People don’t just go to a Rihanna concert: They get dressed for a Rihanna concert. Not dressed up in a fandom way, like a T-shirt with the performer's face on it, not dressed up in an obnoxious music festival way, like flower crowns and crochet dresses, and not dressed up in a literal way, like pulling out your best “Freakum Dress” and heels for a Beyoncé show. They get dressed up in a way that’s so obviously influenced by the pop star's own style that you could point out a Rihanna concertgoer in a lineup.
The first concert I ever attended is vividly ingrained in my memory in part because it was Janet Jackson, and in part because I was just eight years old, but even more so because of my outfit—I wore high-waisted jeans and a white T-shirt that I begged my mom to let me tie to appear to be a crop-top because it was more Janet. It was the first time I realized the influence a pop star could have on my relationship to the clothing in my closet.
I remember exactly what I wore the last time I saw Kanye West in concert—a black beanie, leather-coated skinny jeans, and an oversized black shirt with too-long sleeves and a cape-like back that dragged to the ground when I walked slowly and floated in the air when I picked up speed. My friends told me I looked like a disciple of Yeezus, a backhanded compliment I have considered getting printed and framed. Luckily, I wasn't alone in my aesthetic. I walked by fan after fan draped in Yeezy-inspired attire—skinny jeans, leather, Chelsea boots, ill-fitting sweatshirts, leather, Yeezus tour merch, leather, Red Octobers—because what you wear to a Kanye West concert is just as important as getting a ticket. It’s like a mini-fashion show, which is why his fashion show that was also a music listening party in February could nearly fill Madison Square Garden.
It’s likely I won’t forget what I wore to Rihanna’s Anti show in Brooklyn, either. When deciding whether to wear a bra I thought WWRD? and opted not to. I threw on a mesh turtleneck top, baggy jeans, an oversized vest, a leather motorcycle jacket, and dark purple lipstick—attempting to channel NSFW Rihanna at the Balmain afterparty in Paris, or maybe Rihanna casually walking down the street.
At the Anti concert, there was a plethora of Puma x Fenty creepers and trainers, bras as tops, tops with no bras, chokers, slip dresses, bomber jackets, fur coats, short denim shorts met with over-the-knee boots, oversized jackets and graphic tees worn as dresses, dad hats with cheeky sayings, and lots of fun, bold lipstick colors. It might have something to do with the current obsession with '90s and early '00s fashion, but those are trends Rihanna personally helped revive and refresh.
One of the items sold at the Anti tour merchandise stand is a baseball cap that reads “Most Likely To Not Give A Fuck,” a mantra that could be applied to how Rihanna approaches the idea of fame, and seemingly life in general. It’s apparent in the release of Anti, an album full of songs that don’t necessarily sound like hit singles, but do sound more than anything before like the music Rihanna wants to make. It’s apparent in the clothing and accessory collaborations that she designs, which seem more suited for her than anyone else—like the $3,000 denim thigh-high chap boots she collaborated on with Manolo Blahnik. And it’s apparent in the way she so freely talks with her fans about normal things, like the length of her weaves, and her clapbacks on social media.
Getting dressed like Rihanna is more than just fan-girling out; it’s a push to be more comfortable with yourself. It takes a certain level of carefree confidence to wear a bra as a top or a oversized shirt as a dress or intentionally expose your nipples and still be chill about it.
While we’re getting dressed to embody our best Rihanna (a.k.a. best selves), on stage, the Bajan pop star is also getting dressed for herself. Instead of the typical sparkly costumes that other pop stars favor on tour, Rihanna takes the crowd to her world. She wears apocalyptic costumes in neutral skin tone hues, a hooded cape, a figure-swallowing pantsuit, a floor-length du-rag, suede chap boots, and a beaded fringe see-through bodysuit (no bra, obviously). These looks allow Rihanna to take up a stadium of 20,000 people with more than just her vocals. Her movements are magnified, and the stage is more like her runway than just a performance space.
Alluding to the title of her album, Rihanna's stylist Mel Ottenberg toldVogue the approach to what she wears on stage is "anti what any pop diva would ever be wearing to open her concert." Fortunately, Rihanna isn't any pop diva—Rihanna is Rihanna, and she won't ever let you forget it.
Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.