By Catherine Taylor
With the release of her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, we take a look back through the career and beauty evolution of pop queen Taylor Swift. Here are some her most iconic looks, Taylor-made.
2006: Tennessee Darling
When she released her debut single “Tim McGraw” in 2006, Taylor Swift could never have predicted how quickly she would blast into the music industry stratosphere. 16-year-old Taylor soon began attending country music events around America, wearing mini dresses and cowboy boots that wouldn’t be out of place on fashion runways in 2020. In terms of beauty, Taylor allowed her natural blonde curls to roam free, styling them with a simple side-parting. She kept her makeup simple and natural, opting only for a peachy-nude lip and cat-eye lashes to further enhance the distinctly feline quality of her eyes. This was Taylor at the beginning of what is now a 14-year career: ambitious, carefree and embracing her natural beauty.
2008: Country Cinderella
Swift hit the big-time with her instant radio hit, ‘Love Story’, helping her to become the youngest person to win a Grammy for Album of the Year at just 20 years old for Fearless. Given the song’s theme, Taylor’s beauty and fashion choices stayed in keeping with the princess theme. She donned elegant ballgowns, pretty crowns and maintained her natural curls during this era. She still kept her makeup simple and elegant, adding subtle dabs of glitter to her eye looks. By truly encapsulating the princess theme of her biggest hit so far, Swift pushed her all-American brand further, creating a thoroughly wholesome image of the girl next door.
2010: Girl, Reinvented
In October 2010, Taylor released her third studio album, Speak Now, which she wrote by herself in its entirety. The album was nominated for a Grammy and set her on what seemed like a clear path to further country music stardom. The now highly successful songwriter then started to take more beauty risks with her newfound confidence, turning up to the 2010 American Music Awards with poker-straight hair, a full-fringe and a diamond-encrusted bodycon dress. While this makeover may seem insignificant, changes to her look signalled a new direction for Taylor’s music, as occurred within the next two years…
2012: Lady in Red
Taylor Swift cemented her icon status in 2012, when she unveiled her most critically acclaimed album, RED, in October of the same year. Rolling Stone wrote that “her self-discovery project [RED] is one of the best stories in pop. When she’s really on, her songs are like tattoos”. Taylor then embarked on a best-selling world tour to promote the album, encapsulating the record’s name in her look. Swift shook up her image; she donned red lipstick so much that it has since become her beauty trademark. She continued to rock her straight hair and fringe hairstyle, while almost every outfit on her tour conveyor belt contained at least one item of red clothing. Taylor Swift was now a certified style icon; America’s darling come to life with a classic red lip.
2014: Welcome to New York
In 2014, Taylor made an unprecedented move that would define the next decade of her career: she transitioned her sound from country music to pure, unadulterated pop. Inspired by the pop synths of the 1980’s, Swift worked with producer Jack Antonoff to produce her first purely pop record. She also took a leap of faith and made the move to New York City, further establishing the idea that this era would be a new beginning for the 20-something young woman. It was here that Swift penned one of her best albums, 1989. Its most successful single, the earworm-worthy Shake It Off, became Swift’s biggest hit to date, dominated music charts and was named as one of the ten songs that defined the 2010’s. For her 1989 era, Swift again made a beauty transition. Upon moving to New York, she cut her once-long locks into a short bob and played with smokier eye looks and more daring clothing choices. Still, Swift’s perfect pop image remained intact, until house of cards she’d built crumbled around her…
2017: Vengeful Vixen
“This Summer…” Swift wrote in her diary in 2016, “is the apocalypse.” Following the infamous Kanye West/Kim Kardashian controversy which saw #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trend number 1 worldwide on Twitter, the singer, once so accustomed to the public eye, swiftly made a statement and then became a complete recluse. For three years, nobody saw Taylor Swift in public. She even moved to London to be with her long-term boyfriend Joe Alwyn, managing to remain anonymous in the UK for years. During this time, she penned Reputation, her darkest album yet, which took a turn towards R&B in terms of its sound, a Swift first. Prior to the album’s release, Swift signalled what was to come when in the summer of 2016, she dyed her hair bleach blonde during an experimental phase she dubbed “Bleachella.” Embarking on her Reputation tour in 2018, Taylor then fully transitioned to a bad girl version of herself; it was deep black eyeliner, snake motifs and black leotards a-plenty during this tumultuous time in her life.
2019: Taylor, Reclaimed
Fast-forward to 2019 and Taylor Swift finally reclaimed her image with her much-anticipated seventh studio album, Lover. This record saw the snake symbolism of the Reputation era abandoned in favour of a lighter, airier aesthetic; the butterfly became a motif to symbolise her rebirth as a happier artist, while Swift added a dip of pink to her ponytail to match the album’s cover. Lover was once again a critical and commercial success, providing fans with upbeat pop tunes, sultry ballads and a country track reminiscent of her roots. Everything about Taylor’s image has lightened since then. She is appearing in public again, attending award shows in brightly coloured outfits that seem mature, yet youthful. Swift is keeping her full-fringe hairstyle, adding a shaggier, messier cut that’s on-trend for 2020 and abandoning her trademark red lip in favour of a pretty pink pout. At thirty years old, sure of herself and having gone through a storm, Taylor Swift has never looked better. She’ll truly never go out of style.