Adele’s Style Evolution Over The Years

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins skyrocketed to fame in the late 2000s with hits like “Chasing Pavements” and “Make You Feel My Love.” Over the last decade, she’s gone from strength to strength, quickly becoming one of the world’s brightest stars. Her fashion game has also increased in power.

Her style is distinctive and she certainly has her favorite looks, but Adele hasn’t stayed stagnant. From messy buns to designer gowns worth their weight in gold, she’s a true fashion icon on and off the red carpet. Join us as we take a look at the style evolution of a true modern-day diva.

Messy Hair, Don’t Care

Messy Hair, Don't Care
Andy Sheppard/Redferns/Getty Images
Andy Sheppard/Redferns/Getty Images

Adele has always had the kind of personality that fans have found endearing. She may be one of the biggest superstars on the planet, but she’s just as comfortable crooning in her slippers as she is stilettos. Back at the very beginning of her career in 2008, she was still making a name for herself.

Here, she performs in front of a London crowd make-up free, hair bundled into a messy ponytail. Even without the glam, it was clear there was something special about this young and talented songstress. If only she knew then just how big she would become.

Brit Awards Debut

Adele 2008 Brit Awards
Photo by Joel Ryan/PA Images via Getty Images
Photo by Joel Ryan/PA Images via Getty Images

Later on in 2008, Adele attended one of her first major events, The Brit Awards. Dressed in what would become her trademark color, the artist wore a simple black dress with a cut-out panel and a black overcoat. Her eyes were heavily coated in eyeliner, while her hair sat neatly in a side bun.

You can tell from the red carpet snaps that this a girl who feels overwhelmed, excited, and beyond lucky to be there with the best of the best. She was an up and coming sensation, but Adele was already making waves in the music industry.

50s Style Sensation

Adele On Stage
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

In 2009 Adele found herself on stage with two superstars at VH1 Divas. To her right stands X-Factor winner Leona Lewis, while Jennifer Hudson stands on her left. The 22-year-old was in great company, and in an even greater dress.

Adele showed that she had a very particular style from early on, choosing dresses cut to flatter her frame. This knee-length black and gold number is synonymous with the kind of outfit she would go on to prefer on the red carpet. If it’s black, sleek, and gorgeous, it’s probably in Adele’s closet. If she’s not already wearing it, that is.

Hints Of Color

Mercury Prize Awards
JMEnternational/Redferns
JMEnternational/Redferns

2009’s Mercury Prize Awards saw the twenty-something rock up in all black, with a pink-accented cardigan. It’s not often that Adele opts for hints of color, and back then it was virtually unheard of. Her big sixties style hair was a particular favorite look of hers throughout this era.

Still clearly a novice in terms of having her photograph taken, Adele hides behind her heavy fringe and places her hands behind her back so as not to interrupt the smooth lines of her outfit. If there was a picture by “adorable” in the dictionary, this would be it, all day every day.

Enter The Cat-Eye

Adele CMT Artists of the Year
Ed Rode/Getty Images
Ed Rode/Getty Images

Adele hopped across the pond in 2010 to attend CMT’s Artist of the Year Awards. Gone were the days of rings of black eyeliner around her eyes, and here was here trademark cat-eye. This subtler make-up look was a definite winner and marked a new era in terms of personal fashion.

The black and gold long-sleeved dressed screamed “lounge singer,” which frankly, is an aesthetic we aim for every day. By this point, Adele was finding her footing on the red carpet and visibly settling in to being a figure of interest for paparazzi snaps and flashing bulbs.

The Higher the Hair…

Adele MTV Awards
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Dolly Parton once said, “The higher the hair, the closer to God.” Perhaps Adele took a note from Dolly herself with this bigger-than-usual backcombed bouffant. Still holding onto her “find a look that works and stick with it” ethic, the singer worked the 2011 MTV Awards Red Carpet with ease.

By this point, she was officially one of the biggest artists on the planet. The baby-doll style of the dress comes in just below the chest, before falling out in effortless lines. The detailed paneling works, too, giving the eye somewhere to fall and adding some lightness to the ensemble.

Blonde And Beautiful

adele-grammys-138908637
Dan MacMedan/WireImage
Dan MacMedan/WireImage

When you’re singing at the Grammys, you know life is good. In 2012, Adele ditched her brunette locks in favor of a much lighter honey blonde. It’s a shade she has largely stuck with since, and we have to say, it works.

Everything about this look ticks the boxes, from her glowing complexion to the dotted panel of the dress. It may have taken her a couple of years to fully settle into her style niche, but this is when the Adele we know and love landed. Ever since, the fashionista can do no wrong, dazzling us with her dress sense and her voice in one fell swoop.

She Loves Polka Dots

Adele arrives at the 2013 Governors Ball
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Clearly Adele has a thing for mesh panels and dots, and we’re not mad. Neither was the administration that invited her to perform at the 2013 Governors Ball. With beautifully bold lashes, loose ringlets and a smile to top it all off, 25-year-old Adele looked every inch the star.

They say if something ain’t broke don’t fix it, and perhaps that’s the mantra of Adele’s stylist. Black works for the songstress in every which way possible, whether it’s a simple cardigan or a full-on ball gown. Casually strolling around town or standing in front of a thousands-strong audience, it hits the nail on the head every time.

MBE Mood

 A midnight blue dress and matching nail polish
JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images
JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images

What goes with an MBE award? A midnight blue dress and matching nail polish, of course. If you would’ve told an 18-year-old Adele that she would be bestowed one of Britain’s most prized honors for her services to music, she wouldn’t have believed you. But, in 2013, that’s exactly what happened.

Sporting pale peach lipstick and a very delicate headband with a matching net, Adele met the Queen with gusto and accepted her award. It really doesn’t get much better than that when you’re on stage for a living. Just ask Elton John or Paul McCartney. When the Queen comes calling, you go running!

Oscars Glam

looking every inch the silver screen icon
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Most singers can only dream of being asked to sing the theme to the James Bond movie. Dame Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, and Nancy Sinatra have all contributed. Adele’s turn came in 2012 when she released “Skyfall” to accompany the Daniel Craig outing of the same name. The movie was well-received, as was the song.

Not only did it win the Brit Award for Best Single of the Year and the Critic’s Choice Movie Award for Best Original Song, but the Academy Award. Adele turned up to the latter ceremony looking every inch the silver screen icon, in a sparkling black gown that reached the floor.

Stunning In A Red Print

a beautiful red and black dress
Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage
Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage

Adele broke the mold at the 2013 Grammy Awards, wearing a beautiful red and black dress that was somewhat of a departure from her usual style. It worked incredibly well. Everything from the detail of the dress to the length of the sleeves impressed fashion critics across the globe.

As much as we love seeing her in black, there’s no denying that color works well on this Tottenham-born beauty. Even Queen Bey herself fades in comparison to Adele’s striking garment choice. Now an established, highly-praised artist in the industry, Adele’s glow comes from confidence as well as a great make-up team!

Bouffant Beauty

Adele singing into the statuette like it's a microphone,
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

What do you get when you combine a Golden Globe for Best Original Song with an overwhelmed, hilarious artist with buckets of personality? This iconic shot of Adele singing into the statuette like it’s a microphone, of course. Back in a black gown embellished with sequins, Adele is sporting her signature bouffant.

Throughout the years her sixties-inspired style still lingers, making appearances every now and then. With statement earrings, expertly applied eyeliner and a perfectly coiffed ‘do, Adele ruled the red carpet before and after the event. Not bad for a gal still in her mid-twenties.

Off-Duty Glam

Adele channels Janis Joplin in this snap
Raymond Hall/GC Images
Raymond Hall/GC Images

There’s a lot of jacket to discuss here, from the fluffy white arms to the beaded sleeves. It has to be said that not everyone could pull this look off walking down the street. Adele channels Janis Joplin in this snap as she was caught coming out of The Waverly Inn sometime in 2014.

The hat tops it all off – literally – with a touch of ’70s glam that would be just as at home with a pair of flares and a crochet top. The main color might still be black, but it goes to show that black is never boring.

Red Carpets To Red Coats

Adele smiles in a red jacket
Raymond Hall/GC Images
Raymond Hall/GC Images

This 2015 snap of Adele was taken in Soho, New York. If you didn’t know that the singer was born in London, you’d think she was born in NYC. Big glasses, check, sleek black dress, check, statement coat, check. No one has ever looked more thrilled to sign autographs, and fans were certainly eager to see her.

The gold earrings also provide just the right touch of casual glam to the overall look, but it’s the red coat that really makes this outfit pop. Over the years Adele has started to incorporate more color to her outfits, both off and on the stage.

Black And Gold

black dress with the sheer panel
rune hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images
rune hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images

This is certainly a style of dress that Adele picks from the stylist rack again and again. However, she always manages to make sure that it feels new and fresh. Whether that’s by updating her make-up and hair, or by adding a killer pair of shoes. No one has ever looked at Adele on the red carpet and thought, “Not again!”

This black dress with the sheer panel looked sensational, and suddenly, Adele was a grown up. By this point in 2015 she was a mom, a wife, and one of the world’s most recognized artists. She hadn’t even hit the big 30 yet, either.

Glastonbury Glamor

in Glastonbury Glamor
Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

When most people think of Glastonbury, they think of muddy puddles and Wellington boots. Adele was thrilled to be asked to headline the 2016 festival, but revealed when she was on stage that she had always shied away from festival performances as she didn’t feel her style of music “fit.”

She looked every inch the queen of the day, wearing a boho style dress with red and gold sequin paneling. It flowed enough for her to comfortably walk around the stage — barefoot — while hitting the lights in just the right way. The crowd loved it, Adele loved it, and we loved it.

Red On Red

 This red-on-red number looked incredible at The Brit Awards
Mike Marsland/WireImage
Mike Marsland/WireImage

By 2016 Adele had begun to make more daring fashion choices. This red-on-red number looked incredible at The Brit Awards, securing her place in best-dressed columns for all eternity. The shade of her lipstick matched her dress perfectly, while her windswept tresses screamed “I woke up like this.”

The long bob was a sure winner, as was the subtle draping and cut of the material. Muted burgundy has never looked so good at an event, and we’re not talking about the wine here. This has to be one of our favorite looks throughout Adele’s entire style evolution.

Sequins, Sequins, And More Sequins

Adele went all out for this Brit Award event
Luca Teuchmann/WireImage
Luca Teuchmann/WireImage

Forget a sequin panel or an embellished top, Adele went all out for this Brit Award event. Red and gold is a daring choice for anyone, and few could pull it off like this. The print, the stars, the matching awards all pull together a statement look that oozes sophistication and sass. We are here for it.

Not only is it an expertly crafted dress, but it’s fitted to perfection, with flowing lines and a gorgeous shape that feels natural and still very “Adele” while also being far from her usual red carpet styles. Sometimes, it’s worth taking a risk.

Off-The-Shoulder Realness

Off-The-Shoulder Realness
Paul Kane/Getty Images
Paul Kane/Getty Images

One doesn’t simply go on a world tour without planning some seriously kick-butt outfits. Adele isn’t the kind of artist who busts out dance numbers while wearing hot pants. She’s a pro, forgoing gimmicks to let her voice lead the way. It never lets her down. Neither did this burgundy off-the-shoulder number that gave us all the feels.

It’s still dark, muted, and understated, but gloriously embellished and grand. No one walks this fine line between over-the-top glam and subtle sophistication quite like Adele Adkins. She’s the one to turn to for ball gown inspiration, there’s just no denying it.

Band Tees And Shoulder Bags

 Giant black glasses hide her face as her simple loose curls frame her face.
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

There comes a point in every star’s career that they start looking immaculate every time they leave the house, regardless of whether they’re performing. Why? Because a camera looms around every corner. While Adele has never put on any sort of facade, she did evolve under the spotlight and as such often looks brilliant on any outing.

In this 2019 snapshot she’s accompanied by a friend as she wears a band hoodie and a simple brown shoulder bag. Giant black glasses hide her face as her simple loose curls frame her face. She’s a star 24/7 to us, in or out of a ball gown.