To say that I’m a Jennifer Lopez fan would be an understatement — I love every movie that she’s been in, whether it’s good, like The Wedding Planner or it’s so bad it’s good like The Boy Next Door. And I feel like every time her name comes up in conversation in recent years — whether it’s when she upstaged Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé in the most naked of naked dresses (and looked damn good doing it) at the 2015 Met Gala or when she hosted and opened the 2015 AMAs in little more than a skintight DSquared bodystocking, everyone always says, “J. Lo looks incredible.”
I get it—at 46, that famous derriere is in the best shape it’s ever been in, and her career (and her face!) seemingly don’t age. Her red carpet style has basically devolved into a tried-and-true formula that works well for her—form-fitting, usually sparkly, usually Zuhair Murad (this year’s goldenrod Giambattista Valli Haute Couture gown at the Golden Globes was a welcome exception).
But the fact of the matter is that she’s ALWAYS looked good, especially when she was still Jenny from the Block. When she arrived on the scene, she was the flyest of the fly girls on In Living Color, and later, somewhere between her time and eventual breakup with Diddy (this era is marked by that notorious down-to-there-slit-up-to-here Versace dress) and her engagement and eventual breakup with Ben Affleck, she hit her stride (at least for me).
Was there anyone who embodied the early ’00s more than J. Lo? During this time, she not only released many of her hits and starred in some of her best movies, but was one half of the first celeb couple name (hello, Bennifer!), launched multiple labels (clothing! beauty!), and wore outfits that I only dreamed of—lots of fur and hip-hugger jeans come to mind.
When I was a preteen, J. Lo always seemed like a larger-than-life glamorous force to me. She wore midriff-baring tops and low-slung jeans with body jewelry, headscarves with large sunglasses (our girl Jenny has never been afraid to accessorize), and velour sweatsuits, drawing style inspiration it seemed from everywhere—street style reminiscent of her Bronx upbringing, ’60s-era louche divaness, and a healthy dash of hip-hop. She was completely and unapologetically herself, taking style risks, never shying away from sparkle, sexuality, or her curves.
Who can forget her “I’m Real” video, where she’s wearing a pink Juicy Couture shorts sweatsuit, complete with gold hoop earrings and lots of little gold necklaces? Her skin is glowing, she’s dancing like a queen, and I honestly would wear exactly the same outfit now if a) I looked like that, and b) Ja Rule would come dance with me.
Now, J. Lo’s style is still sexy, still insanely cool, but doesn’t have quite the brashness of yesteryear. There’s no huge pink diamond engagement ring being flashed shamelessly at press calls, instead, boy toy Casper Smart accompanies her without little to no fanfare. Former slicked-down ponytails and crazy curls are replaced by sleek blowouts, and Juicy Couture sweatsuits have been pushed aside by Gucci campaigns. Maybe it’s a rite of passage, but, J. Lo, I’ll never forget your early ’00s steeze.