks always seem designed for maximum impact: the hot-pink suit he sported at the 2020 VMAs; the dyed-black tongue (matching his unbuttoned black suit) from last year’s Billboard Awards; or his coordinated ensembles with fiancée Megan Fox. “He always knows how to turn the dial up to 110 percent in the most rad way possible,” MGK stylist Adam Ballheim told ET. T.C.
L.A.-based avant-pop cellist and singer-songwriter Kelsey Lu has always had an eclectic approach to fashion, mixing cutting-edge looks with antiquated and soulful finds. “I grew up going to thrift stores a lot with my parents, and I think that kind of shaped ways of me just playing with things that already have a life within them,” they told Refinery29 in 2016. “I’m trying to marry that with younger, up-and-coming designers.” Lu’s recent video, for “Love & Validation,” shows their aesthetic range, as they transition from sleek black leather to a minimal, tribal look, with their hair arranged into a striking crown. K.R.
Since Lizzo broke through with hits like “Truth Hurts” and “Good as Hell,” the “bop star” has created a revolution in high fashion, specifically when it comes to the types of looks sported by plus-size stars. Both on global stages and her thirst-trap-laden Instagram, the singer and flutist has helped challenge and crumble long-held body standards that have gate-kept the fashion industry for anyone over size 2. At Cardi B’s birthday party in October, Lizzo turned heads in a gorgeous and completely sheer purple iridescent gown, while at last year’s Grammys, she stunned in Balmain. “I’m so grateful to be a part of moving the conversation in fashion forward for bigger bodies and Black women,” she told Vogue in 2020. B.S.
“What I love from West African culture are the silhouettes,” Moses Sumney recently told Rolling Stone, summing up his style philosophy. It’s a testament to his confidence that the Ghanaian American singer-songwriter can fill a space with his presence, even when dressed entirely in different shades of black (“vampiric” is one word he has used to describe his aesthetic). The son of two pastors, Sumney has often been inspired by the “draped” looks of his father’s robes, favoring garments that seem to flow off his body. As he told W in 2018, “I’m quite over the tailored suit being the only option for men.” K.R.
Whether she’s masterminding her Ivy Park line — where she recently channeled Black-cowboy culture into a series of rodeo-inspired looks — or appearing in a luxe Tiffany campaign alongside Jay-Z, Beyoncé’s fashion sense is constantly evolving, ever-adaptable, and enduringly influential. She’s as comfortable dressed down in bell-bottom jeans as she is glammed up at the Grammys, where the singer stunned last year in a Schiaparelli off-the-shoulder leather dress and matching gloves while picking up her 28th win. “You can be curvy and still be a fashion icon,” Beyoncé told Harper’s Bazaar in 2021, discussing her refusal to be put in any kind of box, visual or otherwise. “I wish this freedom for every person.” T.C.
As polarizing as his creations as a designer have been, Kanye West has set his own standard in combining music and fashion. Last summer, while debuting Donda at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, West donned a black spiked jacket from Balenciaga. “He makes me come out of my comfort zone,” said Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia. Meanwhile, West is keeping his Yeezy line accessible, joining forces with the Gap. “I’m only concerned with making beautiful products available to as many people as possible,” he said in 2015. K.R.
When it comes to understanding the sense of wonder that comes with getting dressed, Solange Knowles is in a league of her own. “It’s the way that we communicate to people before we even open our mouths,” she has said. Knowles was years ahead of the current Gen Z nostalgia for the aughts, and throughout her career she has traversed style the way a hip-hop producer might thumb through samples. For an example, check the music video for 2019’s “Binz,” in which she cavorts in front of a low-fi camera, as TikTok-paced jump-cuts transport us to increasingly brilliant looks. J.I.
If 2020 was the year that Dua Lipa ascended to stardom (see the six Grammy nods she got for her disco-centric album Future Nostalgia), then 2021 was the year the singer came into her own as a budding style icon. From collaborating with Puma to becoming the face of Versace, Lipa is a fashion chameleon who coolly rides the line between streetwear and high street without missing a beat. “It’s kind of like music,” she explained to Refinery29 in 2018. “Fashion can’t be forced.” At Versace’s spring-summer 2021 show in Milan, the singer walked the runway in a black skirt suit, then closed things down in a barely-there magenta gown. As Donatella Versace wrote to Lipa on Instagram afterward, “You are as much a star on the runway as you are on stage.” T.C.
“I’m the motherfuckin’ lord of this fashion shit,” A$AP Rocky boasted on his 2014 single “Multiply.” The New York rapper has spent his entire career backing up the claim, from collecting pieces of work from cult designer Rick Owens to collaborating with PacSun in a revamp of its brand early last year. All along, he’s maintained a fiercely individualistic aversion to flashy trends. “I wear what I want and what I like,” he told Fast Company in 2015. “That’s why I’m wearing old Raf Simons jeans, beat-up Alexander Wang boots, and a distressed Vlone T-shirt.” K.R.
Sure, she’s been absent from the music sphere lately, but that’s because Rihanna has been busy bringing her relaxed style to the masses. In 2021, she delivered another noteworthy show with her size-inclusive lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, and turned the streets of New York into her runway in vintage Dior. She also continued setting a new bar in luxury and casual wear. At the Met Gala, she paired an ordinary black beanie with couture, and she has stepped out for date nights with A$AP Rocky in chic leather jackets. “I never just wanted to put my name on something and sell my license,” she said. “I’m very hands-on.” K.R.
The Colombian superstar, a regular fixture at fashion shows, has never been afraid to take colorful, ultra-embellished risks: At the 2021 MTV VMAs, Maluma went with an all-leather custom Roberto Cavalli bondage suit. Offstage, he’s worked with Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and Balmain; he teamed up with the latter’s Olivier Rousteing earlier last year to release a Miami Vice–inspired capsule collection, describing it as “high couture with a bit of Papi Juancho.” J.L.
“Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with,” Harry Styles told Vogue in 2020. “When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women’ … obviously you open up the arena in which you can play.” The former One Direction member turned solo superstar and Gucci muse has become a new-school style icon in the gender-fluid footsteps of Seventies and Eighties heroes — especially David Bowie and Prince. With guidance from his longtime stylist Harry Lambert, Styles has put a sexy, disco-leaning spin on menswear, often inspiring his fans to show up at his concerts imitating his penchant for boas, flared pants, and bold, psychedelic colors. As Lambert recently said of his work with Styles, “I think any time fashion creates a dialogue, that’s positive.” B.S.
The success of BTS has pushed other acts to up their game when it comes to live performances, but the group has also elevated standard concert attire to more high-fashion fare. Few other artists have moved menswear so far forward — mainly because their definition of menswear includes everything from oversize suits to blinged-out matador jackets and sequined blouses on tour. BTS have always been as adventurous with their fashion as they are with their music, breaking down gender norms one leather corset at a time. When BTS were announced as ambassadors for Louis Vuitton last spring, the fashion house called them “one of the most influential groups in the world.” T.C.
Cardi B’s fashion sense is as effortlessly bold as her raps. Not everyone can seamlessly blend the coveted threads of Chanel and tawdry pieces from Fashion Nova, but she does it with ease. In 2019, Cardi stepped out at the Met Gala in a duvet designed to look like a quilted vagina and still looked chic; a year later, she made Mugler bodysuits cool in the “WAP” video. As her go-to stylist Kollin Carter recently told Women’s Wear Daily, “If I could describe her style, I would say drama.” Carter has been behind many of the rapper’s wildest, riskiest looks, but it all works because Cardi is in complete control of her image, wearing each new piece with convincing appeal. “Elegance takes it all, every time,” she once said. K.R.
Since bursting onto the pop scene in 2008, Lady Gaga has been the queen of avant-garde looks. “I love becoming art,” the singer told British Vogue, reflecting on her evolution, from the legendary meat dress to her drag alter ego Jo Calderone. All along, she’s found a way to mix future-forward styles with nods to more classic designers, wearing everything from Alexander McQueen to Versace, and making it her own. In 2021, she took a huge step as both a fan and a student of the fashion world, starring as Maurizio Gucci’s vengeful wife in the blockbuster House of Gucci. Her latest era finds her honoring the Italian luxury house with stunning Old Hollywood glamour. Brittany Spanos
Lil Nas X
“Cowboy hat from Gucci/Wrangler on my booty,” Lil Nas X drawled on “Old Town Road,” delivering his revolutionary manifesto. Over the past year, with the help of stylist Hodo Musa, he’s managed to turn his every look into a conversation starter, from the flame-emblazoned leather outfit seen on SNL to his take on Marie Antoinette’s rococo gowns and his now-infamous Satan shoes. “I’ve grown to love more of what a look can be than the actual fashion itself,” he told GQ Style last May. “Fashion is one of those things that I can use to feed that part of me that loves to step into new areas.” K.R.