The MTV Video Music Awards are a special kind of awards show. Compared to the Grammys or the Oscars or even the Golden Globes, the VMAs are less prestigious, more accepting of bad behaviour, and overall — let's be honest — often more fun. Kind of like a regular awards show's younger, drunker little brother, who just shaved his head and who may or may not end the night by puking in the bushes.
For that reason, the fashion usually corresponds to an aesthetic that can best and most generously be described as "wacky." Unconstrained from the expectations of ballgowns and tuxes, people attending the VMAs tend to take risks. Think of the most memorable VMA outfits from the past: there's Rose McGowan's 1998 completely sheer beaded dress, which she's explained she meant as a protest about how women's bodies are viewed after her alleged rape by Harvey Weinstein. There's Lil' Kim's iconic lavender pantsuit-and-boob-pasty combo from 1998. And who could forget the meat dress Lady Gaga wore in 2010, or Dennis Rodman wearing a shimmery tank top in 1995?
It's hard to make an impression anymore — we can't think of many outfits from recent awards that have attracted that kind of attention, although some of this year's attendees sure did try. Here are some of this year's most memorable outfits.
- Wow: Cardi BNicholas Hunt via Getty Images
- What? Dascha PolancoNicholas Hunt via Getty Images
- Wow: Shawn MendesKevin Mazur via Getty Images
- What? Lil Xan and Noah CyrusMike Coppola via Getty Images
- Combo Wow and What? Pete Davidson and Ariana GrandePaul Zimmerman via Getty Images
- Wow: Amara La NegraNicholas Hunt via Getty Images
- What? Nico TortorellaDia Dipasupil via Getty Images
- Wow: Bryce VineNicholas Hunt via Getty Images
- What? Chloe x HalleDia Dipasupil via Getty Images
- Modified Wow: Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka'OirJamie McCarthy via Getty Images
- What? Camilla CabelloNicholas Hunt via Getty Images
- On the Fence: SZANicholas Hunt via Getty Images
- Wow in an "Only Amber Rose Could Pull This Off" kind of way: Amber RoseJamie McCarthy via Getty Images
- What? Audrina PatridgeANGELA WEISS via Getty Images
- Wow: Bobby LytesMatthew Eisman via Getty Images
- What? Tiffany HaddishJamie McCarthy via Getty Images
- Wow: Olivia MunnKevin Mazur via Getty Images
- What? Sabrina CarpenterANGELA WEISS via Getty Images