A celebration of Prince and David Bowie's rule-breaking and gender-defying fashion

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2016 was a hard year for lovers of fashion and rule-breaking. Within a 12-month period, we lost David Bowie, Prince, Bill Cunningham, Zsa Zsa Gabor and China Machado, all iconoclasts who succeeded in forming a fashion sense all their own. 

That's particularly true for Bowie and Prince, who shared an equal distaste for dressing with just one gender in mind, slipping into platform shoes and women's blouses, as well as caking on makeup from time to time.

Currently, there are men in the entertainment industry who are pushing these same boundaries — like Young Thug or Jaden Smith — but no one, it seems, has really taken on the torch of dressing really, seriously without gender in mind at all, embracing heels and bright colors just as much as skirts.

So, as an ode to their fashion legacies, here is a look back at both David Bowie and Prince's most iconic and rule-breaking looks throughout the course of their lives. 

David Bowie wearing heels in 1973 

David Bowie in 1973
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Prince performing in a zebra print pair of underwear in 1979

Prince in 1979
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David Bowie in a leotard and matching thigh-high leggings in 1973 

David Bowie in 1973
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Prince wearing an amazing crop top in 1983 


Prince in 1983 
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David Bowie rocking earrings in 1973 

David Bowie in 1973
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Prince rocking a pink feather boa in 1985 


Prince in 1985 
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David Bowie in this jumpsuit in 1974 

David Bowie in 1974
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Prince in this suit in 1985 

Prince in 1985
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David Bowie wearing gold lipstick in 1973 

David Bowie in 1973
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Prince in some beautiful lace in 1985

Prince in 1985
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David Bowie rocking this satin number in 1973 

David Bowie in 1973
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Prince wearing some very important crop tops in 1986 

Prince in 1986
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David Bowie in this wild suit in 1973 

David Bowie in 1973
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Prince in this amazing suit in 1987

Prince in 1987
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And don't think these kind of styles remained in each of these artists' early careers. Later on, too, they still had it. 

This is David Bowie in 1991.

David Bowie in 1991
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This is Prince in 2006. 

Prince in 2006
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Here is David Bowie in 2004. 

David Bowie in 2004
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And here is Prince in 2015, just a few months before his death in April.

Prince in 2015
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Clearly, for both men, rules were to be broken, and we're so glad they did.