One Direction Will Perform At 2012 VMAs, But What Will They Wear?

One Direction will perform at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: MTV

It seems like just yesterday we were sliding and diving into Internet wormholes to figure out who these dapper little gents we kinda sorta remembered from the British X Factor were. Now One Direction is a household name (as are the individual boys). This latest iteration in boy bands is now a smash success, and we are SO excited to have them not only attending the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards as nominees but PERFORMING in all their blazer-wearing, besuspendered, GIF-worthy glory. *faints abruptly but is caught by Harry Styles hologram*

Boy bands have a long and storied history with the VMAs, and while we may have already done an exteeeeensive recap of boy band style from The Jackson 5 to the British-Irish lads of 1D, we felt this an appropriate time to delve into the specifics of VMA performance outfits. Think of the OG write-up as your survey class. Welcome to the 200-level courses. We’re rolling up our sleeves and digging into the VMA stage togs of New Edition, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and The Jonas Brothers. LEGGO!


New Edition at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

This shimmering, sparkling troupe of R&B troubadours (better known as New Edition) actually underwent several wardrobe changes for their seven-song medley reunion performance with Bobby Brown (!!!) at the 1990 VMAs. (They did “Poison,” “Tap Into My Heart,” “Rub You The Right Way,” “Sensitivity,” “If It Isn’t Love,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” and “Can You Stand The Rain” if you were wondering.) The group closed in these double-breasted blazers embellished with silver sequined graph lines and BOWLERS and set the standard for all VMA boy band performers to follow.


Boyz II Men at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

These all-maroon-everything ensembles aren’t actually what the dudes of Boyz II Men wore on stage with Babyface at the 1994 VMAs (HEY, finding digital images from the Internet’s infancy is hard business, y’all!). Instead, the fab foursome crooned in matching chinchilla brown suits saved this bordeaux set for off-stage. While One Direction doesn’t typically take matching to THIS extreme, their affinity for collegiate coordinates is reminiscent of this look.


Backstreet Boys at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Oh young Backstreet Boys. AJ, Nick, Howie, Kevin, and Brian. Look at you bucking convention. Rebelling against the matchy-smatchy group looks of your predecessors. We offer up a slow clap for the risks you’ve taken here. This is a nearly tear-jerking snapshot of CLASSIC late ’90s steez with the photo print graphics, loose proportions, odd juxtaposition of textures (patent leather and velvet, pinestriped tailoring and graffiti chiffon, etc.), the questionable facial hair. It’s all truly fascinating. But y’all look a hot mess. And they performed a song together (“Everybody”) in this!! Thankfully, BSB gets a second chance the following year.


Backstreet Boys at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Despite the fashion train wreck of ’98, BSB got a second go-around at the VMA stage. Judging from their hyper-coordinating mysterious black outfits, they learned from their old mistakes, and it is workingggg. They did a medley of “I Want It That Way” and “Larger Than Life,” ripping their coats off at the song-change to reveal more choreography-friendly ensembles underneath (including an edgy long-sleeve mesh crop top for AJ [yes, really]).

*NSYNC (1999 VMAs)

*NSYNC at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

Another boy band hit the VMA stage in 1999. *NSYNC teamed up with Britney Spears for an unforgettable high school-themed mash-up performance of “Baby One More Time” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart”. In keeping with the scholastic motif, Justin, JC, Chris, Joey, and Lance went casual in sporty separates tied together by an autumnal color palette. Cool but relatable.

*NSYNC (2000 VMAs)

Justin Timberlake performs with *NSYNC at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

*NSYNC returned to the VMA stage in 2000, and seemed to have taken notes from BSB’s ’99 performance. They started their three-song medley with “This I Promise You” and angelic white, then moved to “Bye Bye Bye”, the choreography for which involved five giant widescreen televisions, THEN performed a sped-up, squeaky toy remix of “It’s Gonna Be Me” wearing a lot of black and leather and streetwear (as was trendy at the time). Also, I realize this is a picture of only Justin Timberlake, so here’s also this picture of Jimmy Fallon from the same VMAs as Justin and life-size puppet versions of the rest of the boys.

Jimmy Fallon does an *NSYNC parody at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

*NSYNC (2001 VMAs)

Michael Jackson performs with *NSYNC at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

In a boy band collision of epic proportions, *NSYNC hit the VMA stage for a THIRD time in 2001 with the legendary Michael Jackson WHO began his career in a boy (brother) band. *NSYNC performed their hit single “Pop” wearing graffiti-emblazoned outfits with touches of moto influence for an overall look that Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol would (MAYYYYBE – we can’t guarantee anything) approve. The King of Pop looked smart in simple, classic, black and white.


The Jonas Brothers perform at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

And then there were the Jonas Brothers. Nick, Joe, and Kevin started their 2008 VMA performance on a (fake) stoop in a set of sweetly coordinated outfits. All grey, tailored, and office-appropriate, but each one a variation on a theme. Nick had suspenders, Joe a bowtie (Joe-tie), and Kevin rocked just a pinstriped waistcoat. It’s as if, before they disbanded for solo careers, they were a living oracle, forecasting the coming of another colossal wave of smartly-dressed, singing boys.

Watch the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV and Catch the live preshow at 7 p.m. ET/PT and cast your votes for Best New Artist and Most Share-Worthy Video into the show!


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