Readers recommend: songs about glamour and style - results

Suede to Shorty Long, Roxy Music to Madonna, RR regular llamalpaca dons a suave, stylish outfit to compile a swaggering playlist from last week’s topic

We’re loth to admit it, but from an early age most of us hanker after a bit of glamour and style. Fancy dress, makeup deftly applied by your mum or that moustache you tried to grow? Still, best not try all three simultaneously. Ossified Blu-Tack stuck on your bedroom wall where those Bay City Roller posters once hung, rudely supplanted by the nascent couture of Siouxsie, Sid Vicious and John Travolta. Then in due course perhaps you threw out that bondage shirt you bought in Sex, yet for some reason you still have the Day-Glo string vest from 1985. Whatever your era, we have all strived to dress like our heroes and in failing to do so – be it through colour blindness, ineptitude or fiscal constraints - stumbled upon a style that we could call our own.

Looking like gangly teenagers at the time, Suede’s Trash shows uncertainty over their appeal - be it fashion, attitude or experience - but style they had, in buckets. Eleni Mandell’s Pauline, meanwhile, is unburdened by self-doubt, a song populated with characters attuned to the sartorial value of a pair of heels and a tight red T-shirt.

Shorty Long’s Molly is his Devil In A Blue Dress, detailed in an inventory of impeccable cloth, jewellery and accessories. “Is you a cat?” asks Dana Bryant as she fairly breathes life into her depiction of the eponymous shady character in Ronny Jordan’s slinky The Jackal. Bryan Ferry’s homage to Casablanca on Roxy Music’s 2HB is more impressionistic, his love for the style of Bogart all too evident elsewhere, on the cover of his later solo album - Another Time, Another Place - and the white tux remains the preferred stage attire. Ian Dury’s paean to Gene Vincent opens like a lament before blossoming into a barked, visceral celebration of the “White face, black shirt/White socks, black shoes/Black hair, white Strat”.

The Ones occupy the unattainable end of the style spectrum in pursuit of the Flawless manicured perfection you find where the dancefloor and the red carpet meet. The accoutrements of glamour and the respect they confer are also of interest to Dobie Gray with The ‘In’ Crowd (a song also covered by Ferry). Clothes that fit and an attractive gait are all very well, ZZ Top know the worth of the accessory to complete the look.

Got ya sunglasses on? ZZ Top have.
Got ya sunglasses on? ZZ Top have. Photograph: Sipa Press/REX

Carly Simon conjures up one of the most enduring images of glamour and its corrosive power in the opening verse of You’re So Vain. The character assassination is all too complete two lines in and while Simon claims the subject is a composite of three men, the appeal to all those familiar with the self-absorbed is undiminished.

To misquote Dave, Madonna was the future once. In her pomp, Vogue was a thrilling concatenation of house and pose striking, spiriting the listener to a place very far from the quotidian grind. Alas her insatiable crusade to reboot her own style has been less successful. A life based on glamour alone signifies precisely nothing as The Divine Comedy chart the course to a life wasted. The fall-out is forensically observed by Neil Hannon – a song set in an era of entitled decadence with a powerful modern resonance.

The playlist

A-list for songs about glamour and style

Trash – Suede
Pauline - Eleni Mandell
Devil With The Blue Dress On - Shorty Long
The Jackal - Dana Bryant/Ronny Jordan
2HB – Roxy Music
Sweet Gene Vincent – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Flawless - The Ones
The ‘In’ Crowd - Dobie Gray
Cheap Sunglasses - ZZ Top
You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
Vogue - Madonna
A Lady of a Certain Age - Divine Comedy

Michael Moloney

The GuardianTramp

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