The King of Style

by Lorette C. Luzajic - on May 16, 2010

No one on earth could get away with Michael Jackson’s outlandish aesthetic. His style went way beyond the iconic fedora and glitter glove. Jackson brought fashion to a new level by redefining masculinity, layering patterns and colours, and experimenting with tailoring. He was always conscientious about creating a memorable silhouette. His personal shyness and vitiligo meant that he seldom showed much skin: the effect this had was incredible, making a low cut neckline or exposed shoulder absolutely smoldering.

Attention to detail was constant in his wardrobe as with all other aspects of his superstardom. He seized on the classic appeal of the military uniform, softening its hard lines with a feminine touch and some glamourous swagger. Michael Jackson knew, too, that you must have a few eccentric trademark elements to make you instantly recognizable ; a few signature moves that might make little sense. These perfect imperfections stamp your style. For example, the white socks and floods look will forever carry the groove and rhythm of Michael Jackson. Whenever someone wears white socks and loafers, those around him or her will think of Michael whether or not they meant to. The umbrella has also become part of Jackson’s apparel, a distinctive part of his silhouette.

Michael Jackson also took fashion risks. Wearing a flawless ensemble every time would be too predictable- giant “mistakes” generated public buzz and contrasted with alternate style statements. Plus, by wearing outlandish costumes that sometimes went over the top, Jackson toyed with mass cultural definitions of beauty, and created some parody of celebrity style. He paraded around like an eccentric royalty figure- to be the King of Pop, you must dress the part. But the more garish extravaganzas were reminders, too, not to take your billions of dollars and style icon status too seriously- fashion should be fun.

Finally, I must comment on the false impressions left to many by the media. Before “This Is It” imagery, where casual rehearsal outfits show the King to be King of style, most of the world thought Jackson was coming apart at the seams. He wore pajamas into court, stumbling out of bed in a daze, right? The pajama picture is shown ad nauseum as some kind of proof of the man’s deterioration and complete confusion. In truth, this much repeated photo is on one day of dozens of endless days at trial. Michael Jackson, who had several autoimmune disorders including lupus and vitiligo, and who was unfortunately frail, who worked so hard that he often broke himself, was in the hospital being treated for extreme pain and possibly respiratory difficulties. The judge refused to wait and Jackson was plucked out of treatment and whisked directly to court. He threw a blazer over his pajama pants.

The rest of the trial apparel showed him impeccably tailored, regal, and subdued (for Jackson!).

Jackson’s sphere of influence is so profound that the past forty years of fashion have frequently revolved around versions of his outfits. The cuts, the lines, the sequins, the hats, the armbands, even the finger bandages, of all things, have come in and out of vogue. Indeed, the pajama debacle made its way around as well with “how to’s” for achieving the look that “only Jackson” could “pull off.”

While a segment of the populace may find fault in the fabulous frippery of his frocks, I for one expect to be entertained by the emperor of entertainment. Jackson was an entertainer. A master entertainer. His job didn’t stop when the concert ended or the CD finished. Jackson studied the circus, the silent films, the early comedies, the huge sci fi extravaganzas, the royalty of Hollywood women, the crooners, cartoons, pirates, and film noir. And he took his cues accordingly, and dressed the part.

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