The Changing Looks Of Beyonce

Beyoncé's style has always been as fascinating as the singer herself. Vogue explains that while her "command of fashion has evolved throughout the years," in "each phase of her career she's utilized styling, costume, and runway pieces to express who she is as an artist and performer." Nowadays, she's a fashion icon. Even the Council of Fashion Designers of America thinks so, which is why they gave her that very title in 2016. While onstage to honor the star, CFDA Chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg told the crowd, "The image of a woman being in charge has never looked more glamorous and more desirable ... Talent, heart, strength, and courage. That is what true style is about and all of that is what Beyoncé is the best example of."

The musician herself used the opportunity to explain that for "as long as [she] can remember, fashion has been a part of [her] life." Its "effect" on her "started before [she] was born," thanks to the fact that Beyoncé's "grandmother was a seamstress" and taught Bey's mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, how to sew. "My mother designed my wedding dress, the dress I wore when I won my first Grammy ... the list goes on and on," Beyoncé continued. "... This to me is the true power and potential of fashion. It's a tool for finding your own identity, expression, and strength. It transcends style and is a time capsule of our greatest milestones."

Let's dive into some of Beyoncé's fashion milestones and aesthetic transformation over the years.

Young Beyoncé was adorable (and super talented!)

Born as Beyoncé Giselle Knowles on Sept. 4, 1981, in Houston, Texas, Biography notes that the future star "started singing at an early age, competing in local talent shows and winning many of these events by impressing audiences with her singing and dancing abilities." That's not surprising when you check out young Bey's performance of "Home" at the Sammy Awards when she was just seven years old! However, it took a little longer for her to develop her star-like style.

While Beyoncé was adorable as a baby and child, she says she "was a tomboy," and when on stage, her outfits were perfectly in line with the less-than-couture styles kids wore back then. For instance, her Sammy Awards ensemble included a simple white shirt, blue dress, and matching bows in her hair. While it was a far cry from the outfits she would eventually wear on stage, even then she had a sweetly captivating look.

As Beyoncé got older, the cute child that she was turned into a beautiful teenager. In 1996, she was a "freshman at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston," according to InStyle, and by that time, had started to develop a more mature look which included makeup and straight hair that had era-appropriate layers around the front — do you remember the Rachel? The young singer was also "already a part of Destiny's Child" at the time, which brought about the next stage in her style evolution.

Beyoncé's looks during her early Destiny's Child days

When Destiny's Child first came onto the scene in the late '90s — with four members, including Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, LeToya Luckett, and LaTavia Roberson (although there was also Farrah Franklin for a bit) — the group embraced its fair share of coordinated ensembles that were "a reflection on girl-group fashion," per Vogue. "Whether they were in matching sari prints refashioned into belly-baring tops and mini-dresses like the ones they chose for the 1998 Soul Train Awards or embraced the Tommy Girl aesthetic in logo-covered tube tops and overalls as they did for a store appearance that same year," the outlet noted, "the group maintained a singular style."

What you might not know is that it was Beyoncé's mom, Tina Knowles-Lawson, and her Uncle Jonny who designed the group's first costumes. The singer told the Council of Fashion Designers of America, "When we were starting out in Destiny's Child, high-end labels didn't want to dress four black country girls. We couldn't afford designer dresses. My mom was rejected from every showroom in New York."

However, Knowles-Lawson wasn't daunted. Instead, she "made each piece by hand ... individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls ... putting so much passion and love into every small detail," the singer recalled. "And when I wore these clothes onstage, I felt like I had an extra suit of armor," Beyoncé explained. "It was so much deeper than any brand name ... my mother and my uncle and my grandmother were with me ... I couldn't fail."

Beyoncé's style evolved with Destiny's Child

Although Destiny's Child swapped two members out and one in, the new trio — Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams — continued to wear matching ensembles. However, they also started to branch out with outfits that were a little more unique from each other, and at that time, Beyoncé started to really stand out.

"As their popularity grew so did the opportunities for individuality. No longer content to coordinate everything completely, each member began to showcase her personal style in subtle ways," according to Vogue. As for Beyoncé specifically, her "fashions often went in one of two directions: there were the streetwise and sexy casual looks that displayed a bit of sportiness via baseball caps or bandana tops and then there was all out, over the top glitz."

However, while Beyoncé's style was developing, she also popped up in what Vogue deemed "the pitfalls of early-aughts fashion." In the singer's case, this included an "overtly Southwestern orange fringe" that the group wore to the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, which "might seem excessive by today's standards," as well as the gown she chose for the Golden Globes in 2003 that was "corseted and embroidered" and simply "failed to do her justice." Then there were Destiny's Child's red-and-white nearly-tie-dye patterned dresses at the 2000 Billboard Music Awards, and those leather-studded ensembles, which were seen that same year, not to mention the bright yellow frilly gowns they wore at the 6th Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.

From blonde to black and even ombre hair

Along with starting to experiment with her fashion choices, Beyoncé was also fully willing to try out different hairstyles during the 2000s. Frankly, her penchant for experimenting with a range of cuts, colors, and coiffure configurations may not surprise you when you find out she "[grew] up in mom Tina Knowles' Houston hair salon," according to Elle. That's surely why she's fearlessly and fiercely switched from blonde strands to black hair, as well as ombre in both curly and straight versions. Beyoncé's also embraced natural curls, wears it down, opts for up-dos, and is willing try anything from sleek modern styles to retro arrangements (see pics above). Allure has deemed her "the queen of hair transformations" thanks to the fact that she's "experimented with nearly every style in the book over the past two decades," which includes everything from "white-blonde cornrows to baby bangs to thigh-length gladiator braids."

Just take a peek at the singer in 2000, when she "joined the ranks of blond bombshells like her idol Marilyn Monroe," per InStyle. Then there were her "ebony waves," which were "softened by brunet highlights." In 2008, Beyoncé appeared on the cover of the magazine, saying, "I was going to do the shorter hair ... that I had when I performed with Tina Turner at the Grammys ... which I loved. But I've decided to wear my hair straight instead."

Frankly, no matter what she does with it, Beyoncé's hair always tends to look amazing.

Beyoncé debuted her movie star image along with Austin Powers

Back in 2002, film-lovers were able to see Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can, Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man, and Natalie Portman in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. That was also the year that a 21-year-old Beyoncé made her film debut in Austin Powers in Goldmember. The real-life songstress played Foxxy Cleopatra, "a Motown singer who definitely is not Diana Ross," according to The Ringer. While the role wasn't her best — Foxxy was apparently "a walking amalgamation of blaxploitation tropes," and Vice has even asked, "How Often Do You Think Beyoncé Regrets Being in Goldmember?" (Ouch!) — her style in the movie was memorable. 

With an arguably exaggerated retro flair that apparently suited 1975 (which is when the film is based), she showed off an afro, gold eyeshadow, and leather and suede outfits. Vice called one of Foxxy's looks Beyoncé's "first Pokemon evolution form of the sun god she would later take at the Grammys," while adding that "Beyoncé — reserved, graceful, larger than life — is reduced to an exposed midriff shouting 'I'm Foxy Cleopatra, and I'm a whole lotta woman!'"

For the movie's Hollywood premiere, Beyoncé opted for a glittery dress and two-tone hair that was a modern version of the kind of ensemble that would have suited Foxxy. And while the flick may not be considered a classic, fans of the singer-actress will always be able to appreciate the style that marked Bey's first big role on the big screen.

A refined style for the solo artist

When Beyoncé struck out from Destiny's Child as a solo artist, her star continued to rise in Hollywood, and at the same time, she took her image to another level. Although she'd always been able to pull off the hippest and trendiest ensembles, Queen Bey began to show up at industry events with a refined style that truly reflected her new status. 

Vogue notes that at this time "she began to look to the runways, honing in on designer looks that reflected her inner power." Apparently, Beyoncé was "skipping the frou-frou in favor of sexy, body-conscious looks that demanded attention, she came into her own style-wise right as her hits began to dominate." Just take a look at her stunning Met Gala and Oscar ceremony appearances. That's not to mention Vogue's favorites amid this era of Bey's style, including the singer's "olive-toned Versace dress with ribbons crisscrossing the bodice" which "made an impression at the MTV Movie Awards in 2003, as did the slinky velvet Versace she wore to the Oscars in 2005." She topped this latter look off with dangling diamond earrings, a matching jeweled bracelet, and perfectly preened hair (see pic above). 

While she could be spotted in outfits by other notable names like Dolce & Gabbana, Beyoncé also opted for "refined pieces from couturiers Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, and Stephane Rolland," which "filled out her glamorous red carpet wardrobe" and became the envy of every style-savvy fan who began to watch Beyoncé for glamorous inspiration.

Beyoncé slays her mom style

In 2012, Beyoncé entered another phase in her life when she welcomed her daughter, Blue Ivy, into the world with her husband, Jay-Z. This was followed by the birth of their twins, Rumi and Sir, in 2017. Even before they were born, Bey's children have been involved in some of her most memorable style-related moments thanks to the fact that the star used highly-fashionable instances to announce her pregnancies.

The singer first revealed that she was first expecting at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, "walk[ing] the red carpet ... in a stunning red-orange Lanvin gown" while "cradling her bump for photos," according to Us Weekly. She then "dropped the mic" after performing, "unbuttoned her purple sequined blazer, and started rubbing her belly."

That stirred up as much buzz as her Instagram announcement regarding her pregnancy with the twins, which went viral in part because of what she was wearing (a burgundy bra, blue panties, and a green veil). As did her post with the twins one month following their birth, in which she posed in a "multicolored, ruffled ensemble was actually designed by Alejandro Gómez Palomo of the menswear line Palomo Spain," per Glamour. As Beyoncé's children have gotten older, she's continued to keep up her stylish mom ways by appearing in matching outfits with Blue Ivy. Felicia Jones, a Detroit-based makeup artist and consultant, told, "I think she will always be stylish in her own way, mom or not."

Ivy Park showed Bey's athletic side

In 2014, Beyoncé launched Ivy Park, an activewear brand that includes "clothing, footwear, and accessories across dance, fitness, and sports categories," per Vogue. The brand is super stylish and shows a different side of Beyoncé — i.e. her sporty, active side as opposed to her super-groomed red carpet or onstage looks.

Frankly, while strolling around in pieces from Ivy Park, Beyoncé becomes "living proof that you, too, can be a stylish superhero in your own life, no matter where you live and who you are," according to Elle. The star talked to the magazine in 2019, saying, "It incorporates my personal style and expands that to include something for everyone. I love experimenting with fashion, mixing high and low, sportswear with couture, even masculine and feminine." Beyoncé added that her "line is fun and lends itself to creativity, the ultimate power."

While that sounds impressive, the brand has also faced issues. Allure explains that Ivy Park "parted ways with its original retail partner, Topshop, in 2018 amid reports that [chairman of Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop] Philip Green had been accused of sexual assault." In time, Beyoncé "announced she and Ivy Park had found a new partner in Adidas." Beyond that, the musician and businesswoman now completely owns the company outright, which Elle notes makes "her one of the youngest women, and the only African American woman, to exercise 100 percent ownership of an athleisure brand." 

Obviously, Beyoncé is both style-savvy and business-savvy.

The influential singer started infusing politics into her fashion

Beyoncé made major statements with her style when she began to infuse her ensembles with cultural influences and political messages. Case in point: While fans were enthralled with her 2017 Super Bowl performance, it also stirred up strong reactions by showing "her support of 'Black Lives Matter,'" CNN noted, while explaining that "Beyoncé's back-up dancers were dressed in all black, with black berets and afros — reminiscent of the way members of the Black Panther Party dressed in the 1960s."

On top of that, Beyoncé performed at 2018 Coachella in a college sweatshirt and denim shorts that meant much more than what fans might have at first assumed. "Her show was replete with a long list of references to America's historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)," according to Variety. Everything from the "high-energy majorettes, marching band, step show, and probate that were part of her show are all prominent on HBCU campuses across the U.S." The same can be said for her outfit, which was a glammed-up version of what a student might wear to homecoming.

And then there were her "Formation" and Black Is King style choices, which were both filled with meaningful symbolism. For instance, in the "Formation" music video, take notice of the white and black clothing, which reflects both freedom and oppression. As for Black Is King, Time deemed the visual album "a glorious feast for the eyes that featured the rich range of cultures and countries of the African continent."

Beyoncé has moved on to avant-garde 'innovation' and 'experimentations'

Where could Beyoncé possibly go from there? Well, it's time to expect the unexpected. "When you've mastered queenly couture and worn some of the sexiest designers on the planet, the avant-garde is the only place left to go," according to Vogue. That's apparently one of the reasons why "in the last decade, Beyoncé['s] wardrobe on stage and off has been marked by a commitment to innovation." While she's still willing to "pull out favorite labels including Versace, Gucci, and Balmain, she is more than ever drawn to young talent, under-the-radar and affordable e-boutiques, and unexpected labels." 

This has resulted in some truly unique and unforgettable looks, such as the feathered Francesco Scognamiglio dress Beyoncé wore to the 2016 VMAs, which Mic pointed out "made her look like an actual angel." But thankfully, Beyoncé doesn't limit her extreme fashion choices to occasional events. Just check out her Instagram account, where she often posts about what she's wearing. If you love fashion, try not to drool over her larger-than-life hat and endless train, or her pantsuit that pieces together perfect colors, not to mention her sleek black dress with snowflake-like embellishments. Vogue notes that the star has "turned her social media into a showcase for her latest experimentations, posing in Natasha Zinko jackets, sold out Zimmermann day dresses, and layers of Jacquemus."

While Beyoncé's avant-garde phase is definitely a crowd-pleaser, it certainly leaves us wondering what's next when it comes to her ongoing aesthetic evolution.