Chimp Chic

Best and Worst Dressed Monkeys: IKEA Monkey, Bubbles & More (PHOTOS)

From the IKEA Monkey to Bubbles, a look at the most sartorially minded primates.

By Kevin Fallon


From monkeys wearing shearling coats in Ikea to monkeys wearing spacesuits in, well, space, the sartorial choices of news-making primates have been a historical mixed bag. Here’s a look at highs and lows in the history of monkeys and fashion.

@Broniewyn / Twitter

IKEA Monkey, 2012

Draped in a fitted faux-shearling coat and sporting a sensible diaper, the most recent headline-making primate was discovered at an IKEA store in Toronto doing what we all are driven to do when we are at an IKEA: “It was just running around screaming,” relayed one eyewitness. Though he was removed from the premises before a stop at the food court for Swedish meatballs and without a bookcase in 273 pieces, the coat-clad primate was lovably dubbed IKEA Monkey, and achieved the ultimate 2012 celebrity status: the meme.


Sam, 1959

In 1959 a rhesus monkey named Sam was one of the first animals in space, traveling on the Little Joe 2 in the Mercury program 53 miles into the atmosphere. For the historic event, Sam bravely wears what appears to be a chain-mail tampon.

AP Photo

Ham, 1961

For his trip into space two years after Sam’s, in 1961, Ham rocks a far more conservative ensemble—matching white shorts and shirt with dark accent stripes. While the outfit may be a bit staid, Ham overcompensates with some high-fashion diva ’tude. Living up to his name, indeed.

David Zalubowski / AP Photo

Whiplash, 2006

When you’re billed as Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, people come with expectations, and this white-headed capuchin more than fulfills them. Donning the world’s most precious itsy cowboy hat, faux chaps, and even a macho ascot, Whiplash certainly turns heads when he enters the rodeo. That’s not to mention his essential accessory: HE IS RIDING A BORDER COLLIE!

Matt Sayles / AP Photo

Chiquita, 2007

While Whiplash’s cowboy costume is kitschy camp, Chiquita goes the more realistic route for her Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides premiere outfit. The swashbuckling ensemble pays impressive attention to detail, but, let’s be honest—a pirate outfit at the Pirates premiere? A bit too on the nose, Chiquita.

Kevork Djansezian / AP Photo

Jack, 2000

Jack the chimpanzee skates onto the ice at the Staples Center during a game to promote his role in the film Most Valuable Primate. While it’s nothing that will land Jack on a best-dressed list, the hockey costume is far less humiliating than the doll-like clothes other monkeys so often are forced to wear.

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Crystal, 2011

star is born! Cinched in all the right places, the perfect pink hue to complement her gorgeous fur, a fun print, and an elegant rosette making a bold statement: Crystal’s premiere gown for 2011’s The Hangover: Part II proves why the sartorially minded simian is her species’ fastest-rising star. Ever in demand, Crystal has appeared in Doctor DolittleNight at the MuseumCommunityWe Bought a ZooAnimal Practice, and more.

AP Photo

Bonzo, 1951

Bonzo the chimp had everyone swooning as he sat down to fill out his income-tax form in 1951. The Bedtime for Bonzo star proves that being all business doesn’t have to mean wearing ill-fitting, boring clothes. Wearing a crisp dress shirt fitted to accentuate those monkey muscles and a jaunty vest, Bonzo is as swoon-worthy as Don Draper.

Jacqueline Sallow / Corbis

Bubbles, 1989

There’s eccentric and there’s just plain weird. Bubbles precariously toes the line between the two, ultimately creating a look that was, like his owner’s Michael Jackson—iconic. Marching-band member? Circus freak? Deranged toy soldier? It’s unclear what the inspiration was for this tailored blazer, but it generated a bona fide fashion moment.