After Instagramming more than a dozen memes that called out the casting and overall direction of Lifetime’s Aaliyah biopic, yesterday Timbaland bluntly called the production “a mockery.” From the casting to the dialogue, the pronunciation of her name, and Lifetime's inability to include Aaliyah’s hits due to clearance issues, the biopic was, in a word, controversial. But if it had one saving grace, just one silver lining, it might have been the clothes. So, we fact-checked the stylists’ interpretations of Aaliyah’s trailblazing style.
Aaliyah wore leather overalls: False
The biopic portrays Aaliyah in a pair of—to be fair, very cute—leather overalls look with all-black Timbs and silver hoops. Unfortunately, this wasn't quite historically accurate.
Babygirl championed overalls of the denim persuasion. And more specifically, ones by Tommy Hilfiger, whose line she modeled for and extensively repped. She even appeared at Tommy shows, which you can see in this grainy footage that shows several models in overalls similar to the ones she would have worn. While there’s no date on this vid, if it was taken in 1993, that would have been the show where Aaliyah met one of her best friends, Kidada Jones, Quincy Jones’ daughter and Tupac’s later-fiance at the time of his death. Jones styled the show at which the pair of ladies met and the two went on to appear in ads together, along with their friends Nicole Richie, Kate Hudson, and Tamia.
Aaliyah wore exposed boxers and briefs with baggy pants: True
Aaliyah didn’t wear any underwear like the standard briefs Lifetime outfitted Alexandra Shipp in, but she was one of the main ladies who subverted the then-menswear trend.
In the mid-’90s especially, Aaliyah’s underwear game was strong and often consisted of pairs of Tommy Hilfiger boxers she wore with low-slung baggy pants—a look you can see in action in this Tommy commercial.
Aaliyah was into leather pants and tiny black trop Tops: True
Though she didn’t pull off this exact outfit from the movie, Aaliyah was, in part, responsible for the ab-bearing trend of the late ‘90s and early aughts.
She often paired crop tops with low-slung baggy pants.
The closest she came to the exact biopic outfit would have been her outfit for the 2000 Teen Choice Awards, when she wore a pair of leather pants with boots and a studded eagle-emblazoned black crop top, or her black tied shirt-and-bikini combo she wore with baggy tuxedo pants to sing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Aaliyah loved wearing all-white: True
The closest the biopic comes to reality (as far as the wardrobe is concerned) is a scene where the actress playing Aaliyah wears a stitched white tank top with a white skirt.
Aaliyah wore an identical version of that top shortly before she passed away to award a winner of a BET contest a 2002 Cadillac Escalade and $20,000. (As if the opportunity to meet Aaliyah wasn’t great enough!) However, she paired her top with a white pair of jeans, white Air Force 1s, and a chain belt.
Aaliyah wore white bandanas and loved baggy clothes: True
Aaliyah didn’t wear the exact outfit Lifetime dressed Alexandra Shipp in for this studio scene, and that tank top-over-tee look is certainly not one this writer is familiar with.
But the movie stylists at least got her signature white bandana right, along with the fact that she loved baggy clothes, especially toward the beginning of her career. Her most iconic baggy clothes looks consisted of oversized Tommy Hilfiger jeans or her matching athletic jersey and baggy pants combo.
Aaliyah wore miniature oval sunglasses: True
Aaliyah was a woman of many sunglasses, but she preferred small oval ones in the mid-’90s.
For a TV appearance in 1995, she wore a pair almost identical to the ones Alexandra Shipp wears in the biopic. Aaliyah she paired them with a plunging bodysuit that was half proto-Jennifer Lopez at the 2000 Grammys and half Pretty Woman.