For many, the Super Bowl halftime show is as much of an event as the Super Bowl itself, if not more so. Between the elaborate displays, over-the-top outfits, and the inevitable memes that follow, the performances are one of the biggest American pop culture experiences of each year.
As Justin Timberlake — and lamentably, Janet Jackson — proved in 2004, a performer’s wardrobe can often take center stage at the Super Bowl. More recent years have seen stars call on the world’s top designers to create custom outfits for the show, with many bearing exaggerated silhouettes or intricate details. From Lady Gaga in Versace to Beyoncé’s Black Panther-inspired look, reminisce on some of the most iconic looks in halftime history.
In 1996, Diana Ross performed four wardrobe changes in her Super Bowl XXX show, making a dramatic exit via helicopter. The singer was arguably the first to demonstrate the spectacular fashion possibilities of the Super Bowl halftime show.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's 2004 halftime show will live in infamy for what she wasn't wearing by the end — but her leather fit is worth mentioning all on its own. Designed by industry legend Alexander McQueen, the get-up featured a studded corset, leather fringe skirt, and naturally, matching boots.
Prince’s 2007 halftime show is widely regarded as one of the best Super Bowl performances of all time, likely because the artist played his top hit “Purple Rain” in the middle of a downpour. The rain — purple or not — didn’t stop Prince from showing out in a bright orange and blue suit, adorned with the artist’s signature purple guitar and a wrap to protect his hair.
In 2016, Beyoncé debuted her song “Formation” during her halftime performance, using it to bring awareness to recent acts of police brutality. Her studded leather jumpsuit, which nodded to Michael Jackson's outfit during his own performance in 1993, paired perfectly with those of her backup dancers, who wore berets akin to those of the Black Panther Party.
We’d be remiss not to mention Gaga on the Super Bowl best-dressed list. Already known for her over-the-top costumes, the artist pulled up to the 2017 halftime show completely covered in Swarovski crystals, from her eye makeup to her knee-high boots. She started her performance mid-air, a moment that sparked a million memes.
A medley of artists performed at the 2001 Super Bowl halftime show titled “The Kings of Rock and Pop,” each flaunting their own style in Y2K fits. Britney Spears nodded to fellow performer Steven Tyler with an Aerosmith crop top and metallic silver pants, while Tyler himself opted for a lace-up jersey in tune with the sports event.
Katy Perry underwent multiple wardrobe changes during her 2015 show: She started her set in a flame-adorned dress, later changing into a beach-ball-inspired set to perform hits like “Teenage Dream” and “California Gurls.” For her act with special guest Missy Elliot, Perry then changed into a custom jersey dress, closing out the show in a silver gown covered in metallic stars.
Shakira and J. Lo’s 2020 Super Bowl performance sought to spotlight Latino culture with guest appearances from J. Balvin and Bad Bunny, each of which brought their own fire fit(s). Shakira opened the act in a crystal-covered red dress, later matching J.Lo in a custom Versace bodysuit. Lopez then paid tribute to her Puerto Rican heritage with a custom Versace feather flag boasting 40,000 red, blue, and white feathers all individually sewn in.
Bad Bunny wore a jacket featuring 13,000 hand-selected and hand-sewn Swarovski stones, which matched his pair of custom Nike Blazer sneakers, also encrusted completely in Swarovski. Balvin took the opportunity to tease his then-unreleased Air Jordan 1 collaboration.