After first hitting the music scene in 2005, Rihanna quickly rose to pop icon status with back-to-back albums. Though she has taken an extended pause from dropping any new music since 2017 (*side eye*), she has remained in the cultural zeitgeist through her numerous business ventures — namely, Savage X Fenty and Fenty Beauty, not to mention the several collabs with brands like Puma.
After the mogul has finally dropped new music and announced she’ll be headlining the 2023 Super Bowl, I was inspired to take a trip down memory lane. I went down a '00s-era Rihanna wormhole, which revealed a plethora of incredible outfits I totally forgot about.
Today, Rihanna sets, defines, and defies trends every time she gets dressed. A decade ago, however, she was still cultivating her personal style — and it involved a lot of crop tops. Back then, RiRi's look was similar to established pop stars like Britney Spears, Beyoncé, and Christina Aguilera with bikini tops, capri pants, and denim skirts abound.
Rihanna would eventually evolve her look, making daring, high fashion looks her trademark. But back in the '00s? She played it a little safer — nothing like the edgy street style or dramatic red carpet looks she would be known for years later. Though she was still figuring out her vibe, there were plenty of moments in her early days that would hint at the fashion icon she would later become. Let's revisit them, shall we?
1. Bikini As A Top
This gold bikini top doubled as a shirt for this outfit. The glitzy, revealing look was giving big Deseny’s Child vibes. And peep the single glove to match.
2. Pin-Up Style
Rihanna has always loved a mini dress (and still does). Back in 2005, she rocked this flared black and white skirt — an iconic ‘00s silhouette.
3. Cropped Vest
A vest and cuffed capris were the epitome of ‘00s style — trends I’m thankful stayed in that era.
Though she looks undeniably stylish, the military-esqe shirt dress was definitely toned-down by current Rihanna standards.
5. Cowboy Boots & Lace
The denim mini, the pewter cowboy boots, and the lacy babydoll tank? It’s giving “you’re watching Disney Channel.”
6. Sporty Street Style
Rihanna’s streetwear game is the strongest there is — even back in the 2000s, with this sporty top, baggy jeans, and sneaker combo.
7. Flared Miniskirt
Her trumpet skirt and crisp white top isn’t a far cry from the Miu Miu set that would later take over the fashion industry. Good girl gone bad, indeed.
8. Casual In Cashmere
This ivory sweater and brown boot moment positively screams ‘2000s fashion.’
9. All-Over Metallic
The artist’s early rock n’ roll looks included liquid metallic babydoll dresses and fingerless gloves.
10. Marilyn Monroe-Esque
This frock — which looked a lot like Marilyn Monroe's infamous dress — was a harbinger of the sultry look Rihanna would eventually make her trademark. I totally forgot about this moment, but I still love it.
11. Nautical Details
Her belted performance romper was actually really cute. I definitely copied this look in the ‘00s.
12. Houndstooth & Suspenders
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a pair of 2000s-era suspenders.
13. Art Deco
The beauty entrepreneur rocked a tiered mermaid gown to accept her award as Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist at the 2007 American Music Awards. NGL, I’d love to see her revive this baby today.
If anyone was surprised when Rihanna moved into the lingerie business, I’d direct them to this photo. Ya girl has been doing it right for years.
15. Mid-2000s Neons
This highlighter yellow pant with a flared top is so aggressively mid ‘00s, it’s like looking back into my own closet.
16. Pastel Cupcake Gown
This yellow Giambattista Valli dress, worn in 2008, is nothing compared to the yellow Guo Pei gown she wore at the 2015 Met Gala. I’m just sayin’.
17. Statement Shoulders
Check out those statement shoulders! This look seems wild now, but back then, this was culture in the making.
18. Shoulder Pads & Bandages
Ahhh, the era of bandage dresses (and bodysuits, apparently). The nostalgia is real with this one.
19. Asymmetric Hemlines
Her laser-cut, black and white dress is far away from the basic sweater and jeans she favored earlier in the decade. This is the Rihanna we know and love.
20. OG Barbiecore
It’s no surprise that the Bad Gal was 15 years ahead of the Barbiecore trend. Here’s hoping she still has this little number in her closet.
21. Star Spangled
This starry halter dress feels so anti-Rihanna, it’s like looking at a totally different person.
22. Bold Cutouts
This one-shoulder Robert Cavalli gown was an early look at the jaw-dropping red carpet moments Rihanna would provide in the following decade.
23. Bubble Dress
The bubble dress silhouette was definitely worn to my high school homecoming dance more than once. Naturally, Rihanna wore it better than most.
24. Leggings As Pants
The dress-over-capri-leggings combo is giving me flashbacks to high school — and it’s not pretty.
25. Punk Goes Pop
I absolutely lived for RiRi’s punk era. This spiky, studded, covered-in-chains corset could easily be worn today. Ahead of the fashion curve, as always.
26. Fedora & A Waist Belt
Nothing says early ‘00s like a fedora and a massive belt. The elbow-length gloves have been brought back in 2022, but this Victorian-era button up can stay in the early aughts (sorry, not sorry).
27. Cherry Red Accessories
I think we all had a pair of red, patent leather pumps during this era, so I can’t really fault her.
28. Babydoll Mini
I wouldn’t be mad if this glitzy fit-and-flare made its way back to the red carpet. CC: Rihanna’s stylist.
29. Bandage Dress
The bandage dress trend was everywhere in the 2000s, from the Kardashians to Rihanna herself. TBH, I kind of like this take on it.
30. Lingerie As Outerwear
Ending on this look felt appropriate, given Rihanna’s hugely successful lingerie brand. She always knows how it’s done.
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