by Tom Stratton

The Boy Band Look

Those manufactured, spiky-haired hunks who lip synched their way to...
The Boy Band Look
What do you think of when you hear the term boy band? For me it’s the nineties: the era of the boy band. Those manufactured, spiky-haired hunks who lip synched their way to the top of the charts, picking up some amazing outfits on the way. 
That stage attire was very important to (wet look) gel the acts together, the same can be said for any genre: bands are stylised for the stage. The Beatles were made to wear suits when starting out, as are much of todays pop acts. The oft-ridiculous garb which filled the 90s/00s pop eras has been replaced with a mature look as exemplified by the rise of One Direction whose stylist helped them to escape typical boyband matched cheesiness and replace it with individual smart fashion from high end designers.

The Nineties!

Maturity, individuality, and style seem to be the go-to attire for modern pop acts. The rise of K-pop has seen acts either smartly suited in black or dazzling bright colours, or in their own individual hipsteresque clothes: oversized jumpers, ripped skinny jeans, and long coats. The look is a far cry from that of the nineties boy bands that dominated the cover of Smash Hits (when that was still a thing!). 
Still the same simple principles applied: either uniformity or individuality. The more sugary boybands tended towards (usually white) suits whilst those with more of a bad boy image had a tendency towards hip hop inspired fashion. Take That started out often topless but as they returned that bit older and wiser, they reflected this with smart black suits for sold out tours.  
There was something fun about nineties fashion in general, something bright and shiny. The clothes, the accessories, even the TV shows were over the top and in your face, tailor-made for the MTV generation (perhaps post-MTV depending on your definition and age). Channel 4 was exciting, Baby-Gs were exciting, and music was exciting.

The Rise of the Boyband

From early 90s Britpop to the rise of the boyband it mattered what you wore. If you were an Oasis fan you wouldn’t dress like a Take That fan, would you. Music and fashion have always been intertwined, regardless of who or what you listen to. Stage theatrics call for stage wear. Off stage you still need to look cool, your fans expect a certain persona. Some bands have inspired people to change their wardrobe, some have inspired the catwalks and high end fashion designers, some have even set up their own clothing range.
I’m not hoping for a return of 90s clothing, I don’t want Brian Harvey setting up a clothing range, but I do want to have a look back at some of the best outfits that 90s boybands wore. When I say best I’m not sure if I mean worst but I do think I mean most ridiculous. There’s no denying that.

Take That 

Lets start with the biggest name of the 90s. Take That fans were universally devastated when Robbie announced his decision to leave the group but I don’t remember the same furore surround this bondage wear. Jason Orange’s chainmail pants could’ve been to protect him from over zealous fans but there’s no explaining anything else here. I’m even confused at Robbie leaving his cap on (though that should be the last thing on my mind).


Abz looks like one of those gaming chairs has transformed into a person. Also surely the record company could’ve bought another pair of gloves so Abz and J didn’t have to share. I quite like the menacing looks coming out from those Matrix leathers but Sean seems as though he’s just popped to the shops in a nice comfy jumper. He was the least interesting of the group - they once replaced him with a cardboard cutout for a video (that is 100% genuine).


Boyzone were the most difficult to write about here, purely because there were so many outfits in completely different styles it’s as though they were never quite able to pick one look. The tossup was between this and one that I can’t even explain other than Gately is dressed as some sort of Victorian chimney sweep and nobody else is. I went for this matching number instead; for the PVC trousers, flowing white blouses, and the fact that they look like they’re playing a school disco. 

East 17

East 17 were the true bad boys of 90s pop music, disbanding in 1997 after Brian Harvey encouraged a teenage audience to do ecstasy. Years later he would run himself over after ‘eating too many jacket potatoes’ but that’s a different story. That bad boy image is reflected in Harvey’s iconic hat which he wore pulled up like he stashed a can of beer under it. I did think Terry Coldwell was wearing a Kangol pirate hat but it was the shadow under Brian’s arm. Gold chains, Timbs, hats, and that dog (who I don’t think was actually in the band) prove East 17 were the hardest of them all if you ignore the fact Tony Mortimer looks like a student.


Westlife absolutely loved a white suit so there was plenty to choose from. I just had to go for this thanks to the weird cartoon sky in the background: is this them proving they were flying without wings? Anyway it’s a weird one, none of those outfits match the others but they look like they’ve tried, like they all had similar outfits at home that they brought in. The cut of the trousers are all different and they range from wearing jumpers to shirts and suit jackets. Bit confusing really, best not to think about it.