Best Concert Costumes

In honor of ESSENCE's Black Women in Music event, we're celebrating the most stylish songstresses to hit the stage.

Celia L. Smith Jan, 20, 2014

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Etta James was no short of fab when it came to dressing her curves for the stage. A little silk shantug or brocade pattern dress was all she needed to belt out those moody tunes and this onstage appearance in 1955 is proof.

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Billie Holiday was a flower child. Not the 60s type, but a 1930's bluesy babe that made adorning her hair with a trail of flowers her signature style and the "mane" attraction no matter what smashing dress she was wearing.

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Aretha Franklin's voice was larger than life, but her style was even more grand. Tunics, turbans, and feathers galore set her apart from your typically prim and proper 1960's style. This moment, on The Andy Williams show in 1965 was most memorable.

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The queen of concert costumes, Ms. Diana Ross had a number of epic moments that included crystal, sequins, dramatic sleeves, hair –– the works. But it was her Netherlands performance in 1982, enveloped in tulle, that made for unforgettable stage presence.

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Oh how Ms. Jones graces us with her presence and in quintessential Grace Jones style there's always added shock value. In 2012, she took the shine in a voluminous iridescent pantsuit and matching bowler hat during a performance in the Netherlands.

6 of 12 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The oh-so seductive Donna Summer exuded every bit of the sexiness she sung about in her stage ensembles. The Queen of Disco bared-all confidently in shiny leotard wraps, this 1977 style in particular was a look we loved.

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Not only did Chaka Khan sing about love, but she was a love child in leather, fringe, feathers and untamed mane that evoked the free-spirit she possessed.

8 of 12 Paul Bergen/Redferns

We're swooning over this Sadé moment. Her standard slicked back hair is the perfect compromise to this scene-stealing sparkling crop top and matching pencil skirt.

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This modern day showgirl is all about the glitz and glam, touring the world with infinite wardrobe changes. Our favorite? Beyoncé's cobalt blue cat suit by Vrettos Vrettakos adorned with Swarovski Elements.

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She's eclectic and cool and cannot be boxed in. Erykah Badu expresses her boundless creativity best onstage in costume  and was in full effect at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors paying homage to style influencer George Clinton.

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Not only was Lauryn Hill setting lyrical trends as a female artist in the 90s but also fashion trends. From floor-length denim skirts to cool tomboy twisted pieces, we followed her every move. Her one performance donning a varsity jacket and school girl pig tails really drove the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill theme home in the hottest way.

12 of 12 Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Variety

The singer proves there's more ways than one to wear black and white; from tuxedos, to capes to striped moto jackets, Janelle Monae keeps it classic in the most unconventional way imaginable.


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