Michael Jackson: The Trendsetter

Michael Jackson: The Trendsetter
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 25, 2009

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From “Off the Wall” to “Bad,” Michael Jackson’s style quotient has been through the roof since he stepped onto the scene. Even when his big brothers were on stage with the child prodigy, it was M.J.’s appeal that forced the world to recognize the man who would be King.

Join us as we look back at the icon’s style over the last five decades.

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Who doesn’t have fond memories of the Jackson 5 doing their shimmy across stages from Harlem to Hollywood? Their undeniable style, with Michael leading the pack, helped to open the doors for groups like New Edition and Boys II Men.

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Micheal (center) works it out onstage wearing colorful bell bottoms, butterfly-collared shirts and platform shoes. Youngsters all over America tried to copy the Jackson 5’s winning style.

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Before he took the fedora to another level, Michael helped to inspire many with his apple jack style hat. We dig how he slightly rocked it to one side over his massive Afro.

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Floral button front shirts like this one are yet another fashion trend this small-town boy from Gary, Indiana, helped to elevate to big-city mega status.

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No way are we implying he invented the Afro, but Michael is definitely responsible for giving the hairstyle its staying power in the 1970’s. Here, he sports a massive Fro with just enough height and sheen to make men and women alike turn heads.

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Michael eased on down the road in style as he expanded his résumé with a big-time acting gig in “The Wiz.” We see his style taking a sophisticated turn as he breaks away from his big bros to pursue solo dreams.

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Not many have the confidence to pull off high-water pants, much less to then pair them with glitter socks. The look is, well, quintessential M.J.

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Pictured here with his good friend and mentor Diana Ross, Michael sports an unexpected bow tie. with “The Boss” following suit. Michael regularly rocked bow ties, dressing them up or down, during the height of his career.

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Cardigan sweaters like these were in heavy rotation for Michael in the 1980’s.

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It didn’t matter who the team was, if Michael supported them by wearing their jacket, we were definitely interested. He even rocked a varsity jacket in the infamous Thriller video which seems to have sparked an interest with current trendsetters like Kanye West.

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Leather, along with sequins and metal hardware, were staples for the pop icon. Here, Michael reveals a rare casual look.

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Michael rarely strayed away from his signature penny loafers, often pairing them with thick athletic white socks as pictured here. The look was reportedly inspired by another icon Fred Astaire. The preppy trend became so popular back in the 1980’s that even tough, macho guys were rocking the shoes on the regular.

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Epaulets? And sequins? No one but M.J. could pull off such a combo. Jackson gave traditional military gear a flashy spin like only the King of Pop could. His extra-bold shoulder pads reminded us that the musical icon was in a league of his own.

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Once we stop denying having one, or even knowing someone who did, we could accept that Jheri Curls were nothing less than huge in the 80’s. A large part of this popularity was due to Michael Jackson. His well-tended coif was dripping wet but we couldn’t take our eyes off.

And after Jackson’s 1984 accident (when his hair caught on fire), we all were a little more careful with our dos.

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Wearing a bright-red motorcycle jacket just wasn’t eye-catching enough for the King of Pop. Jackson put the extra-zippered version on everyone’s must-have list in the 1980’s making it an iconic piece of American fashion.

Admit it: You had (or wanted) one. Bad.

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Jackson may have been using his dark aviator shades to block the flashing paparazzi lights, but they surely couldn’t stop us from recognizing his undeniable style.

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With a slick black motorcycle jacket on his back, Mike almost made us believe he was a tough guy. (That signature voice spoiled it though.)

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Fedoras were a style staple for this tastemaker and “Smooth Criminal.” Whether black or white, he wore them well. Too bad his impressive dance moves weren’t for sale with the fresh head gear.

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Michael Jackson’s singular white glove is the stuff of legend. Dipped in sequins and hot all over, Jackson made wearing one glove look so fly, we never bothered to ask what happened to the other one.

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Ancient Egyptian royalty were in the spotlight for M.J.‘s “Remember the Time” video. From megamodel Iman’s regal head dress to the energetic backup dancers “Coming to America”-esque garb, we just couldn’t get enough.

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What is your favorite Michael Jackson influenced trend and why? Share with us in a comment below.

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Sequins were thought of as a formal accent pre-“Thriller,” but Michael dressed it up, down and made everyone around town want a piece of the shiny action.

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Exaggerated gold and silver hardware on otherwise basic clothing almost seemed like a prerequisite for the pop icon.

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Who else could make catcher pads look this this good off the field? Umpires everywhere, take note.

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Michael Jackson seemed to do very little quietly. Even when he sported a simple white T-shirt and basic black slacks, we took note. Hey, when you got it, you got it.

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Although he was known for bringing the glitz and glam factor to everything he touched, he surprisingly kept his color palette quiet. He primarily stuck to white, black, red and occasionally blue.

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Tags

# Fashion

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# Fashion