an ode to the shoulder pad



My friend Matt is an avid movie-watcher and critic, and he's good at it. Recently on his clever blog Reel to Reel he featured The Wiz, a musical from the 70s that Michael Jackson was a part of. He gave me an idea to focus on Michael Jackson's fashion here, and after watching hours of videos and looking up article after article (which isn't hard right now, news on Michael is still all over the place), I went for it.


I know Michael's personal life was most likely crap, but he was a musical icon. There's no denying that. He earned the title 'King of Pop' not just what he did for music, but what he did for the look and feel of music. He brought the show back to the music industry. He was a true entertainer. Nearly every one of his videos tells a story, and many of them are close to 10 minutes due to opening cinematics and credits, etc., just like a short film.


Wow, his fashion. When I see Michael Jackson, I'm used to thinking fedoras (can I take this moment to tell you that I absolutely hate fedoras and will never own one?), the white glove, the military style suit coats. But there was more to it than that. He had a knack at combining soft, preppy looks with leather and shine and managing to not make it look over-the-top or mismatched. I was surprised at the multitude of bow ties he wore and I learned that he was a part of the v-neck t shirt movement, which I love on guys. Also, those great open vests and the myriad of glitz, sequins, and jewels.


Michael Jackson had an edge.






That is what I miss in my wardrobe right now. An edge. I love feminine pastels and florals, but I need more leather bomber jackets and wild 80s prints and torn up tights. And big hair. Should I perm it up?


My favorite time period for Michael Jackson was the early 80s because not only did you see a heavy biker influence with a lot of shine, he wore softer leather jackets, skinny jeans, and bow ties very well. Even some pastels and golfer hats. Lots of black and white shiny shoes on this man, too. I'm not complaining.


Here are some observations I made while watching video after video of MJ..


Beat It - High collars, colorful sneakers, awesome headbands, macho man high water pants.. of course, Michael's piano shirt. Lots and lots of shoulder pads. My favorite, fashion-wise, of his videos.


Thriller - Is that girl wearing a blue leopard print outfit? Ok, two Michael Jackson trends I hate - fedoras and animal print. Doesn't change the fact that this music video is an awesome mini movie.


Don't Stop Til You Get Enough - He rolled up his sleeves and never looked back.


Smooth Criminal - I'm most amazed by his dancing in this video. Cool 1920s speakeasy theme with a neat white suit. Cut your hair, Michael.


The Way You Make Me Feel - Does anyone else love the girl's boots in that video? And I love the set. It's kind of a friendly version of Blade Runner.


Bad - How many choreographed fight scenes can we take, Michael? He must have watched a lot of West Side Story when he was younger.


Black or White - Great that he kept his colors to black and white! Obviously due to the name of the video, but also - he's got so much going on around him, with the Indian and the Native American fashion and everything in between, that he doesn't need a lot of color on himself. And of course, that awesome v-neck.


The influence Michael Jackson has over the fashion world is widespread, and we'll see it now more than ever, I think. As just one example of many, Christophe Decarnin's Balmain line has recently been influenced by Michael Jackson. By using mostly black and white as well as a lot of sparkle, a little bit of military detail (especially in the boots), and a lot of sharp, high shoulders, Decarnin really captured what Michael is known for. Here are a few examples from Autumn/Winter of this year.



Check out the rest of the collection here.


Also, where can you find anything and everything? Etsy, of course! My favorite online community, it holds the secrets to a successful Michael Jackson wardrobe. Here are some great Michael Jackson-esque finds.


SWEET TEETH by Cubist Literature


Vintage Velvet Clip-On by Mouse Trap Vintage


Vintage Spectators by Simply Maggie May



What are your favorite Michael Jackson trends, videos, and memories?