From the artistically iconic to the outrageously sexy to the inadvertent Grunge fashion pioneers, for one reason or another, the fashionable stylings of the following videos made a lasting impact on our pop-culture-crazed minds. Whether nostalgic '80s videos that linger in the corners of our adolescent MTV-engrained minds or modern videos that have refreshingly lived up to their successful predecessors, we consider these the most fashionably memorable.
16. Fiona Apple, "Criminal": Apple received a lot of flack for this video's risqué content after its release. Reminiscent of the 1990s' puzzling heroin-chic fad, the video picked up where Kate Moss's Calvin Klein ads left off, featuring a scantily clad and scarily waiflike Apple in an orgy-like setting with similarly malnourished-looking partners. In other words, it was the precursor to the spin-the-bottle scene in Garden State. [This one still makes me feel a little dirty whenever I watch it - Ed.]
15. Wham!, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go": They wore white denim and matching "CHOOSE LIFE' T-shirts, and neon Daisy Dukes, for crying out loud. This video looks pretty close to our perceived vision of heaven.
14. Prince, "Purple Rain": The artist lives up to his stage-name in this video, oozing sheer regality, thanks to his dramatically high collar, ruffled shirt, and studded purple suit.
13. A-Ha, "Take On Me": The video that proved a good-looking guy in the age-old white T-shirt/black leather jacket combo becomes only better-looking. Sure, this outfit is no different than the one Bruce Springsteen sports in his videos, but A-Ha's singer is way hotter. And there are comics involved.
12. Smashing Pumpkins, "Today": Come on... Billy Corgan as an ice-cream truck driver, D'Arcy and Jimmy Chamberlin as gas-station attendants, and guitarist James Iha as... a sundress-clad woman? Yep, this video made a lasting fashion impression.
11. Cher, "If I Could Turn Back Time": Released during that fashionably awkward last gasp of the '80s, this video features a huge ship, sailors, and Cher in fishnets and a bomber-jacket, straddling a canon. Fashionably speaking, it was via this video that Cher proved scant thong unitards aren't on exclusive reserve to 20-something supermodels. 43 at the time, Cher flaunted her long stems, stellar bikini wax, and subsequent confidence in this video-- however willing or unwilling we were to see it.
10. Aerosmith, "Cryin'": Like a three-minute music video summary of Reality Bites, "Cryin'" featured an accurate portrayal of '90s women's "I try hard to look like I don't try hard" style, as shown by Alicia Silverstone's babydoll dress and combat boots, flannel and torn jeans, and bellybutton piercing. Furthermore, the video basically rules, in general.
9. Hole, "Miss World": Released in the thick of the grunge era, this video embodied and defined the Riot Grrrl/Kinderwhore fashion. Rocks Off can't tell you how many Mary Janes and Peter Pan-collared babydoll dresses we wore in the '90s, thanks mostly to this very video.
8. Janet Jackson, "Love Will Never Do Without You" As the '80s dwindled, Janet Jackson welcomed a new decade with a new look; she stepped out of her superstar brother's shadow, shed some, uh, "baby weight," and shot sexy videos like this one, in which she struts around the beach with then-Calvin Klein models Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Djimon Hounsou, wearing a simple yet sexy pair of jeans and black tank-top - which was evidently enough to make a lasting impression on an entire generation of adolescent males.
7. Britney Spears, "Baby One More Time": Rocks Off went to a Catholic high school. Our uniforms didn't look like this. Nevertheless, the video's Catholic schoolgirl concept, allegedly proposed by Spears herself, makes easy eye candy.
6. Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit": Obviously an iconic video for myriad reasons, "Teen Spirit" inadvertently defined and pioneered grunge fashion, making Kurt Cobain's effortless flannel a suddenly sought-after fashion staple. Not to mention, the video's gloomy anarchy cheerleaders. Had my high school offered a cheerleading squad that wore anarchy tanks and cheered-on alt-rock bands, maybe I'd have tried out for the team.
5. Chris Isaak, "Wicked Game": Because who didn't enjoy watching a sandy Helena Christensen prancing along the beach in panties and a push-up bra? Thanks to her, "Wicked Game" remains one of the most memorable videos of the '90s, and subsequently made Chris Isaak one of the luckiest guys around.
4. Beyonce, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)": The combination of Beyonce's simple one-shoulder unitard, titanium robo-glove, and endless, dangerous curves make for a fashionable and damn-near perfect music video.
3. Madonna, "Like a Prayer": While nearly every video Madonna has produced could earn a spot on this list, this video in particular stands out as the most fashionably memorable. The provocatively controversial video in which Madonna burns crosses, earned the singer some heat from religious groups as well as Pepsi-Cola after its airing; she had signed a $5 million deal to license the song to the company for commercial use, just days before the video debuted.
2. Michael Jackson, "Thriller": Like Madonna, MJ's entire videography could earn spots on this list ("Billie Jean," "Bad," etc.), but "Thriller" remains the most fashionably memorable. From his "M" letterman's jacket to his matching red jeans and leather jacket, the styling for "Thriller," like the rest of the video's production, was spot-on. Those zombies were pretty fashionable, too.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
1. Robert Palmer, "Addicted to Love": Girls with guitars, high heels, '80s red lipstick and Chanel eyes; Robert Palmer in a collared shirt and skinny-tie... it seems there is absolutely nothing wrong with this video.