Bette Midler Always Dresses for the Stage, Even When She’s Off Stage

Photo of Bette Midler
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bette Midler may have started out in plays far from the center stage, Off-Off-Broadway, but the singer, actress, and comedian quickly stepped into the main spotlight—and not just because she has a delightfully big mouth. Midler’s ensembles both on- and off-stage have always demanded attention, from the time she showed up to 1975 Grammy Awards with a 45 rpm record in her hair to the many, many intricate get-ups she’s worn over the years to the annual Halloween party for her nonprofit the New York Restoration Project. There, Midler’s always guaranteed to steal the show—she did, after all, star in Disney’s Hocus Pocus—though she has found some competition as of late in the form of her pal Marc Jacobs, who’s also served as her date to the Met Gala and even cast both Midler and her daughter, Sophie von Haselberg, in his spring 2016 campaign. As Midler, now 71, prepares to step out at the 2017 Tony Awards to complete against Patti Lupone and a promising 21-year-old for Best Actress for her role in Hello, Dolly!, take a look back at some of her most memorable looks over the years, here.


Bette Midler cozies up in a bikini top, ca. 1970.


Bette Midler tops off her look for the 1975 Grammy Awards with a 45 rpm record on her head, 1975.


Bette Midler returns to the Grammy Awards, this time opting for two awards as accessories, 1980.


Bette Midler performs in perfectly ’80s polka dots, 1981.


Bette Midler steps out to the club in Paris in sequins, leather, and a turtleneck, 1981.


Bette Midler spreading her high-shouldered wings while performing in Canada, 1983.


Bette Midler appears at a bookstore in Beverly Hills complete with a wedding veil and an armful of boas, 1983.


Bette Midler wears two brooches in one at the Los Angeles premiere of Down and Out in Beverly Hills, 1986.


Bette Midler pulling out her double brooch again, this time topping it off with lace, at the New York premiere of Down and Out in Beverly Hills, 1986.


Bette Midler in a cacophany of prints and a fresh pair of white sneakers arriving to the set of Big Business at the Plaza Hotel in New York with her now ex-husband Martin von Haselberg, 1987.


Bette Midler matches her sister sister Susan Midler in plaid at the 1987 NATO/ShoWest Convention in Las Vegas, 1987.


Bette Midler piling on the bows and florals with her now ex-husband Martin von Haselberg while celebrating Midler’s Mondo Beyondo in Los Angeles, 1988.


Bette Midler paring it down in a white dress at the Design Alliance’s masquerade ball in Los Angeles, 1988.


Bette Midler disguises herself in mom jeans pitching in to clean to parks along the Hudson River, 1995.


Bette Midler curls up at one of her annual “Hulaween” benefits for the New York Restoration Project in New York, 1999.


Bette Midler the flower goes all out her annual “Hulaween” ball for the New York Restoration Project, 2005.


Bette Midler is all sequins at a “Cabaret Goes to Vegas” in New York, 2005.


A sparkly Bette Midler holds her own with Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at On Sale gala dinner in New York, 2007.


Bette Midler zips up in leather for the the New York premiere of thenshefoundme, 2008.


Bette Midler is all caftan at the 30th Annual Literacy Partners Evening of Readings Gala in New York, 2014.


Bette Midler blends in with the red carpet in an embroidered gown by Reem Acra at the 20144 Academy Awards, 2014.


Bette Midler throws back to her early boxy silhouettes at the arrives for the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Othello, 2015.


Bette Midler is witchy as ever with her date, Marc Jacobs, at the Met Gala for “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” 2016.


Bette Midler seeing blue at the spring picnic for New York Restoration Project, 2016.


Bette Midler standing out in a rare head scarf at the 67th Annual Outer Critics Circle Theatre Awards in New York, 2017.