When it comes to talking about where today’s fashion gets a majority of its inspiration from, it’s virtually impossible not to mention black women. One specific area of black culture that definitely stands out when it comes to these iconic moments are music videos. As well as the amazing songs, lyrics and beats, all of us have had a desire at one point or another to recreate the quintessential looks conceptualised by black female artists in particular. A classic fit that has to be mentioned is Lil Kim from her music video Crush On You. To this day, we still take inspiration from the music video and wear the bralettes and fur coats or the colourful wigs and geometric sunglasses.
These outfits transcend trendsetting, as they helped us want to wear what we are told isn’t acceptable. They have broken down boundaries and barriers that were previously considered taboo, or even appropriate. Lil Kim wearing these looks in her music videos helped to popularize what some people thought was “ghetto.” Instead of being thought of in that sense, it made these fashion items wearable even if the credit wasn’t always linked back to us. Lil Kim was just one of the pioneers whose music videos put black girl’s fashion in the forefront of the public eye. Singers like Janet Jackson inspired multiple generations and other artists’ music videos with the looks she created in You Want This. The video told us we can be sexy and desirable while wearing box braids, crop tops and cargo trousers, all of which are still popular today. TLC had the Creep outfits inspire entire generations and made CrazySexyCool, their documentary and firsthand look inside of their fashion reality that focused on empowering girls and allowing us to feel confident whether dressed in a masculine or feminine manner.
In 2018, we look to stars like Beyoncé who have shown us time and time again how freeing it is to let a man we don’t need go, with her Hold Up music video and the iconic yellow dress that flowed as freely as she seemed to feel. Rihanna, one of the most prominent forces in fashion, beauty, and music, let us know how in the Bitch Better Have My Money music video it’s okay to be a boss and look good doing it too. With all of this, we have to understand that it’s so important to be able to see the impact that you can have as a black girl by just wearing what you want and being confident in it. There’s a sense of unparalleled empowerment that comes along with taking agency and control of your overall aesthetic and how you choose to present yourself to the world, no matter what you may be influenced by. This also shows us how important representation is in the black community, especially amongst powerful black female figures in the entertainment industry.
The black girls we see in these music videos have such an intergenerational impact and inspire the ways that the world dresses. It also lets us know who they are as people. These looks allow us to feel a sense of pride to be a part of the black community. Confidently dressed women will always be inspirational. Along with providing us with a corresponding soundtrack to our lives, they also serve as role models for self-importance, empowerment and fashion icons all in one.
Written by Adebimpe Adenusi