The MTV Video Music Awards are Sunday, and with them comes the promise of some truly memorable style moments. Since everyone from Lady Gaga to the Janoskians will score an invite, there’s bound to be a couple drop-dead-fabulous dresses, a few major fashion events and a couple outfits that will leaving you saying “What on earth?!” Below, we rounded up a few of our faves that fell into all those categories, and gave them the #TBT Instagram treatment for good measure. Check ’em out and tell us your favorite VMA style memories in the comments!
Loni Venti, Style and Beauty Writer: While there are loads of starlets with Crayola-inspired tresses today, let’s not forget that the real rainbow hair revolution began in the 90s—and that no one truly nailed it quite like Gwen Stefani. When the blue-bunned, bindi-adorned, bikini-rocking No Doubt frontwoman stepped out on the VMAs carpet in 1998, the getup that probably would have been a don’t on anyone not named Gwen Stefani soon became the quintessential late ’90s skater-babe look to steal. Despite wearing a Muppet bra and face bling, she still looked smokin’ and inspired lookalikes everywhere (my teenage self included).
Catherine Kast, Writer/Reporter: Ah, 2011. It was a time before crop tops were a red carpet go-to, a time when girls dip-dyed their tips, and a simpler time, when celebs revealed their pregnancies in person, not over Instagram. Of course, Beyoncé let us know about baby Blue Ivy in predictably stellar fashion, in a one-shouldered Lanvin dress accessorized with a positively glowing complexion on the red carpet. (She drove the point home later on stage.) Raise your hand, “Single Ladies” style, if you think she never looked better!
Andrea Lavinthal, Style and Beauty Director: There was a time in red carpet history when it wasn’t considered an A-list event unless Paris Hilton was in attendance, and that time was 2003. Before Paris became a household name for her Emmy award-winning work on The Simple Life, she was a socialite best known for making “home videos” and showing up to awards shows in brightly-colored strips of cloth. One of her more memorable “outfits” was the turquoise two-piece she wore to the VMAs. The tiny top and asymmetrical skirt were the perfect complement to her on-trend belly ring and spray-tanned skin. It’s a wonder there’s any bronzer and blonde hair extensions left on this Earth after that day.
Alex Apatoff, Senior Style Editor: All my best style moments since 1993 involve one or both Olsen twins. Only slightly joking, but I did love this time in their lives before they became Serious Fashionistas and were still wearing goofy things like cropped flared capris, ruched lace tops, and matching haircuts with David Spade. (Sincerely, I want to know why they are on the arms of David Spade to introduce an award. 2003 was a weird year.) They’ve had sillier outfits and more memorable moments, but this one perfectly captures that tipping point between their “adorable tween stars” personas and their current reign as “CFDA Award Winners” who wouldn’t be caught dead within fifty miles of the VMAs red carpet.
Brittany Talarico, Associate Style Editor: I bet you all forgot that Lindsay Lohan wore a purple mini dress with butt-framing, unzipped pockets on the back to the VMAs in 2008. That’s why I’m bringing it to your attention this Throwback Thursday, because really, it’s something that needs to be remembered. The detailing also exposed white satin liner, which popped against the eggplant color of her long-sleeve dress. I wonder if LiLo kept anything in there? A credit card? Lipgloss? As for the rest of the look, she went the matchy-matchy route with purple strappy sandals — catch the full length here — long blonde waves, and her most important accessory of the night — then-girlfriend Samantha Ronson.
Jackie Fields, Beauty Writer: With Rihanna, it’s never just about the outfit. When the singer showed up to the 2012 MTV VMAS in a white Adam Selman dress, it was her brand new pixie that stole the show. While the crop was amazingly chic, I want to pay homage to this sleek, backless gown. I know this isn’t one of those risk-taking moments she’s known for, but from the crisp silhouette to the knotted front, I give her major props for putting together such an elegant look on a red carpet that’s often about pushing the, er, envelope (meat dress, anyone?).
Who did we miss? Share your favorites below!