Elton John Started Dressing Like That on a Dare
Ever seen Elton John in a suit? Like, a normal business suit? It's wild:
He's all but unrecognizable without some glitter or at least a funky pair of glasses, but when he first rose to fame, he dressed pretty normally for the early '70s. You could charitably describe his style as "fun engineer."
In fact, for the first few years of his career, he wore a uniform of denim overalls "in a variety of 'mod' colors" with "a lightweight long-sleeved t-shirt underneath." In other words, he was rocking that Angela Chase look way back in the '70s, so you can't say he wasn't always ahead of his time. When he did wear the odd outlandish item, like a yellow satin cape with a giant sequin E on the back that was sewn for him by his bassist's wife, even the designer was shocked.
It wasn't until 1973, when Maxine Fiebelman (the "seamstress for the band" of "Tiny Dancer") picked up a pair of mauve tights in whatever drag queen's closet she shops in, that things got weird. As John tells it, she presented him with the tights before a show and told him, "I bet you wouldn't wear them onstage," and John discovered inside himself a great capacity for rising to any fashion challenge, pairing them with sparkly silver boots for good measure.
The audience was scandalized, but John felt so emboldened by the outfit that he gave a completely reenergized performance, "flying horizontal through the air," which Fiebelman had also dared him to do. In a phenomenon, every comedian will recognize, it started out as a bit and then just became who he was, but thankfully, in his case, it was just fashion and not ironic racism.
Top image: CBS Television/Wikimedia Commons