FASHION AND STYLE INFLUENCERS: A LOOK AT WOMEN'S HIP HOP FASHION THROUGH THE DECADES

FASHION AND STYLE INFLUENCERS: A LOOK AT WOMEN'S HIP HOP FASHION THROUGH THE DECADES

                                                

From the moment the first rapper stepped on the scene it was clear that this was more than just 

music. Rappers have always had this unique ability of uniting people of all races, ages and 

genders and as time pressed on it became evident that Rap was not a trend, it was a part of a 

movement and as it evolved it became recognized as a culture. The culture began to creep its 

way into politics and has had a major impact on the fashion world. Over the years Hip Hop artists 

have dropped their flavor on conventional clothing from tees, multicolored leather jackets, sweat 

suits, sneakers, hats, and much more. Popular accessories included gold rope chains, Kangol 

caps, designer shoes and even non-prescription Cazal frames. All of which have become timeless 

staples in the hip hop fashion world.

While most brands focused on menswear, as the genre evolved it became impossible to ignore 

the unique flavor Female Mcs brought to the game. It was evident that these women did not come 

into the rap game just to have their voices heard, they also wanted to set a standard for women's 

hip hop fashion trends and they did in more ways than one.

Let’s take a look decade by decade at the evolution of women’s wear in the hip hop fashion world.



The Beginning in the late 70’s - The Mercedes 

Ladies are known as the first females of hip hop. 

They were the first all female rap crew. Their style 

was classic and conservative. Polos, Button ups 

and form fitting jeans made up their uniform. Kitten 

heels and flats were the thing of that era. Their 

style was that of the everyday black women in 

America. However, when on stage they did rock 

Gold Lame button up shirts.

                                                                    

                   

                    

                                                         


          The Baggy clothing era of the 80s - The 80’s gave birth to a variety of female MC’s both

groups and single MC’s which 

included artists such as 

Roxanne Shanté, The Real 

Roxanne, Queen Latifah, and 

Salt N Pepa. In the beginning, 

it was mostly all about the 

baggy apparel in mainstream 

women's fashion, making it 

“cool” for girls to wear 

oversized tees with baggy 

jeans, jackets and a 

snapback.




The Real Roxanne introduced a distinct designer flavor into the game by rocking a custom made 

Louis Vuitton suit on the cover of her album. Queen Latifah took an afrocentric approach and 

wore African Print “crowns” and clothing to compliment her royal raps which lead Salt N' Pepa

                                                      

to pair their kente cloth hats with those famous colorful varsity leather jackets, gold chains, and 

even sometimes floor-length cardigans. Later they added a feminine flair by adding thigh-highs 

and crop tops underneath. MC Lyte and Roxanne Shante had a similar style wearing a lot of 

darker primary colored varsity jacket and loose baggy jeans and sweaters. But don’t get confused 

these oversized looks still had a feminine edge to them. As the 80’s closed out it was clear to see 

that female MC’s were evolving more into a sophisticated sexy look.

                                                  

The “show em what you got” era of the 90s - By the mid 90’s the shift was becoming clear. While

you still have Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez, Missy and Lauryn 

Hill wearing a equal mix of baggy and form fitting 

clothing artists such as Lil Kim, Eve, and Foxy Brown 

opted for the ‘barely there’ look. For most, Lil Kim was 

the quintessential female rapper of the ‘90s and a crucial 

part of the East Coast’s Hip Hop movement as a whole. 

Her sexy lyrics demanded a style filled with sex appeal 

and she had no problem pulling it off. Her wardrobe 

often included bright colored leotards with short shorts, 

paired with a funky fur and snakeskin knee high boots. 

The Brooklyn born star made it clear that she was going 

to wear whatever she wanted. This was especially true 

when she posed squatted down on her self-titled album 

“Lil Kim” rocking a leopard print bra and panty set with a 

fur, this statement certainly set a trend. Foxy Brown’s 

style was fairly similar to Kim's as she continued the 

trend of the free spirited looks with a Trini flair. A distinct 

difference in their style was the color palette that they each choose, Foxy stuck to neutrals while 

Kim opted for bright colors. Though interestingly enough, they both opted to rock the exact same 

bodysuit in the photo liners for their debut albums. Foxy definitely switched things up in the cover 

art for her 1999 album Chyna Doll and it was anything but simple, the Mc is seen rocking blue 

body paint paired with shorts and heels, nothing baggy about that!

                                                                     

Ruff Ryders first lady Eve always had her own unique style also the only female in her crew it was

clear that she owned her unique style and was a leader 

in fashion. In 2003 she even started her own clothing line 

fetish which was a mix of sexy denims and tops. Eve 

knows just how to tie together sexy, sophisticated and 

rugged at the same time, this really set her apart from 

the rest.At a time when owning your sexy was the in 

thing there was still plenty of balance and variety which 

was the perfect representation of what you saw in the 

general population across America. Missy Elliot, Lauryn 

Hill and Left Eye still represented for those that loved the 

baggy look. They rocked oversized track suits and large 

tees, baggy jeans and jackets. Occasionally Left Eye 

mixed in a crop top to add a little sex appeal. It's safe to 

say that the 90’s began the era of empowered female Mcs who said what they wanted and 

certainly dressed the part. 


The “I’m Rich Bitch’ 2000’s - By the new millennium it was safe to say that 

there was a lot of money floating around hip hop and the female Mcs 

such as Remy Ma, Trina, and even Nicki Minaj wanted you to know it. 

Along with baggy being a thing of the past everything was designer, and 

tight and form fitting was the way to go. Trina brought that Miami heat to 

the game with form fitting dresses and low cut tops along with bright 

patterned matching sets.









Remy Ma brought that Boogie Down 

flavor matching sexy with hood 

wearing bright colored halter tops and 

designer jeans. Both of which set a 

standard of dressing for artists to 

follow and for woman and designer to 

strive to incorporate in their closets 

and lines.






As Young Money first lady Nicki Minaj came into the scene towards the end of the era she 

ushered in a stye that was all her own and very much character driven. It was somewhere in 

between the

                         

bright and tight mismatched patterns of the early 2000s and today's style, which essential ties in a 

nice mix between aspects of every era while not all baggy and not all tight and form fitting.

                                                                   

What goes around come around - As we enter into the second decade of the 21st Century it 

seems as though we have come full circle. Acid Washed Jeans are back ripped denim is huge. 

Designer anything is still making waves and baggy jeans now known as boyfriend jeans are worn 

by everyone. It seems as if there isn’t just one look that any artists wears. It is definitely more 

about their mood at any given time. Even so, it is still true that the hip hop trends of all of the 

decades have still managed to find a place in ruling today's fashion world. 

                               

Aug 2nd 2017 Jocelyn Rivera and K Kelly

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