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Prince's iconic style: Looking back at his unique influence on fashion

In the late ‘70s, a 19-year-old kid from Minneapolis came on the scene with an album called "For You" that mixed jazz, R&B, disco, rock and psychedelia — changing the history of music forever. But what people couldn’t tell just yet from spinning his arresting first album, was that he’d also change the face of fashion forever.

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    PRINCE

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

    Take a look back at Prince's unique style that made the visionary rock star so iconic.

  • 1980

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1980

    In a barely-there bottom, wool thigh-highs and cheetah print guitar strap, Prince performs in Detroit in December of 1980. In that same year, he released his album "Dirty Mind." 

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  • 1985

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1985

    To collect the award for Best International Artist at the 1985 BRIT Awards in London, Prince wore a rose gold brocade suit tricked out with sequins and jewels and topped off with hot pink fur.

    Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
  • 1985

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1985

    All-white (lace) everything — shirt, gloves, pants — for a performance at California's Fabulous Forum in 1985. 

    AP
  • 1985

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1985

    For his 1985 Purple Rain tour, Prince accented a ruffled poet blouse with a blazer fittingly bedazzled in purple sequins. 

    AP
  • 1986

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1986

    Goodbye curls and glitter. Prince turned up coy and crisp with smooth parted hairstyle and a sharp tux to present at the 1986 American Music Awards. 

    AP
  • 1991

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1991

    For the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, Prince rocked a canary yellow, laser-cut jumpsuit to perform his soon-to-be-released single “Gett Off.” Even more thrilling? The racy backside cut-out. 

    AP
  • 1997

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    1997

    What better way to set-off a white jacquard suit at a Los Angeles concert in 1997 than with lime-green lining?

    AP
  • 2004

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2004

    In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in New York City wearing a black-and-red pinstripe suit and a crimson fedora.

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  • 2004

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2004

    For Tiger Woods’ 7th Annual Tiger Jam in Las Vegas, Prince went for safari shades of gold, black and desert sand.

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  • 2004

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2004

    To surprise guests at the 10th Anniversary Essence Music Festival in New Orleans in 2004, Prince went incognito in a shaggy wig, quirky sunglasses and a thick false goatee.

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  • 2005

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2005

    In white pants and a matching hooded blazer, Prince presented the award for “Favorite Leading Lady” to Renee Zellweger at the 31st Annual People's Choice Awards in 2005. 

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  • 2005

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2005

    A pair of white-heeled leather boots and deep pockets completed the look.

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  • 2005

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

    of

    2005

    Later that same year, he performed at the 36th NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles, where he also received the organization’s prestigious Vangaurd Award, presented to a person whose groundbreaking work increases the understanding and awareness of racial and social issues.

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  • 2006

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2006

    At the 2006 BET Awards, Prince rocked a boxy black pinstripe suit and a shawl collar to accept the Male R&B Award.

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  • 2007

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2007

    In February 2007, Prince stole the show at halftime of Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in a legendary performance. His turquoise suit and orange undershirt were a nod to the host team, the Miami Dolphin’s, colors. 

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  • 2007

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2007

    A black turban topped off his Super Bowl look. 

    AP
  • 2007

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

    of

    2007

    In a turtleneck and lace-up white blazer  at the 2007 NCLR ALMA Awards, his famous symbol was displayed prominently around his neck. 

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  • 2008

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2008

    At Coachella in 2008, Prince wore a white kurta tunic embellished with metallic pegs. A low neckline revealed one of many signature statement necklaces. 

    AP
  • 2009

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2009

    Seen here in a psychedelic black-and-white printed shirt for a Los Angeles show in 2009. 

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  • 2010

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2010

    For the 2010 BET Awards, Prince wore a custom turtleneck tunic that featured an illustration of his face, bell sleeves and his signature symbol insignia. 

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  • 2011

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

    of

    2011

    At the Stade de France outside of Paris, Prince rocked a white kimono-style vest, mustard-color blouse and tiered gold necklace.

    AFP - Getty Images
  • 2012

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2012

    To perform with Mary J. Blige at the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Prince took cover under a bronze face mask, yellow leggings and fiery top that matched his guitar.

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  • 2013

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2013

    Black fringe, Kermit green jumpsuit and silver jewelry completed the look at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.

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  • 2013

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2013

    Recording artist Prince performs during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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  • 2015

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2015

    In 2015, Prince channeled his ‘70s self in matching iridescent orange separates and long jangly necklaces at the Grammys.

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  • 2015

    Prince's iconic style and fashion

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    2015

    In mellow gold and yellow at the 2015 American Music Awards. 

    WireImage

Prince took the visual aspect of performance as seriously as the music itself, creating genre and gender-bending looks that complemented his raunchy, seductive and sensual sound.

Michael Ochs Archives
Prince performs live at the Fabulous Forum on February 19, 1985 in Inglewood, California.

He paired a love and fondness for the opulent and over-the-top (like ruffles, lace, brocade and sequins) with an appreciation for sleek lines and forms (like contour-grazing hot pants, swing-y bell bottom sleeves and elongating tunics). And who could forget his penchant for purple — making this universal color his signature.

Sure, no one sounded like Prince, but no one dressed like Prince either. And that was just the way he liked it.

“All people care about nowadays is getting paid, so they try to do just what the audience wants them to do,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1982. “I'd rather give people what they need rather than just what they want.” For this genius, that meant backless jumpsuits, Lycra, leopard print, pinstripe suits and everything in between. Here, our tribute to the fearless fashion icon.

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Prince's death sparks dance parties, tributes as more details of death revealed

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