A Brief History of Women Wearing Suits in Music Videos

Arielle Dachille
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Beyoncé‘s latest music video, “Haunted,” is about 60% “Sleep No More,” 30% “American Horror Story,” and 10% Vogue Italia Editorial. It also features a killer HBIC-inspired wardrobe, including a smoking jacket, tinsel-embroidered tuxedo pants, and a show-stopping cape.

MORE: 12 Starlets Who Killed it in Suits on the Red Carpet

With this foray into menswear-influenced fashion, Beyoncé joins the ranks of a number of high-powered female pop stars who chose to sport gender-bending looks in highly stylized videos.

Among the dapper dandies that have sported a solid pinstripe suit in a music video: Madonna redefined power-glam in her satin suit in “Vogue,” as well as “Express Yourself.” Annie Lennox’s simple and sleek ensemble in “Sweet Dreams are Made of These” made a serious imprint on the collective pop cultural unconscious. Even the typically scantily-clad Britney Spears rocked a smoldering suit in “Me Against The Music.” Beyond simply wearing the pants, these ladies animate the pants, bringing them to a new level of power, sexuality, and style.

Sure, Justin Timberlake was debonair his suit and tie, but these fantastic females rocked a suit just as well (if not better) than the guys. (Don’t worry, we put the Beyoncé video in there, too — if you haven’t watched it yet, you must!)

Madonna in “Vogue”

Madge is serving up some serious power-suit realness in this veritable fashion mini-movie. The Queen of Pop owns the floor in this satin two-piece set, working like the rent is due tomorrow.

Bonus Madonna: “Express Yourself”

 Annie Lennox in The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”

From her leather gloves to her perfectly buttoned-up oxford shirt, Annie Lennox is a complete master of the universe. Look up ‘badass’ in the dictionary, and there will be a picture of her in this video.

Whitney Houston in “I Will Always Love You”

Those pinstripes! Those lapels! Those shoulder-pads! Whitney Houston’s ’80s power suit in this triumphant ballad really means business … just like her pipes.

TLC in “Red Light Special”

In the video for this early ’90s anthem of making love down by the fire, Left Eye wears a bright yellow zoot suit fit for a serious hustler. Talk about a lady pimp.

Grace Jones in “Pull Up To The Bumper”

Grace Jones can wear a suit any time, anywhere, even as a phantom in the sky, and she will always bring the house down.

Opposites Attract – Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul doing the running man alongside MC Scat Cat in her ’80s-does’40s tweed suit will always be one of the most fabulously goofy images of pop culture. Ladies can do anything the fellas can, especially the cartoon cat fellas.

Janet Jackson in “Nasty”

Janet Jackson – Nasty (Music Video) from Mary Lambert, Director on Vimeo.

Miss Jackson gave her brother a run for his money in the dancing department in the music video for her single — “Nasty.” Outfitted in a men’s dinner jacket and a pair of matching pants, Jackson looks like she jacked the best Gaultier from the coat room.

Britney Spears in “Me Against The Music”

Sure, Britney isn’t wearing a real shirt under this pantsuit, but that’s a real interesting twist on a tie, right? Plus, Madonna’s three-piece white suit it everything we’d dream of to wear to a City Hall wedding.

Janelle Monae in “Tightrope”

Janelle Monae’s suit game is beyond tight in the unflappably charming video. After watching this three-minute long musical party, you’ll be convinced that swapping your wardrobe for a library of suits is the best idea ever.

Lady Gaga in “Born This Way”

Gaga is the fanciest skeleton that ever lived in this offbeat tux. Killing. It.

Jenny Lewis in “Just One Of The Guys”

Jenny Lewis’ three-piece printed suit is the stuff your Lisa Frank sartorial dreams are made of. Honorable mention goes to Anne Hathaway and Kristen Stewart, who make formidable contributions to this drag-dressing girl gang.

Beyonce in “Haunted”

When she drops that cape to reveal her killer ensemble, the whole world loses its breath. All hail the Queen.

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