R&B fashion still lives on! From Motown pioneers to today’s current R&B artists, we’ve seen fashion styles that made major statements, influenced fans and transcended decades.  Here’s a little more insight as well as interesting R&B hacks .


Graphic tees have always been a huge part of R&B fashion that dates back to the 70’s. It started out as a way to promote a cause or be  representative of something specific and it was meant to be seen and heard. 

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Baseball tees and jerseys for men were extremely popular in Standing up for something. At the time everyone was representing their voice through fashion.

R&B fashion
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Ike & Tina Turner photographed by Tony Frank, 1971. For the Black Panther movement.
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The Rolling Stones cover for some girls

The 70’s SOUL

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community throughout the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz.

Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa. 


With this came the African traditional fashion fusioned with the American look. This meant Bright colors, patterns and bold designs and graphics. Finally African Americans were able to voice themselves through music and creative expression. This would later transition into R&B that evoked a new style.

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80’s and emerging R&B

Contemporary R&B originated at the end of the disco era in the late-1970s, when Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones added more electronic elements to the sound of the time to create a smoother dancefloor-friendly. Along with this a new modern style came to emerge – a more youthful colorful appearance along with wild hairdos and striking makeup 

The Native Tongues is a collective of late 1980s and early 1990s hip-hop artists known for their positive-minded, good-natured Afrocentric lyrics and unique beats.

80’s fashion became in touch with accessorizing – think big sunglasses, big jewelry, and sneakers with fat laces.  Go big or go home, and clearly, no one went home.

We also see this in Will Smith’s look in ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ . Bold colors, baggy tees and funky sneakers 

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90’s baby 

Women’s trends complimented the Afrocentric look until that trend faded and those colors turned basic and weren’t any more special than orange or blue or purple. Younger women were entering the scene, and by the mid 90’s, we had artists like Aaliyah and Destiny’s child setting the trend/balancing act of contrasting over-sized with super tight. She debuted her album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” and showcased her obsession with Tommy Hilfiger and her midriff.

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Aaliyah’s look was very tomboy chic: oversized baggy low pants, tight crop tops, outerwear, oversized jerseys

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Beyoncé from Destiny’s child rocked cropped baseball tees, tracks and those old school dreads.

R&B Still coming around 

The R&B  look is still coming around majorly in the music industry – through music videos, magazine photo shoots and through current trends. Bruno Mars & Cardi B’s ‘Finesse’ Hits No. 1 on Adult R&B Songs Chart.

Bruno Mars from his third studio album, 24K Magic … Atkinson added, “the combination of Mars’ nostalgic R&B paired with Cardi’s Rosie Perez-channeling swagger was undeniable”.”

~ Slant Magazines
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Rihanna rocking a chic jersey dress on a summer day.

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Current trends focusing on R&B looks and accessories. The Fashion Industry is doing a whole throwback on the 90’s R&B look – colorful sunglasses , retro outfits and chunky shoes.

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