The Most Shocking Outfits Beyonce Has Ever Worn

Does such a thing as a bad outfit really exist when it comes to Beyoncé? The slay queen can pull off even the trickiest of attire, so it's not without reason that she's officially been hailed as a Fashion Icon (the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc., or CFDA, awarded her the honor in 2016). To Beyoncé, as said in her CFDA acceptance speech, fashion is "a tool for finding your own identity, expression, and strength. It transcends style and is a time capsule of our greatest milestones."

The Grammy history maker can rock a fitted bodysuit on stage with as much panache as she can a billowing gown while strutting her stuff during red carpet events. Her style is timeless, and, as it turns out, she's not hesitant to shake things up in the closet once in a while. Her longtime collaborator and stylist, Ty Hunter, once told Vogue, "I've been with her for so long, and each time she surprises me. She's [okay] playing around and taking risks, and that's what makes my job so much easier."

Every time Beyoncé walks out looking like the million bucks she is, she creates a stir. Let's just say the world isn't always ready for the power of Queen Bey! Here's taking a look at some of her most memorable wardrobe choices and how they've captivated onlookers.

Beyoncé came under fire for wearing a rare diamond

One reason Beyoncé is admired by fans is for more or less trying to remain on the right side of history. Last year, that spotless image came under question when the singer, along with her rapper husband, Jay-Z, was unveiled as the face of luxury retailer Tiffany & Co.'s "About Love" campaign. In promo photos and a film for the luxury jewelry brand, Beyoncé appeared in a regal, snug-fit gown with a crowning statement neck piece: the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond.

To see the legendary stone laced around Beyoncé's neck was an iconic moment in its own right, since the "Crazy in Love" singer was only the fourth woman in the world — and the first Black woman ever — to wear it, as reported by CNN. But, given the diamond's contentious history, the campaign starring Beyoncé inspired more outrage than awe. 

Per Tiffany's own admission, the famous stone was discovered in South African mines in 1877 and, thereafter, bought by company founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. According to The Sunday Times, the Tiffany Diamond — allegedly a blood diamond — today stands as a symbol of colonial history. The United Nations defines blood diamonds as "conflict diamonds" illegally acquired or traded. It was further controversial that Beyoncé posed with the problematic diamond against a painting by acclaimed anti-colonial artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (via The Guardian). 

Her Indian look in a music video was criticized

The euphoria in India was palpable when the band Coldplay dropped the music video for their hit single, "Hymn for the Weekend," in January 2016. Parts of the video, featuring Chris Martin and crew, as well as a special appearance by Beyoncé, were shot in India against the country's rich cultural backdrop (via Mumbai Mirror). But the excitement quickly soured as the video — particularly Queen Bey's attire in it — found itself at the center of a raging debate about cultural appropriation.

Beyoncé, for the video, dons traditional Indian getup — complete with a purported saree, jewelry, and henna — assuming the role of Rani (Hindi for queen), a Bollywood star. This representation — along with sequences showing Holi or classical dancers — was slammed for exoticizing and stereotyping Indian culture (via The Guardian). While some Indians claimed that what Beyoncé wore hardly qualified as a saree, questions also abounded as to why she was cast as a fictitious Bollywood actor when the video actually had a real Bollywood actor, Sonam Kapoor, in a blink-and-you-miss-it sequence (via Firstpost).

But, amid the noise, there was also ample support for Beyoncé. Some believed her portrayal as an Indian woman streamlined the similarities between South Asian and Black cultures, as noted by Time, and that the representation could even be read as empowering. 

The star's 2013 Super Bowl outfit was apparently too risqué

In 2013, Beyoncé played showstopper at the Super Bowl, and, as electric as her performance was, it drew some criticism for her statement outfit, which some considered risqué. The halftime saw her emerge in a black leather bodysuit cut deep, which didn't go down well with viewers who deem the sports championship to be family viewing content, as per Today. Additionally, there were reportedly allegations of certain purported sexual innuendos being part of Beyoncé's act.

For all the controversy it courted, the piece demanded a lot of attention to detail when created. Rubin Singer, who designed the bodysuit, told The Hollywood Reporter, "My seamstresses were assembling all of the leather and exotic skins individually by hand. We had to make the bodysuit have a tremendous range of motion and flexibility" to prevent it from constricting Beyoncé's movement.

Well, constrict it probably didn't, but the outfit sure did contract an angry reaction from the nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The organization expressed disappointment with Beyoncé's attire for its use of animal skin — python and iguana, per E! News. In a statement, PETA said the leather outfit "missed the mark" as the world moved towards more humane fashion choices.

Her tribute to the Black Panthers caused a stir

Beyoncé is inarguably among the most influential Black female voices worldwide, and the 28-time Grammy winner has never shied away from representing her heritage. Her halftime performance at the 2016 Super Bowl was, therefore, a power-packed tribute to two important moments in Black history: Michael Jackson and the Black Panthers. As reported by MTV, Beyoncé donned a custom DSquared2 jacket that closely resembled the black-and-gold design immortalized by the late pop star. While Beyoncé's outfit by itself wasn't startling, her spearheading of an act that reportedly eulogized the Panthers was a shocker to many. 

The Black Panthers, as per Britannica, were a radical revolutionary group formed in 1960s California in retaliation to racial brutalities against the African American community in the United States. The backup dancers flanking Beyoncé were dressed in all-black outfits capped with Panthers-style berets, even raising their fists in a Black power salute, per a picture shared by designer Zana Bayne. Talking to Mashable, Bayne said, "Early on in conversation, the iconic women of the Black Panther Party were mentioned as a reference, so we kept that idea of revolutionary women in mind when creating the harnesses." 

The Wrap reported that the politically-charged performance prompted calls for protest at the NFL building in New York against what some called a "race-baiting stunt." 

She wore a wedding dress to the Grammys

Who, but Beyoncé, could wear a wedding dress to an awards show and rock it like it's the most casual 'fit ever? Eyeballs popped when the singer appeared on the Grammys stage back in 2016 wearing regal bridal couture. Yes, she turned up royally late and skipped the red carpet, and, yes, she didn't win any nominations that night (per Mashable), but she did treat the audience to her look when she concluded the night by presenting the Record of the Year award.

While a wedding gown may not be every attendee's first choice for what is considered "Music's Biggest Night," Beyoncé expectedly broke convention. The dress in which she swept the stage was by Israeli designer Inbal Dror, Harper's Bazaar notes, and was embellished with stylish lace and sheer tulle. The price tag on the Victorian-style piece apparently flaunted a figure higher than what the average wedding dress — or an entire wedding — costs, at $12,980, as reported by VH1.

This was still less pricey than another Victorian bridal dress Beyoncé wore two years later, while reportedly renewing her wedding vows with Jay-Z. After giving fans a peek at her lavish ensemble via social media, Elle said the gown by Galia Lahav, also an Israeli designer, was priced to the tune of $15,000. 

Her pink gown totally upstaged Ed Sheeran's plain look

When Beyoncé takes to the stage, she commands it — that's just the rule! So, when someone with as understated a style quotient as Ed Sheeran shares the stage with her, they should be ready to be scrutinized down to the last shoelace. Beyoncé joined the "Perfect" singer at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa in 2018 for a duet of his hit number, dressed in a striking pink ruffle gown by haute couture label Ashi Studio (per Harper's Bazaar). It made for a dramatic contrast, to say the least, with Sheeran flanking Beyoncé's fancy attire with his staple black tee-and-jeans combo.

This vivid mismatch kicked off a passionate debate on social media, with fans on either side of the fence defending their icons. A key argument that emerged was the apparent exposition of sexist double standards, with Beyoncé, a woman, having to put more effort into her wardrobe than Sheeran, a man, for public appeal, as pointed out by HelloGiggles. Angles of race and class privilege, too, seeped in. 

Justification for the distinction in the artists' outfits stated that their wardrobes were part of personal branding, which both were entitled to regardless of gender, as Today reported. While Beyoncé stayed mum, Sheeran gave a cheeky response to the controversy by posting a link to the t-shirt he wore, writing "#dresstoimpress" on his Instagram page (via People).

Beyoncé's Black Is King attire sparked some complaints

"Black Is King" was Beyoncé's gift to the music and cinematic world. Directed by the star herself, the documentary-and-album combination was inspired by the story as shown in "The Lion King" (the 2019 remake version), tracing the journey of a young African prince, as per Insider. The production delved deep into Black culture to pull out some stunning thematic imagery, as well as some representation that didn't quite win a lot of praise. Case in point: a certain attire worn by Beyoncé, who figures as the archetypal feminine energy in the visual album.

In more than one scene in the 85-minute-long film, Beyoncé — along with her crew — is shown dressed in animal prints, which an article authored by Africans for nonprofit NPR recognizes could well amount to stereotyping of Africans. Among the animal designs that grabbed eyeballs were a Valentino leopard-print catsuit and a cow-print outfit by Burberry, according to Harper's Bazaar

Zerina Akers, the costume designer on "Black Is King," broke down the symbolism in an interview with Dezeen, noting, "I wanted to take that stereotypical notion that if you want to present a tribal element, then it automatically goes into animal prints. I wanted to turn that on its head and raise it up to make it feel really high fashion." 

Her 2015 Met Gala see-through look created some buzz

Beyoncé isn't shy when it comes to experiments on the dare-o-meter. A Givenchy gown she wore to the 2015 Met Gala is proof. A sheer dress that revealed more than it covered, the drape was encrusted with jewels studded in just the right places, and the look was completed with an up-top ponytail. Beyoncé sure was a star attraction of the night, not only for her barely-there outfit but also because of her barely-there red carpet arrival. 

As Us Weekly reported, Queen Bey was super fashionably late, attributing it to an alleged last-minute outfit change. Another report from the publication, however, quoted her hairstylist, Neal Farinah, saying it was specifically Beyoncé's hair that caused the delay, with the singer asking for her chignon to be changed into a high pony. "We did that in the elevator as she was on the way out," he said. 

Whatever the reason for the delay, there appeared to be a general consensus on the nakedness of Beyoncé's wardrobe that night, with Elle quipping that she managed to, in fact, "out naked everyone." Vanity Fair, meanwhile, also noted the criticism the dress drew for its lack of relevance to that year's theme of "China: Through the Looking Glass."

The singer's latex gown looked rather uncomfortable

Beyoncé's Met Gala looks sure have been head-turners through the years — even if not always in the best way. Though her 2015 sheer Givenchy gown at the fashion ball didn't prove to be a total winner, having received mixed reactions, the singer-songwriter loyally turned once again to the French luxury label to dress her for the 2016 event. As noted by HuffPost, that year, Beyoncé rocked a custom nude latex gown embellished with pearls and hand-painted flowers.

No sooner than she gave a preview of her Met 'fit on social media did the memes begin pouring in. Metro reported that netizens had a chain of thoughts about the "Halo" singer's dress — some called it a "giant condom," others said it resembled a "facial scrub," and still others referred to it as a "peach fruit roll up."

It turns out that the procedure behind wearing a latex dress is as cumbersome as one would imagine it to be. A woman enigmatically known as the Baroness, whose New York boutique is apparently the mothership of latex clothing in America, told Vice she helped with the fitting of Beyoncé's Givenchy gown — a process that includes lubrication of the wearer's body — and oversaw "certain little styling things that she wanted to have changed."

Her White House Easter outfit had bold details

Beyoncé was somewhat of a regular at the White House during Barack Obama's tenure as the 44th U.S. president. Their friendship, as well as her status as an important artist, meant she got special access to some of the most exclusive events hosted on the official premises — including the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. In 2016, she joined the Obamas for a final Easter gala before their White House exit, arriving hand-in-hand with her daughter, Blue Ivy, then 4 years old.

As reported by Essence, Beyoncé opted for a Marco De Vincenzo bustier lace dress for the occasion. While everyone agreed that little Blue was the family standout — capturing the pulse of the event with her adorable bunny ears — Beyoncé's fashion that day generated mixed reactions. The Daily News claimed that her outfit — which particularly accentuated her bust — gave her the likeness of a Playboy Bunny. The article further highlighted netizen responses on social media, some of which said a see-through lace dress probably wasn't the best choice for a nearly 150-year-old event with children in attendance.

Nevertheless, Queen B marked her presence effectively by cheering on the day's musical performer duo Chloe x Halle, who, Refinery29 reports, are associated with her management company, Parkwood Entertainment. 

Her spiderweb dress showed off more than it covered

The 2011 Billboard Music Awards were memorable for how high temperatures soared after Beyoncé's first live performance of her then-newly released single, "Run the World (Girls)," and, to top it, won the Billboard Millennium Award, as noted by the publication itself. Also unforgettable was the dress Beyoncé wore: a silver bodysuit-style number with a spiderweb design, as the Daily Mail indicated, that generously revealed her midriff. 

As daring as the dress may have seemed to some, it landed Queen B on Billboard's list of best-dressed stars that night. Celebrity stylist Niki Schwan, remarking on what she called a "Mad Max/warrior attire," was quoted saying, "Nobody can disagree that B makes the sexiest warrior of all, and in her silver (barely there) warrior costume, everyone who laid eyes on her had no choice but to become mere mortals to her goddess." 

But it wasn't just her dress that sparked buzz. According to Entertainment Weekly, there were allegations that certain visual and graphic bits of Beyoncé's show-stopping performance seemed to have been lifted from ideas by Italian singer Lorella Cuccarini. Talking to AOL, Beyoncé indeed admitted to taking inspiration from Cuccarini, having been introduced to her YouTube videos. "The technology and concept were so genius. Thank God for YouTube or I would have never been exposed to something so inspiring," she said.

Beyoncé's MTV VMA's dress had a dramatic feathery collar

Beyoncé needn't have flaunted angel wings to convince us that she radiates divine energy — after all, she is known to her Beyhive fanbase as Queen B! But she went ahead and did it anyway. At the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, the "Single Ladies" singer arrived in a shimmery, sheer sage green gown that had her own set of feathered wings. Her daughter, Blue Ivy, was her date for the evening and looked every bit a mini chic angel in a $10,950 dress (per E! News). 

Bustle pointed out that Beyoncé's piece, including the extravagant collar, was a Francesco Scognamiglio design from the label's Fall 2016 line. It's not every day you see a celebrity decked in plumage. And, so, even if that celebrity happens to be Beyoncé, who nails most outfits, the torrent of memes was but expected! Glamour reported that netizens quickly got down to business, listing everything that the singer's ensemble made her look like — from the White Witch in "The Chronicles of Narnia" to Drew Barrymore's character, Josie Geller, in "Never Been Kissed." 

The star's 2011 VMAs outfit hid a surprise announcement

Since Beyoncé married longtime beau Jay-Z in 2008, speculation abounded as to when the A-list couple would become parents. So, when they ultimately did in 2011, you best believe it was a grand event! Dressed in a now-iconic sequinned Dolce & Gabbana jacket, Beyoncé took to the MTV Video Music Awards stage to perform "Love on Top" (per MTV). And, right before breaking into song, she confirmed she was pregnant with her first child by saying, "I want you to feel the love that's growing inside of me." She ended the number by unbuttoning her tux jacket and memorably stroking her baby bump. 

The moment is one for the books, having tectonically shaken up records at the time. Guinness World Records noted that, after the performance, Twitter documented a sharp spike in activity with a record-breaking 8,868 tweets sent per second. As it turns out, there's a rather "stressful" story behind Beyoncé's outfit that night, as recalled by her mother, Tina Knowles, in an Instagram post 10 years after the performance.

Two hours before Beyoncé went on stage, her mom had to rush to a maternity shop since the pants she initially had made for her daughter were "too tight." "I bought two sizes in maternity pants but wound up taking the panel off of one of them and putting it in the ones that I had made!" she wrote. "Thank God it worked."

She wore a dress with her face on it

It came as a delightful shock to audiences when Beyoncé — and her baby bump — emerged to perform at the 2017 Grammys looking nothing less than a vision in gold. As per In Touch Weekly, the event marked Beyoncé's first time appearing in public since she announced her second pregnancy. So, naturally, the celebrations were extravagant! 

Designed by longtime collaborator Peter Dundas, the embellished custom gown Beyoncé wore, paired with a regal headdress to complete the ensemble, was heavy with symbolism. Dundas related to Vogue how elements from Beyoncé's life were weaved into the gown (which, by the way, was the work of about 50 people). Lyrics from the singer's successful number "Love Drought," which she also performed that night, were apparently part of the embroidery, as was a sweet tribute to her pregnancy. Dundas said two cherubs were detailed near Beyoncé's hips — a possible acknowledgment of the twins she was carrying — while a likeness of her own profile was embroidered right in the center. 

The gown also harked back to Beyoncé's Black heritage through sun ray designs meant to depict African deity Oshun. As per Britannica, Oshun is significant to Yoruba culture and holds status as a savior and goddess of fertility.