Notoriously Influential: How Biggie’s Style Transformed Fashion
Born Christopher George Latore Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G. was one of the greatest rappers to come out of the 90s era. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he was murdered in a drive-by shooting after leaving an afterparty. His case was never solved, but Biggie lives on in our hearts and our memories through his music and his seriously dope sense of style.
Biggie didn’t do anything half-ass, from his music to his outfits, and he was regularly spotted rockin’ big gold chains with mobster-esque three-piece suits. But, those are far from his only trends. Here are some of the ways Biggie revolutionized fashion.
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The Jesus Piece
Perhaps his most influential and widely known contribution to fashion is the Jesus piece. This phrase refers to a large, gold depiction of Jesus’ head that has been crafted into a flashy pendant for your gold chains. Many Jesus pieces are iced out for an extra reason to flex on your haters. Before Biggie, the Jesus piece had no name, but after he commissioned Tito the Jeweler to whip up three custom pieces for him, the Jesus piece was everywhere.
The Coogi Sweaters
Remember these? Yeah, we almost forgot about them, too. But, with oversized sweaters and bright patterns coming back into style, it may be time to break out those old Coogi sweaters you have stashed away next to your high school mix tapes. Without Biggie as a fan, Coogi probably would’ve remained a staple fashion item for grandpas around the world, but, once again, Biggie was able to take something potentially questionable and make it look like the most stylish sweater you’ve ever seen.
The Gangster Swag
After Biggie was involved in a serious car accident in 1996, he had to rely on the use of a cane to help him walk. But, Biggie wasn’t about to let that cane make him look any less able-bodied. He had a gold tip added to his cane (to match his gold chains, we assume) and took on a gangster persona with three-piece suits in absurd colors like light blue and the Homburg hat.
When Biggie wanted to whip out this look, he seemed like a gangster straight out of a 1920s movie. Other rappers and celebrities soon followed suit (literally), adding the “sophisticated gangster” to their Rolodex of fashion choices.
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The Turtleneck Sweater
“Gangster” and “turtleneck sweater” are not usually words you hear used in the same sentence, but, when it came to Biggie’s style, he was all about pushing the boundaries. We tend to think of turtlenecks as a stuffy, nerdy-looking outfit you only wear when your mom forces you into one for a Christmas card photo.
But, Biggie saw the bigger picture. He would throw on a leather coat or a bright suede jacket along with a few dope gold chains and, suddenly, he was the flyest dude in the room. We can guarantee no one ever made fun of Biggie for wearing a sweater. So, the next time you try to pull off the turtleneck look and someone has something to say about it, tell them you’re channeling Biggie. He’s got your back.
The Bright Prints
Today’s rappers often seem to be drawn to more neutral colors—blacks, grays, whites, and blues. But Biggie wanted everything he did to be, well, big. And his attraction to bright colors made that evident. In the 90s, brightly colored track suits were popular, so Biggie took the trend and made it his own, regularly sporting brightly colored button-up tees that, again, could easily be something you found in your grandpa’s closet.
Biggie’s affinity for old man-like clothing paid off, as he was praised for his sense of style and encouraged others in the industry to branch out and experiment with their style.
The Versace Obsession
It’s difficult to say where the Notorious B.I.G.’s love for Versace first started, but the hip hop world went nuts over his Versace Medusa sunglasses he wears in the music video for “Hypnotize.”
These custom-made glasses were just the tip of the iceberg for Biggie’s Versace collection. He had it all—from custom-made silk suits and rows of Versace t-shirts to Versace fabric upholstery in his home. It’s safe to say that Versace was undoubtedly his favorite luxury brand—anything he could get his hands on with that Versace name. He even used to regularly attend the brand’s fashion shows. Looking for that next hype-worthy piece, we would guess.
Camo has become a popular print for everyone from outdoor hunting enthusiasts to Kylie Jenner because it’s versatile and stylish. And, for the hunters out there, it actually provides a purpose. But, back in Biggie’s day, the only place to get a dope camo jacket was a thrift store—if you were lucky—until the Japanese designer behind BAPE recognized the potential for camo jackets in the world of fashion and managed to get one to Biggie. Once he stepped on the scene with a designer camo jacket, everyone was lining up to get one.
Close your eyes and picture the Notorious B.I.G. We’re willing to bet that you probably pictured him with something on his head whether it was the flat cap with a stiff brim known as the Kangol Wool Driver’s Cap or his second-most-popular head accessory—the crown. Only the best for the King of Hip Hop. Biggie loved this style hat, which, once again, seems to take a leaf out of your grandpa’s book, and he seemingly owned it in every single available color.
The Man Behind the Jesus Piece
Although Biggie still gets a lot of attention for his role in popularizing the Jesus piece, there are so many other fashion trends he helped to start that continue to exist today. As modern-day trends start to pull inspiration from past decades, now—more than ever—is the time to revive some of that good ol’ fashioned Biggie style from the dope gold chains to the brightly colored shirts and sweaters. If you’re feeling brave enough, slip on a turtleneck—but make it gangster. For Biggie.