Skulls, Black Polish: How To Turn Up The Volume On Your Rock Style

Fashion pros suggest ways to nail rock-inspired trends as seen on Lindsay, Nicole and Jessica.

Metal bands from the 1980s are synonymous with animal prints. Goth rockers have a penchant for skulls and crossbones. And gender-bending punk-rock stars love wearing black nail polish.

So why are today’s style mavens following in their footsteps? “I think it’s a reaction to the bohemian trend that was going on for so long,” said wardrobe stylist Negar Ali, whose star-studded clientele includes Beyoncé, Ashlee Simpson and Sheryl Crow. “A lot of designers are reinterpreting things that were once perceived to be hard-core.”

Maybe that’s why fashionistas like Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie and Jessica Simpson are embracing edgier looks this fall. Simpson wore black nail polish to the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards (see “Red-Carpet Report: From Beyonce’s Gown To Ludacris’ Bling, Stars Kept Styles Tight” ). Richie recently accessorized with leopard-print pumps for the Prada Waist Down: Skirts party in Beverly Hills, California. And Lohan just purchased a gold-and-diamond skull ring from L.A. designer Nefarious Fine Jewelry. “I love the line,” raved Lohan, who wore the stylish bauble while DJing at a Tommy Hilfiger bash last week.

“People wouldn’t have touched these trends two or three years ago,” said Ali. “But now they’ve become coveted pieces.”

Luckily, you don’t need to earn a multimillion-dollar paycheck to dress like a Hollywood star. “There’s no time lapse between what designers are showing on the runway and what you find at local boutiques,” explained Ali. “Girls who are emulating Nicole Richie’s style have an easier time because these looks are so readily available.”

Just don’t go overboard combining too many rock-inspired trends. “Keep in mind that less is more,” advised Ali. “These looks aren’t meant to be worn at the same time. Don’t dress in anything head to toe.”

The easiest way to wear fall’s hippest pieces? Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. “Don’t forgo who you are for the sake of a trend,” instructed Ali. Instead, “take a couple of elements and incorporate them into your existing wardrobe.”

To avoid looking like you’re heading out to a Halloween party — especially this week — pair an animal-print belt with a basic black sweater-dress, a skull-embroidered scarf with skinny jeans or dark nail polish with well-manicured fingertips.

“Black nail lacquer isn’t taboo anymore,” said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, executive vice president and artistic director of OPI, which recently debuted a new shade of polish called Lincoln Park After Dark. “Before, it was reserved for rock stars, but now, as long as it’s not chipping, it looks chic and sophisticated.”

The brand-new color is already a hit among stylish stars like Mischa Barton, Hilary Duff and Rosario Dawson. “They’re all jumping onboard,” said Weiss-Fischmann. “Our sales have quadrupled.”

If you’re still getting stage fright about translating red-carpet looks to real life, heed this advice for stress-free shopping sprees: “Take inspiration from stars rather than copying them,” said Ali. “It’s really important to maintain your individuality rather than mimicking your favorite celebrity to a tee.”