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Mötley Crüe Fashion Icons

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Alexia Hill

“The Dirt” is exactly what it sounds like: wild, grimy and disgustingly, unapologetically accurate of what bands of the ‘80s era were like. This Netflix film released in 2019 depicts the journey and struggles that the band, Mötley Crüe, went through to get to the astounding level of fame that it is at and the legacy that is still standing today.

Mötley Crüe began in 1981 and took a break in 2015. Despite the small hiatus, Mötley Crüe picked back up in 2018 and plans to perform a joint tour with Def Leppard in 2022. “The Dirt” is about how the band first started and highlights the issues they had, such as Nikki Sixx’s addiction to heroin and the death of Vince Neil’s daughter. 

Although the film perfectly captures the essence of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, as well the reality that comes with that, it also has snapshots of 1980s fashion that caught my eye and has continued to trend on and off into the 2010s.

Christine Wada was the costume designer of the movie, according to IMDB. Wada has also been the costume designer for movies such as “Bridesmaids” and “The Terminal.” Some staple clothing pieces for the band include leather pants, fishnets, sequins and embellished pieces, and color schemes along blacks, reds and whites. Sixx (Douglas Booth) and Tommy Lee (Colson Baker) were characters that stood out to me the most in regard to their outfits. 

One of my favorite outfits was in the beginning of the film, during their first performance as a band. Sixx wore a red tank top with a misshapen-neckline and a fishnet-type overshirt tied together at the waist with chains. He pairs this with black pants and thigh-high firetruck red leather boots. The look is revolutionary for the time because boots are typically considered a feminine look, as well as fishnets. Sixx is also wearing a choker and his signature makeup look of the film – two black lines under his eyes.

According to a Houston Press interview with Tod Waters, a designer who worked closely with Mötley Crüe, explained that Sixx and Neil were extremely involved in the fashion process and evolution of the band’s looks. This is contrasting because in my opinion, Sixx and Lee have the best outfits.

Neil (Daniel Webber) tends to wear more exposing outfits, such as his flashy white-leather pants and multiple tank tops or cut-offs throughout the film.

Another one of my favorite outfits is a more casual look from Baker’s character. He wears black skinny jeans and a black and white plaid shirt with black suspenders during a party scene. Other personal favorites include Lee’s jean jacket with leopard embellishments, Neil’s black leather pants with red, textured, cross-hatch lines, and Mick Mars’ black platform boots with studs all over the leg.

I think what originally caught my eye about the costume design in “The Dirt” is that it accurately recreates the band’s actual outfits, and many of the concepts of clothing that are used in the movie are trending again. For example, from Sixx’s first concert outfit and all throughout the film, band members use fishnet as shirts or sleeves. Fast forward to now, girls all over TikTok are using fishnets and even tights as long-sleeved crop tops. Also, leather pants have been trending for girls, typically paired with blazers for the fall or with small tank tops, oddly similar to Neil’s usual look on stage. 

All in all, this movie about an ‘80s glam-metal band came together in a beautifully structured way – down to the costumes, set design, actors and layout.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Lee said about the movie, “We just sat there with our jaws on the floor going, ‘What is happening?’ I was like, ‘Fuck. I feel like I’m watching Mötley Crüe in 1981. What is happening?’ We were freaked out.”

Adapted from, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” written by Mötley Crüe about their experiences on the road, the movie could have easily been a flop. Rock movies are quick to become cliche, but I’m grateful that it wasn’t lost among the other cheesy movies that premiere on Netflix. “The Dirt” didn’t tell their story in a way that felt like a reimagining, but rather as if you’re taken back to the ‘80s for a few hours watching some bummy guys’ band blow up, all the while being slightly jealous of their rock ‘n’ roll, leather, embellished outfits.


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