For his 1982 teen gang video “Beat It,” the singer picked a casually
cool outfit that would inspire millions to wear zipper-accented red leather
jackets in a decade-defining look for the ’80s.
From the moment Jackson danced across the lighted floor in the 1983
video for “Billie Jean,” legions of teenagers wanted his slick leather suit,
pink shirt and red bow tie.
Debuting the moonwalk live at the Motown 25th Anniversary
celebration in 1983, the dancing star wore his signature cropped pants – designed to show off his intricate footwork to its fullest – with
sparkling socks, shirt and his omnipresent penny loafers. Ken Luftig Viste, curator of the Grammy Museum’s Michael Jackson: HIStyle exhibition, explains, “He’d wear an elaborate outfit like this so that even the people in the farthest rows could see him dance because the crystals are flashing under the lights.The white socks really also showed off the way he danced, the ways he could move and how much of that was footwork,” says Luftig-Viste. “He wanted people to be able to see him dance.”
FITS LIKE A GLOVE
Setting off a massive trend, Jackson wore just one bedazzled glove to the
1984 Grammys along with a sequined military jacket, complete with gilded
sash. Not only did he get fashionistas buzzing, he also picked up a
record-breaking eight awards that night. Jackson was very into “British regalia show clothes – over the top military themed items,” says longtime costumer Michael Bush, who would research historically correct military gear for Jackson, and then “do a street version, rock and roll look out of plastic, vinyl. Anything other than what was traditional!”
The singer went for a distinctly edgier style for his Bad album
in 1987, adding heavy eyeliner to a buckled leather jacket and skintight jeans.
Jackson hearkened back to an earlier era for his ’20s-inspired video for
“Smooth Criminal” in 1987. Forget the tommy guns – fans were blown away by
his sharp tailoring and matching fedora!
Never one to shy away from theatrical embellishments for his stage costumes,
the singer hit the road in 1988 in second-skin outfits covered in
Flanked by similarly dressed backup dancers, Jackson took to the stage of
the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards in a black suit, skinny black tie and – ever
provocative – white arm band.
Talk about a united front! The singer enters for a court date, with his sisters LaToya and Janet, in white head-to-toe in 2004.
In the past several months, Jackson began stepping out in
fashionista-favorite womenswear labels, including Balmain and this Givenchy
by Riccardo Tisci studded T-shirt and blazer.