“My attitude is if fashion says it's forbidden, I'm going to do it,” - Michael Jackson, Moonwalk
When you think of Michael Jackson three things immediately come to mind: his incredible voice, his mind-blowing dance moves, and his innovative style. Michael created many iconic looks in his music videos, performances and at award shows. It seemed that no matter what he wore, fans and other artists wanted to imitate the King of Pop’s original fashion sense. When it came to fashion, Michael was fearless—pushing boundaries and daring to wear what no one else would.Michael’s style easily extended into the mainstream and around the world, setting trends that defined the decades they were popular in. Like his record-breaking music, Michael’s fashion was a part of his identity—he understood how to bring his image of pop music to life, and his style played a huge role in that vision. Michael Jackson wearing his signature color—red—arrives at an event with Elizabeth Taylor. Michael was a huge supporter of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Even today, Michael’s fashion continues to influence and set the bar for current trends. Many contemporary artists have paid homage or adapted Michael’s style to their own. These are some of Michael’s most memorable looks that remain on the cutting-edge of fashion.
Michael wore a sleek and simple white suit on the cover of Thriller. As Thriller broke records and became the most influential pop album in history, that white suit would be remembered as a symbol of Michael’s dominance in the music industry—no one could even come close to his achievements. Beyoncé looks chic in this look that is almost identical Michael's Thriller album cover
When Beyoncé was starting out in the industry, her producer would have her listen to Michael’s music. She would describe his sound on tracks like “Who’s Loving You” as “raw and pure”. Beyoncé has paid tribute to Michael in both her sound and her style. “Michael Jackson changed me, and helped me to become the artist I am thank you Michael,” she wrote in a post on her website.
If Michael’s white suit reflected the singer’s soulful side, then the black leather motorcycle jacket he wore on the album cover of Bad reminded fans that he still edgy too. When paired with his killer dance moves, Michael claimed his spot in music history and warned others that he would not go down without a fight.Taylor Swift models this "bad" look, which looks similar to Michael's own style
Like Michael, Taylor Swift has achieved incredible success in the music industry at a young age. Many consider her success to mirror Michael’s, and her style does too. Out on the streets, Taylor rocks a black leather jacket in the style of Michael.
No one could wear a hat like Michael did, because to him, it was more than an accessory. He integrated the hat into his choreography, using it to build incredible performances. Michael was playful with his audience and liked to surprise them. His hat allowed him to create that tension and keep his identity hidden a little longer, even though his voice and dancing would give him away almost immediately. Pharrell and Bruno Mars' own style are a nod to Michael. Bruno Mars started out by covering Michael’s songs when he was a kid and has paid tribute to the pop idol through his videos, dancing and, of course, clothes. While Pharrell has adopted Michael’s style, he will be the first to admit that there was one thing he could never copy. “I could never dance like him. He had everything,” he said in an interview with GQ.
Red. Red was Michael’s color and many of his most iconic looks revolved around it. One piece that immediately comes to mind is the red leather jacket from his music video for Beat It. It drew attention to Michael, making it impossible to look away.
Kanye West has opened up multiple times on the influence Michael had on his own career and fashion sense. In this look, the rapper channels Michael, right down to the gold chain detailing. Kanye had the opportunity to meet Michael to work on a "Billie Jean" remix for Thriller’s 25th anniversary, and was reportedly in awe of the chance to collaborate with his idol.
Not only did Michael dress like pop royalty, but he had an eye for taking unexpected pieces and turning them into trends. When Michael wore a varsity letterman jacket, it became the definition of casual cool.
Rihanna sports letterman jackets for her own low-key and athletic style. This isn’t the first time she has taken cues from the King of Pop. Her hit "Please Don’t Stop The Music" sampled Michael’s track "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". She had the opportunity to meet Michael in 2006, saying it was like “a dream come true.”
From sound to style, Michael's influence can be heard and seen even today. Fashion is just one aspect of Michael's lasting legacy on culture.