Style

25 Bowie looks that proved he was the ultimate style icon

One of the greats.

Such was his brilliance, the late David Bowie's legacy won't be confined merely to his musical opus. Far from it.

With more outfits than Mr Benn - along with alter-egos to match - Bowie's love for fashion, which saw him take on many guises over the past six decades, marks him out as one of the most stylish male icons to walk the earth. The man's sartorial boldness knew no bounds.

So join us now as we revisit his style down the years.

  • 25 Bowie looks that proved he was the ultimate style icon

    1960s

    Before his transformation into rock god, Bowie's first career incarnation was very of the era: mop top, plain shirt and not a lick of paint in sight.

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    1960s

    Years before Aladdin Sane, Bowie was already rocking in the genie look like nobody's business.

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    1960s

    He might look like a cast member of original Star Wars trilogy, but, let us tell you, back then leather waistcoats were all the rage.

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    1969

    The end of the sixties marked a big change in Bowie's simple style attitudes: his ruffled, wild locks already at complete contrast with his mop top of a decade before; a hint of stubble. This isn't a mug shot, by the way - the only thing criminal here was the bad lighting.

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    1970

    Ah yes, the eyepatch - a style trademark born not as a superfluous nature but as a result of a bad eye infection which threatened a tour in Holland. "I had conjunctivitis," he later admitted, "so I made the most of it and dressed like a pirate. Just stopped short of the parrot." 

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    1970s

    See? No parrot. Or spaceship for that matter. Utterly cool mind. Completing the look of space pirate with neckerchief, hoop earring - not to mention the now iconic mullet - this was glam rock at its edgiest.

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    1970s

    Cutting more of an informal figure during another tour in the Netherlands, Bowie pretty invented a new sort of smoking jacket.

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    1972

    An early tease of what would become Bowie's Thin White Duke. An androgynous alter ego that oozed high-end fashion with white shirt, black trousers and black waistcoat, his tightly slicked back hair serving to highlight the singer's hollow cheeks and gaunt complexion.

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    1973

    With The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie gave birth to another legend. Ziggy played guitar and he wasn't a fan of sleeves either.

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    1974, rebel rebel TOTP performance

    Snapped on the same day he performed Rebel Rebel on Top of the Pops (remember that?), the star more than lived up to the lyrics. His messy haircut, pointy necklace and TWO turned up collars signalling something of a bad boy at play.

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    1975

    "This time next year, Rodney." Okay, so while the Del Boy comparisons are hard to ignore, the fact style icons Samuel L Jackson and David Beckham have turned to the flat cap at one stage or another should be enough to show how ahead of the curve Bowie was. Mind you, Yorkshiremen will disagree.

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    Man who fell to earth 1976

    Berlin era Bowie now. He wouldn't have made a good spy (let's just say his favourite charlie around this time wouldn't have been a checkpoint) but he could wear the hell out of a fedora. The one gracefully sitting on his noggin here casts a shadow over those famous flaming locks.

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    1980s

    Short blond hair, suits that wouldn't look amiss on Wall Street, no make up - the eighties also saw something of a more macho makeover for the star who finally put a bit of meat on his bones.

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    1986

    Jareth the Goblin King, the ruler of the Goblins in the iconic film Labyrinth, dedicated follower of impractical fashion. What a film, what a look.

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    1987

    Why bother unbuttoning a denim shirt when you can sack off the buttons entirely? Almost looking like the third member of Wham, we bet he's holding a massive barbell too.

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    1989

    Again showcasing a more stripped back macho image, harking back to his formative days, it's also interesting to see Bowie sporting facial hair. Some may even go as far as to say it's peak Bowie, and given that the nineties weren't exactly kind to his sartorial choices, they may well be right.

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    1991

    Dad style rating? 8.

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    1992, performing with Annie Lennox, Wembley

    Annie might have taken her cues from Brandon Lee in The Crow, but not Bowie. Wearing a large bright teal jacket, he's essentially the anti-goth. And good on him.

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    1995

    MORE facial hair. Hurrah! Paired with a slicked back hair do, it looks the business, as does the grey turtleneck and a smart fitting jacket which, could have seen him pass as a low level wise guy working in the Mob-ran Vegas of the seventies.

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    1996

    Giving Beetlejuice a run for his money, Bowie looked seriously at home in this unconventionally black and white striped outfit. If he were any more laid back he'd be asleep.

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    1999

    Channelling nineties' contemporary Bon Jovi - and managing to pull off long locks and bold colourings with far more sensibility. 

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    2002

    There aren’t many people that can sport some Lennon-esque sunglasses and not force you to draw comparisons to the late Beatle, but this look is all Bowie. And that’s before you take in his locks, a Labyrinth barnet for the noughties. 

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    2004

    It’s easy to guffaw at the blonde highlights now but at the time this was trend adopted by everybody from Beckham to… erm, *NSync and The Thin White Duke was up there with the best of them, giving it a euro spin with his oft-worn neckerchief.

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    2007

    The refined sartorial look of Bowie that’s become ingrained in our psyche over the recent years. Opting for fine tailoring than garish statements, the certified English gent. Teamed with a timeless hairstyle that betrays the fact that at this point Bowie was 60-years old and still slicker than a BP Christmas party.

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    2015

    Bowie in his last music video, with the title track of recently released album Blackstar. A refined look from the icon that tiptoes just along the right side of gothic. The hairstyle in particular is the type of doo that East End hipsters have been clambering for for a while, and only serves to prove that even in his later years, Bowie was still ahead of the style curve.