On stage: Style Evolution of Musicians 

By Ellen Hickey 

Artists not only change their music within the duration their careers, but also their style. The style evolution of celebrities, in particular musicians, is not only drastic, but it helps the artist to stand out from other performers. Artist’s fashion choices reflect their personal growth and contribute to their unique identities within the music industry.

In his boy band era, Harry Styles was known for his curly locks, not his clothing. Nonetheless, his performance clothing consisted of neutral colours, t-shirts, jeans, trainers, and the occasional bandana. At this time, there was nothing significant about his fashion choices .He dressed like any ordinary young man. That all changed when he left One Direction and started his solo career.

Nowadays, Harry Styles is known for his colourful outfits, patterned clothing, sequins, flares, and funky t-shirts. His fashion is more feminine and fun, in comparison to his One Direction days. Many fans were inspired by his looks on Love on Tour (HSLOT), and wore similar clothing to what the pop icon displayed throughout the worldwide tour. The influence of his style on fans during the Love on Tour is a testament to the impact that a musician’s fashion can have on their audience. It is safe to say that Harry Styles’ style can never be recreated by another artist, it is simply curated for the popular musician to showcase his fun, wild, and energetic personality.

Ariana Grande was the original coquette ‘it girl’. Arianators were obsessed with the pop princess’ style, which included bows, high heels, mini dresses/mini skirts, and lace. Her hair was a major part of her fashion evolution, and her half-up half-down hairstyle was known as part of her signature look. Although she had many different eras of her life and career, her style has not had a major change on stage over the years.

Ariana Grande’s style evolution, though not as drastic, demonstrates a gradual maturity and sophistication. Recently, Ariana Grande performed on Saturday Night Live (SNL), her first tv performance since she was casted as Glinda for the Wicked movie. The recent performance on SNL reflects her transition into a more mature image while maintaining a sense of individuality. Her style grew up with her and shows womanhood in a trendy, but sophisticated way. Although her hair is now blonde, and her fashion sense has matured, her style evolution is still specialised to her and her career choices.

Madonna has the most controversial style evolution of all musicians thus far. Madonna is a force to be reckoned with, as she is a pop icon that millions of people around the world adore. Not only is her music iconic, her fashion looks are too. The more scandalous, the better! The world-renowned popstar was never a stranger to making her performance outfits cause a scene. Many of her outfits included corsets, lace, structured fitting tops, and mesh, which contributed to her grunge, alternative, and abstract style.

Despite being in her seventies, Madonna continues to embrace her wild and empowering persona, challenging societal expectations regarding age-appropriate dressing.  Although the infamous musician still wears corsets, and ultra mini dresses, she has stayed true to her portrayal of herself within the music industry. Her confidence and unapologetic expression through fashion contribute to her iconic status in the music industry. Some people may feel conflicted about her extreme fashion sense, while others admire her style because it shows that you can dress whatever way you want at any age. Either way, Madonna will continue to embrace the wild, free and entertaining persona that brought her fame and riches through her performance attires. 

Ultimately, performance clothing showcases how musicians can use their style as a creative outlet, evolving over time to reflect personal growth, changing career trajectories, and a desire to stand out in a competitive industry. The fashion choices of Harry Styles, Ariana Grande, and Madonna serve as examples of the diverse and impactful ways in which artists express themselves through their image. Their fashion evolutions help the public to understand them as an artist, as their stage outfits capture their performance alter ego visually.


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