She's a Slave 4 Fashion
On Sept. 6, 2001, Britney Spears performed “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the MTV Video Music Awards. She was wowing the crowd with her fierce dance moves, as usual, when one of her backup dancers handed her an enormous albino python named Banana, which she draped over her shoulders. Then the Princess of Pop, undeterred by the massive reptile slithering across her outstretched arms, continued the performance. In honor of the anniversary of this groundbreaking use of live animals as accessories (PETA, we should note, did not approve), we’ve collected 15 of Britney’s most wild, daring, and all-around outrageous looks of all time. Check out her most major fashion statements ahead.
1999: The “...Baby One More Time” Music Video
The white shirt tied at the waist. The gray cardigan. The fluffy-scrunchied pigtails. This was the look that launched Britney’s sartorial takeover of the late ‘90s. Her loneliness may have been killing her, but this rebellious schoolgirl getup — not to mention the brilliant dance moves performed in it — slayed all the rest of us.
1999: The “(You Drive Me) Crazy” Music Video
Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier may appear in this video — just in case it wasn’t 1999 enough — but the real star is Britney’s princess-seamed, square-necked, shimmery green crop top, which allowed for both maximum dance maneuvering and maximum midriff exposure.
2000: Onstage at the VMAs
Britney began her reign as queen of the VMAs with this 2000 performance, which began with a cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” for which she wore a natty black suit and fedora. As she transitioned into “Oops! …I Did It Again,” however, she tore off the suit and threw the hat into the crowd to reveal this sparkly nude bra top and matching pants (flares, naturally, because this was the year 2000), and a major VMA moment was born.
2000: The “Oops! …I Did It Again” Music Video
Britney has lyrically explored her evident outer space fixation on Britney Jean’s “Alien” (one of the only pretty good tracks on that misfire of an album) and Glory’s romantic “Man on the Moon,” but her first foray into the final frontier — in the legendary, Titanic-referencing “Oops! …I Did It Again” video — is still her best, and this out-of-this-world red jumpsuit proves it.
2000: The Billboard Music Awards Red Carpet
When it’s the year 2000 and you’re Britney Spears, you can get away with a lot, including this outlandish ensemble. Maybe. Almost.
2001: The Super Bowl XXXV Halftime Show
When Britney performed alongside Aerosmith and *NSYNC at the 2001 Super Bowl, she got sporty, pairing a teeny tiny Aerosmith T-shirt with some truly strange, studded, striped, shiny white Nike flares. She topped off the look with an actual tube sock worn as a — sleeve? Arm-warmer? Fingerless glove? The point is: No matter who won the Super Bowl in 2001, Britney emerged as the fashion champion of the night.
2001: The AMAs red carpet, With Justin Timberlake
The year was 2001. The event was the American Music Awards. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wore his-and-hers allover denim. He added a hat. She opted for diamonds. Thirteen years later, Katy Perry and Riff Raff paid tribute to the look at the 2014 VMAs, but there can be no question of which pair of pop stars wore the jean-sembles best.
2001: Onstage at the VMAs
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. We would just like to point out that Britney already looked incredible before she added Banana the python to her “I’m a Slave 4 U” costume, which was embellished within an inch of its life with rhinestones, floaty scarves, and what appear to be keychains hanging off her shorts. Add a bright yellow snake to that and you’ve got a pop outfit for the ages.
2002: The VMAs Red Carpet
In the break between her showstopping VMA performances of 2001 and 2003, Britney didn’t let the awards show forget who its true star was, appearing on the red carpet preceding the 2002 ceremony in this daring black getup. From the hat to the lacy gloves to the knee-high lace-up pointy-toed stilettos, it’s so much of a look that only early-2000s Britney could ever pull it off.
2003: The MTV Bash
Four years before she dubbed herself “Mrs. Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous,” Britney was already making self-aware commentary about how the media used and abused her. At the 2003 MTV Bash, she made clear that if she’s going to be all over Page Six, it’s only fair that Page Six (Six Six) is all over her (just not all over her toned abs). Point well made, Mrs. Oh-My-God-That-Britney’s-Shameless.
2003: The “Toxic” Music Video
The music video for Britney’s greatest track boasts two iconic Brit looks: the campy turquoise stewardess costume and this shockingly sheer, strategically bedazzled jumpsuit. What can we say? We’re addicted to “Toxic” Britney.
2003: Onstage at the VMAs, with Madonna and Christina Aguilera
The third installment of Britney’s trifecta of legendary VMA shows was assisted by Madonna; after performing a cover of “Like a Virgin” along with Christina Aguilera, both wearing corseted wedding dresses with countless strands of pearls — a nod to Madge’s own iconic 1984 VMA look — the Queen of Pop herself joined the two starlets onstage and planted a kiss on each of them.
2011: The “Till the World Ends” Music Video
All of Britney’s various outfits in the “Till the World Ends” music video are instant classics, especially this ultra-studded leather jacket and shredded black leotard, worn with ripped stockings and fingerless leather gloves. If this is what we’ll all be wearing when the world comes to an end, bring on the apocalypse.
2016: Onstage at the BBMAs
Britney made her triumphant return to the awards-show circuit at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, where she performed a medley of some of her biggest hits wearing this sparkly red bikini. The color reminded us of the “Oops!” video, the strands of beads reminded us of the python-assisted “Slave 4 U” outfit; and the energy with which she owned the stage let us know that the Princess of Pop hadn’t gone anywhere.
2016: The VMAs Red Carpet
Following her success at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, Britney reclaimed the stage that she had once owned completely — the VMAs, where she hadn’t performed since an unfortunate show in 2007. For her 2016 comeback performance, she wore a tiny, sparkly yellow leotard. Her greatest fashion moment of the night, however, came on the carpet before the show, where she wore this stunning black dress with a down-to-there cutout. She didn’t even need to take the stage to send the (sartorial) message she needed: She’s Britney, bitch, and she’s back.