Hardcore punk bands of the '80s and their fans preferred a simple, dressed-down style as opposed to the increasingly flamboyant dress of punk's first wave. As a genre that claimed to be by and for working-class youth, hardcore punk rejected the theatrical punk outfits that developed in the late '70s. 

T-shirts, workwear, and short hair were the general outfit of choice. Jewelry, spiky hair, and studded clothing were discouraged, as they could do serious damage to the wearer and others while moshing. Keith Morris, the founding vocalist of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, said that "the L.A./Hollywood punk scene was basically based on English fashion. But we had nothing to do with that." Instead, "We looked like the kid who worked at the gas station or submarine shop."

Ian MacKaye, the frontman of Minor Threat and Fugazi, explained that hardcore was trying to move away from punk rock and what he called "a fashion thing." In his eyes, "We were really trying to differentiate between what people were calling punk rock, which was this really Sid Vicious kind of New York or London, kind of posie kind of fashion...That was punk rock...something hardcore wanted to get away from."

Henry Rollins, the face and voice of the hardcore scene, was even more blunt about his thoughts on fashion. To him, "Getting dressed up means wearing a black T-shirt and some really basic dark pants...Fuck clothes. The more time you spend worrying about clothes, the less time you have to grab life by the balls. You ever see a cheetah obsess over scarves and pocket squares? No. You see a cheetah bolt 70 miles an hour to take down a gazelle and shred it to fucking pieces. Be the cheetah."

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