A Brief History of Celebs Wearing Lingerie on the Red Carpet

It’s hard to remember a time when celebrities weren’t pretty much always naked in public, but indeed that more modest, less chilly era did once exist. Before the rise of the sheer dress or the #freethenipple movement or even that little thing called the side boob, one brave woman chose to forgo a functional covering and proudly bare her underwear as outerwear for all to see. And so a star—and a trend—was born.

The 18 Greatest Emmys Red Carpet Looks of All Time

barbara streisand at the 1969 academy awards
Ron Gaiella/Getty Images

Barbra Streisand, 1969 Academy Awards

It may have been accidental, but we likely have Barbra Streisand to thank for the visible lingerie trend. Streisand didn’t know the bright lights at the Oscars would cause her already fashion-forward sequined sailor suit to turn transparent. But don’t feel too bad for her—she also walked away with an award for Best Actress for Funny Girl that night.

cher at the 1974 academy awards
Ron Gaiella/Getty Images

Cher, 1974 Academy Awards

This was not the first nor the last time the icon wore a barely-there bra-like top, but it was certainly one of the greatest. And also perhaps one of the smallest, given the amount of under-boob we’re privy to.

madonna at the 1984 mtv music video awards
David McGough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Madonna, 1984 Mtv Music Video Awards

Madonna has been championing underwear as outerwear basically since the womb. And yet this not-so-virginal bridal look still caused a huge stir, not just because of its overtly sexy style, but also because Madge wore it to perform "Like a Virgin" while writhing around atop a giant wedding cake. You do you, girl. 

cher at the 1986 academy awards
Julian Wasser/Getty Images

Cher (again), 1986 Academy Awards

Yes, we already mentioned Cher’s influence on the “bra as shirt” movement, but it would be impossible to talk about lingerie-inspired red carpet looks without bringing up this absolutely iconic Bob Mackie number. Though to be honest, that feathered Mohawk almost made us forget about the dress altogether. Almost.

sarah jessica parker at the 1991 premiere of for the boys
Barry King/Getty Images

Sarah Jessica Parker, 1991 Premiere Of 'for The Boys’

Is she scratching her head because she only just realized she left her shirt at home? Or perhaps because she misread “red carpet” as “magic carpet”? We couldn’t help but wonder…WTF was going on with this outfit?

tlc at the 1995 mtv video music awards
Ron Gaiella/Getty Images

Tlc, 1995 Mtv Video Music Awards

Parachute pants on the bottom, shredded Victorian corset on the top!

rose mcgowan at the 1998 mtv music video awards
Ronald Siemonet/Getty Images

Rose Mcgowan, 1998 Mtv Music Video Awards

McGowan was definitely one of the first to actively choose to walk a red carpet with both breasts exposed and her rear in full view. Though when your date is Marilyn Manson in an iridescent pimp suit, we suppose you have to do something to get noticed.

lil kim at the 1999 mtv music video awards
KMazur/Getty Images

Lil' Kim, 1999 Mtv Music Video Awards

The nipple pasty makes sense. The shoulder and elbow ones? We still have questions.

jennifer lopez at the 2000 grammy awards
Scott Gries/Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez, 2000 Grammy Awards

Fun fact: So many people were searching for photos of this sexy robe-inspired dress immediately following its red carpet debut, that it spurred the creation of Google Images. So thank you to JLo and Versace.

destiny s child at the 2001 release of the album survivor
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Destiny's Child, 2001 Release Of The Album 'survivor’

And on the seventh day, God created Beyoncé, and dressed her in go-go boots and a leather bralette.

britney spears at the 2001 mtv video music awards
George De Sota/Getty Images

Britney Spears, 2001 Mtv Video Music Awards

Brit couldn’t even sit in this extremely short ensemble. So instead she changed into booty shorts and a green bra top with a live boa constrictor. You know, so she could be comfortable.

janet jackson at the 2002 vanity fair oscars party
Greg DeGuire/Getty Images

Janet Jackson, 2002 Vanity Fair Oscars Party

Thank goodness Janet had this floor-length suede and fur duster to keep her warm.

eve at the 2002 teen choice awards
SGranitz/Getty Images

Eve, 2002 Teen Choice Awards

At this point, Eve’s bustier and jeans combo feels tame enough to wear to dinner with your in-laws.

lindsay lohan at the 2004 post mtv music video awards party
Jean-Paul Aussenard/Getty Images

Lindsay Lohan, 2004 Post Mtv Music Video Awards Party

The early aughts was a rough time for both LiLo and fashion in general. Was this a teddy picked up from Hot Topic or a designer dress? We honestly have no idea.

pink at the 2006 mtv video music awards
John Shearer/WireImage for

Pink, 2006 Mtv Video Music Awards

Thank you, Pink, for demonstrating the most tasteful way to show off your brassiere: with serious pinstripe trousers and a ruffled blouse.

katy perry and miley cyrus at the 2008 mtv video music awards
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Katy Perry, 2008 Mtv Video Music Awards

"I know what matches my 1950s pin-up panties: A sequined American flag clutch and magenta heels!" (Also: Look at Baby Miley, soaking it all in and envisioning a world where she can swing naked on a giant steel ball while licking a hammer.)

lady gaga and cindy lauper at the 2010 amfar new york gala
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MAC Cosmetics

Lady Gaga, 2010 Amfar Gala In New York

Pop quiz: What's the best way to accessorize a white studded bra and panty set? With a matching cropped leather jacket, Breton cap and platform lace-up boots. Duh.

nicki minaj at the 2011 mtv movie awards
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/Getty Images

Nicki Minaj, 2011 Mtv Video Movie Awards

We had no idea our closets were missing the crucial addition of a BDSM-inspired vest with matching push-up bra, but Nicki Minaj, ever the forward thinker, did.

selena gomez at the 2013 mtv video music awards
Jaime McCarthy/Getty Images

Selena Gomez, 2013 Mtv Video Music Awards

Think of this as Atelier Versace's homage to 50 Shades of Grey, which hit shelves just two years prior and was still riding the best-seller list. 

rihanna at the 2014 cfdas
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Rihanna, 2014 Cfdas

Bad Gal RiRi once told reporters that this ensemble was her only fashion regret ever. To be clear, she said she regretted wearing a nude thong instead of a matching bedazzled one. The rest of the look is utter perfection.

miley cyrus at the 2015 mtv video music awards
Mark Ralston/Getty Images

Miley Cyrus, 2015 Mtv Video Music Awards

To call this ensemble lingerie feels like a stretch, but then again it is most certainly not a dress. While other celebs have dabbled in naked-esque styles, we think it’s safe to say Cyrus is the queen of skin-bearing fashion. (Also who knows? This probably is what Miley wears under her clothes on any given Wednesday.)

bella hadid at the2017 amfar gala at cannes
David M. Benett/Getty Images

Bella Hadid, 2017 Amfar Gala At Cannes

All hail the return of the granny panty.

kendall jenner at the 2017 met gala
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Kendall Jenner, 2017 Met Gala

What’s a gal to do when she doesn’t have the cleavage to make this metallic mesh gown look really scandalous? Wear a string thong, of course.

elsa hosk at the 2018 vanity fair oscars party
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Elsa Hosk, 2018 Vanity Fair Oscars Party

Look, if you’re a Victoria’s Secret model, we assume you wear a strapless bra, high-waisted panties and transparent sparkle gown to do your dishes. But whatever your reasoning, long live the red-carpet underpants party. 



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...