7 of Cher’s most iconic outfits
For nearly half a century Cher has not only been dazzling us with her talent and creativity, but also her exceptional style. Often elaborate and risk-taking in nature, Cher’s beaded, feathered, and sequined outfits have continued to make a statement even decades later. They have also been a precious source of fashion inspiration for a younger generation of modern-day celebrities who continue to reference her looks — especially her naked dresses — whether walking the red carpet or performing on screen.
In honor of Cher’s 75th birthday, we revisit some of Cher’s most iconic outfits of the 70s and 80s.
Sonny Bono (left) and Cher perform on their CBS television program "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" in 1973. Photo by CBS via Getty Images.
On The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Show, circa 70s
Cher had countless costumes — such as this shimmering fuschia evening gown complete with matching wedge heels — made throughout The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Show,which was on air from 1971 through 1974. Intricately detailed and strikingly unique, Cher’s ensembles were made by the famous costume designer Bob Mackie and continue to inspire both designers and celebrities alike today. Cher met Mackie a few years earlier when she was a guest star on The Carol Burnett Show and the pair are still collaborating today. In fact, Mackie was recently nominated for a Tony award for Best Costume Design of a Musical for his work on the new Cher-inspired Broadway hit, TheCher Show.
Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
In a “naked dress” at the Met Gala, 1974
Cher wowed the world with her 1974 Met Gala look, which was dubbed the “Naked Dress” and was created by none other than Bob Mackie (whom she also walked the red carpet with). Cher went on to wear his creation on the cover of TIME magazine in 1975 as well, immortalizing the distinct design. Over four decades later a more contemporary rendition of this dress was worn by Kim Kardashian at the 2015 Met Gala. Kim was inspired by Cher’s iconic 70s dress and worked with Peter Dundas at Roberto Cavalli to create their own version of it.
Sonny Bono And Cher. Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage.
At the Academy Awards, 1973
Dressed in a sequined gold two-piece, Cher made her Oscars debut alongside Sonny Bono in 1973 to present the Best Song Original for Picture award to the composers of the disaster film The Poseidon Adventure. Cher’s midriff-bearing awards look continues to populate Instagram moodboards and resonate with young Hollywood even years later (Kim recreated this look for Halloween in 2017 too).
cher, elton john and diana ross posing at the rock music awards
With Elton John at the Rock Music Awards, 1975
At the Rock Music Awards in 1975 Cher wore a sequined ensemble with a barely-there bodice to present fellow musician, Elton John, with an award for Rock Personality of the Year. This 70s sequin two-piece look is one of Cher’s most referenced outfits. Emily Ratajkowski even put her own spin on the iconic number, with a very ‘naked’ two-piece designed by Peter Dundas, for the 2019 Met Gala.
Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images
The “Dancing Flames” Dress, 1978
Cher was photographed in 1978 by Los Angeles-based photographer, Harry Langdon, in a Mackie costume known as The Dancing Flames dress. The design was later worn by not only one but four other superstars — Tina Turner, RuPaul, Beyonce and Lynda Carter. We stan a gay icon.
Cher. Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage.
For the 58th Academy Awards, 1986
For the 58th Academy Awards, Cher presented the award for Best Supporting Actor wearing a sequined and feathered Mackie ensemble complete with towering headdress. The choice was exceptionally daring as it was a stark contrast to the simple gowns that were usually seen at award shows during that time. Providing inspiration for years after it was worn, the outfit also opened the door for more fearless red carpet fashion, allowing people to feel that they, too, could be unapologetically themselves.
“If I Could Turn Back Time” music video, 1989
In the music video for Cher’s 1989 hit, “If I Could Turn Back Time”, the singer wore a black leather jacket paired with a revealing, see-through bodysuit while singing atop the Battleship USS Missouri. She later went on to recreate this memorable look nearly 20 years on for her 2010 Video Music Awards performance (and Lady Gaga’s dance sequence costume the “Judas” references this very 80s getup). But no matter how many years pass or celeb references to her outfits are made, Cher will always be the ultimate fashion icon.
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- 7 Iconic Outfits
There is only one Cher. The Hollywood legend, who turns 75 today, occupies a singular space in pop culture. Sure, other singers act, but how many of them can claim to have remained relevant for six decades? Cher’s talent, versatility, and ability to pull off some of the most outlandish outfits ever worn by a celebrity have kept her in the limelight and inspired generations of performers. She may switch mediums every few years—her jump from musician, to variety show host, to Oscar-winning actress remains impressive—but Cher’s ability to command attention in any format is what makes her great. When she’s on stage, you’re either humming along to one of her melodies or dazzled by her latest Bob Mackie gown. Either way, you’re entertained.
Born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California, Cher’s journey from unknown to icon is a story of continuous transformation. When she burst onto the scene with then-husband Sonny Bono back in the early 1960s, she embodied the flower child styles of the period. With her long black hair, statuesque physique, and knack for pulling off psychedelic sixties trends, Cher would have stood out on her own, but her look came to life when she was side-by-side with Bono. The couple wasn’t afraid to experiment with their look and had fun coordinating with his and hers versions of the same trends. If Cher could pull off striped bell-bottoms and fringed vests, Sonny was game to try them too.
They took things up a notch with their variety series, The Sonny and Cher Show, which launched in 1971. Having met Bob Mackie years earlier while guesting on The Carol Burnett Show, Cher enlisted his talents for her costumes. A single episode could contain up to 20 different outfits, and Mackie used the opportunity to share fantastical fashion with the American public. Who but Cher would entertain the audience in belly-baring halter tops or marabou feathers and sequins? Each week she and Mackie went bigger and bolder.
The platform of a successful television show and plenty of pop hits made Cher a household name, but she sought to expand her oeuvre by the eighties. Though she’d done guest spots on classic series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Love, American Style, music had always come first. In 1982 Cher began to appear in high-profile dramas like Silkwood and Mask, and audiences who’d grown up on her campy TV persona had to adjust. The reinvention wouldn’t have been successful if Cher wasn’t a skilled actress, but her off-duty fashion helped shape the reinvention narrative. Her wardrobe of leather jackets, mini-dresses, and jeans was a move towards a simpler style, one that connected to the decade’s rock n’ roll aesthetic.
Straightforward fashion is nice, but when it came time to win her Oscar for Moonstruck in 1986, Cher didn’t hold back. By arriving at the ceremony in a custom Mackie crop top, skirt, and feathered headdress, she delivered one of the most memorable Oscar looks ever. An outlandish outlier during a time when actresses were expected to keep their outfits subdued, she picked up her award on her terms, jokingly telling the crowd that she’d received the handbook on how to dress like a serious actress.
Cher’s irreverence is part of her charm. She may be waltzing around in wearable art, but she isn’t self-serious. Her famous wardrobe is an expression of her artistry, but it’s also what she enjoys wearing. To this day, she keeps putting on over-the-top looks that delight her fans and followers. At 75, she’s wearing Rick Owens leather jackets, sequin-laden gowns, and that wild cut-out bodysuit from the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. Is it any wonder then that her pictures trend on Instagram and Gen-Z stars like Zendaya and Dua Lipa look to her when they need inspiration? Cher remains an icon, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
How to Dress Like a Fashion Icon: Cher
It’s the 1970s–forget everything you know about the Cher of today. Lose all the coloured wigs and jewel embellished leotards, replace the waves with looooong, centre-parted black hair and drop the dance-pop hits like “Believe” for pop-rock ballads from the original power-couple: Sonny and Cher. The duo sang, danced and laughed on their hit show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, but the real attraction was, of course, what Cher was wearing. Every Wednesday, she would appear on TV screens around the world, rocking some of the freshest hippie-chic looks—with a bod toned and taut enough to pull off even way daring choices.
But this circa-’75 era is just the beginning of a long and exciting journey for Cher’s personal style that also found her in iconic head-to-toe Bob Mackie for a red carpet appearance or slipping into a sexy rhinestoned bodysuit for a live solo performance after her and Sonny parted ways. Her personal style has continued to evolve and reflect the times, reminding why she’s the one and only Goddess of Pop (and will remain as such).
So let’s turn back time with these Cher-inspired looks from some of her greatest fashion days that you can rock right now.
1 / 19(Photo: Andre Csillag/REX/Shutterstock)
Cher performing in London, England.
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