The VMAs are our favorite awards show, simply because it always looks like the celebs’ favorite. You can’t pull off purple hair to the Oscars, but something about MTV makes celebs want to show a little more personality (maybe it’s that whole “ratings” thing.) Whatever the reason, the late-August award show is known for daring style that becomes iconic. As we prepare for Miley Cyrus to host the show this Sunday, we revisited some of our favorite looks from over the years – and those we just couldn’t look away from.
1Lil Kim, 1999
Watch as Lil Kim waves to the haters from an outfit that has remained incredible for over fifteen years.
2Destiny’s Child, 2001
Ah, the matching outfit Destiny days. Depending on your thoughts on fringe and the type of jewelry you buy at the New Mexico airport, this could top a best- or worst-dressed list. Either way, we haven’t forgotten it since 2001 (Sorry B!).
3Lady Marmalade, 2001
The Moulin Rouge theme song won Video of the Year in 2001, but these “sexy french” outfits – and that catchphrase – way outlived the ladies’ live performance.
4Christina Aguilera, 2002
Thankfully we’ve all moved on past Xtina’s Dirrty years, but the tiny jean skirts I forced my mom to buy me all throughout high school remain as proof that this look really happened. Her flame-red eyeshadow remains on-point.
5Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey, 2003
Just imagine: This pantsuit is probably displayed at a Hard Rock Cafe in Florida somewhere.
6Lindsay Lohan, 2005
Ten years ago, the VMAs were held in Miami Beach and LiLo captured some of that pre-Great Recession devil-may-care attitude with a swept bang, hoop earrings and a lace bra peeking out of her leopard print dress.
The style buzz in ’07 was about Rihanna debuting her new short haircut. Now, we have to get excited over her eyebrows.
8Nicki Minaj, 2011
Nicki broke into some small child’s closet and turned it into a red carpet outfit. Don’t you almost miss the days when she dressed like this?
9Lady Gaga, 2013
Lady Gaga broke out her usual wigs and even some facepaint in her opening performance at the 2013 VMAs, but something about this Prabal Gurung felt like the exact right mix of formal and vampishly on-brand for her arrival gown.
10Jennifer Lopez, 2014
There’s a special room in heaven that’s simply looking at J. Lo’s awards show dresses on a loop. This Charbel Zoe dress is pure Jenny magic.