The Changing Looks Of Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani has been killing it in the music and fashion world for decades, making her debut in the music world with No Doubt and later releasing her first solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. She's also launched her own fashion line L.A.M.B. and served as a coach on The Voice. She boasts a number of awards and has made music with many artists over the years, according to AllMusic.

Clearly, Stefani knows how to stay relevant while also staying true to herself, and that definitely extends to her personal style. Stefani has started, ended, and revived countless styles, and she seems to be on new trends before we can say "Hollaback Girl." Staying on top of her career in the pop music world means you need to be on top of your fashion game, and no one does that better than Stefani. Just check out how much her look has changed over her time in the spotlight!

Gwen Stefani first hit the music and fashion scene in the 1980s with No Doubt

Gwen Stefani started as the lead singer for the band No Doubt in 1987, when her brother Eric asked her to join a band he was putting together (via AllMusic). The band would eventually go on to become one of the prominent ska bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Initially, though, the band had a hard time gaining traction due to the popularity of grunge music at the time, as noted by AllMusic.

Stefani didn't want to look or dress like the other popular female grunge lead singers at the time. She considered them to be too angry and hardcore for her. Stefani wanted to look sexy, and she took inspiration from iconic pop icon Blondie. "It wasn't until I felt comfortable wearing high heels, because when you're on heels ... all of a sudden you're sexy," she told Rolling Stone. She explained, "I never felt really strong growing up. ... until I discovered Blondie. She was sexy, and she wasn't ashamed to be rocking out, and to me, that's having it all." 

Gwen Stefani started rocking a red lip and bare midriff in the 1990s

Any fan of Gwen Stefani or 1990s fashion knows that she was the queen of crop tops, thin brows, and red lipstick (via WWD). She's seen wearing that look in so many photos throughout her early days with No Doubt, and it definitely became the signature Stefani look at the time. There's even been some speculation that her iconic looks from the 1990s have influenced the styles of Gen Z and TikTok e-girls today, as noted by Vogue Australia.

Stefani has gone on record confirming that she only rocked cropped tanks at the beginning of her career. "I pretty much only wore tank tops my whole life," Stefani told Vogue. "I don't know why, I thought they looked cool. I had to be a little bit tomboy with, like, a little bit of glamour." She went on to say that usually she would be neck-down tomboy, and, from the neck up, she would be full glam. "That was just kind of the vibe for myself and what I always followed," she said. 

It definitely sounds like Stefani has been true to herself and her sense of style since day one!

This is why Gwen Stefani wore bindis in the mid-1990s

One of Gwen Stefani's most controversial fashion moments by today's standards would definitely be her incorporations of the Indian bindi into her red carpet and street style (via Vice). She told Vogue that her interest in Indian culture and fashion peaked at the time because of her relationship with No Doubt band member Tony Kanal, whose family comes from India. "I had never, growing up in Anaheim, spent any time with anyone from India," she recalled. "His mom would come down the stairs ready to go to these Indian parties all dolled up. ... I had never seen anything like it." It was actually Kanal's mother who gave Stefani some of the bindis she wore in public.

The bindi is a body adornment often worn by "South Asian women for religious and cultural practices," as noted by Vice. Over the years, as the conversation about cultural appropriation has gained widespread traction, non-South Asian and non-Indian people now understand that wearing a bindi without any knowledge of its religious, historical, or cultural context is a huge no-no. So, even though Stefani kind of got away with wearing it, it's best that she left this trend behind her!

One of Gwen Stefani's earliest big fashion moments was a blue look from 1998

Nothing shocks an audience quite like a monochromatic look — especially if that color is a baby blue like the one that Gwen Stefani rocked at the 1998 Video Music Awards. Her bright blue hair matched her fuzzy blue bikini top, and she paired the blue pieces with a pair of baggy black pants and a skirt. And, of course, would any '90s outfit be complete without a pair of platform flip flops to match? This look, most commonly referred to as her "Smurfette" or her "Judy Jetson" moment, had critics shaming her but fans screaming for more, as noted by Rolling Stone

In an interview with Entertainment WeeklyStefani elaborated on her inspiration behind the head-turning look. Spoiler alert: the inspiration isn't as wild as you might think. "I was laying in bed thinking I wanted to dye my hair blue, and I found that bikini top in my drawer," she told the outlet. "It turned into a space-agey, Judy Jetson thing.She also told Vogue that she had just come home from her tour when she got ready for this red carpet and that the hair dye, bikini top, and flip flops were all sent to her for free!

In the late 1990s, Gwen Stefani shocked fans with pink hair and braces

Sometimes big life changes mean you need to change your hair. That's exactly what inspired Gwen Stefani's 1999 VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards red carpet look! The bright pink hair and metal braces definitely had viewers turning their heads, as even the interviewers couldn't help but ask for her inspiration behind the look, though Stefani didn't delve too much into why she decided to completely change her appearance that year. However, in 2019, Stefani did tell Vogue that a rough period in her life inspired the change. "Sometimes you go ahead and change your hair to try to, like, wash whatever those feelings are out of your hair," she said. 

At the time, Stefani noted, there weren't a ton of different product options you could use to dye your hair bright colors, except for Manic Panic. "I wanted my hair like cotton candy light pink, and I had this vision of what I wanted," she told Vogue. "And I ended up with fuschia for, like, a year." 

In 2001, Gwen Stefani showed off her patriotic side at the MTV Awards

The early 2000s was an interesting time for everyone, fashion-wise. Von Dutch trucker hats were all the rage, Juicy Couture tracksuits were considered "in," and every girl you knew owned at least one long denim skirt, as noted by BuzzFeed. And Gwen Stefani seemed to rock a handful of these trends at the 2001 MTV Awards with a super patriotic look, as reported by MTV News. She paired a red and white striped halter top with dark blue gauchos and high red leather boots. As anyone who lived through this time can attest, gauchos and boots were a big thing, so Stefani was right on trend with this look. And, of course, in true Stefani style, she showed off her impressive abs with the halter top and low-slung pants. 

It seems that the one 2000s trend that Stefani didn't get into was frosted lip gloss. She stuck with a red or nude lip throughout most of her fashion career, just as she did in 2001. She might have been on top of the trends, but she also knew what her tried-and-true tricks were! 

Gwen Stefani said this is why her style started to change in the 2000s

Gwen Stefani told Vogue that in the 1990s she didn't have the budget or stylists that other artists had to help create performance outfits and red carpet looks, so she had to dress herself for all of these different appearances. We can't imagine that being in a band with all guys helped either! However, once Y2K hit, she finally had the budget to start working with professionals to help curate her sense of style. In 2002, she connected with stylist Andrea Lieberman for a music video.

Stefani said that combining her own ideas with Lieberman's skills and connections made for a perfect pairing right off the bat. Stefani recalled that on the set for a music video she did with rapper Eve, Lieberman brought a truck that contained clothes for every idea Stefani had, and Stefani was blown away. "Every idea I had, she had taken it to a whole other level," she said. She noted, "She was definitely my soulmate when it comes to fashion, and she taught me so much because I wasn't schooled in fashion. I didn't grow up in New York. I didn't even know who Vivienne Westwood was. ... I didn't know any of that."

The mid-2000s saw a change in Gwen Stefani's red carpet style

In 2004, Gwen Stefani stepped away from No Doubt to try out her own solo material for a while with the release of her album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., for which the acronym is "L.A.M.B." The album signified her desire to move away from the ska punk music that launched No Doubt into fame, and instead opted to bring in other artists like Dr. Dre and André 3000 to collaborate with, as noted by Blender. This solo album also signaled a change in her red carpet and street style, and she often opted for sleeker and chicer looks, according to MTV News.

Surprisingly, Stefani told Vogue that fashion magazine-inspired looks were something she always was against as a kid, even calling her younger self "anti-fashion magazine." As a kid, she said she felt "alienated" by the magazines, but now, with a couple of magazine covers under her belt, she sees the artistry behind photoshoots.

Gwen Stefani launched her own fashion brand L.A.M.B. in 2004

Gwen Stefani started her fashion line L.A.M.B. in the mid-2000s and initially felt a little blowback because of the trend at the time of celebrities creating their own fashion lines for the sake of having their name on something, as she explained to Billboard in 2005. However, Stefani knew that her interest and skills in fashion and design would eventually show the fashion world that she was there to stay. "I don't expect to fit in right away but I do sense that the fashion world is rooting for me, too," she told the outlet. "I'm not being treated like a celebrity wannabe fashion designer. But even if I was, it doesn't really matter because I'm doing this for me." 

The line shares a name with her first solo album, which just goes to show how integral her music and her style are (via The Guardian). Stefani told Billboard that, for her, both writing music and designing clothes come from the same place of creativity: "I don't see why any musician who has style or pays attention to style couldn't do it [fashion]. It's an extension of my personality. I can't explain why I like it, it's just always been that way for me."

Gwen Stefani kicked her performance style up a notch in 2005

Gwen Stefani's hit single "Hollaback Girl" was one of the most popular songs off of her solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. The song is an alleged response to Courtney Love's statement reportedly calling her a cheerleader in Seventeen (via The Cut), and so what better way to fight back? For Stefani, that meant completely embracing the cheerleader aesthetic, from her music video for the song to her 2005 performance at the Teen Choice Awards. Stefani took on the cheerleader nickname and made it her own! Her Teen Choice performance was an event, and it started outside with Stefani in a marching band uniform before she ended up on stage with not only her backup dancers but also a huge marching band.

Stefani still stuck with her red lip and arched brows as well as her signature bleach blonde hair, curled and styled similarly to how Marilyn Monroe would style her tresses. According to a since-archived interview with, Stefani was obsessed with the Hollywood starlet as a teen.

Gwen Stefani borrowed the style of Japanese Harajuku girls in 2007

During her time as a solo artist, Gwen Stefani was often flanked on stage by four backup dancers and wearing clothes inspired by a Japanese style commonly worn by teens in the Harajuku area of Tokyo (via The Guardian). She also borrowed the often-colorful and theatrical Harajuku look for her own fashion line.

Even though Gwen Stefani's Harajuku-inspired fashion back in the 2000s was considered hip and new then, today many critics point out that it's cultural appropriation. Even in 2005, writer MiHi Ahm penned an article calling out Stefani's use of the style and her stylish Japanese dancers in her creative endeavors. "She's taken Tokyo hipsters, sucked them dry of all their street cred, and turned them into China dolls," Ahm wrote for Salon. He went on, "Stefani has taken the idea of Japanese street fashion and turned these women into modern-day geisha..." Yikes.

The Voice brought out a new side of Gwen Stefani's style

Since the mid-2000s, Gwen Stefani has thankfully pulled away from making culturally controversial choices in favor of adopting a sleeker, more mature look. As a recurring coach on The Voice, Stefani started trading in her crop tops and crazy hairstyles for more pulled-back and put-together looks. However, just because she changed her fashion doesn't mean she gave up her old ways! She frequently outshined (literally) her fellow coaches in seasons past by donning multi-patterned, jeweled, and sequined looks that always leave fans wanting more (via Life & Style). 

Stefani has also rocked feathers, puffy sleeves, animal prints, cowboy boots, and much, much more, as reported by Hollywood Life. It seems that she's still staying on top of today's trends while staying true to her stylish self! She's so into her style that she even won the Fashion Icon Award at the 2019 E! People's Choice Awards, proving she's still one of the best-dressed celebs ever.

Does Blake Shelton help Gwen Stefani choose her looks for The Voice?

Power couple Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani have both served as coaches on The Voice, but it looks like their relationship goes beyond their shared love of singing and mentoring! The hit show jokingly revealed on its YouTube channel in a December 2019 video entitled, "The Secret To Gwen Stefani's Style Is Blake Shelton," that the country singer has actually been behind all of Stefani's hit styles in Season 17. In the clip, Stefani is worried people are going to find out that Shelton is behind all of her fashionable looks from seasons past. But, of course, the video was all a joke.

While the bit is hilarious with Shelton playing the part of her uptight and "genius" stylist, clearly Stefani is a woman in charge of her own style — and one who knows how to evolve with the times. Still, who knows — maybe Shelton will influence Stefani's style one day!