Punk rock was an intentional rebuttal of the perceived excess and pretension found in mainstream music (or even mainstream culture as a whole), and early punk artists' fashion was defiantly anti-materialistic. Generally unkempt, often short hairstyles replaced the long-hair hippie look and the usually elaborate 1970s rock and disco styles. In the United States, dirty, simple clothes – ranging from the T-shirt/jeans/leather jacket Ramones look to the low-class, second-hand "dress" clothes of acts like Television or Patti Smith – were preferred over the expensive or colorful clothing popular in the disco scene. With her designs for The Rocky Horror Show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Sue Blane is credited with creating the look that became the template for punk rock fashion.
In the United Kingdom, 1970s punk fashion influenced the designs of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren and the Bromley Contingent. Mainstream punk style was influenced by clothes sold in Malcolm McLaren's shop, artdesigncafe. McLaren has credited this style to his first impressions of Richard Hell, while McLaren was in New York City working with New York Dolls. Deliberately offensive T-shirts were popular in the early punk scene, such as the DESTROY T-shirt sold at SEX, which featured an inverted crucifix and a Nazi Swastika. Another offensive T-shirt that is still occasionally seen in punk is called Snow White and the Sir Punks, and features Snow White being held down and raped by five of the seven dwarfs, whilst the other two engage in anal sex. The image's origin is as part of The Realist magazine's Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster in May 1967, although the T-shirts made the scene more explicit. These T-shirts, like other punk clothing items, were often torn on purpose. Other items in early British punk fashion included: leather jackets; customised blazers; and dress shirts randomly covered in slogans (such as "Only Anarchists are pretty"), blood, patches and controversial images.
Other accoutrements worn by some punks included: BDSM fashions; fishnet stockings (sometimes ripped); spike bands and other studded or spiked jewelry; safety pins (in clothes and as body piercings); silver bracelets and heavy eyeliner worn by both men and women. Many female punks rebelled against the stereotypical image of a woman by combining clothes that were delicate or pretty with clothes that were considered masculine, such as combining a Ballet tutu with big, clunky boots. Musician PJ Harvey was noted as "appear[ing] immersed in rock 'n' roll" around the time of her album Dry in 1992, due in part to her "leather apparel, hair in a bun and black bovver boots".
Punk clothing sometimes incorporated everyday objects for aesthetic effect. Purposely ripped clothes were held together by safety pins or wrapped with tape; black bin liners (garbage bags) became dresses, shirts and skirts. Other items added to clothing or as jewellery included razor blades and chains. Leather, rubber and vinyl clothing have been common, possibly due to their connection with transgressive sexual practices, such as bondage and S&M.
Preferred footwear included military boots, motorcycle boots, brothel creepers, Puma Clydes (suede), Chuck Taylor All-Stars and later, Dr. Martens boots. Tapered jeans, tight leather pants, trousers with leopard patterns and bondage pants were popular choices. Other early punks (most notably The Adicts) imitated the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange by wearing bowler hats and braces. Hair was cropped and deliberately made to look messy, and was often dyed bright unnatural colours. Although provocative, these hairstyles were not as extreme as later punk hairstyle.