Considering the way Ke$ha and Rihanna looked at last night’s American Music Awards, it’s not like the older folks were the only people making questionable wardrobe choices. But rock ‘n roll tends to be a young person’s game, and things that look perfectly normal on teenage stars start to look a little strange when you head north of 35. Last night’s performers and presenters were a study in what happens when an attempt to balance pop relevance with aging gracefully goes horribly wrong. As a service to musicians born later than 1975, we’ve used some unfortunate images from the 2010 AMAs to assemble this helpful list of 10 things middle-aged rockers are not allowed to wear.
1. Chain wallets
Tim Gunn might refer to a baseball cap, graphic T-shirt, leather jacket, various necklaces, and multi-strand chain wallet on 41-year-old New “Kid” on the Block Donnie Wahlberg as “a whole lotta look.” And, as Project Runway designers often fail to understand, that is never a compliment.
2. Mid-’90s casualwear
Since you’re a country star, Brad Paisley, we’ll give you free reign to do the goofy hat. But that black shirt with two stripes? Really? All that shirt is doing is reminding the audience that you have clothing older than Justin Bieber.
3. Mohawks and 4. Arm bands
Oh, apl.de.ap. You already have the most annoying name in music. Did you also have to give yourself the worst haircut? The Mohawk/fade is not acceptable (especially when you’re over 35), even ironically — and we imagine you’re actually taking it pretty seriously. Meanwhile, will.i.am, that orange-and-white hat/yellow armband/8-bit necklace situation is very nearly as bad.
5. Women’s hats (on men)
What happened here, Kid Rock? We know you’re singing soulfully, in your form-fitting black T-shirt, but that hat is looking more Annie Hall than Johnny Cash from where we’re sitting.
6. Silky shirts
Come on, Santana. You’re a legend. But you’re killing us. Who let you go onstage in that shirt? Fire that stylist, stat.
7. Too much jewelry
Pick one necklace, Bon Jovi. No, not that big one. Then, throw the rest of them away.
8. Hippie dresses
You’re 48, not 58, Sheryl Crow. And you’ve got nice arms, but if you keep wearing this hippie shit, people are going to start to think you played Woodstock.
9. Oversize clothing
We hate to break it to you, Gavin, but despite your inexplicable performance of “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” at last night’s AMAs, you are no longer famous for being anything but Gwen Stefani’s husband. Which is fine. But if you go around wearing oversize blazers, with your hair in some kind of a bun — and is that a chain wallet I see?! — then people are going to think you sit around drinking beer in the garage all day. Do you want that?
10. Sparkly pants
A photo alone can hardly convey the creepiness of Train’s performance last night. But at least it gives an idea of how inappropriate Patrick Monahan’s tight, bedazzled jeans looked. America, do you understand how famous you made this person? Are you really OK with it?