VMAs 2022’s Biggest Surprise? The Menswear

MTV’s Video Music Awards, better known as the VMAs, aren’t typically a hotbed of menswear intrigue. But on the 2022 VMAs red carpet, there was a surprising shift. Nature is healing. Men are wearing interesting clothes.

Remember, this is the red carpet that welcomed Lady Gaga’s meat dress and Lil Kim’s barely-there jumpsuit — it takes a lot to live up to this legacy and, for years, men simply did not.

But no longer are men shackled to tuxedos and dress shoes. Hell, no longer are men shackled to being whatever society used to label “men,” thank god.

There are obviously major benefits to shifting dynamics but one minor plus is that red carpets are getting a lot less boring, because even some of the stuffier dudes are coming to play.

At the 2022 VMAs, we were treated to perfectly baggy suits from J Balvin and Offset; chaos tailoring from Jack Harlow, Prince Derek Doll, and Måneskin; plush leathers from OGs Snoop Dogg and LL Cool J; DGAF cool from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

These guys were having fun by wearing fun clothes and the atmosphere was palpable.

Then, of course, there was the sheer spectacle of Saucy Santana and Lil Nas X, who need no introduction.

It wasn’t a shock that Lil Nas basically shut shit down, of course: we all know that’s his prerogative.

No, the pleasant surprise was that the 2022 VMAs served as confirmation that red carpet menswear can and will be interesting. It ain’t the Met Gala but this is far more fun than what we typically get from even the more casual celebrity gatherings.

And don’t get me started on the 2022 VMAs’ excellent womenswear.

Anyways, if this all sounds like hyperbole, revisit the 2019 VMAs, the final pre-pandemic red carpet.

The Jonas Brothers dressed in bland monochrome, Bad Bunny came as a ninja, and Diplo offered the night’s most interesting sartorial moment with some dull cowboy cosplay.

The baggy suits were dull and shapeless; though he’s now a master of relaxed tailoring, J Balvin was but an antifit amateur at the time.

Even Lil Nas X couldn’t save the day with some Liberace razzle-dazzle. I will give Rick Ross points for his outrageous Gucci coat but only because he’s Rick Ross.

We’ve come a long way since then. And, yes, women still steal the show (for good reason, too).

But the 2022 VMAs were a welcome reminder that red carpet menswear is no longer as staid as it was even 3 years ago.

We thought things’d peaked back then. Thankfully, we were just getting started.

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