Style Icon: Outkast

Outkast

Ghostkast
Photo: MTV Style

All right, scallywags of the world, it's time for a fat dose of OUTKAST 101. The target audience for today’s lesson is 60% people who “don’t know what an Outkast is;” 18% people who know about Outkast, but only because of “Hey Ya;” and the rest, a curious blend of intelligent animals + bored teens. We also happily welcome folks who’ve had “Elevators (Me & You)” in perma-rotation since always. Our topic of choice will OF COURSE be ~fashion~, because Outkast actually means “style” in Swedish. (Note: It doesn’t.)

Outkast

Big Boi and Andre 3 Stacks perform at Hangout Fest on May 18, 2014
Photo: Getty

In case you missed it, Outkast hit the stage to absolutely murder as Hangout Fest headliners last night. Their much-lauded inclusion on the festival circuit this summer is HUGE because fans have been waiting feverishly for their seven-year prolonged hiatus to end. But it's come to our attention that a whole new generation of festival babes missed out on the legendary heights of Outkast, and so we are here to HELP. Pay vewwy close attention.

Outkast’s historical trajectory from teenage dope boys to bespoked rebel gentlemen began in an Atlanta shopping mall in 1992, where they first met. From their earliest days as a music-making team, Andre 3000 (Andre Benjamin) and Big Boi (Antwan Patton) were outsiders—and it is this “hinderance” that makes them the icons they are today.

Outkast

Andre 3000 and Big Boi at the 2004 VMAs
Photo: Getty

In one corner you've got Daddy Fat Sax, the Player's Player: Big Boi. He oozes southern flavor with pimp-game suits, jerseys, grills, and is never more than 15 feet away from a low rider. However, he's not immune to wackier attire, and has been previously convinced to pull on some fuzzy rave pants.

In the other corner you'll find Andre 3 Stacks, the smooth-talking eccentric: Mr. Andre 3000. His personal style has swiveled everywhere from happy club kid to GQ sexy to well-tailored dandy; never a constant, always evolving. But if there's one thing that has remained true throughout the past 15 years, it's that the dude knows how to look like a gentleman.

Some might call them hip-hop's odd couple, but while it may seem like nothing makes sense, everything makes sense. Their uniqueness as individuals both sartorially and musically combine to create a powerhouse that can truly never be emulated.

Outkast

"B.o.B."
Source: Arista Records, GIF: MTV Style

But enough glittering cajolery. On to the scientific s***. Through the years, we can observe style transformation based on album eras and some real-life influences. Starting wiiiith...

THE ERA: SOUTHERNPLAYALISTICADILLACMUZIK

Outkast

Baby Big Boi and Andre 3000 in "Player's Ball"
Photo: LaFace Records

In 1993, our heroes were still babies fresh out of high school when "Player's Ball" debuted on the music scene. The video is casually styled—you could believe that the pair showed up in their own clothes: a Braves jersey for Andre and an oversized T-shirt + Braves cap for Antwan. Five dollars says they actually did wear their own stuff. At a glance, they look like any random pair of normal 19-year-old dudes, but their flow proved otherwise.

Outkast

A still from "Git Up, Git Out"
Photo: LaFace Records

This early Outkast era was just a toe dip in a cool pond. There was much to come from these baby gentlemen. MUCH TO COME INDEED.

THE ERA: ATLIENS

Outkast

"Elevators"
Photo: LaFace Records

In tandem with their sophomore album, Big Boi started working on his suit game and incorporating more sophisticated elements while still maintaining a love affair with baggy jeans and jerseys. Meanwhile, Andre was on a quest to find his true self. He became vegetarian, quit smoking, and started to draw inspiration from style icons like Hendrix, Prince, and Parliament Funkadelic. But most important: He fell in love with Miss Erykah Badu. And not saying that Erykah Baduizm is, like, a thing that affects men...but Erykah Baduizm is an actual thing that affects men. Style-wise, you could see this reflected in Andre 3000's increasingly unconventional choices that began to match his alien flow.

THE ERA: AQUEMINI

Outkast

"Rosa Parks"
Photo: LaFace Records

Ah, yes. Here it is. Outkast in full swing, knocking out of the park. While riding on a masterpiece album, the duo wholly incorporated turnt-up elements of deep south swagger (Big Boi) and psychedelic funk (Andre 3000). Big Boi's beloved sports team attire paired with Andre's football pads and rainbow pants in "Rosa Parks;" Andre's Jimi Hendrix flavor blended with Big Boi's Jordans on stage. Nobody else in music was doing what Outkast was doing.

Outkast

"Rosa Parks"
Source: Arista Records, GIF: MTV Style

THE ERA: STANKONIA

Outkast

"B.o.B."
Source: Arista Records, GIF: MTV Style

Sometimes Big Boi has this reputation of being the straight man in the group, but context skews everything. He has not been immune to plaid textiles, capes, fur pantaloons, and culottes. The Stankonia era brought this out in full force, as the duo celebrated number-one successes. Andre had received his share of flak for dressing beyond the constrains of hip-hop dress code; by this stage, he had fully saddled up in IDGAF town. Haters gonna hate, and legends gonna rise. More wigs, more color, more flair, more oddities. And always giving zero Fs.

Outkast

"So Fresh, So Clean"
Source: Arista Records, GIF: MTV Style

Outkast

Fuzzy Wuzzies For All!
Photo: Getty

Outkast

At the 2002 Grammys
Photo: Getty

Outkast

Fresh to death
Photo: Getty

Outkast

So Fresh And So Clean
Source: Arista Records, GIF: MTV Style

THE ERA: SPEAKERBOXXX/THE LOVE BELOW

Outkast

Andre 3000 in "Hey Ya"
Photo: Arista Records

The Grammy-winning double album era saw Outkast veering in separate directions, with Andre 3000 exploring more than just his gifted rap flow, and Big Boi perfecting his funkdafied, bass-heavy niche as well as his sophisticated southern-player style. While Andre continued to heavily experiment with his look, a shift started to happen when he started to incorporate preppy elements and got hit with a taste of them bespoke suits.

Outkast

Depends on the mood, really
Photo: Getty

Outkast

Big Boi in "The Way You Move"
Photo: Arista Records

Outkast

Roses
Photo: Arista Records

THE ERA: IDLEWILD

Outkast

Note Andre's GQ Realness
Photo: Getty

By now, Andre had largely set aside his kaleidoscopic garments in favor of tailored jackets, bow ties, suspenders, oxfords, patterns, and prep-school chic. He started wearing denim again. He chose elegant hats. He eventually started a menswear line called Benjamin Bixby. Big Boi, meanwhile, kept it hip-hop classic with an occasional burst of unexpected detail that was enough to remind you that he's got the weirdness in his heart.

Outkast

Big Boi likes what he likes. Andre is always evolving.
Photos: Getty

THE ERA: 2014 FESTIVAL TOUR

outkast-now

Nobody can say for sure what fashion phases Andre 3000 experienced during hiatus. Some say he dabbled in Baroque, others claim he became a part-time nudist. JK, JK. Andre has seemed to stay pretty true to his well-tailored, classic menswear, slightly preppy aesthetic. Big Boi has remained a constant since basically the dawn of time (he knows what he likes). Since hitting festival stages this spring, Big Boi keeps it classic while Andre 3000 has been rocking one-piece jumpsuits and overalls, as well as some wigs here and there. It's a bit of a throwback to his Speakerboxxx years; making a statement and reminding the world that the number of Fs he gives is approximately 0.00.

Outkast evolved together, grew together, fought each other and opposed each other. But they love each other and support each other and finally, have come back together. And they always, always, always look fresh as hell. Let me hear ya say, "oh yay-er!"

Outkast

Y'all betta know dat
Source: Arista Records, GIF: MTV Style

+ WATCH OUTKAST PERFORM 'MS. JACKSON' AT HANGOUT FEST!

OutKast - "Ms. Jackson (Live)"


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