Oscar Fashions 2014: The Sparkly, the Bland, and the Whoopi

How I miss the days when Hugh Jackman or Billy Crystal would belt out over-the-top musical numbers, when contemporary dance performances representing nominated films were not unheard of, and especially when actresses were emboldened to wear extravagant gowns knowing that this was their BIG NIGHT. But now that every time a celebrity steps out to get a chai latte her outfit ends up being electronically propelled to, and subsequently dissected in, every corner of the world, I understand the desire to just look nice and pretty for the Oscars. I understand it, but I don’t have to like it!

The Oscars needed a bit more hustle, a lot more risk (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, 2013)

The Oscars needed a bit more hustle, a lot more risk (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, 2013)

Sunday’s Academy Awards rolled along quite smoothly/blandly. Thank heavens for 12 Years A Slave! I think everyone’s heart lifted (as if freed from Gravity, har har) when it won Best Picture. I’m still a little upset that the only Best Picture nominee I’d seen, American Hustle, got nada. I definitely don’t understand why it wasn’t at least nominated for Best Hair and Makeup. Really Academy? The hair was practically it’s own character. Best supporting actor: Bradley Cooper’s perm, Jeremy Renner’s dye job.

Normally, I pick the top ten best and worst dressed people. However, this year I can’t say that there’s a clear winner. There is, however, a brutally clear loser. So let’s start there…

Worst Dressed

Woopi Goldberg needs an intervention! It’s not even fun bad, it’s just bad bad. She was wearing Jerry Seinfeld’s pirate shirt under a black strapless dress with Dorothy’s ruby red shoes, and striped socks. SOCKS! Oh, and she accessorized with a long flapper-style pearl necklace that my friend correctly pointed out was always caught on her right boob. And don’t give me that line about how it’s hard for a plus-sized lady to find clothes. Sure, it is. But if Gabourey Sidibe can find a flattering fuchsia frock to wear, then Whoopi should have no problems.

Lupita Nyong'o in Prada. So floaty, such a flattering colour, but the eye is distracted by the deep V and the hairband. (Huffington Post)

Lupita Nyong’o in Prada. So floaty, such a flattering colour, but the eye is distracted by the deep V and the hairband. (Huffington Post)

Not the Best

The biggest trend of the night was a repeat of last year’s sparkle fest. Most looked chic, if somewhat safe, but there were 4 that didn’t quite hit the mark:

  1. Sally Hawkins‘s frame was sadly drowning in beading. It is nice to see sleeves making a comeback though.
  2. Jennifer Garner‘s long silver flapper dress looked a bit cheap and costumey. Plus — bad stripper shoes.
  3. The good news for Angelina Jolie is that she can get another wear out of her Edwardian gown in a few years when she’s the mother of the bride.
  4. My favourite French gal, Julie Delpy… it wasn’t magical. I think there was a Sally meets Angelina effect — too much bling and draping in the wrong places.

Lupita Lupita

Now, let’s talk about Lupita Nyong’o’s robin’s egg blue Prada frock. Everyone loves Lupita, including me, and her acceptance speech was, by far, the best of night. Plus she was super cute dancing with Pharrell Williams. I almost don’t want to mention it, but I have to — The dress was a bit too 10 year-old’s dance recital. Though the colour was charming and she floated in the dress, the neckline was a distraction. A sheer modesty panel in the same fabric across that deep V would have done wonders to draw the eye away from the boyishness of her chest. And the headband was de trop. At least her lipstick was the perfect pop of colour. But regardless of mistakes made, her beauty shone as always.

Also, I know many people will say that Liza Minnelli looked crazy in blue silk loungewear, but I applaud her for it!

Hair & Makeup

I didn’t spot any strong makeup tendencies this year, but the hair definitely went one of 2 ways: short and/or sleek à la Lady Gaga, or big Silver Screen waves à la Cate Blanchett.

My favourite makeup look of the night was on a very pregnant lady who managed to look smoking hot while appropriating one of my least favourite recent trends! Kerry Washington wore a heavily lined eye and a deep burgundy lip, which is a 1990s look I hoped would never return. In context, though, it made her current and edgy — a head above everyone else’s red or nude lip.

Best Dressed

Slow clap for Hollywood. They all looked great. So I’m going break it down by trend and who did it best.

Camila Alves in Gabriela Cadena (Fabsugar)

Camila Alves in Gabriela Cadena (Fabsugar)

Powder Pink Prize

Such a sweet colour can seem very outdated or too girlish, but Penelope Cruz made it sophisticated with a Grecian drape and a tiny black bow. But what Matthew McConaughey’s wife, Camila Alves, wore truly delivered the drama I craved; it was my absolute favourite. Surprisingly, it was quite covered-up with long sleeves and a sort of sari inspired shoulder drape, yet it was so feminine, just beautiful. Well done!

No. 1 Sparkle

Kate Hudson wins the battle of the bling! In a soirée where almost every gown was bedazzled and everyone shimmered, Kate Hudson stepped it up a notch old Hollywood style. This was my second fave of the evening. She demonstrated how to do a plunging V that works (hint: you do need a tiny bit of volume in your décolleté area) and I loved her red carpet look which included a sort of cape. Too bad she took it off inside. Still, she was a vision dripping in platinum.

Not So Bland Black

The fact that Anna Kendrick has been making worst dressed lists is a perfect illustration of how starlets just can’t win! She wore a black gown that actually had some intrigue — Why hate on that?! Nowhere near being one of those dizzying overly busy fiascos, her gown was a pretty little thing with some sheer at the top and a romantic slit up the side. The visual interest was created by the asymmetrical shoulders and charming red jewels at the midriff. This is how you appropriate the bare midriff trend if you’re young and classy in Hollywood! She was delightful.

Anna Kendrick looking current and chic in J Mendel

Anna Kendrick looking current and chic in J Mendel (Vanity Fair)

Anne Hathaway did both black and sparkle. It was very Art Deco and well complimented by her sleek short do. Though it appeared that Charlize Theron would rather have been anywhere but the Oscars, she managed to look amazing anyways. Her black dress had a cool shape, and the whole thing seemed somewhat gravity defying due to invisible straps. Meryl Streep was divine in a cream and black gown that sort of echoed the shape of Angelina Jolie’s except, in her case, it was age appropriate. And Julia Roberts surprised me by wearing a lace peplumed black gown that had just enough grown up sophistication while remaining sexy. 

Yay Red! 

Jennifer Lawrence was stunning in a Dior strapless red gown with what I can only describe as side half-peplums. Bright red is never boring, much like J.Law herself. Pink did the ruby red ball gown justice for her performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. And Bette Middler seemed sexier than I recall her being in recent years in a clingy patterned red dress. Her performance gown looked very fresh too… if only the song had been (Wind Beneath my Wings, ugh).

Men Wearing Red… YAY!

I haven’t even mentioned men yet. I didn’t at all miss last year’s messy beards, though a couple of unfortunate goatees did make an appearance (I’m looking at you, Jamie Foxx). There was much handsomeness overall, but 2 were stand outs — Jared Leto in a white shirt and jacket with a red bow tie, and Chris Hemsworth in a burgundy tuxedo. I didn’t even hate Leto’s long ombre’d locks as much as I should have.

I know the boring navies (Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock) will make all the best dressed lists but — really? Yawn. Also, Bullock has joined the scary frozen ones who can’t move their faces. This madness must stop! If there’s one thing we can learn from Hollywood it’s that money and fame can’t buy youth or happiness, but it can make your skin really really taut. And the more you plump your face up with fillers, the more you look just like John Travolta.

The End.


  1. […] have been trying to recapture Camila Alves’s pink one-shoulder magic from last year’s Oscars. But it looked awkward with the asymmetrical no sleeve/giant flower combo, and the fit was off too. […]

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