Celebrity Style

16 Iconic Nipple Pasty Looks That Made Fashion History

From Lil’ Kim to Miley Cyrus.

Originally Published: 
Lil' Kim wears a one-sided jumpsuit and a nipple pastie at the 1999 VMAs.
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While it should go without saying that women’s nipples shouldn’t be censored (free the nipple!), Hollywood’s most stylish have found some chic ways to cover them up throughout history. Enter: nipple pasties.

Lil’ Kim, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj are big fans of the stick-on undergarment, confidently flaunting them at some of the music industry’s biggest events. Miley Cyrus is one of the controversial style’s biggest advocates, calling pasties “empowering.” In fact, she even credits herself (jokingly, of course) as having “invented nipple pasties.”

Despite her influence in propelling the breast covers back into the zeitgeist, they’ve actually been a focal point of the fashion space long before her adhesive days. In fact, they’ve been around since the ’20s as a legal loophole. Back then, anti-nudity or public indecency laws banned women from baring breasts completely, so burlesque dancers were forced to cover their nipples. They typically did so by matching their covers to their undies, which were often embellished and OTT.

Then, in 1999, Lil’ Kim debuted one of the most iconic ’90s looks of all time. And at the heart of it — or breast, more accurately — was a singular pasty. Though the style did return in the 2010s, it was mostly relegated to boundary-pushing pop stars. The latter part of the decade ushered the pasty into high-fashion territory when designers like Saint Laurent sent models down the runway bearing the nipple covers, and supermodels Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner embraced the look.

Join me in going down memory lane with the 16 most iconic nipple pasty looks that made fashion history.

Lil’ Kim

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May I present, the single most iconic nipple pasty look of all time: Lil’ Kim at the 1999 VMAs. She famously donned a sequined lavender jumpsuit with a neckline that dipped past her breast. She adorned her exposed nipple with a sequined pasty that also matched her hair. The ‘fit was so influential that Cyrus later recreated it as her 2013 Halloween costume.

Paris Hilton

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In 2003, at a Pre-MTV Movie Awards party, Paris Hilton stripped down to bikini bottoms and butterfly-shaped nipple pasties. She slung a crystal-encrusted belt around her hips for even more Y2K style.

Dita Von Teese

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Dita Von Teese paid homage to old-school burlesque ‘fits in a 2005 performance. She tacked on nipple covers embellished in beads and sequins for an authentically vintage look.

Miley Cyrus

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Miley Cyrus became the trend’s biggest supporter in the early 2010s. In 2013, her nipple cover of choice was a pair of black adhesives. Here, they peered through her see-through netted white dress. They even matched her thong and her boots — talk about coordination.

Lady Gaga

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Early in Lady Gaga’s career, she made waves for her controversial ensembles. One such look included a see-through bustier-style dress that completely revealed two Xs taped over her nipples. She would later return to the pasties under a sheer dress look, with more elevated (read: bedazzled) adhesives.

Miley Cyrus

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While Cyrus has donned several more pasty ‘fits, her most whimsical take on the trend came in a Jimmy Kimmel Live appearance. She wore a lone rhinestone-encrusted heart-shaped nipple pasty that perfectly matched her mirrored co-ord set.

Nicki Minaj

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In 2016, Nicki Minaj turned heads when she wore a sheer jumpsuit that exposed the criss-cross body tape on her nipples. She also rocked the exposed undies trend that’s currently sweeping Hollywood — a ‘fit ahead of its time.

Saint Laurent

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After the backlash surrounding pasty outfits (Cyrus, in particular, got a lot of flack), Saint Laurent gave the adhesive the high-fashion treatment. The brand sent an asymmetrical dress down their Spring 2017 runway with one nipple covered in metallic silver.

Bella Hadid

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Ever the fan of sheer looks, Bella Hadid has been rocking this trend since 2017. In her beaded fringe see-through dress, she wore two rectangular pieces of body tape to cover her breasts.

Kendall Jenner

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Kendall Jenner took a page out of Cyrus’ playbook and donned star-shaped covers under a sheer black top. These days, the reality star rarely reaches for pasties, as one of the biggest proponents of freeing the nipple.

Nicki Minaj

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Minaj returned to the look when she attended Paris Fashion Week in 2017. This time, she tossed tape for a metallic stud that’s basically nipple jewelry.


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After 15 years, Cher returned to the award show stage to perform at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. For the grand moment, she donned a totally rhinestone-encrusted ensemble with a spicy detail. Though it’s technically not a pasty, her sheer bodysuit was inspired by the style, featuring a heart-shaped pink rhinestone embellishment on one breast.

Joan Smalls

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The stick-on look made its way to the Oscars in 2020 when Joan Smalls rocked a crystal-encrusted pair at the Vanity Fair after-party.

Cara Delevingne

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Pasties had their Met Gala moment in 2022 when Cara Delevingne wore gilded orbs to the exclusive event. The gold spheres perfectly matched her gold body paint.

Kendall Jenner


Recently, Jenner returned to the pasty-inspired look and gave it a Carrie Bradshaw-twist. She wore an LBD that left her breasts bare under sheer, skin-tone fabric. Sculptural, 3D rosettes sat atop each nipple for added coverage.

Julia Fox

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Julia Fox took the barely-there look to New York Fashion Week, where she rocked mismatched heart-equipped covers as part of her edgy, all-black ensemble.

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