8. Get a Very Nice Suit

Dressed for success?

So what about the rock star wardrobe, then?
Colin Greenwood, dressed nattily in a dark, double-breasted jacket and small, rounded sunglasses, smokes a cigarette between two fingers in the delicate way of Englishmen, and they wait. Finally, someone comments, “You do not look like tourists.”
Colin starts a bit and grows defensive. “Well, what do we look like?”
“Well, you look like rock stars.”
Colin sighs melodramatically. “Finally. After all these years.”
Alternative Press, October 1995

It’s hard to know if the Greenwood clothes say, “I’m blind” or “I don’t give a shit”: a school cardie and wing-collar shirt. Important stuff is carried in an ever-present suede bag you imagine Twiggy swinging in 1964.
Q, July 2003

It seems that Colin’s personal style is not for everyone, found to be particularly irritating by journalists who get more verbal mileage out of describing the costumes worn by acts like the Scissor Sisters or Gwen Stefani. However, as music critic Alex Ross pointed out, “You might peg him as a cultish young neo-Marxist professor, or as the editor of a hip quarterly. But he is a rock star, with several Web pages devoted to him.” [The New Yorker, 2001] Indeed.

Although the band collectively stumbled in the early days, trying a bit too hard for their own good to look like trend-setting Rock Stars (ahem, ahem), this was quickly rectified as they became more comfortable with the role. By the mid-nineties, Colin was seen wearing clothes more indicative of his current style: jeans, cargo pants, or trousers paired with T-shirts (featuring, for example, the Mighty Atom or classy slogans like “Life’s a beach and then you shag” or the more P.C. “Bread not Bombs”) under a classic pullover, tailored shirt, or jacket.

Colin and his suit in the High and Dry deluge

While not a flashy dresser, it is clear that he does give a shit about his appearance. Whether chatting about Belgian fashion, getting a suit fitted at Savile Row, or Issey Miyake ‘Pleats Please’ fabrics, Colin knows a thing or two about fashion.

Once upon a time, Colin dropped £900 on a sharp Junior Gaultier suit, only to have the jacket destroyed under the blast of 1,100 gallons of “rain” dumped on the band during the shooting of the UK version of the “High and Dry” video: “...it used to be black and a bit bigger but it’s shrunk and gone grey cos I wore it in the video... That was heartbreaking, so “High and Dry” better be played on the television, just to cover the emotional cost of my jacket.

Here is as good a place as any to insert the inevitable and infamous trousers quote, from those bleak, lonely days before he met his future wife:
...Colin is fretting about his suit. “It’s smart. But is it too smart?” he worries. “I don’t want to look desperate”, “But you are desperate” his brother quietly reminds him. “We call him Shabba”, guitarist Ed O’Brien chips in, “you know, Shabba Ranks, Mr Loverman. He likes the ladeez”...
Colin’s Trousers
This is Colin at 4 a.m.: “I mean”, he says, slumping in his chair, “I’m in a band, we’re reasonably successful, I’ve got a very nice suit — I’m not even a bad person — so why can’t I get a shag?” He pulls a face, slurps morosely at his wine, and gestures for a light. Someone holds a candle across the table, and drips molten wax on his trousers, in one action cutting his chances of getting laid by a quarter. “Oh! My trousers! Fuck!” This is how you should think of Radiohead.
Melody Maker, June 1995

On that note, for your edification, here is a visual primer on Colin’s fashion sense over the years.

Colin sporting the Oscar Wilde haircut and button down shirt

Jonny with Colin and the Suit

In Levi’s and T-shirt

Here seen in a smart leather jacket

Dressed casually for the Grammys

Fashionspin (with cool suede messenger bag)

Colin looking very rock’n’roll back there

With Ed, looking more like a college professor

In camouflage pants

In a denim shirt

Colin in a peacoat and denim pants


Sporting another tasteful t-shirt.