63 of the wildest MTV Video Music Awards outfits of all time

  • Performances aside, MTV's Video Music Awards are known for celeb's dazzling and jaw-dropping looks.

  • 2023 marked the show's 40th anniversary, taking place at Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center.

  • From Lady Gaga's meat dress to Britney Spears' snake performance outfit, here are the most memorable outfits.

Anjelica Oswald, Angélica Acevedo, and Aly Weisman contributed to a previous version of this story.

Gwen Stefani covered herself in jewels and henna with a skirt over pants in 1998.

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Here's Gwen Stefani's full ensemble.Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Stefani's baby blue hair matched her bikini top. She went for a number of styles here as she was also covered in henna.

That same year, singer Marilyn Manson and actress Rose McGowan had an interesting couples look. McGowan's dress was barely there.

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Marilyn Manson and Rose McGowan at the 1998 MTV VMAs.Barry King/WireImage

Marilyn Manson's leopard coat featured many colors. McGowan's dress was see-through in the front and very revealing in the back.

Lil' Kim rocked one of her most daring looks in 1999.

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The sparkly nipple pasty was — and still is — one of the show's most memorable looks.REUTERS

The custom jumpsuit was created by Misa Hylton who wanted to create something that represented the performer's personality.

Pink lived up to her name with this hairstyle in 2000.

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Pink was serving looks at the 2000 MTV VMAs.Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Her full look showed cut-outs in her jeans and a floor-length jacket.

Lil' Kim followed up her look with another stunner the following year.

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Lil' Kim always had a showstopping look.Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Lil' Kim looked like a comic-book queen with a cone bra and floor-length cape.

In 2001, the now-defunct Destiny's Child showed off their Texas roots with fringed, matching outfits.

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Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé, and Michelle Williams at the 2001 MTV VMAs.George De Sota/Getty Images

They paired the orange outfits with teal accessories.

They later changed into these denim ensembles to present.

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Destiny's Child presenting at the 2001 MTV VMAs.Scott Gries/ImageDirect

They had bold looks.

Midriffs were a serious trend in 2001 as displayed here by Lil' Kim, Mya, Christina Aguilera, and Pink.

VMAs Lil'' Kim, Mya, Christina Aguilera Pink
Lil' Kim, Mya, Christina Aguilera, and Pink at the 2001 MTV VMAs.George De Sota/Getty Images

They performed their smash hit, "Lady Marmalade."

That same year, Britney Spears performed her famous snake dance as she sang "I'm a Slave 4 U."

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Britney Spears performed at the 2001 MTV VMAs.Beth A. Keiser/AP

Dancing with a live snake on her shoulders became instantly iconic.

Christina Aguilera continued the midriff trend in 2002, taking it to a whole new level.

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Eminem and Christina Aguilera at the 2002 MTV VMAs.Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

She paired the top with a mini denim skirt and boots.

Britney Spears wore a leather outfit as she presented Michael Jackson with a birthday cake.

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Britney Spears and Michael Jackson at the 2002 MTV VMAs.Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images

He initially thought it was an "artist of the millennium" award.

In 2003, Christina Aguilera walked the red carpet in a pink, feathery dress.

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Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV VMAs.Evan Agostini/Getty Images

And her hair was black.

But she changed into an '80s-themed costume for this memorable moment during the show.

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Britney Spears, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV VMAs.Scott Gries/Getty

Along with Britney Spears, Aguilera kissed Madonna on stage.

In 2004, Jay Z and Beyoncé were still the golden couple. They married four years later.

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Beyoncé and Jay-Z at the 2004 MTV VMAs.Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

They wore coordinating outfits.

That same year, Paris Hilton channeled her inner pageant queen.

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Paris Hilton at the 2004 VMAs.Alberto Tamargo/Getty Images

Hilton wore a bedazzled see-through dress covered in feathers.

The Polyphonic Spree showed up barefoot in solid colors.

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This was an unexpected moment on the red carpet.Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

The group performed "Hold Me Now" that evening.

And Lil' Kim almost bared it all in a zebra-printed dress by designer Carlos Miele.

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Lil' Kim looked like she was having the time of her life.Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

The zebra printed satin chiffon dress with an asymmetrical strap was designed by Carlos Miele.

During the 2005 show, actress Eva Longoria presented in a bathing suit.

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Eva Longoria at the 2005 MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

"I wasn't going to let a little hurricane stop me from wearing my bathing suit," Longoria said at the time, referencing a tropical storm that turned into Hurricane Katrina.

In 2006, Jennifer Lopez showcased a turtleneck dress and matching headpiece.

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Jennifer Lopez at the 2006 MTV VMAs.Scott Gries/Getty Images

It was silver and sparkly.

Rihanna showed off her spiked short hair and took the stage in an edgy leotard for her 2008 performance of "Disturbia."

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Rihanna performed at the 2008 MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The performance was inspired by "Thriller."

In 2009, Lady Gaga arrived in a memorable black feathered outfit, but that wasn't her only outfit for the night.

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Lady Gaga on the red carpet at 2009's MTV VMAs.Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

She finished it off with a hat.

While singing "Paparazzi," Gaga ended her performance smeared with "blood" to portray the idea that "fame kills."

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Lady Gaga performed "Paparazzi" at the 2009 MTV VMAs.Christopher Polk/Getty Images

It was intense.

And she didn't disappoint with her lacy, masked outfit to accept the best new artist award presented by Eminem.

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Lady Gaga at the 2009 MTV VMAs.Christopher Polk/Getty Images

It included a crown and face covering.

Then in 2010, Lady Gaga came to the show in this meat dress.

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Lady Gaga at the 2010 MTV VMAs.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

It was made of real beef.

Katy Perry also changed multiple times during the 2011 VMA's but wore this to accept the video of the year award.

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Katy Perry accepts an award at the 2011 MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

There was a yellow cube on her head.

That same year, Nicki Minaj did not hold back with her intricate and colorful outfit.

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Nicki Minaj at the 2011 MTV VMAs.Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The outfit included lots of stuffed animals and a mask.

Rebel Wilson, 2012's host, presented with The Wanted in a silly T-shirt.

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Rebel Wilson and The Wanted at the 2012 MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty

The fake bikini dress was like something you might see at a tourist shop.

That same year, Nicki Minaj wore a lace bodysuit to accept her best female video award for "Starships."

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Nicki Minaj at the 2012 MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Her hair was also very colorful.

In 2013, Katy Perry walked the red carpet with Richard Simmons.

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Richard Simmons and Katy Perry at the 2013 MTV VMAs.Larry Busacca/Getty Images for MTV

She wore leopard print and a high pony.

But Miley Cyrus really stole the show by arriving in this bejeweled ensemble.

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Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV VMAs.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The singer posed with her signature tongue out.

Later, she wore a bear leotard on stage.

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Miley Cyrus performing at the 2013 VMAs.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Her performance included dancing bears.

She ended the show with a performance in a nude two-piece. The performance was with Robin Thicke and went viral.

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Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus performed at the 2013 MTV VMAs.Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Cyrus and Thicke were both criticized for this performance.

No one quite knew what to expect when Lady Gaga emerged wearing this all-white outfit and square for her 2013 performance, but it lent itself to a number of costume changes.

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Lady Gaga at the 2013 MTV VMAs.Rick Diamond/Getty Images for MTV

She was almost completely covered at first, but it expertly hid different outfits.

Katy Perry and Riff Raff channeled Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in the all-denim outfits they wore in 2014.

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Katy Perry and Riff Raff at the 2014 MTV VMAs.Jason Merritt/Getty Images for MTV

It was all coordinated.

The 2015 VMA's were full of bright and fun outfits, like Frankie Grande's glittery chest.

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Frankie Grande at the 2015 MTV VMAs.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

It matched his hair.

But nothing topped host Miley Cyrus. She changed into a number of outfits, like this daring look.

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Miley Cyrus during the red carpet at the 2015 MTV VMAs.Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The straps just covered her chest.

She swapped it out for this barely-there look.

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Miley Cyrus had several unforgettable looks at the 2015 MTV VMAs.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The dots were strategically placed.

Cyrus topped herself one more time as a colorful rainbow.

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Miley Cyrus at the 2015 MTV VMAs.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Cyrus came out on stage as a giant rainbow square.

Frankie Grande showed up on the carpet in 2016 with "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars" stars dressed in some iconic past outfits like Lady Gaga's meat dress, Lil' Kim's purple pasty dress, and Britney Spears' snake outfit.

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Frankie Grande and the stars of "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars" at the 2016 MTV VMAs.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Everyone looked amazing.

Nev Schulman and his then-pregnant wife Laura Perlongo took the carpet in 2016, but she wasn't wearing a shirt under her jacket.

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Nev Schulman and Laura Perlongo at the 2016 MTV VMAs.Jamie McCarthy/Getty

The look was surprisingly a common one at the 2016 awards show.

In 2016, social media star Baddie Wrinkle went all out in a nude jumpsuit.

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Baddie Wrinkle at the 2016 MTV VMAs.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Her cane was also bedazzled.

Nicki Minaj rocked a pink latex top with matching pants in 2017.

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Nicki Minaj attends the 2017 MTV VMAs.Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Her heels were orange and pink.

Jared Leto's sparkly jacket cape shined on the carpet that same year.

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30 Seconds to Mars at the 2017 MTV VMAs.Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The other 30 Seconds to Mars members were more casual.

2017 host Katy Perry wore a spacesuit during part of the show.

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Katy Perry flies into 2017 the MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It was shiny.

She also wore a robotic baby at one point that same year.

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Katy Perry at the 2017 MTV VMAs.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Perry wore the fake baby inside a grey baby carrier bag.

In 2018, Amber Rose channeled a devil in this latex number.

Amber Rose attends the MTV VMAs
Amber Rose at the 2018 MTV VMAs.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Rose accessorized with a matching red whip.

Asian Doll wore a "Clueless" inspired outfit.

Asian Doll attends the MTV VMAS
Asian Doll at the 2018 MTV VMAS.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The rapper got into the look while posing like "Clueless'" main character, Cher Horowitz.

Nicki Minaj paired a leotard with a long see-through skirt in 2018.

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Nicki Minaj turned a one-piece into a dress.Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The same night Minaj won the award for best hip-hop video for "Chun-Li."

Rita Ora opted for a sheer gown again at the 2018 VMAs.

Rita Ora attends the MTV VMAs
Rita Ora attends the MTV VMAs.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

She accessorized the look with slicked-back hair and fun eyebrow makeup.

"Orange Is the New Black's" Dascha Polanco turned heads in a grey see-through dress.

Dascha Polanco attends the MTV VMAs
Dascha Polanco attends the MTV VMAs.Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for MTV

Her silver eye makeup added an extra edginess to the look.

Madonna wore a printed tunic and silver-horned headpiece with layered necklaces.

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Madonna poses in the press room at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards Press Room at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018.Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

She caused quite the controversy for the outfit and was accused of appropriating Moroccan culture (which the outfit was inspired by).

Veronica Vega wore a skirt made of enlarged dollar bills.

Veronica Vega at the 2019 MTV VMAs
Veronica Vega attends the 2019 MTV VMAs.Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Getty Images

The "Love & Hip Hop: Miami" star's see-through chain-link bra and skirt combo was one of the more interesting VMA looks. It was definitely a head-turner.

Taylor Swift wore one of her most colorful outfits to the 2019 VMAs.

Taylor Swift attends the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards
Taylor Swift attends the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.Bryan Bedder/WireImage via Getty Images

Swift was inspired by the no-pants trend and accessorized with thigh-high boots.

Ava Max wore a superhero-inspired look.

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Fans weren't sure what to make of Ava Max's superhero look, but she was teasing an upcoming music video.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/WireImage

Max's look was made with metallic fabric in shades of red, black, and silver. The outfit turned out to be a tease for Max's music video, "Torn," where she plays a woman who goes undercover as a heroine.

Rapper Justina Valentine made a statement with a colorful pantsuit.

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Valentine's vibrant hair matched her outfit.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/WireImage

The outfit was covered in the words "Nasty Woman" multiple times in neon colors.

Miley Cyrus made a big return to the show this year with a see-through gown over a two-piece.

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Miley Cyrus at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards.Vijat Mohindra/Getty Images

Cyrus paired matching gloves with her Mugler midi dress.

The singer gave fans a blast from the past when she channeled her 2013 "Wrecking Ball" music video while performing her new single, "Midnight Sky."

Lady Gaga took the stage with a few interesting looks.

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Lady Gaga wore this outfit to accept song of the year for collaboration with Ariana Grande on "Rain on Me."Kevin Winter/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images for MTV

The singer looked like she stepped out of her Chromatica album with a colorful dress that showcased rainbow fringe.

She accepted the MTV tricon award wearing a shimmering silver gown, wig, headpiece, and matching mask.

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Lady Gaga accepts the MTV Tricon Award.Kevin Winter/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images for MTV

This was the show's inaugural tricon award. The award recognizes an artist who excels across three or more areas.

Ashanti dominated the 2021 red carpet with a bold cut-out dress and a braid that touched the floor.

Ashanti is in a black cut-out dress on the MTV VMAs red carpet
Ashanti attends the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center on September 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.Noam Galai/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

The black dress by Michael Costello featured straps that went all the way from the singer's neck to her ankle.

Lil Nas X looked absolutely ethereal.

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Lil Nas X attends the 2022 MTV VMAs at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022, in Newark, New Jersey.Cindy Ord/WireImage

The "Industry Baby" rapper ditched his shirt, wearing a feathered skirt over sparkling black pants, paired with a feathered headpiece from designer Harris Reed.

Many were quick to point out it was a remix of model Iman's gold look from the 2022 Met Gala.

Doja Cat wowed at the 2023 awards in a dress resembling spider webs.

Doja Cat wears a spider web like dress on the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards red carpet.
Doja Cat attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

The singer wore nude underwear beneath the revealing pink-carpet showstopper.

Karol G wore a see-through stunner.

Karol G attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, New Jersey.
Karol G attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards in Newark, New Jersey.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

The singer walked the carpet in the sheer look before performing "Oki Doki" and her part of "Tá OK" at the 2023 show in a pink fishnet leotard.

Tinashe wore a daring look, attending in a barely-there outfit.

Tinashe attends the MTV Video Music Awards pink carpet in a sheer dress with only nipple tape.
Tinashe attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Singer, dancer, and actor Tinashe only wore tape underneath her sheer see-through dress.

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