Music and fashion have always been intertwined, that’s why there are lots of iconic female musician outfits in history. A musical performance is always accompanied by a parade of eye-catching outfits.
The most memorable ones find their way into the era’s zeitgeist and become the defining look of the time. It’s hard to imagine what ‘80s fashion would be without Madonna’s iconic rock glam looks or ‘90s style sans the trends Spice Girls popularised. Who else’s outfits continue to be iconic in 2021? We share them here.
Madonna’s corset dress
No one can deny that the 1980s was a fun fashion era and at its centre was a young Madonna, who at the time is just starting to make a name for herself.
One of the firsts of many iconic female musician outfits that will make its mark in fashion history is Madonna’s white corset “bridal” dress. She debuted the look during the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 where she performed her hit song Like A Virgin. It was adorned by a “boy toy” belt and paired with white fingerless gloves and assorted layered accessories.
In the next decade, Madonna would go on to launch many other memorable ensembles including the famed cone-shaped bra by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Spice Girls’ Buffalo London platform shoes
The Spice Girls birthed many ‘90s fashion trends like mini dresses, feminist statement pieces, micro sunglasses and so on. These looks landed on the passe list in previous years but are now enjoying a resurgence. What Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) wore in 1996, you could now easily find on Olivia Rodrigo’s Instagram. But perhaps one of the most iconic styles from the Spice Girls that are making a comeback now is chunky footwear. These Buffalo London shoes must be comfortable despite the way they look. Look at how Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) bust some dance moves at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1997 while on these platforms.
Britney Spears’ red latex jumpsuit
By the early noughties, Britney Spears was starting to shed her sweet image. She made her first step towards adopting a more edgy aesthetic in the Oops!...I Did It Again video where she wore a skin-tight red latex jumpsuit in line with a space theme. Fun fact: Did you know that this iconic outfit was created by Michael Bush just overnight? Although it looked great on Britney Spears, it wasn’t as pleasant to wear. Stylist on set Estee Stanley told Vogue that after just one take, the pop star was already sweating buckets. All of the hard work poured into this video paid off as Oops!...I Did It Again became one of Britney Spears’ greatest hits and the red latex jumpsuit one of the most iconic female musician outfits.
Lady Gaga’s meat dress
From the time Lady Gaga dropped Just Dance until today, the pop star has served memorable looks but the most iconic of all is the Meat Dress she donned during the MTV VMA 2010 to accept her Video of the Year award for Bad Romance. The look — from the dress to her footwear — featured raw beef. Curious about what it all means? Lady Gaga didn’t wear it just for the shock factor. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga shared that the Meat Dress was actually part of her protest against the USA military’s “don't ask, don't tell” policy for gay soldiers and that if we don't speak up for what we believe in we'll have "as much rights as the meat in our bones". It’s an unforgettable ensemble that both garnered praise and condemnation. The dress was so iconic that it was preserved to be a type of jerky and displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Rihanna’s mesh crystal dress
It’s hard to talk about iconic female musician outfits without mentioning Rihanna. Even in her early days, RiRi was already a fashion icon in the making and was a driving force in popularising many late ‘00s trends. However, her most iconic outfit to date was her look for the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards where she received the Style Icon Award presented to her by Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour. It was a Swarovski “naked” halter dress paired with a matching headdress. This look took 20 people and over 230,000 crystals to make, designer Adam Selman told Elle. During her speech, Rihanna shared how fashion has been an outlet for her and a way for her to “speak up”.
Which of these iconic female musician outfits would you wear for Halloween?
(Cover photo from: commons.wikimedia.org)
Next, take a look at the evolution of K-pop girl group fashion through the years.