Worst Dancing with the Stars wardrobe malfunctions ever
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Dancing with the Stars has endured because people apparently love to watch celebs try to dance professionally on television, but the actual performances are just one part of what makes this long-running ABC show such a spectacle. DWTS is well-known for its inventive (and often super revealing) outfits. There’s been some truly memorable costumes over the years, some of which went down in history for all the wrong reasons. That’s right, viewers have witnessed a number of awful wardrobe malfunctions, and the show’s costume designers are well aware of this.
“I cannot watch the live show without thinking about the costumes,” designer Daniela Gschwendtner told TV Insider. “All I look at is their boobs and booties. I need to watch the show a second time to really watch the show, after I know everything is fine.” It’s not just the female performers that the costume designers get nervous about. “For the boys, we build even the suits and the shirts,” fellow wardrobe guru Steven Lee said. “The arms have to have movement, the shirts not come un-tucked when they dance and the shoulders can’t rise on the jackets, so there’s no malfunction.”
They do their best, but the fact that Gschwendtner and Lee have to oversee the making of every costume every single week means there’s no time for test runs. Sometimes a loose shoe or slack strap will go unnoticed, and sometimes those seemingly minor oversights cause major embarrassment. Let’s take a look at the worst Dancing with the Stars wardrobe malfunctions ever.
Vanessa Lachey’s skirt slips during the quickstep
Vanessa Lachey (née Minnilo) got her first taste of the spotlight in 1998, when she was crowned Miss Teen USA. She went on to work as a host on MTV before becoming a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, and she also acted in a number of TV shows. All of this experience meant Lachey knew how to keep her composure when she fell victim to a wardrobe malfunction while dancing the quickstep with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy during Season 25. The pro accidentally stepped on her skirt, leaving some of it in his trail. Despite the debacle, the pair nailed its routine.
“For me, just on the entertainment value, it was sass, humor and class,” guest judge Shania Twain said (via Entertainment Tonight). “And I wasn’t sure, when you lost the skirt, if it was meant to happen at that moment or not because you kept your composure. It didn’t matter and you went with it, and I loved it.” Judge Len Goodman mulled over his score for a while as the crowd urged him to go high. He was apparently convinced because all four judges awarded Lachey and Chmerkovskiy scores of 9.
Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson’s Disney nightmare
Actor Frankie Muniz was named co-host of Dancing with the Stars: Juniors in 2018, more than a decade after he appeared on season 25 of the main show. He was partnered with Witney Carson, an Emmy-nominated choreographer who can dance everything from tap to hip-hop. But no amount of training can prevent a wardrobe malfunction, and that’s what happened during Carson and Muniz’s Argentine tango on Disney Night. Near the end of their Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired routine, Carson’s dress caught on her heel and she had to be dragged across the floor by the former Malcolm in the Middle star.
“It was weird because all week I messed up in that spot every single time, so we got to it and I thought, ‘Just do this last thing and we’re done!'” Muniz told People. “And then I felt her not be in the right spot and I thought, ‘Did I mess up?'” Carson praised her celebrity counterpart, commending him for sticking to the steps despite the mishap. “I literally couldn’t step out of the skirt so I was spinning on one foot and luckily he kept going or I would have gone down for sure,” she said. “Thank goodness he’s a good partner.” The pair earned 29 out of a possible 30 points — the second highest score of the evening.
Sharna Burgess is in ‘the nip slip category’
Australian pro Sharna Burgess began her dance education at the age of 5, training in ballet, jazz, and gymnastics before moving onto ballroom dance. She’s represented her country at the World Championship level and performed at the Olympic Games closing ceremony in Sydney, Australia in 2000, but to American audiences, she’s best known for several seasons on Dancing with the Stars. In a Season 22 episode that she probably wants to forget, Burgess had what she described as a “nip slip” during a tango with her partner, NFL star Antonio Brown.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a brighter shade of red — I think my skin matched my hair!” Burgess wrote in a DWTS blog, published by Extra. “I was so embarrassed, not just about the situation, but about the fact that I seriously had no idea it even happened! I am grateful everyone made light of the situation and it was not as embarrassing as it could’ve been, but I will forever be in the nip slip category of television.” Observant host Tom Bergeron sprung to the rescue, stepping in front of Burgess as she yanked her dress back to where it should have been.
Anastacia flashes her ‘posterior’ in Italy
We don’t usually get to see the wardrobe malfunctions that take place on overseas versions of Dancing with the Stars, but when those malfunctions involve American celebs, they will inevitably make the news. “I’m Outta Love” singer Anastacia found this out the hard way. She appeared in the Dancer for a Night segment on the Italian version of the show, partnering with Maykel Fonts for a performance that would go down in wardrobe malfunction history. As London’s Evening Standard put it, she “flashed her posterior and flesh coloured knickers to the nation.”
How did Italy end up getting a close-up view of Anastacia’s underwear? The incident took place during a botched lift, as the multi-platinum selling artist struggled to wrap her legs around Fonts’ neck. Both soldiered on with the routine, and after the show, she chose to simply ignore the mishap. Instead, Anastacia took to Instagram to thank Fonts for the “hard work and a fun exciting routine,” making no mention of the booty brouhaha.
Melissa Rycroft’s ‘boob came out’
Former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft became a reality star vying for the affection of Jason Mesnick in Season 13 of The Bachelor, but when she took to the DWTS ballroom floor with partner Tony Dovolani, they quickly becoming one of Season 8’s standout couples, finishing third on DWTS that season. The duo returned in 2015 to win the All-Star season.
The pair danced some memorable dances during their two stints together, and they wore some rather memorable outfits, too. Rycroft certainly looked the part in the sparkly number she wore when she and Dovolani performed one of their sambas together, but the support that costume offered was far from ample. “My boob came out!” Rycroft can be heard telling her partner at the end of their routine. Nobody seemed to care, because the audience was in raptures and the judges were raving, dishing out perfect tens to the team.
John Schneider’s buttons ripped out Emma Slater’s hair
Actor and musician John Schneider didn’t have the best time on season 27 of Dancing with the Stars. He and professional partner Emma Slater scored a dismal 18 out of 30 for their foxtrot that year, and their team tango was another low-point. The pair joined forces with NSYNC’s Joey Fatone for the routine, which was almost derailed when Slater’s hair got caught in the buttons of Schneider’s costume.
“I gotta ask before we go to the judges, did Emma get caught on your vest there?” Judge Tom Bergeron said after the hit-and-miss Argentine tango concluded. “Yeah, she pulled her hair out,” Schneider said (via Pop Culture). The country music star revealed that Slater had instructed him to “just keep going” in the event of a mishap. “As soon as her hair got caught in there, she went rip and she looked at me like, ‘Let’s dance,'” Schneider said backstage.
According to Slater, all she was thinking about in that moment was the performance. “I thought I wouldn’t have any hair left, but it didn’t bother me,” she said. “I just want these guys to have the best night and just show them the love they’ve shared [with] me all week.” It was a selfless move from Slater, but the judges weren’t impressed with the routine. Yep, poor Slater suffered hair loss for an underwhelming 21 points.
Lindsay Arnold danced her shoes off
This incident from Season 27 could have been a whole lot worse had dancer Lindsay Arnold not thought on her feet. She and former NFL star DeMarcus Ware had just started their Disney-themed Charleston (the retired football pro was dancing as Hercules) when one of Arnold’s shoes broke. She reportedly clenched her toes and somehow managed to stop the damaged shoe from slipping off her foot in order to complete the number. The judges were highly complimentary, even as Arnold tossed her broken shoe across the dance floor in frustration.
“It was jam-packed with kicks, grits, lifts and … that is like a Disney movie,” judge Len Goodman said. “You finish it and you just feel great. I thought you did a wonderful job. Full of attack, full of energy.” Fellow panelist Carrie Ann Inaba said she didn’t even notice the wardrobe malfunction because Ware’s “partnering skills” meant it wasn’t an issue. “You don’t even need shoes, really,” Tom Bergeron joked before the couple’s score of 26 out of 30 was revealed.
Jordan Kimball becomes Tragic Mike
He became known as “Grocery Store Joe” during his time on Season 14 of The Bachelorette, but to Dancing with the Stars fans, Joe Amabile will always be remembered for his steamy and somewhat disastrous Trio Night salsa. Amabile and his pro partner, Jenna Johnson, were joined by another former Bachelorette contestant, Jordan Kimball. As part of their Magic Mike-inspired performance (or “Tragic Mike,” as judge Bruno Tonioli dubbed it), Amabile and Kimball were required to rip away their white vests, but the latter couldn’t quite manage it. A shaken Kimball finished the routine with his half-torn shirt hanging from his dungarees, which didn’t go unnoticed by the judges.
“Didn’t quite get the shirt off, which was the whole number,” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba remarked, “but that’s okay.” Inaba, Tonioli (who called the timing “non-existent”) and fellow judge Len Goodman all held up scores of just 5 points. The panel had some kind words for Johnson too. “Jenna, you get MVP,” Inaba quipped. “That was magical what you did with what you have.” Speaking backstage after the performance, Kimball admitted that his shirt-rip fail threw him off his step. “It got in my head a little bit, the shirt not coming off,” he said.
Lil’ Kim’s ‘girls’ tried to get out
Kimberly “Lil’ Kim” Jones and her professional partner, Derek Hough, established an on-point chemistry during Season 8 of Dancing with the Stars, but that didn’t make them immune to wardrobe malfunctions. The rap star and occasional actress was jiving so hard with Hough (who was super nervous about working with Lil’ Kim because of her bad-girl rep) that her “girls” almost popped right out of her top. Host Tom Bergeron had to step in front of her as she adjusted her outfit, but Lil’ Kim seemed more interested in the judges than her wardrobe malfunction. Clearly, they didn’t care about her ill-fitting outfit either because the dancing duo scored 28 out of 30 possible points — the best score of the night.
After the show, Lil’ Kim told KABC-TV that it wasn’t her first wardrobe malfunction of this nature. “I don’t know why this happens a lot of the time, but … the girls were trying to come out,” she said. Luckily for her, not everybody at home saw what happened. The moment was “edited out by the time the show was rebroadcast on the West Coast,” reported the Washington Examiner.
Chelsie Hightower chest pops a little too hard
Vegas-born dancer Chelsie Hightower first appeared as part of the Dancing with the Stars professional roster in Season 8 and stayed on the show through Season 15. In her penultimate season, she was teamed with Roshon Fegan, an actor who would later go on to play the abusive boyfriend of Zora Greenleaf in OWN’s Greenleaf. The pair went for it hard on Latin Night that year — almost too hard in Hightower’s case. She was on the verge of exposing herself as she went into a chest-pop — something Judge Tom Bergeron noticed.
After the routine ended, the show’s host pulled up the strap on Hightower’s top as she stumbled into her partner, exhausted. “I was hoping nobody saw that,” Hightower told Entertainment Tonight after the show. “That’s not the only time it’s happened. That’s like the third time.” Fegan attributed the malfunction to Hightower’s sheer tenacity. “I feel like she just danced her outfit off,” he said. “It couldn’t hang on … Next time, we’ll be smart about and we’ll incorporate a move to pull [her top] back up.”
Monique Coleman’s routine almost scared her clothes off
High School Musical star Monique Coleman competed on Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars with professional partner Louis van Amstel. The duo finished in a respectable fourth place, despite one embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. The pair had just begun dancing what would develop into a spirited jive when one of Coleman’s high heels caught her dress and yanked it downward, “exposing her derriere,” as the New York Post described it.
The actress managed to pull her skirt back up and go into her next move in one swift motion, minimizing the damage, but she still felt the need to address the malfunction when the routine concluded. “I know that jump scared the ‘everything’ out of you,” Judge Tom Bergeron said to Coleman. Her reply: “It did. It scared my clothes off, apparently.” The show’s host added: “Not quite, happily.” Happily indeed — Coleman and Van Amstel scored nines across the board.
Kirstie Alley snaps at her partner after losing a shoe
Look Who’s Talking star Kirstie Alley competed on Season 12 (finishing 2nd) and Season 15 (finishing 7th) of Dancing with the Stars. She had more than one mishap during her time on the show, including one jarring wardrobe malfunction. Just a week after she took an embarrassing tumble when partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s leg gave out, Alley lost her shoe mid-performance. Luckily, the Classical Week routine included a move that put Alley in a seated position, so she was able to slip back into her shoe to finish the routine. Needless to say, the judges were not impressed.
“You are the queen of the unexpected mishap,” Carrie Ann Inaba said. “I mean, whose shoe comes off?” Inaba gave Alley props for recovering, but she questioned the actress’ commitment to the routine. “This one was kinda strange,” Inaba said. “I felt like you weren’t in the number this time; it looked like you were just sort of waiting for it to be over.”
While Chmerkovskiy thought the wardrobe malfunction was funny, Alley cursed her luck as she talked through a replay of their performance backstage. “Maks, this is just not right, please!” she snapped. “It isn’t! … Look at me, I’m supposed to be acting like a swan and I’m putting my shoes on!”