The “Art” of Constructing A Punk Rock Vest

by Matt Mullarkey

I was recently asked by Alternative Control to write a piece on constructing a punk rock vest. I was a bit taken aback, considering I never really gave it much thought, I simply just made them for myself over the years according to my mood or whatever (altered?) state of mind I was in. However, here’s a brief simple run down of what you will need in order to make one for yourself.

Step 1.

Start with the actual vest. Denim, leather, or a military style are the most common. (I have an AWESOME black commando vest I made!) But let’s just assume you are gonna be working with you more typical denim variety.

Since it’s uncommon to actually find a precut denim vest, your best bet it to hit your local Good Will store and pick up a denim jacket that fits you best, and cut off the ENTIRE sleeve, all the way up to the shoulder. (ya don’t wanna leave any part of the sleeve, that just looks weak.)

Step 2.

Now it’s time to decorate that thing. Depending on your personal taste, you can use canvas patches of whatever bands ya dig, band (or other) buttons, and for us “punky” types, pyramid or cone shaped spikes. (available online REALLY cheap!)

Step 3.


Buttons are self explanatory, no tools needed. 

Patches simply require some safety pins and creative placement. Some of you might be inclined to sew on said patches. If you got the time and the skill, go for it! Us unskilled lot will stick with the humble safety pin for now.

Pyramid spikes can be a little tricky. You will need a small blade (or similar object) and some needle nose pliers. Although the spikes have two somewhat sharp prongs for fastening, you will still need a small knife to puncture the material a bit to get them into the fabric. Once you do, then you simply press them in and use he needle nose pliers  to bend and secure them in and repeat over (and OVER)  as much as you desire.

It helps to be watching something you enjoy on TV as well as having your favorite  alcohol of choice handy to get you through the rather monotonous (though TOTALLY worth it!!) task.


The author's band actually inciting a riot in New Haven... But check out those vests!

(Careful with the blade though, eh? I speak from experience.)

So there you have it.

Wear it proud and represent.


You can see Matt’s band, The Lost Riots, at the following upcoming shows:

  • 4/6 at the El n Gee in New London
  • 4/12 at Bank Street in New London