Michael Jackson: Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis Images
EW Staff
February 26, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

by Evan Serpick and Bob Cannon

As Michael Jackson prepares to launch version 4.0 of himself, many of his fashion staples — military epaulets, single sequined gloves — have beat it from his wardrobe. By mandate. According to stylists hired for recent Jackson photo shoots, Sony insists that fashion consultants sign a contract agreeing not to outfit the star in his old style relics. (Sony’s Michele Schweitzer downplayed the label’s role: ”Many artists have a standard contract when you do a photo shoot.”)

So what should the 21st century Jacko look like? No more socks and gloves, insists Rodney Jerkins, who’s worked on Jackson’s new album. ”He needs to change, come out totally fresh.” Tameka Foster, a stylist for Lauryn Hill and Toni Braxton, suggests a more subtle vibe. ”He’s always been larger than life. He needs to be a bit more regular.” Her suggestion? Cornrows and clothing that’s ”halfway between hip hop and haute couture.”

Jamie Kimmelman, an image consultant for Shania Twain and others, would dump the androgynous theatrics. Stealing a page from the recent men’s fashion shows, Kimmelman urges ”a return to gentlemanly elegance…impeccably tailored suits, but with a bright orange shirt and tie, and a lining [that] is bright orange satin, so it’s not a boring pinstriped banker’s suit.”

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