Breaking Down Pamela Anderson’s Bombshell Style

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Pamela Anderson can’t be put in a box. You could try, but between her multi-hyphenated career, her animal rights activism, her trendsetting style, and her history as half of one of the most scandalous, talked-about celeb couples, it would be difficult. After being scouted at a football game in Vancouver and proceeding to appear on more Playboy covers than any other model, the actress got her big break playing CJ from the 90’s hit show Baywatch, aka the lifeguard who had an entire generation practicing their slow motion run across the beach in classic red one-piece swimsuits.

It really was during the 1990s when Anderson’s personal style blossomed. The way that she was typecast as the voluptuous bombshell with girl-next-door door naivety may have been influenced by her Cali girl, denim-shorts style (although the actress originally is from Canada) but as she stepped into the public eye we began to see Anderson in fur hats, go-go boots, and plenty of Vivienne Westwood.

Known for her playful bombshell style and signature cleavage, Anderson’s fashion journey throughout the decades resulted in a wildly cheeky sense of personal style that’s unashamedly 2000’s cool girl. There’s a sense of breezy, coquettish nonchalance in Anderson’s approach to dressing that swings between babydoll and skin-tight leather on any given day, and the actress doesn’t seem to mind leaning into that variety.

Cinderella actress Lily James recently underwent a massive transformation for her role as Pamela Anderson in the upcoming Hulu series Pam & Tommy, which will follow the timeline of the couple’s relationship. Sebastian Stan will be playing Anderson’s husband and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. The two got married in 1995 after knowing each other for only 96 hours, and mere months later were hit by the public leak of private honeymoon footage that was stolen from their shared home. This is widely cited as one of the first instances of a widespread, digital violation of celebrity privacy, and the sex tape generated an estimated million according to Rolling Stone.

James’ and Stan’s transformations nearly broke the internet — so between Pamela Anderson’s pencil thin eyebrows (yes, yes, we know), her penchant for vests and corset tops, and the upcoming Hulu series that’s set to be released late 2021 or early 2022, we have a feeling she’s going to be making a resurgence among Gen Z fashion fans as a style icon of the year. Here, CR breaks down her style.

Unapologetically Y2K

Subtlety is not in Anderson’s style vocabulary, and we love her for it. The former wife of a rockstar loved all of the same things that the Depop girls of 2021 go wild for, from low-rise mini skirts and baby tees to early 2000’s takes on Emilio Pucci prints, and slip dresses that declare that underwear can indeed be outerwear. The flowy nightgown that Anderson wore to the launch of her makeup line at Caesars Palace was inspired by Venus the Goddess of Love — her hem may have touched the ground, but the skirt was entirely sheer.

Hats Galore

When we said that Anderson wore many hats, this isn’t what we meant, but we aren’t mad at it, either. The larger-than-life mega hat & dress ensemble that Anderson wore to the 24th Annual American Music Awards in 1997 feels very Bella Hadid, and the big pink furry hat she wore to the MTV Video Music Awards in 1999 is Rihanna-esque. We would even venture to guess that the pop star took a page out of Anderson’s book for inspiration.

Vivienne Westwood – A Love Affair

The fervent animal rights supporter and model eventually evolved into a fashion week attendee and model for Vivienne Westwood, a designer that went fur-free long before it was trendy to do so. The PETA-approved British fashion icon is famous for her usage of corsets, a clothing style Anderson has been privy to wearing, as well as her boldly provocative design ethos. Westwood has used activism in her designs several times in the past, pairing rebellious clothing with protests against climate change, animal abuse, fracking, and nuclear weapons so it’s no surprise that Anderson donned her eccentric styles and walked the runway at Paris Fashion Week in 2009 in support of the designer.

Anderson also has a relationship with Stella McCartney for similar reasons: the designer doesn’t use leather, feathers, fur, or skins. McCartney recently sent animals down the runway to make a statement about her stance on animal cruelty in the fashion industry.

Back to the Basics

True to her beachside roots, Anderson has always been a fan of returning to the basics. Whether she’s going for the classic Americana denim-and-a-T-shirt style or attending the 11th Annual Motorcycle Rider’s Fundraiser at a Harley-Davidson dealership in an all-black ensemble and a baseball cap, there’s a level of wearability that Anderson achieved long before today’s street style stars learned how to pull off double denim. Even the Reebok romper that Anderson wore to a Dodgers game is something you might find in the shopping cart of a modern-day influencer with an affinity for athleisure.

No basic piece would ever hold Anderson back from fully showing off an outfit, though, as she takes to the 2001 Teen Choice Awards red carpet in a Y2K take on the Canadian tuxedo, paired with enviable denim cowboy-esque boots that we’d kill to have in our closets.

Corsets, Gloves, and Gowns

Never not one to shy away from honoring her Playboy roots, Anderson has time and time again shown a fondness for a corseted silhouette. Her wardrobe in the movie Barb Wire (as the main title character named Barb Wire) involved only the most practical black corset tops in strapless, lace-up, and leather varieties, which Kendall Jenner honored with her Halloween costume last year.

Anderson has also donned more romantic iterations with flowy sleeves, and leather versions with a sweetheart neckline and sheer black opera gloves in what would be a tribute to Holly Golightly if it weren’t for the plunging cleavage and skin-tight fit. The model’s versatility is a testament to her chameleon-like ability to pull off fantasy-novel bustiers and sexy biker-chic ensembles alike, a far cry from the fresh-faced girl who made her 1992 Baywatch debut wearing jean shorts in a kayak.

Anderson’s vests, cowboy boots, pencil-thin brows, and 90’s blowouts are nothing if not current thanks to the the resurgence of 90’s and Y2K style among Gen Z and Millennial fashion aficionados, and the actress has the potential to become a style icon in a way that is very of-the-moment after the release of Pam & Tommy. In the meantime, you’ll find us refreshing Lily James’ Instagram feed as we wait for more behind-the-scenes photos of James’ Pamela Anderson costumes.

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