Arts & Entertainment
4 min

Our style guide for Madonna-wannabes

Her Madgesty's tour hits Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal


Her Madgesty, MLVC, Ritchie I, Queen of Pop, visits her loyal Canadian subjects this month with the sold-out Sticky and Sweet World Tour (see dates below). It will be Madonna’s first Canadian performances in more than two years and, as such, anxiously waiting Madonna-wannabes will be out in droves, representing their icon in outfits that capture her looks from throughout a 25-year reign.

In the mid 1980s the original Madonna-wannabes wanted to live in the “Lucky Star” and “Like a Virgin” videos, so they dressed the part. Madonna even officially recognized them in the fan montage at the beginning of the “Dress You Up” video. Madonna soon attracted the attention of top fashion designers and photographers as an attention-getting, attention-seeking style icon and tastemaker. She became a chameleon and Madonna-wannabes were supplied with a never-ending run of ideas to express their devotion from head to toe. They anxiously await each new album and tour to draw inspiration for new looks — only the most iconic of which endure.

Intriguingly you will not see many outfits from these periods at the show: Who’s that Girl, Erotica, Something to Remember and Evita — though drag queens are always a wild card. While there will be some individuals dressed up in outfits from the Girlie Show, Drowned World and Confessions tours, the bulk of Madonna-wannabes at this year’s shows will fit into five categories.


The Classic

The legendary look that Madonna’s original fans adopted as their icon-worshipping uniform, this is the one that will forever be the original and most accessible. Start with teased and crimped hair, preferably with platinum tips and dark roots, usually loosely tied back with a scarf. Makeup combines both dark and neon colours. Asymmetry is key: a big, dangly star-shaped earring in one ear, a small, simple one in the other; a baggy top showing more of one shoulder than the other, as well as exposing a lace bra and some midriff; a skinny and angled hip-hugging belt or several (bonus points for one with “Boy Toy” on it); and excessive quantities of bangles and studded bracelets. Fingerless lace gloves are essential. A tight-fitting miniskirt is often worn over top of dance tights. Footwear is usually either dance boots or granny boots. The whole look is completed with an oversized, rhinestone-encrusted crucifix and rosary. Add a wedding dress to show extreme devotion, and voila, you’ve got the scandalous twist that Madonna wore at the 1984 MTV Music Video Awards (MVA) where she rolled around onstage singing “Like a Virgin” (with a tongue-in-cheek revival on both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV MVA where famously she kissed them).


The Blonde Ambition

This is the look for second-generation fans who were wowed by 1990’s Blonde Ambition Tour, Madonna’s most boundary-pushing, trailblazing and controversial tour. (Remember Toronto police’s Morality Squad?) Jean-Paul Gaultier designed the tour apparel and the most enduring look has to be his cone tits. Add delicate black fishnet stockings and black dance boots. A gold-coloured satiny bodice and panties are required. The other look from this era is the “Express Yourself” suit with pink satin bodice peeking through slits in the jacket. A faux headset and a monocle are finishing touches. Hair for both looks has two official options: short blonde ringlets or pulled back in a bun with extension pony tail.


The Y2K Cowgirl

This is the easiest look to put together at the last minute so challenge anyone wearing it to sing “Impressive Instant” and the fair-weather fans will be easily smoked out. It starts with long, wavy golden-blonde hair. The look has two sub-variations: the “Music” video’s classy urban cowgirl chic — white and bright with gold bling — and the “Don’t Tell Me” video’s traditional but sexified cowgirl with a simple or straw hat (a rhinestone “M” on the front makes it more special but isn’t necessary). Wearing a Britney Spears T-shirt, believe it or not, is a legitimate quick-fix if no cowgirl shirt can be found.


The Reinvention

There were many new Madonna looks presented and several old Madonna looks “reinvented” for 2004’s Reinvention Tour but there are only two that endure: the military rebel and the neo-punk. The Madonna-wannabes sporting these looks are the most devoted of fans; they forgive her for rapping about driving her Mini Cooper to pick up a latte. Madonna protested the invasion of Iraq with both her song “American Life” as well as her military rebel look. This is the look for brunettes with straight, long hair. Part said hair on one side, make it stick and shine with wax. Add tight-fitting camouflage or military green jumpsuit, a set of dog tags and black military boots. The neo-punk look requires a deconstructed black wife-beater, reduced to one shoulder strap with intentional slashes held together with safety pins asymmetrically covered with a black sheer skintight, one-armed sheath. Skintight black bondage pants are worn underneath a short red or white tartan skirt with black Doc Marten-type boots. Add studded dog collar and bracelet.


The Hard Candy

Within days of the first leaks of Hard Candy album artwork, fans were hard at work trying to recreate the new female boxer look. The most challenging elements are the thigh-high, lace-up black boots and the big, gold championship belt. Without them, or reasonable facsimiles, there is no point. The tight black quadruple-strapped bathing suit, the black workout gloves, the black boxing tape and small gold crucifix chain are relatively easy to procure and complete the look. The most-recent Madonna video, “Give It 2 Me,” has a new look already popping up: black and poofy with excessive chains. This look requires thigh-high black boots, a voluminously long-sleeved short black dress with major cleavage, a black satin bra and copious amounts of gold chains. Arianne Phillips, who helped wardrobe Madonna for the past 11 years and who is the current costume designer, has put together many new looks appearing at the Sticky and Sweet shows; it’s too early to say whether any of these looks will stand the Madonna-wannabes test of time and taste.

Sticky and Sweet World Tour.
18-19 Oct – Toronto, Air Canada Centre.
22-23 Oct – Montreal, Bell Centre.
30 Oct – Vancouver, BC Place Stadium.
Tickets are sold out for the Canadian tour dates.