ATLANTA -- From the wow to the weird, Michael Jackson leaves a fashion legacy to rival his musical one.
His black fedora, silver glove and red leather jacket were worn by millions around the world who channeled Jackson's spirit and sartorial flair. Later, he made fashion choices that weren't as popular, but were no less memorable: the pajama pants during his child molestation trial, the black robes and veils while living in Bahrain, the germ masks that were a regular accessory.
All combined to cement Jackson's legacy as a pop and fashion icon.
"There are a few people who are the innovators, who set the trends that other people follow," said Stephane Dunn, a frequent writer of popular culture who teaches English at Morehouse College. "Here was Michael, who understood the power of style and was able to translate it in a way that everybody wanted to copy it."
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
His costumes weren't just for the stage. At a White House appearance, Jackson stood alongside first lady Nancy Reagan, looking the part of a glamorous general in a sequined military-style coat, aviator sunglasses and single, studded glove.
Few could imitate Jackson's talent, but for decades, millions around the world stole his style, and not just on Halloween. Jackson was constantly mimicked among the miniature and the mature, in classrooms, at costume parties, or at his concerts.
"He basically was the cool of the moment," Dunn said. "He was creating this whole persona, and people ate it up. By themselves, these things probably would've been corny."
But on Jackson, they were instant vintage. Growing up, 25-year-old Cinco Montoya cherished his "Thriller" jacket and black loafers that were Jackson's trademark.
"I tried to do my hair like him," Montoya said, recalling how he used to wet his black tresses, trying to coif his curls like those of his hero's. "I watched all of his videos. I used to think he was like Superman."
Jackson's ability as a performer electrified audiences, inspired amateurs of all ages and launched the careers of entertainers from Chris Brown to Chris Tucker, said Mark Anthony Neal, who teaches black popular culture at Duke University.
"His success was a template for them," Neal said of performers like Brown, Ginuwine and Justin Timberlake. "Usher doesn't have a move that he didn't initially think about because he saw Michael Jackson do it."
Usher and Jackson once shared the stage for a performance of "You Rock My World," and Brown did a "Thriller" tribute performance at the World Music Awards in 2006.
Neal described Jackson's music as "black pop," and credits the megastar with bringing the sound into the mainstream, which was later invoked by Madonna, 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys and others.
But it was perhaps his unique fashions that connected him most to his fans - and Jackson never even had his own clothing line.
"By wearing the clothing, he became accessible to people, especially as his celebrity got to a point where he became inaccessible," Neal said.
Jackson will be remembered as a style pioneer, said Keith Brown, a stylist based in Atlanta.
"He was and is still, to this day, an original," Brown said. "You knew he had it. As he grew older, he proved to not be afraid to show his uniqueness, not only through his music, but through his evolution. He was ... a barrier breaker."