12 Controversial Miley Cyrus Outfits That Caused A Stir

Miley Cyrus has never been one to shy away from controversy. Almost from the moment she burst onto television screens as the star of The Disney Channel show "Hannah Montana," Cyrus has courted headlines thanks to her behavior, mystifying musical directions, and some truly wild fashion. "I carried some guilt and shame around myself for years because of how much controversy and upset I really caused," Cyrus told British Vogue in 2023. However, she's come to recognize that she wasn't necessarily responsible for all of the backlash, and a lot of the vitriol was the result of a harsh, unforgiving media landscape. "I was harshly judged as a child by adults and now, as an adult, I realise that I would never harshly judge a child," she said.

Many of her most outrageous looks have led to a lot of pearl-clutching from society, leading a lot of people to ask how a former role model could wear something so scandalous. Still others have pushed the limits of good taste, inviting jokes from people who simply couldn't be bothered to interpret any sort of artistic intent behind Cyrus's attention-grabbing garments. The feedback has occasionally been vicious and cruel, pointed, and sometimes seriously sexist. The following outfits, in particular, caused a serious stir.

The satin sheet

In 2008, at the height of her "Hannah Montana" fame, Miley Cyrus posed on the cover and in the pages of Vanity Fair. She was only 15 when Annie Leibovitz took photos of her wearing only a sheet; however, Cyrus claimed she wasn't nervous about the shoot. "I mean I had a big blanket on. And I thought, This looks pretty, and really natural," she said. "I think it's really artsy."

The rest of the world disagreed, to put it mildly. Mommy blogger Lin Burress told CNBC, "Parents should be extremely concerned. Very young girls look up to Miley Cyrus as a role model." A Disney spokeswoman echoed those concerns, telling the outlet, "A situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines." The New York Post put her on the front page under a massive headline reading "Miley's Shame" ; in the online version of the article, called "Miley Bares Her Torment," the teen sensation claimed that she was embarrassed by the uproar. "I never intended for any of this to happen, and I apologize to my fans, who I care so deeply about," she said.

With a decade's distance, Cyrus took back her mea culpa. She took to X (then Twitter) to share a photo of the New York Post's "Miley's Shame" cover and announced, "IM NOT SORRY. F**K YOU. #10yearsago."

Her Cheap Trick look

With the release of her 2010 album, "Can't Be Tamed," Miley Cyrus moved away from her Disney-approved image — and fans were none too pleased. One young fan told The New York Times, "She used to be more kid-friendly, sweeter. Now she is just Miley." Another commented, "I wish she'd be the same as the show."

Cyrus, however, told BBC Radio 1 that she wasn't interested in criticism from people who were concerned about her more adult image, noting that everyone goes through growing pains, but not everyone has them splashed all over the Internet for people to comment on. "They can think what they want ... I think those are people who are just close-minded and don't understand art," she said (via The Toronto Sun).

To support her new album, she made a series of club appearances across Europe, and Cyrus selected some revealing fashion to match her new grown-up image. In June of that year, she performed at a club in Paris wearing a cropped Cheap Trick shirt with low-rise jeans and multiple belts. People mocked the look on Twitter, including one person who wrote, "Miley Cyrus was seen wearing a Cheap Trick shirt while performing in Paris, and no it wasn't referring to the band." Cyrus was only 17 at the time, remember!

She looked back at the Cheap Trick look years later in a video for British Vogue, pointing out the four Balmain belts that she chose to accessorize with. "I wore this because I felt like it was protective, and I also felt like it was a complete difference from Hannah Montana's style," she said. "I had been a character so long, so this was the beginning of like, developing who Miley would be."

The risky and risqué Hole Dress

The very same week that Miley Cyrus made a splash at a Paris club, she moved on to London to continue her "Can't Be Tamed" club tour. At London's G-A-Y nightclub, Cyrus donned the Hole Dress by Danielle Scutt for Topshop. "I wore a dress I knew would piss everybody off," Cyrus later confessed on X, formerly Twitter. "It took a lot of guts because people around me were saying I would lose all my fans and my career would be over."

The appearance did indeed cause waves, especially in the United Kingdom. The Daily Mail called it "her raunchiest performance yet," speaking with people in attendance who claimed that her undergarments were visible through the dress's risque cutouts. TMZ's coverage of the outfit suggested that the look would've been fitting on Taylor Momsen, another former child star gone wild. 

The plunging suit jacket dress

In 2012, Miley Cyrus showed up to the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas wearing a very bold look. In addition to teased hair, Cyrus opted for a Gaultier dress that took the form of a suit jacket with nothing underneath, a look that showed off some serious cleavage. We were still a year out from the "Wrecking Ball" video, so the look showed off more of Cyrus than fans were used to seeing.

Speaking with E! Online, the "Party in the U.S.A." singer explained, "It was the only thing on the rack that I even tried on, because I liked it." She also joked around with the interviewer, insisting that she was unable to really move too much in the look. "I'm very taped," she said. "My hair, face, everything ... can't move."

The breast-baring blazer caused consternation online. "I think you might say Miley Cyrus is trying too hard to be something she's not?" one observer mused on X, while another suggested that she was trying to copy Rihanna's daring fashion sense. When the dust settled on the awards ceremony, Business Insider named Cyrus' outfit one of the "craziest looks" of the night.

A very punk Meta Gala gown

2013 would prove to be a banner year for Miley Cyrus. In June, she launched "We Can't Stop," the first single from her industry-shaking album "Bangerz." Two months earlier, however, Cyrus gave fans a preview of her raunchy new image when she showed up to the Met Gala in a sheer Marc Jacobs dress paired with blonde spiky hair. That year's theme was "Punk: Chaos to Couture," and if nothing else, she sure fit the brief.

Fans were surprised to see Cyrus looking like this. In an interview on the red carpet, Cyrus told the arrivals livestream host that the look was inspired by Morticia Addams, a comparison that didn't go over well with everyone online (via MTV News). "Shakes head in disappointment," one person tweeted, drawing the reply, "Oh these delusions of [grandeur]! Oy very!" E! News later dubbed the look one of the "most controversial Met Gala outfits ever."

The "Used To Be Young" singer looked back at the outfit a decade later in a video for British Vogue. "Even though I knew it wasn't going to be completely understood or accepted by everyone," she said, "that's the point of the Met Ball ... to do something that will cause conversation and, you know, possibly controversy." Cyrus joked that ultimately, considering what she would go through just a few short months later, her shocking Met Gala updo was "one of the least controversial things I did that year."

The teddy bear costume

At the VMAs in 2013, Miley Cyrus performed "We Can't Stop" while dressed in a sculpted, felted teddy bear corset. The bear winked and stuck its tongue out, its two ears forming the bra cups. Cyrus wore her hair in two tiny buns, pairing them with a bold red lip. "This wouldn't have been as bad without the weird teddy bear theme..." one YouTube commenter pointed out.

In fact, the existence of the teddy bear outfit proved to be a flashpoint for controversy. The Teddy Bear Fund, a charity that gives stuffed animals to children, spoke with TMZ about how disappointed they were in the look. "Miley made a poor choice to use a universally loved children's teddy bear in an offensive way," the organization told the outlet. "There is always good art and bad art — unfortunately ... this was bad art."

Cyrus later looked back at the teddy bear outfit in a video for British Vogue, reminiscing, "This teddy bear costume ... was extremely controversial and made a lot of people angry. I repeat: This teddy bear costume made a lot of people angry." According to Cyrus, artist Todd James, known for his sculptures of teddy bears, was the inspiration for the outfit. She commissioned a Todd James sculpture herself to emerge from at the beginning of her performance, pointing out, "It was a rebirth."

Her latex bikini ... with the foam finger

If people watching the 2013 VMAs thought Miley Cyrus' teddy bear corset was strange and shocking, they had no idea that something even more controversial was just around the corner. Cyrus was joined onstage by Robin Thicke to sing his hit song "Blurred Lines," and when Cyrus met Thicke on the runway, she discarded the teddy bear and picked up a foam finger. She'd stripped down to nothing but a flesh-colored latex bikini, giving the impression that she was nearly nude, and she poked that finger here, there, and everywhere while twerking all over Thicke.

The unflattering look led to Halloween costumes and endless memes at Cyrus' expense, many of which pointed out that it didn't exactly make her figure look shapely. "I had on my cute little nude bodysuit, everyone started comparing me to a turkey," she recalled years later on Instagram Live, revealing that she avoided wearing shorts for years due to all of the jokes that emerged from this VMAs look. "Memes can be so much fun, but they can also just be so hurtful," she said, "because they're meant to be funny, but when they're about you they are just so not funny" (via StyleCaster).

In 2018, Cyrus told Wonderland Magazine that this controversial performance ended up having a big impact. "Not only was culture changed," she said, "but my life and career were changed forever." She continued, saying, "If the world is going to focus on me and what I am doing, then what I am doing should be impactful and it should be great."

The marijuana leaf leotard

During the "Bangerz" era, Miley Cyrus seemed to generate headlines everywhere she went. The album's tour was no exception thanks to a string of strange, eye-popping outfits, including one particular leotard no one could stop talking about. It wasn't the plunging neckline — it was the fact that the leotard was covered in images of bedazzled marijuana leaves.

Cyrus shared a snap of herself in the look at the tour's Dallas stop on X, drawing commentary from followers who weren't impressed. "dafuq is she doing thinking she's cool with a weed necklace and leotard," one person wrote in response. Many others pointed out that the leotard's severe cut wasn't necessarily flattering, especially given Cyrus' recently-discovered love of twerking. One person perhaps took it too far, tweeting that Cyrus was a "lanky-a**-praying-mantis-no-booty-havin'-ghetto/country-confused-b***h." Yikes.

People tracked down the people responsible for the pot-leaf bodysuit, a designer duo called The Blonds. David Blond told the magazine, "We digitally printed marijuana leaves onto fabric and embellished them to give the bodysuit a three-dimensional effect. Since we know how much she enjoys the Mary Jane." After an outfit like this one, we can safely assume no one had any doubt left about that.

Her bedazzled pasties

In 2015, Miley Cyrus was tapped to host the VMAs, and her outré fashion sense kicked in before the show kicked off. In an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to promote the upcoming awards show, Cyrus opted for a bedazzled rainbow look that mostly only covered her shoulders. She paired the piece with a pair of glittery, heart-shaped pasties.

Kimmel seemed thrown off by the colorful clothing explosion sitting in front of him. After Cyrus lifted her arms to show off what was underneath, the comedian covered his eyes and laughed, "Oh, my! I'm embarrassed now!" He asked Cyrus how her father feels about seeing her like this, and the "Mother's Daughter" singer had the perfect comeback. "I'm sure he'd maybe rather me not have my t**s out all the time," she admitted. "But, he'd maybe rather me have my t**s out and be a good person than have a shirt on and be a b***h." She joked, "When you've got your t**s out, you can't really be an a**hole."

Video of the interview sparked debate in the YouTube comments section, leading people to debate whether there was merit to Cyrus' comparison. "Don't judge a book by its cover," one person allowed, but they added, "This book has no cover." Another offered, "I'm not even a fan of hers, but she's actually right."

A strappy number paired with dreadlocks

When Miley Cyrus returned to the VMAs in 2015, she was there as the host, not just a performer. Accordingly, she stepped up her strange fashion game, hitting the red carpet in a breast-baring strappy number paired with long blonde dreadlocks. Not everyone liked this look, however. Commenting on a picture of the star, one person tweeted, "Trash."

She changed looks numerous times throughout the night — all of them dubbed "crazy" by Rolling Stone. One bikini looked like a pair of eyes and lips; another look featured long, puffy rainbow sleeves. Still another saw the "WTF Do I Know" singer wrapped in transparent latex, with some strategically placed candy buttons covering up the more intimate bits.

Throughout each look, however, those dreadlocks remained, sparking a debate on Twitter about whether they should be considered cultural appropriation. "If you don't think Miley wearing dreadlocks is [problematic] then idk abt u," one person tweeted. Many others made reference to a then-recent controversy involving Zenday during the Oscars, in which red carpet host Giuliana Rancic said her locs looked like they smelled like weed. "How is it okay for Miley Cyrus to wear dreadlocks and not get s**t for it but Zendaya wears them and does?" one person asked. They then answered their own question, concluding, "Society is f***ed up."

The metallic shirt that broke away

As 2021 became 2022, Miley Cyrus hosted a television special called "Miley's New Year's Eve Party." Alongside scripted bits with co-host Pete Davidson, Cyrus turned in a number of costume changes and performances over the course of the evening, including one climactic rendition of her mega-hit "Party in the U.S.A." For that song, she wore what appeared to be a loose piece of metallic fabric around her chest. Sure enough, the shirt fell away, causing Cyrus to dash offstage. "Everybody's definitely looking at me now," she quipped (via People). 

Though Cyrus handled the situation as gracefully as could be expected considering the circumstances, not everyone on social media was willing to give her credit. "She looked terrible and this was not classy at all! Have a bit of self respect and actually put on some clothes," one person wrote. Plenty of others accused Cyrus of orchestrating the situation for attention, with one Twitter user speculating, "Totally scripted for headlines. She's a PR expert."

The "Black Mirror" star explained the wardrobe malfunction in a video for British Vogue, joking that the situation could've been much worse. "Comparably to Pete, I'm pretty classy!" she said. Cyrus also noted that she was asked back to host a special again the following year, quipping, "Show your boobs, and you get renewed! Dolly taught me that."

Her 2024 Grammys look

At this point in Miley Cyrus's career, no one should be surprised when she shows up to an event in a look that turns heads. Her ability to generate controversy has perhaps been dulled by a decade of attention-getting fashion, but that doesn't mean Cyrus has stopped pushing the limits. Case in point: the 2024 Grammy Awards, which saw Cyrus show up to the red carpet in a skin-baring Maison Margiela dress made of gold safety pins. Her teased, sculpted hairdo completed the look, leading to much chatter online about what, exactly, she was going for. One tweet read, "Miley Cyrus is rocking some excellent 1980s PTA board mom hair." Others weren't as appreciative. One fan asked, "Why is she naked?"

While a lot of people focused on her hair and the interesting gown, others were perplexed about the Margiela split-toe Tabi heels. The controversial footwear — are they chic or ugly? — has divided opinions, with one X user commenting, "Tabi shoes are like shoes that are cosplaying as horse hooves" (via Daily Mail). However, in early 2024, Kim Kardashian also wore a pair, so they may just be here to stay. After so many years in the spotlight for her scandalous fashion, we can safely say that Cyrus is here to stay, too.