7 Best Dressed Musicians of 2008

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WRITTEN BY
Ellen Carpenter

Rock'n'roll fashion in 2008 was clouded by a fog of plaid flannel, neon leggings, and boat shoes. Even so, we at SPIN.com can find reasons to celebrate -- seven of them, in fact. Below, see our ranking of the intrepid artists who rose above the conventional horde. These musicians deserve special mention for their ability to hone a distinctive look -- while also managing to leave their musical mark on the year. 7)MGMT
Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser don't always look good, but they always look like rock stars. Instead of the cardigans and skinny jeans that plague most electro-Brooklynites, they opt for brocade jackets, jewelry, feathered headbands, multi-colored robes, and several boatloads of scarves. Then they go ahead and smudge neon face-paint under their eyes and let their curls run wild across their foreheads. Is this trying too hard? Not in my book, where they get A's for both effort and feather count.
6)Ladyhawke
With her vintage rock t-shirts (no way those are from Urban), skinny black jeans, oversized flannels, and mess of blonde fringe, Ladyhawke looks like the girl you wanted to be in college. The kind of girl who drank Scotch and liked it. The kind of girl who listened to Nation of Ulysses on her own, not because of an older brother. I interviewed her recently and she said she's a little surprised by all the attention she's been getting for style. "I just wear whatever I would normally wear everyday, which is amusing as to why people think it's cool, 'cause none of my friends think I'm very cool." Makes you wonder how her friends dress.
5)Kings of Leon
The Followill boys showed up in 2003 looking like Lynyrd Skynyrd's bastard children: tight Jack Daniels tees, worn-out jeans, busted-up work boots. But this year, after a slow, steady fashion upgrade, they've finally gone full-on GQ: sleek John Varvatos suits, Dior Homme trench coats, and Prada boots, bringing an urbane sophistication to their shit-kicking roots. Why doesn't this read sell-out? The hair. Long and tousled. They clean up well, but not too much.
4)The Knux
Many mined the '80s for fashion inspiration this year. Few but Krispy Kream and Rah Al Millio paid homage to the decade without looking like clowns. Mixing the best of Old School hip-hop (Adidas warm-ups, dookie chains, varsity jackets) with blue-chip hipsterwear (tight jeans, Chuck Taylors, buffalo plaids), they found a chic, unaffected street style that should have Kanye looking over his shoulder.
3)Scott Weiland
Say what you will about his music, but dude wears the heck out of a suit. Sure, he's had his share of mishaps (the SS uniform, the Heatmiser hair), but this year Weiland pretty much hit every bullseye he aimed at -- whether they were shows with Velvet Revolver, the Stone Temple Pilots, or solo gigs. Part of this is cruel genetics: He's got a body made for clothes. Part of it is an eye for accessories. While most grads of the Justin Timberlake School of Fashion might think a gray three-button suit jacket, black vest, and black pants would be plenty, Weiland knows to throw in a leopard-print belt, red fedora, and red-and-purple patterned tie. That takes talent.
2)Janelle Monae
If Little Richard and Judy Jetson conceived a child, their state-of-the-art offspring would be Janelle Monae. Who else dare rock cummerbund, saddle shoe, and sky-high pompadour? (Mark my words: cummerbunds on runways this spring.) Who else could succeed with such intergalactic flair? Monae understands fit better than anyone: Her white tuxedo jackets hit snug at the shoulders and hug her waist but don't hinder her herky-jerky dance moves, and her full-legged black pants are cut just short enough to highlight her Annette Funicello-approved footwear. The only bad photo of Monae I've seen was in Vogue. Obviously, they tried to style her.

1)Brandon Flowers
Considering I've already documented my newfound love forBrandon Flowers' outrageous get-ups, I don't need to elaborate here. Let me just say this: Brandon, don't disappoint me. Come New Year's I want some new ensembles. I'm thinking lace.

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