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Whitney Houston was the Ultimate Style Icon, and We Have the Receipts


On the music legend’s birthday, relives some of her most dazzling fashion and beauty moments; and how they include a number of tips that would still come in handy to this very day.

Today, Whitney Houston would have turned 60 and a special celebration for a great cause is taking place in her honor. 

This evening, the second annual Whitney Houston Legacy of Love Gala, presented by The Estate of Whitney E. Houston, Primary Wave Music and Sony Corporation of America, will benefit the late singer’s foundation, aimed at awarding several scholarships to students studying the arts at historically Black colleges and universities. Founded in 1989, the endowed institution’s gala is happening at Atlanta’s St. Regis Hotel, and some of Houston’s close friends like Bebe Winans and Kim Burrel will perform, as will Whitney’s brother, Gary, who toured with her for thirty years. Legendary hitmaker Clive Davis, chief creative officer at Sony Music Entertainment, is the event’s honorary chairperson and special guests will include Recording Academy president Harvey Mason Jr., gamma founder/CEO Larry Jackson and Houston’s longtime music director Rickey Minor. 

As part of the festivities, a silent auction will be held and one of the hottest items on the auction block is a lavender-colored dress Dolly Parton wore when she sang “I Will Always Love You” at Country Music Television’s 100 Greatest Love Songs of Country Music special in 2004. The garment holds an expressly special sentiment, as its color was known to be Houston’s favorite – a fitting testament to her incredibly influential sense of style.

Whenever we hear the name Whitney Houston, it is impossible to not think about her universally infectious tunes such as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or “How Will I Know?” Heck, we might even feel the sudden urge to rewatch The Bodyguard. But, just as it is out of the question to not think about her remarkable career, we also can’t help but reflect on her intentional yet effortless beauty looks and signature fashion style. 

From her ubiquitous smokey-eye makeup and chic outfits to classic updos and voluminous curls accented with gorgeous color changes, Whitney defined generations. She was a true source of inspiration – a certified style legend even – and deserves also to be remembered as such. 

Looking back at the star’s most iconic style moments from the 80s and 90s, we’ve recognized how they still contain some seriously mood-board-worthy style lessons. So, we went ahead and gathered some of Whitney’s best looks – and offered our “two cents” on why they’re surely worth keeping in mind.

Remember Classic Combinations

Whitney would often style structured jackets with blue jeans, and today, the look makes for a great go-to, whether you’re headed to the office or going out for dinner and drinks. The bottom layer (t-shirts, camisoles and turtlenecks are nice options) and different shoe or sneaker styles can easily switch up the aesthetic. 

Reach for Sequins

Whether it is a gown, mini dress or a caftan-style cardigan, it never hurts to go with something that has a little (or a lot of) sparkle. The superstar welcomed sequins on and off the stage and made certain they didn’t only steal the show but were fun, as well.

Flip it Out

At the 2000 Grammys, when Whitney won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, she blazed the red carpet with a flirty, flipped-ends hairstyle accompanied by deep purple lips and a smokey eye, all of which are having a moment right now.

Add a Little ‘Extra’

Whitney showed us that it was okay to forget the notion of less is moremore is more, especially in terms of accessories. It’s that final touch, like a scarf or a headband, that can give a pulled-together look but with some extra oomph.

Don’t Forget The Classic French Twist Updo

As we know, Whitney Houston was a signed model and actor before she became a singer. As seen here, in one of her first professional photoshoots in 1980, she was seen with naturally classic, French-twisted hair that perfectly played up her off-the-shoulder Giovanni Demoura cheetah print dress.  

Embrace a Color Scheme

A connoisseur of monochromatic outfits, Houston always proved that sometimes, one color can be both simple and super chic.

Go for Layers With Side Bangs

In one of her last events before she died, Houston made one beautifully strong case for the side-vs-middle part debate. She was spotted at the Clive Davis and The Recording Academy’s Annual Pre-Grammy Gala, sporting a sophisticated layered lob haircut with a deep side part, natural eyeshadow and a warm, tawny-toned lip color.

Keep a Leather Layer on Hand

What outfit wouldn’t be made better without the help of a great leather jacket? Houston relied on this definitive outerwear solution for both casual and dressy occasions, typically using blazer-like and moto-inspired versions to complete her looks.

Coordinate With Pastel Eyeshadow

In 1985, Houston continued to ascend the ranks following the success of her first, self-titled album; and on a visit to London, where it was also topping the charts, she was spotted wearing pastel-purple eyeshadow, a major part of a color palette that is currently dominating 2023. Play with pale purples, baby blues and greens by blending them up to your crease for a dramatic pop of color or use them to create a soft wing for a more understated look.

Pump Up The Volume

Whitney was a fan of floral embellishment, ruffles and tiers, and in many ways, the ‘80s fashion trend has returned. Go ahead and add that full, bubble bottom or embellished puffed-sleeve top to your closet. They are ideas which the fashion icon would definitely cosign.

Go for Bold Prints

2023 has seen a resurgence of bold, colorful prints. A fun and playful way to inject some life into your outfit, they are perfect for summer but can also be worn year-round. Don’t be afraid to mix them – when paired together, they look amazing.

Simple Can Always be Sexy

Whitney knew that a solid-colored dress with a high neckline was all she needed to command a room. Her adding a pair of drop earrings instantly upped the elegance factor, too. 

Consider a Standout Shoulder

Can’t figure out what to wear to that fancy, festive event you were invited to? An elegant ensemble, complete with an eye-catching shoulder detail, is always a look that gives demure yet statement-making vibes.

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