The most noteworthy aspect of the world’s top singers is their stage presence and singing voice, but you can’t just overlook the other factor that makes them such big names — fashion statements are a major part of a singer’s identity and stage persona.
The Metal Face Paint of Kiss
When people think of the hard rock band Kiss, they often picture four dudes decked out in black, with the iconic face paint that you see here on display. Without question, the face paint this band wore to most of their performances is inseparable from their identity as a rock legend. Even if Kiss isn’t one’s cup of tea, chances are you could still recognize them by this face paint alone. That’s just how iconic it is.
Britney Spears’ Red Latex Jumpsuit
Britney Spears’ second album was released in 2000, and this particular red latex jumpsuit made an appearance in a music video that took place on Mars, symbolizing the cold heart of a woman who sees love and the destruction of hearts as little more than a game. Being one of her most popular albums, most everyone recognizes this outfit on her. It’s not as flashy as some of the outfits you can see singers wearing today, but it is still a memorable part of Spears’ wardrobe.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band
In 1966, when the Beatles were on a recording hiatus, Paul McCartney was inspired to write songs that heavily focused on the aesthetic imagery of the traditional Edwardian military band. This led to the alter ego the band took on in 1967 — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Needless to say, these costumes are some of the most well-known and popular outfits that the Beatles ever wore while performing.
Dolly Parton’s Rhinestone-Studded Suit
Country singers have just as much right to dress fabulously as anyone else in the singing business. According to Dolly Parton, it “takes money to look this cheap,” but we’re fairly certain that her fans thought she looked good. Either way, this is definitely one of her more memorable stage outfits over the years. Rhinestones have a bit of a history in country music, but Dolly Parton probably put them to their best use in this instance.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: The Soldier Outfit
In 2009, this singer was still referred to as Cheryl Cole, but more importantly, it was also the year of her first album. That album created a horde of followers that called themselves her ‘soldiers.’ In the video for the hit single “Fight for This Love,” Cheryl wore this iconic outfit. The military aesthetic was meant to emphasize themes of power and strength, but it sure looked good while doing it.
Elton John as Donald Duck
Elton John is a great singer, and he’s also a tad…eccentric. He has a tendency to wear odd and bizarre outfits on stage, such as the time he dressed up as Donald Duck. In fact, Elton John has worn so many costumes on stage over the years that he sold 2,000 of them in auctions by 1988. That said, is this outfit really his most iconic out of so many? Perhaps not, but it certainly is unforgettable at the very least.
Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ Tour Outfit
Michael Jackson has definitely had more than one iconic outfit over the years. However, one of the most memorable is the military aesthetic and gilded over pants he wore during his ‘Dangerous’ tour — lots of black, gold and buckles, and a whole lot of style. It may not be his absolute most iconic outfit of all time, but it’s definitely a testament to Michael’s excellent stage fashion sense.
Outfit coordination between the members of a stage group is pretty common these days, but it wasn’t always. Someone had to actually popularize it first, and The Supremes did exactly that, bringing a sharp and spiffy group coordinated look to their performances. The Supremes made being part of a cohesive whole cool — they were all equal parts of a unit, not one singer with some backup dancers.
Amy Winehouse and Her Beehive
When we’re talking about the most iconic part of Amy Winehouse’s getup, we can’t help but think of her super tall beehive more than any actual clothing that she wore. Of course, her pinup dresses and exposed tattoos also made for a look that her fans couldn’t forget. She’s not as flashy as some other singers, but her look was still something unmistakably unique, just like Winehouse herself.
The Unconventional Katy Perry
Unlike some of her contemporaries, Katy Perry is known for wearing some pretty outlandish outfits that give her a unique stage presence, which few people can match. Frankly, she’s had too many outfits to claim one as more iconic than the other, but we feel that this particular one is pretty memorable. Whether or not it is as noteworthy as some of her other outfits is debatable, but — at any rate — it’s definitely hard to forget.
Lorde of the Black Clothes
Lorde has always had an interesting aesthetic, with a strange combination of fashion choices that make for something wholly unique to her and her stage presence. It’s kind of like that cool art kid with the niche taste that’s a little odd, but always good-looking. Sure — it’s not as flashy as some of the outfits other people have worn on stage, but it’s definitely something that she undeniably made her own.
Lana Del Ray has always had a certain aesthetic going for her — usually silks and pastel colors, as well as some degree of nostalgia. That being the case, it’s not this particular outfit that’s so iconic for her, but rather the overall aesthetic that she brings to the table as a whole. Without a doubt, Lana Del Ray provides a certain atmosphere for all of her stage performances, and her outfits have a lot to do with that.
The Queen of Eccentricity
Since entering the music industry in 2001, there’s no denying that Lady Gaga has been known for her eccentric style whether she’s walking down the red carpet or performing on stage. With that being said, this bubble outfit comes as no surprise to anyone. In fact, it’s quite tame compared to some of her later outfits. She wore this piece during her ‘Fame Ball’ tour and as the opening act for the Pussycat Dolls’ ‘Domination’ tour back in 2009. To keep with the theme, she played a transparent, bubble-filled piano.
Björke’s Pom-Pom Headdress
Okay, so Björke is probably better known for her swan getup than this particular outfit, but this was definitely one of her most memorable getups as far as her stage life is concerned. The singer wore this pom-pom headdress — paired with what looks like a rose pink dress and cape — during her 2007-2008 ‘Volta’ tour, which was her first after a four-year hiatus. Soren Bach designed the hat, proving to the world that even after an extended break, Björke’s fashion sense hadn’t toned down one bit.
Jennifer Lopez During Her Montreal Tour
Jennifer Lopez has worn some pretty flashy outfits throughout her career as a singer, so it’s honestly a little hard to pick one that unequivocally tops all of the others. However, we’re pretty certain this white feathered skirt and headpiece she wore in 2012 is one of her most noteworthy. J.Lo is someone who knows how to bring the flair to any performance that she takes part in — in no small part due to outfits like this one.
Taylor Swift in Rainbow Regalia
It’s not easy to rock all the colors of the rainbow, but Taylor Swift managed to do it perfectly in this instance. The outfit itself isn’t too flamboyant, but the colors it brought to the table certainly were. It’s this type of attire that really sets singers apart from all of their back-up performers on stage. Of course, you’d have to bring a bubbly personality to really pull off all the colors of the rainbow — but we all know T-Swift has no problem doing that.
98 Degrees’ Overall Getup
Boy bands are unique when it comes to their getup because they often have to coordinate their outfits together. After all, they are performing as one unit, so it makes sense to match. 98 Degrees brought this iconic look to the table, giving them an aesthetic that everyone could easily recognize. This is just proof that not all outfits have to be extremely complicated to be a good choice of stage fashion — although these overalls may be considered a little outdated nowadays.
Backstreet Boys Are Flying High
It’s no secret that 1999 was a pretty long time ago. It was also the height of Backstreet Boys’ popularity. With that, their performance in Frankfurt, Germany was one of their most memorable — likely due to the way they soared through the air as they imitated surfers. Sure; flashy outfits are great and all, but a showy performance to go along with those getups is part of what makes showbiz what it is.
Bye, Bye, Bye
NSYNC generally didn’t wear super flamboyant outfits during their time together, but that doesn’t mean they never have. These particular getups that the band wore at one point were certainly a bit of a break from the norm, but they looked fabulous nevertheless — not to mention extremely well-coordinated. They really gave off a sort of Power Rangers vibe during this performance, but we can’t say we hate it. In fact, it might be one of our favorite NSYNC outfits.
Boyz II Men in Their Blue Sparkles
This picture of Boyz II Men is pretty old — circa 1992, to be exact — but it still stands as one of their most memorable group getups over the years. These bright, sparkling blue ensembles really brought out their personalities. Granted, this picture isn’t of them performing on stage, but the point still stands. They’ve changed a lot since then, but Boyz II Men definitely still has the same flair that they touted all those years ago.
The Clean Whites of 112
Sometimes simple is best. The men of 112 understood this when they wore these clean, predominantly white outfits when they performed in 2001. It’s a testament to how nice and coordinated a band can look when they all wear similar getups. There’s truly a quality to simplicity. Let this be a lesson to us all — you don’t always have to go crazy with your getup. You can keep it nice and effortless whilst still looking great, even on the grand stage of music.
David Bowie’s Eyepatch
David Bowie was always an eccentric sort who had a lot of flair to offer to his fans. Case in point, he donned an eyepatch at one point, which made for one of his more iconic and memorable appearances during his years of performing beloved songs on many stages. When it comes to flamboyant singers, Bowie is high on the list not only for his music but also for his unique outfits, like this one. That’s part of the reason why he’ll forever be remembered.
NSYNC’s Camouflage Trousers of the ’90s
NSYNC has generally worn a mix of reasonable and out-there things, but sometimes it was just the bad fashion sentiments of the ’90s that had the band sporting camouflage trousers made up of a variety of colors. All well and good for the military, but not so much for boy bands. But hey — at least they had a group theme going. That’s the most important aspect of being a united boy band in the first place.
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Jacket
“Thriller” is quite possibly one of the most well-known songs to have ever been released by Michael Jackson. For the music video, MJ rocked this iconic red jacket that just about anyone and everyone can still recognize to this day. By its very nature of being nearly unmistakable, it’s easily one of Michael’s most iconic outfits of all time. Of course, it’s not the only noteworthy thing that Jackson ever wore during his career, but it’s definitely one of the best.
TLC’s Unique Style
Sometimes you just have to go all out on stage and wear something that you’d never actually rock in the streets. TLC knows this, which is why they decked themselves out in these notable outfits for one particular performance — not too flashy, but definitely still beyond the pedestrian. It’s a nice balance of flair and normality, which is pretty hard to get right on the grand stage of show business.
The Enchanter That Is Stevie Nicks
With an outfit that looks like it should be worn for Halloween, Stevie Nicks has always had a unique presence on the stage that many fans have tried to imitate over the years. However, no one has quite managed to pull it off better than she has. It’s definitely one of the more unique ways we’ve seen an all-black getup worn by the famous singers of the world, so we think it’s safe to say that it’s perfect for this list.
The Futuristic Aesthetic of Karen O.
Karen O. has a particular aesthetic in her outfits that really make her look as though she’s from the future. We know she isn’t, but come on — doesn’t this look like something people in the ’80s thought people of the 2000s would wear? We think that’s a pretty accurate inference. Either way, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t deny that it draws the attention of the audience without fail.
The Everlasting School Uniform of Angus Young
You wouldn’t think someone would look good wearing a school uniform far past the time they should be, but Angus Young of AC/DC has always managed to pull it off in a way that fans actually like. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that his getup on stage is part of what makes this band so iconic. That said, we could do without his hairy legs, but that’s just something we have to deal with in order to enjoy some good old-fashioned rock and roll.
Debbie Harry Rocking Those Slits
Slits look good on just about anyone, but Debbie Harry gave this style a whole new meaning when she wore them during this performance. She really showed everyone how it’s done. Being a singer that doesn’t wear quite as eccentric clothing, it’s hard to find truly iconic outfits she performed in, but there’s no denying that Harry looked absolutely incredible here. Debbie Harry has worn some great looking outfits over the years, but we feel that this was one of her best and most fashionable.
Cher, Circa 1978
This iconic Cher outfit graced the world stage during a photoshoot with Bob Mackie in 1978. Apparently, she had quite the fashion relationship with the man, trusting him to make good design decisions and only ask her to wear the most striking of dresses.
The Space Age Helmets of Daft Punk
Now, this is iconic. Whether or not Daft Punk is the kind of music you’re into, just about everyone can recognize their helmets that are reminiscent of spacesuits. That kind of identity, which can be recognized almost instantly, is pretty much the definition of unforgettable. That said, the helmets do all the work as far as being recognizable is concerned. There’s no doubt that this electronic music duo has made a name for themselves.
Elvis Presley’s Notorious Jumpsuit
Whether you love him or hate him — which we don’t understand why anyone would actually hate ‘The King of Rock and Roll’ — no one can deny the legendary nature of Elvis Presley’s white jumpsuit. It’s just one of the most memorable and instantly recognizable outfits in music history. That being the case, it belongs on this list as an oldie but a goldie. Elvis’ jumpsuit went through a few iterations, but they are collectively recognizable all the same, so it gets one mention here.
Freddie Mercury’s Yellow Leather Jacket
The frontman of Queen has worn much more flamboyant clothes during his performances, but one of his most iconic is this multi-buckled yellow leather jacket and white tracksuit. Even people that aren’t overly familiar with Freddie Mercury — or Queen — could still recognize this legendary getup. What makes the outfit so unforgettable? In this case, it’s just the fact that the person wearing it is one of the most legendary and iconic figures in the world of music. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Their Lightbulbs
During Woodstock ’94, Red Hot Chili Peppers felt the need to don some giant lightbulbs for their performance. Suffice to say, it made performing a lot harder, but it also made the whole gig a lot more memorable. Why they decided to do this, who knows. Then again, maybe they just wanted to stand out — and if that was the idea — they definitely did exactly that. Mission accomplished.
The Spice Girls
The thing about the Spice Girls is that they all had their own fashion sense, despite performing as a group. This means that iconic outfits are a bit hard to pin down, but their individual fashion sense is definitely what set them apart from other singers, as far as that’s concerned. Then again, perhaps it’s the very variety of the Spice Girls that made them so iconic as a group, seeing as how that variety is a large part of their identity.
Iggy Azalea’s Form-Fitting Attire
Let’s be real — Iggy Azalea has always turned heads with her form-fitting outfits that she rocks on the big stage. She’s never failed to look good during a performance, even when sporting bright and garish colors. Of course, that might have something to do with the exuberant way she wears them. After all, clothes are an excellent way to express yourself, but it’s the way someone wears them on stage that really makes the outfit a noteworthy aesthetic.
Prince’s Purple Jacket
When people think of Prince, the outfit they often envision him in is the purple getup he wore for his hit song, “Purple Rain.” Of course, that may also be one of his best-known melodies, so it’s no surprise that this is the case. The rarity of the color purple may have had something to do with it as well. Whatever the reason, this purple outfit that Prince rocked remains one of the most recognizable ensembles that the stage has ever seen.
Tamer Than Usual
Nicki Minaj has worn some pretty crazy outfits before, but that doesn’t mean all of her iconic getups have been the most out there. The one that she’s pictured in here is awesome without being something extremely far-fetched. Minaj has always had a significant stage presence, and a big part of that has been her outfits. We can definitely tell she was trying to make a particular statement with this one, and it’s safe to say that statement was loud and clear.
Whether or not you’re a fan of ABBA, there’s really no denying that their music has a way of making anyone and everyone feel good. Aside from that, though, it’s no secret that ABBA has been widely noted for their colorful and trendsetting costumes.
While the band doesn’t always coordinate to match, their outfits always make a statement. Here in this photo, ABBA is performing their hit song, “Waterloo,” at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The band ultimately won the contest, which was the start of the greatest career in Swedish pop music history.
Live Props Included
Remember that time in 2001 when Britney Spears brought a real, live snake on stage during a performance? Well, if you’re a fan of Spears, then yes, you probably do. It’s kind of hard to forget, after all. Apparently, there was some sort of symbolism about where she stood on the girl versus woman spectrum, but we’re not sure what the statement was exactly. Really, the focus is more on the snake than her outfit, but it still makes for an iconic stage getup nevertheless.