Discover more from rmrk*st | Remarkist Mag
Gorgeous: The Hypnotic Power of Taylor Swift's Masterful Look
From Rosy Cheeks to Red Lips, the Aesthetic Evolution of Taylor Swift
With her chart-topping hits, mesmerizing stage presence, and unwavering connection with fans, Taylor Swift has cemented herself as a musical powerhouse 💪 and an influential figure in popular culture. Swift is a global 🌐 superstar and one of the most influential artists of our time, who has captivated audiences with her musical talent, relatable storytelling, and ever-evolving image. Throughout her career, Swift has undergone a remarkable aesthetic evolution, transitioning from the innocence of her debut era to the fierce pop glam of Midnights.
Swift has marked each era with distinct hair, makeup, and fashion choices. Often leaving clues to fans in public and promotional appearances. She is, after all, a Mastermind. It seems safe to assume that none of it was accidental.
None of it was accidental
On March 16, 2023 Swift posted a slideshow of images to Instagram in advance of the Eras tour. One of these images included an Eras manicure. 💅 Each colour represents an album’s era.
These colours can be found throughout her wardrobe and makeup over the eras, some more prevalent than others. Wondering about a shade-by-shade breakdown?
Beginning at Swift’s left pinky finger we have:
Debut (shimmery green), Fearless (gold), Speak Now (plum), Red (deep Maroon), 1989 (medium turquoise with glitter), reputation (matte black), Lover (pink with heart glitter), folklore (grey), evermore (cream), and Midnights (navy with midnight blue glitter).
Ridin’ shotgun with her hair undone
Let’s begin with the self-titled Taylor Swift album, released in 2006. Various shades of green, particularly with shimmer, symbolize this era. Appropriate for a fresh new artist bursting onto the country music scene. Swift often embraced tight blonde curls and fresh-faced makeup. Rosy cheeks, almost like a natural flush. Lip balm or lip gloss. The most noticeable makeup was rims of black eyeliner. On stage and in public Swift’s style was sweet and simple. Consisting largely of sun dresses and cowboy boots 👢 or jeans 👖 and a simple shirt, often a tank top.
Music videos from this era amplified the girl-next-door glam with glitter tears 💧 (“Teardrops on my Guitar”) and bold green eyeshadow with thick false lashes (“Our Song”).
Dancing in a storm in her best dress
Approaching the Fearless album launch in fall of 2008, Swift began embracing a romantic fairy-tale style, influenced by her storytelling lyrics and the iconic princess-like imagery found in classic fairy tales. This aesthetic showcased her whimsical and dreamy approach to both music and fashion. Ball gowns that fans copied for proms, tulle skirts, fringe, and sequins were hallmarks of this era.
Her makeup reflected more sparkle and shimmer. Often matching her dress with a hint of shimmery purple or golden hues. Gold being the colour of Fearless. Beautiful eyes were the focus. Pink and peachy lip and cheek colours paired with a fresh, clear complexion.
But it would be near the end of this era when Swift discovered red lipstick. Or perhaps, red lipstick discovered Swift.💄
Makeup artist Gucci Westman, who did Swift’s makeup for Allure magazine in 2009, recalled to Elle Australia in 2023 that it was the first time the artist ever wore red lipstick. Westman was told by Swift’s team that “Taylor doesn’t do red.” And she even had to get permission from Mama Swift at the photoshoot!
Drop everything now
Fairytale fashion remained in the Speak Now era. But was now paired with much more daring makeup. And for her third album, one completely self-written, this bolder makeup represented Swift’s growing confidence and self-assuredness as an artist. Swift would rarely be seen without a red lip shade, on stage and off. Eyeliner was often thick, if it could be spotted behind oversized sunglasses. Wavy hair, side swept, replaced the curls. In public appearances, Swift could be found in brands like Anthropologie, Modcloth, and Urban Outfitters. Dresses with cardigans or fun graphic shirts. And more than a few of these would be Speak Now’s signature purple.
As Swift bid farewell to the enchanting fairy-tale world of Speak Now, her musical journey took an electrifying turn with the arrival of the Red era, complete with a new hairstyle. Swift adopted bangs during a photoshoot for Vogue magazine in early 2012, before the new album was announced. Swift was unsure about the change, but ultimately decided to go for it, notably being quoted as saying: “Oh, just cut it. It’s Vogue.”
To no surprise, red lipstick was at the forefront of this era. This really solidified Swift’s penchant for the “red lip classic thing” that we all like. Often this would be paired with subtle eyeshadows in soft brown or taupe and a strong winged eyeliner. The lipstick shade matching the album’s title became synonymous with the era and symbolized passion, intensity, and emotional vulnerability. Easily matching the themes of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery found in Red.
In public, Swift was often seen in a 50s housewife look. Her words. In 2022, during her speech receiving an honorary degree at NYU, Swift said: “I had a phase where, for the entirety of 2012, I dressed like a 1950s housewife. But you know what? I was having fun. Trends and phases are fun.”
What made this look housewife style? Collared shirts and high waisted pants and tea-length 👗 dresses fitted at the waist. There were plenty of references to the trendy 2012 “hipster” and “twee” styles of the time, with stripes and polka dots. There were plenty of references throughout public appearances and performances to 50s and 60s style.
But you can’t forget the iconic (and very 2012) heart-shaped sunglasses ❤️ and red lips from the “22” music video.
Red lip classic thing that you like
Goodbye good girl country image. The move to pop was officially here and with it a sleek new shorter hair style. The colour palette and aesthetic of 1989 evoke a sense of energy, youthfulness, and optimism. The album’s visuals and design elements, including lots of blue, contribute to creating a cohesive and visually appealing world that complements the upbeat and catchy nature of the songs.
The 1989 era brought crop top and skirt sets which were worn in public and on stage. Red lips or other bold shades were frequent. But so were looks more experimental than we’d ever seen from Swift. Bold graphic eyeliner at award shows. Heavy eyebrows in magazine photoshoots. Overall, Swift’s style during this time embodied a balance between retro-inspired elements and modern sophistication. The glamorous and polished appearance complemented her music and persona during that time, while showing that she wasn’t afraid of experimentation.
While not an official album-related era, one thought to be forever lost was affectionately known as Bleachella. In 2016 Swift had her hair cut and bleached for a Vogue photoshoot. This look was seen on Swift at the Met Gala that same year and at Coachella. Often paired with dark, vampy lipstick. This was such a drastic departure that it seemed to indicate new music, as Swift often released albums every 2 years, like clockwork. 🕓 Karma is real.
Baby let the games begin
Alas, we may never know if Bleachella was supposed to indicate a new sound. But what followed was still a departure for Swift. reputation. Hoodies, combat boots, cargo pants, black sequins… And Snakes. 🐍 Swift embraced messier hair. And was stylistically less put together than the uber coordinated 1989 era.
Swift’s public appearances were few and far between. As expected when during the launch of the album she noted that “There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation.” But dark shades of lipstick remained a constant in music videos and candid photos. Graphic eyeliner could be spotted at award shows or other events. There was a lack of precision with these looks, to go along with the vibe that Swift just didn’t care as much about what people might say about her and her choice of style. Plus the incorporation of snakes in the era’s visuals symbolized Swift’s reclaiming of her narrative and the shedding of her old persona, creating a cohesive visual world that reflected reputation’s themes of power, resilience, and personal growth.
A dazzling haze
The transition to Lover can be easily symbolized by the beginning of the “ME!” music video, when the pale snake turns into multi-coloured butterflies. 🦋
Pastels, rainbows, 🌈 tie-dye, and a ton of sparkles cover this era’s fashion and makeup.
Swift continued to embrace the messier hair from reputation, adding in colourful pieces here and there. There were more shades of pink during this era, most noticeable in the lack of red lipstick appearances. No colour was off-limits for eyeshadow looks. With blues, pinks, and various shades of purple popping up on her lids most often. This look mirrored the uplifting and romantic tone of Lover.
A perfect example can be seen in the lavender dress at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards with shimmery violet and pink eyeshadow, spiky eyelashes, cotton candy blush, and cupid pink lipstick.
Although we did start to see a slow transition in late 2019 and into early 2020 of darker shades.
Swift started to wear black and white, instead of the candy colored shades that marked the early Lover days.
And her makeup was heavier once again, with the loaded lashes, winged liner, and red lipstick. We even saw retro throwbacks we hadn’t seen from Swift before such as in the Vogue UK shoot (January 2020) which was one part 70s singer songwriter and one part 90s supermodel.
Perhaps there was another era we didn’t see because…
Picture me in the trees
The pandemic paused many things in the entertainment industry throughout 2020. But not Taylor Swift.
The surprise drop of folklore, followed shortly thereafter by the sister album evermore were unexpected. Swift embraced the cozy, cottagecore aesthetic trending at the time. Gone were flashy, colourful outfits. In were oversized cardigans and flannel jackets. Her fashion choices incorporated textures like lace, floral prints, and knitwear, creating a whimsical and timeless vibe. Braided hair and loose updos. This helped create a sense of warmth and familiarity, inviting listeners into her intimate and personal narratives spun together throughout the sister albums.
And fresh-faced beauty. Swift embraced a natural aesthetic, softer than anything she’d done before. The minimalist makeup enhanced her natural beauty. Her complexion was kept fresh and dewy, with lightweight foundation or tinted moisturizer. Earthy tones, like subtle browns and beiges, were used for eyeshadows to create a soft and understated eye look. Eyeliner was often skipped or kept minimal. Natural-looking lashes and a touch of soft blush in pink or peach hues added a gentle flush to the cheeks. Neutral lip colors enhanced the natural lip shade, completing the overall ethereal and introspective vibe of the era.
Making the whole place shimmer
Midnights was announced with a clear statement from Swift that she could still make the whole place shimmer. At the 2022 VMA’s Swift looked unlike she ever had before. Dark red lipstick. Winged eyeliner with jewel details. The covered in diamonds outfit with a nude illusion was one of the most elaborate looks she has ever worn. Swift’s less approachable now and fully leaning into a mega glam pop star style. Although, there’s another side of Swift we’ve seen in the Midnights era. The 70s throwback style present in some promo shoots and even music videos. And a contemporary style for appearances in 2023, with Swift often favoring crossover bottoms and monochrome sets in black or white.
The Eras tour has left many fans speechless. Custom gowns. Sequins and sparkle. And bold makeup. Particularly when her makeup stayed in place during the “rainiest rain show that ever rain showed, ever, ever, ever.” (May 20, 2023)
While Swift’s makeup artists usually keep specific details under wraps, it has been reported that her makeup for the Eras Tour is completely from the luxury makeup brand Pat McGrath Labs.
Perfectly fitting because in Taylor Swift’s world Pat McGrath is the Queen.
In her Eras era
From her early country beginnings to her triumphant pop reinvention, Taylor Swift’s aesthetic evolution reflects her artistic growth and unwavering connection with fans. Through every era, she has proven herself as a trailblazer, captivating audiences with her music, style, and unapologetic authenticity. To quote Phoebe Bridgers’ 2023 iHeartRadio Music Award speech for Swift: “I’m grateful to have grown up in a world with Taylor Swift in it, or, ‘The World: Taylor’s Version.’”
And one thing is for sure… Taylor Swift isn’t done with her Eras. And new concert dates 🗓 are still being added. But a Swiftie can’t help but wonder… Does the makeup and style we’ve been seeing in candid photos (some include heading to and from recording studios!) reflect what we might see for TS11?
Join us at rmrk*st all month for Taylor Swift content! Make sure you check out the listening parties, watch parties and more we have planned at Remarkist on our app! And if you love games, check out our Instagram for Melodic Mayhem, our bracket-style lyric showdown! You can find and chat with other Taylor Swift fans on our Discord!
Subscribe for more deep dives on your favorite creators and other fannish content!