When the Misfits first came out, no one else on earth looked like them: four shirtless atomic mutants who looked like Plan 9 zombies crossed with comic book bad guys. Since then, their iconic look has shaped fashion around the world, as fashion designers and street punks alike have absorbed the influence of every part of the Misfits uniform: from the top of their devilocked heads, to the soles of their platform boots.
Ahead of the Misfits’ full album performance of Walk Among Us this Saturday, our resident style expert Syd Johnson broke down the band’s legacy of fashionability.
1. The Devilock
The iconic Misfits look. The floppy, forward-swept mohawk referred to as a Devilock has defined the band’s visual identity since their early days. This spiky hairstyle consists of short slicked back sides, and a ridiculously long, greasy center fringe, traditionally achieved with copious amounts of Vaseline. (We’ve come a long way since the Vaseline days… I hope somebody has introduced the Misfits to Got 2 B Glued hair gel?) In an interview from the early 80s, Jerry Only recalled drawing the inspiration for the style from skateboarders with similar vertical fringes. Danzig, on the other hand, says the hairstyle is his version of Eddie Munster’s hair.
Although it’s usually only for the most dedicated fiends, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Devilock makes a comeback. The choppy scene hair of the 2000s is already seeing a resurgence among Gen Z, along with Japanese Hime-style bangs. Anime fans and emo kids alike love to have the most choppy gravity-defying spiky haircuts imaginable, so the Devillock just might be overdue for a comeback.
2. Motorcycle Boots and Platforms
I know what you’re thinking… the Misfits weren’t the only ones to ever wear motorcycle and leather fetish gear. It’s been a mainstay within alternative fashion for ages, and has become extremely mainstream within the past decade. HOWEVER, those platform shoes that early rock bands such as KISS were rocking were just… too glam and painfully corny? The Misfits had way more taste, and knew exactly what aesthetic they were trying to portray, no matter if it was in-style among the Chuck Taylor epidemic of the time. Walk into any boba or thrift shop in 2022, and I’m sure you’ll see a 19-year-old girl with a Hello Kitty backpack wearing the same shoes, if not similar as The Misfits rocked back in the day.
3. Psychobilly Style
An unholy hybrid of early rock ‘n’ roll and Eisenhower-era B movies, the mutant rockabilly offshoot known as “psychobilly” was built on a foundation of B movie horror and Elvis worship originally laid out by the Misfits. With sky-high pompadours and makeup worthy of 1950s scream queens like Vampira (who the band enshrined in their songs), psychobilly is every bit as theatrical and goth-y as the Misfits were. High waisted cropped pants, leather moto jackets, and Betty Page bangs would be paired with creepy fashion details like skull hair clips, sci-fi t-shirt graphics, and whatever skull jewelry you can buy from an oddities shop in Portland.
3. Skull Face Paint*
*Not to be confused with corpse paint
The signature Crimson ghost makeup the Misfits are known for has been rocked by many punk rock bands. (Especially if you’ve ever attended a shitty DIY cover show on Halloween night at the community center in your town…) The most popular adopter of the style is obviously My Chemical Romance, who donned an almost exact replica of the face paint during their smashing Black Parade era around 2007. The fellow New Jersey horror nerds often note The Misfits as being one of their main influences, and it definitely shows. This style has trickled down to—you guessed it—every early 2000s emo band that wore eyeliner and had an unhealthy obsession with vampires. (Side note: can men please start dressing like Davey Havok again?)
4. Villian Attire
The Misfits truly dressed like a villainous action figure from the 1980s: highly-structured, Dracula collar leather vests, comically large spiked wrist cuffs, WWE-sized leather belts, you name it. If your horror punk band doesn’t dress like they’re about to dig up her bones at 8:00 p.m.—but has to be back in their bone-covered, corpse-filled underground lair to press the button that begins the world-domination plot by 9:00 p.m… well, they probably suck.
Richmond-based Riot fest veterans GWAR are the most obvious inheritors of this approach. On the other far end of the supervillain fashion spectrum, though, hyperpop artists are putting a fresh futuristic spin on the style. Arca, for one, sports a cyborg-style exoskeleton on the cover over her highly celebrated fourth album, Kick I (we love a bionic woman!), while Dorian Electra courts supervillain energy in photo shoots inspired by everything from the Joker to anime Big Bads.