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Style & Living Fashion

The Complete History Of The Celebrity Wardrobe Malfunction

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's Nipplegate was just the beginning.

By Tamara Palmer
Which Chrissy Teigen Moment Most Personifies Your Style Goals?

As Super Bowl Sunday approaches and anticipation for the halftime show builds, it's easy to wonder two things. One: will the Pats take home the trophy? And two: do we need to get the popcorn ready for a wardrobe malfunction?

After all, who could forget it. In 2004, Janet Jackson scandalized the NFL during a halftime performance with Justin Timberlake. "Gonna have you naked by the end of this song," he crooned while snatching off more of her costume than he had planned. Did Janet plan it? Hmm. It does seem that her very elaborate nipple jewelry was meant to be seen. (Just sayin'.)


Consider Janet a pioneer. Wardrobe malfunctions happen so often now, they almost seem like a PR ploy. But the truth is that "Nipplegate," as the 2004 stunt came to be known, made it harder for some press agents to do their jobs.

"As a publicist who works with very left-of-center or eccentric or sexual clientele, the Janet Jackson debacle affected my ability to do publicity almost more than anything in the last 17 years," reveals Brian Gross, who has represented clients such as rocker Gene Simmons and, erm, adult stars Sasha Grey and Joanna Angel. "It opened up an FCC crackdown on what can and cannot be discussed on terrestrial radio."

Still, that hasn't stopped the stars from showing off London and France, whether intentional or not. Here's a look at how it's done—or should we say, undone?—with a timeline of memorable slip-ups from both male and female celebrities.


Katherine Heigl blushed a shade of red to match her Donna Karan dress when a strap broke right in the middle of her acceptance speech at the ShoWest Awards. Fortunately, Billy Bush rushed in to hold the frock together so she could finish.



Sofia Vergara split her Zuhair Murad dress at the Primetime Emmys, but instead of trying to cover it up, she openly saw the humor in it. The rip also gave Ellen DeGeneres fodder for hilarious jokes.


Rebel Wilson picked up Ellen's parody torch the following year with an incredible, double-nipple reveal at the MTV Movie Awards. Sheer perfection.


Britney Spears always insists on the tightest outfits, which makes her a high-risk candidate for malfunctions. A revealing bodysuit split during a Las Vegas show, but her multi-talented backup dancers helped her recover quickly.

Nicki Minaj's entire dress came open live on stage at the MTV VMAs, but she bravely held it together and continued performing. The show must go on, but she didn't want to give viewers too much of a show.


When Gigi Hadid flashed her breast at Milan Fashion Week, some had to wonder if this was just the latest bold design by the House of Versace. But it was just an accident and Gigi quickly took to Twitter to deflect the embarrassment: "[Wardrobe] malfunctions happen on the runway every day of fw & are...unfortunate, lol ,but let's talk instead about the new VERSACE CHOKERS," she wrote. "& the bags & the boots & the coats & everythinnngggg, killin me Donatella @Versace!!!!!!"

Chrissy Teigen's most important fashion accessory at last year's American Music Awards was her husband John Legend, who helped minimize an accidental flash of, well, everything in her Yousef Akbar dress. 

"Apologies to anyone harmed mentally or physically by my hooha," she later wrote on Instagram. 

Ben Affleck couldn't stand to be left out of the party. The star made history with this belt-and-pant mishap at the Suicide Squad afterparty in London.

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