Frank Ocean Makes VMA Performance Debut In All-Black Ensemble

Frank Ocean performs at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: Getty Images

There was absolutely no other 2012 VMA I was singularly more excited to watch than Frank Ocean’s stripped down and subdued “Thinkin Bout You.” If you weren’t already a fan of the soulful crooner before tonight, I hope this, his very first VMA performance, has made you a believer. I could yammer all night about his silky runs, effortless Marvin Gaye-channelling falsetto, and his unmistakable tone, but we’re here to talk about FASHUN. Frank isn’t one for sartorial theatrics, and his go-to outfits usually consist of graphic tees – maybe a collared shirt, if he’s feeling fancy. Tonight, though, he changed things up wearing all-black head-to-toe, save his trademark rising sun bandana.

Sure, Frank Ocean’s performance outfit is certainly no meat dress, but A) what ever will be? and B) its simplicity begs to be talked about all the same. That black cotton tee paired with black slacks? The combination toes a delicate line between relaxed and serious where beautiful things like D’Angelo’s GQ comeback spread live. Then, we need to shine a light on that crisp jacket, hanging open with the lapel popped nonchalantly and many tiny wooden-looking decorative toggles along both sides of the placket and cuffs. That’s an investment piece if I ever saw one.

So yea, it’s all the same color, and he was baaaaaarely lit (and mostly from behind!) for pretty much the entirety of the song. But that’s all part of Frank’s deal. The laid-back bonfire-esque set, the lack of direct spotlight, and yes, his extremely bare bones steez – they all help you distill from the performance the dude’s incredible voice and expert story-telling. It’s Frank’s perfect fashion + music equation and SO appropriate for one of the singer’s first major televised performances. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.

+ WATCH FRANK OCEAN’S 2012 VMA PERFORMANCE

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