Some call his style choices avant-garde, others call them a tour de force. Whatever word Michael Jackson’s fans used to define him during his celebrated career, it was never boring.
Mon., Aug. 29 marks what would have been the King of Pop’s 53rd birthday. To commemorate the gift he bestowed upon us, serving up soulfully powerful vocals, poignant lyrics and stellar dance moves, The BoomBox takes a look at his collection of fashions over the years, all in honor of his born day.
From his work as a burgeoning force with the Jackson 5 to his acclaim as a solo act, the ‘Thriller’ creator never once faltered in dressing for any occasion. His tour gear — outer bodysuits and elbow pads included — always proved to be ahead of the curve and his red carpet appearances — full of glitter and gold — were a topic of conversation for those who didn’t even consider themselves to be immersed in the fashion spectrum.
Whether he considered himself to be an icon of epic wardrobe proportions or not before his untimely death on June 25, 2009, MJ was a bad style connoisseur, in a good way, of course.
1: As one of 10 children, Michael Jackson stood out from his siblings not only because of his vocal talents but for his inimitable fashion choices. Here, the pop singer dons a fringe vest, collared shirt and jeans while performing onstage with Jackson 5 circa 1970.
2: Like many kiddies, MJ was all about being happy-go-lucky — despite the rigorous work schedule practice and performing entailed — and it showed through his smile and his clothes. The pop star poses for a portrait wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt in Los Angeles, Calif., in June 1971.
3: The 1970s were all about hippie love and peace, and in 1972, the then-13-year-old embraced the movement, as young as he was. Backstage at a Jackson 5 show, the crooner, decked out in a floral number and geometric-printed shirt, went for a more toned-down facial expression.
4: Being part of a five-team supergroup brought the Gary, Ind., native all the way to London, England, where he dressed for the occasion. Never one to throw on dull duds, Jackson commanded the mic in a beige suit jacket and tie. He even threw on some rings and things.
5: Michael Jackson was fond of silver sequins way before he donned his infamous glove while performing ‘Billy Jean’ in 1983. Here, in 1974, the ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ creator stepped out to an event rocking a sequin-trimmed tuxedo and curly locks.
6: The lauded entertainer keeps it cool and comfortable in an ivory button-down and denim jeans while in New York City during September 1977. Two years after releasing his fourth studio album, ‘Forever, Michael,’ MJ was on his way to multi-platinum stardom.
7: Though he dropped many albums as a solo act, Michael still grooved with his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5. Dressed in burnt umber pants and glittering jackets, Jackie, Marlon, Randy, Tito and the pop star himself showed their solidarity as siblings in 1977, while in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
8: The then-20-year-old embraced his afro fully during a shoot on July 7, 1978, in Los Angeles, Calif. Sporting a chocolate-colored velvet top and matching scarf around his neck, he allowed a smile to creep up on his face while positioned next to a stuffed Kermit the Frog.
9: Michael Jackson brought his soulful sounds down to New Orleans in early October 1979, while he performed with the Jacksons on their Destiny Tour inside the Municipal Auditorium. His voice shined in the spotlight and so did his bejeweled outfit.
10: Always the show-stopper when entering a room, Michael made his grand entrance at an event in 1979, wearing a sequined shirt with black pinstripes and a matching bow tie.
11: In 1983, the ever-smiling ‘Thriller’ performer put on a red leather jacket, in spirit of the video for his famed song, and hit the opening of the stage musical ‘Dream Girls,’ in Los Angeles, Calif.
12: A look at his fashion evolution over the years proves MJ was no fan of sweatpants or dingy wares. Take for instance his prim and proper attire while in London in 1983, a year after his commercially successful album, ‘Thriller’ hit the masses. The entertainer put on a suit and a smile.
13: Sporting the wardrobe icon that made its television debut on Michael’s left hand during a performance of ‘Billy Jean’ at Motown’s 25th anniversary special, the King of Pop waved to fans during his tour stop in London in 1984.
14: Glitter and gold were staples of Michael Jackson’s wardrobe throughout his career. At the 26th Annual Grammy Awards, where he nabbed a record eight awards, he hid his eyes behind some shades but made a remarkable fashion statement with his sequined jacket, decorated in hues of royal blue, onyx and gold.
15: MJ ditched the glitter and sequins and opted for leather and a ton of buckles in his promo shot for his seventh studio album, ‘Bad.’ Looking like a man not to be messed with, Jackson illustrated his new style in 1987, which corresponded with the album’s fresh sound.
16: While on his Bad tour in 1987, Michael Jackson graced the audience at Wembley Stadium in London with his effervescent vocals. Performing songs like ‘You Make Me Feel’ and ‘Dirty Diana,’ his black and white ensemble supported his lyrics, which detail the light and dark side of life.
17: Red is the color of power and what better hue for the King of Pop to rock. On March 1, 1988, the esteemed crooner posed at a Pepsi Cola event on the eve of the 30th Annual Grammy Awards in New York City, N.Y.
18: Dressed like a man prepared to fight a fashion war — and come out victorious — the singer donned an iridescent jacket and gold-emblazoned belt at London’s Wembley Stadium during the Dangerous World Tour in 1992.
19: His 1992 Dangerous World Tour was the epicenter of some of Michael Jackson’s most intriguing style selections. At Wembley Stadium in London, the then-33-year-old kept it all black everything with gold touches, one of his signature looks.
20: Bodysuits on the exterior of his outfit? Not surprising for the Jackson 5 veteran. Taking the stage solo, MJ put on a cream-colored hat, white jacket and his bodysuit and owned the stage while performing in Jerudong Park in Brunei on July, 16, 1996.
21: In Auckland, New Zealand, Jackson gave fans Down Under a special treat when he rocked a metallic gold number during his HIStory world tour at Ericsson Stadium in 1996. The ‘Black or White’ creator even threw on a fashionable pair of elbow and knee pads.
22: When the pop star is in tour mode, he’s flamboyant with his attire, but when holding a press conference, Jackson keeps it a bit more demure. As he announced his upcoming concerts to benefit the World Peace Foundation for Children in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1998, the long-hair-don’t-care singer wore a black blazer and sunglasses.
23: Facial hair wasn’t a staple for Michael Jackson, however, he showed up to a cancer research event in New York City in 2000, with a 5 o’clock shadow that actually looked snazzy. Dressed in a lavender vest, peach button-down and yellow tie, the joyful ‘Heal the World’ star promoted a rainbow of colors as well as peace.
24: Michael Jackson was no stranger to the courtroom during his music career. Despite having to show up in front of a judge to defend his innocence against claims like child molestation, he always dressed the part of an esteemed pillar of society. In June 2005, in Santa Monica, Calif., he looked ever the dapper gentleman, tie included.
25: One of the famed last shots before his untimely death, the King of Pop posed while at a press conference at the O2 arena in London, on March 5, 2009, just three months prior to his passing. A smile, a peace sign and a style all his own, Michael Jackson let his outer being expose the kind of positive and incomparable person he was.